Continuing our series of re-purposing Bose SoundLink speakers, today’s post is about how to use a Bluetooth speaker (such as the popular Bose SoundLink Mini) as a white noise machine!
If you have a Bluetooth speaker laying around and you want to use it as a white noise machine, read on!
When our first baby was born 3 months ago, we quickly realized that white noise helped her (and us) fall asleep and stay that way in our small apartment where everyone can hear everyone else. I have several dedicated white noise machines (my favorite is the LectroFan Jr.) but I thought, why not turn the Bose SoundLink Mini into a white noise machine, too? It’s not like I’m using it for music while I’m trying to get myself or the baby to sleep.
Turns out, this was easy to do – and there’s quite a few ways to do it.
(Don’t feel like you have to do it this way or you have to have this exact equipment – I just didn’t want to be vague and refer to features that may or may not exist on specific Bluetooth speakers.)
What speakers does this work with?
I wrote these steps for the SoundLink Mini because that’s what I use, but there’s really nothing particularly special about it. If you have a speaker with AUX in or Bluetooth pairing capabilities, then one or more of the techniques in this article should work for you.
Since most people want to play white noise for hours on end (ie: overnight), you’ll want your phone plugged in to a power source if you’re streaming over Bluetooth or you’ll want to stream over WiFi so your phone’s audio isn’t tied up (explained more further down in this article). Also, if your speaker is portable and rechargeable, you’ll want keep the speaker plugged in or on its base so that it doesn’t die in the middle of the night.
Technique #1: Stream to the SoundLink over WiFi with an Echo Dot and Spotify Connect
I think this is the best approach. It’s “set it and forget it”, versatile, and easy to use. You don’t have to leave your phone near the speaker or tie up its audio output. However, this technique works only if you have access to a WiFi network, so it’s great for home but not so great for travel. You’ll need an Echo Dot to give the SoundLink WiFi capabilities, since the SoundLink speaker can’t connect to WiFi on its own.
This is my default setup for playing music and white noise over my SoundLink Mini.
What you need
- Spotify Premium account with a playlist containing at least one “white noise” song
- Amazon Echo Dot
- 3.5mm AUX cable
- A speaker with an AUX input jack (SoundLink Mini and Amazon Tap both have this)
This setup looks complicated compared to the others, but it’s great because you can just stream from an online service (such as Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, etc) to your speaker without having to tie up your phone’s audio output, draining your phone battery on Bluetooth, having to keep your phone near the speaker, or having any issues with the Bluetooth connection cutting in and out.
To get a setup like mine:
- Set up a Spotify playlist of one white noise “song” and set it to loop. This is my Spotify “white noise” playlist
- Hook up an Amazon Echo Dot to your Bose SoundLink Mini (via an AUX cable) to give the SoundLink speaker WiFi capabilities. (If you’re trying to stream to a speaker that has built-in WiFi connectivity like a Sonos PLAY:1, you can skip the Echo Dot middleman part.)
- Turn on the speaker
- Set it to AUX input
- Open the Spotify app and select the white noise playlist
- Hit play and set the Device to your Echo Dot
The SoundLink does not have WiFi connectivity by itself; you have to hook it up to something like an Echo Dot to give it that power.
- Easy to set up and use
- Streaming over WiFi doesn’t drain phone battery like Bluetooth would
- Can still use phone for calls, watching junk on Facebook, recording videos of your pets or kids, etc while the white noise is going
- No Bluetooth dropout from interference
- Control volume from your phone (or any device with Spotify on your WiFi network)
- Play/Pause from your phone (or any device with Spotify on your WiFi network)
- Easily switch to music when you’re done with the white noise
- Don’t have to keep phone near speaker
- You get all the fun features of Amazon’s Alexa
- Requires an Echo Dot to make the Bose SoundLink Mini into a WiFi speaker
- Not travel friendly: having to bring a Dot and pair it with WiFi in every hotel would be annoying
- Streaming over WiFi isn’t 100% perfect – I still hear the occasional dropout, though far less on WiFi than over Bluetooth. Some days it goes for hours without a cutout, so it might just come down to connection quality.
