We always envy those living in the hills or close to the sea when they say they sleep to the sound of the wind or the rolling waves. Although not all of us can take a vacation now and again to live that part, sound machines have been a great help. The concept didn’t quite catch on in India—it is a rage in the western world, and you see it mostly in hotels—with apps replacing sound devices there has been a steady rise in users of sleep therapy. More important, it has also been an important tool in curing tinnitus—constant ringing or buzzing in the ear. But it’s not only tinnitus patients; given today’s stressful life, these also are a handy tool for relaxation and meditation or getting that spa experience. Ishaan Gera reviews a few of the sound machine alternatives. But if you are one of those who can sleep to the sound of Sinatra or Coltrane, there are many music apps you can choose from.
There cannot be a better name for an app made to help you relax. Given the options that Calm Radio offers, it is true to its name. The registration process is easy—you can skip it altogether—and there are many channels from meditation, spa, sleep and traditional to help you relax. The app offers a plethora of sounds from across the world, be it Chinese flute, tabla or saxophone. Although not a dedicated sound machine app, it still does the work if you do not wish to hang on to a single tune. The pesky thing is the ads, which feature every 15 minutes. With an expensive registration (it costs $7 a month), it is better to stay on the free version, i.e., if you can bear the ads and don’t want many options, but a plain old radio.
Unlike Calm, Atmosphere is a proper sound machine and a good one at that. There is no registration much like Calm, but there are many options to choose from. The user interface is mostly self-explanatory and easy, so one would not have much problem figuring the app out. There aren’t too many clicks and you can also save your mixes—yes, you can create your own files. Although not as many as other platforms, it still gives you good tunes like rain, melody, guitar, Chinese flute, bamboo, Buddhist bowl sounds. It doesn’t require too many clicks to operate but isn’t as sophisticated as Sleep Orbit. If you want a plain simple app, with not too much bling and easy functionality, Atmosphere is the best you can get. Much like all the others, it has a sleep timer which switches off the app when you want.
Relax Melodies: Sleep sound
If its complication you want, Relax gives you that. By far one of the most appealing user interfaces, Relax takes the cake in terms of the options and variety it provides. But all this comes at a price. The app takes some getting used to, and there is a lady giving you instructions on how to sleep and meditate that you just can’t switch off. It has a better library than Atmosphere, but finding your kind of sound may take a while. Also, some of the sounds are locked and you will have to shell out `1,200 for a lifetime membership, which quite frankly is a deal breaker. The app has more clarity and sounds are really good. You cannot import your own sounds—or, at least I couldn’t find that option—but once you are used to it, the app can provide a better experience that’s not too technical.
There are some who are extremely mechanical and know exactly what they want, and Sleep Orbit is the app for them. Although it does not have a very appealing interface, it looks bland in comparison to Relax and is more difficult than Atmosphere, Sleep Orbit has options that no one else can offer. Even this one has premium features, but they are very economical. A bundle would cost `30, with some sounds more expensive than others. You can import your own sounds and create mixes. Not easy to use, but Sleep Orbit has a better user experience. You can choose the sounds and then select how