This approach isn’t ideal for travel, since you’d have to bring your Echo Dot with and get everything on the WiFi network wherever you go (assuming there even is one).
Technique #2: Stream to the SoundLink over Bluetooth from your phone
This is an alternative way to turn your SoundLink into a white noise machine. If you don’t have (or want to buy) an Echo Dot, you can instead connect to the speaker over Bluetooth. The big disadvantages here are that your phone’s audio output is tied up (you can’t make a call or watch a video on Facebook, for example, without stopping the white noise) and streaming Bluetooth from your phone drains the phone’s battery. You also have to keep your phone near the speaker (or at least in the same room-ish).
To play white noise over Bluetooth:
- Set up a Spotify playlist of one white noise “song” and set it to loop. This is my Spotify “white noise” playlist. (Or use whatever music service you like – I recommend something you can play from your phone’s local storage without WiFi so you’re not also draining your battery on Bluetooth streaming.)
- Pair your device with the SoundLink mini
- Let ‘er rip – white noise will play through the speaker until you tell it to stop
Personally, I find Bluetooth connections kind of unstable. They seem more prone to blips and brief interruptions, which is particularly annoying when you want a solid whooosh of white noise washing over you without pauses.
- Requires the fewest parts – assuming you already have a phone and a SoundLink, you have everything you need for this approach
- Easy to use – just like how you already use the speaker for playing songs
- Travel friendly
- Can’t play any other audio on your source device, since its audio is being piped to the SoundLink (so YouTube, Facebook videos, recording videos on your phone, and making phone calls are all out while the phone is busy playing white noise through the SoundLink)
- Drains device battery streaming Bluetooth
- Somewhat more prone to cutting out – not ideal for a white noise experience
- Your phone has to stay in range of the SoundLink speaker
Technique #3: Connect via an AUX cable and play directly from your device to the SoundLink speaker
This is my favorite technique for turning a SoundLink into a white noise machine when I travel. The SoundLink travels pretty well so I often bring it with in my luggage. The AUX cable provides a much more stable connection to the speaker than Bluetooth does, in my experience. Once connected, set the SoundLink to AUX mode and play the white noise song like you would any song. Like the Bluetooth technique above, though, this technique also ties up audio on the phone.
- Strong connection unlikely to cut out
- Easy to set up
- Travel friendly
- Must keep phone close to speaker and connected from a wire – not great for in-bed phone web surfing
- Drains device battery because it’s constantly playing music
Where to find a white noise “song” to play
You’ll need some kind of white noise audio source, whether it’s on your device (ie: saved to your phone) or on someone else’s server, such as Spotify’s. Honestly, finding a good song that would loop cleanly (no fades, no obvious markers of repetition inside the song) was the hardest part of this whole project.
Why I recommend Spotify
Spotify’s a great place to browse for white noise “songs” because you can find out if they loop or not without spending buck after buck or having to wade through reviews and guess. Spotify has a lot of white noise “songs” to choose from. Some are better than others – a lot of them have an audible fade out/fade in, which sucks and totally defeats the purpose.
After some trial and error, I found Pouring Rain – Loopable with no fade. This is my favorite “white noise” song on Spotify because it sounds great and I can’t hear it looping. I found this song inside a larger collection called White Noise Therapy, which has about a zillion similar “songs” to pick from so you can find your favorite (also good: Waterfalls and Dulled White Noise).
To get a single song to loop on Spotify, you have to make a playlist and put that one song in it. Set the playlist to loop with this arrow button:
Here’s the 1-song playlist I use for Pouring Rain (you may have to set it to loop yourself, I’m not sure if looping on/off is “saved” with a playlist). Since I have Spotify Premium, I downloaded the song locally to use it even when I don’t have a WiFi connection.
Note: I’ve never used Spotify without Premium so I don’t know what the non-Premium experience is like. Presumably, Premium means I can play it as much as I want and without ads, which is essential to having a nice, relaxing loop going.
Dig around in your favorite music streaming or music buying app and I’m sure you’ll find something you like.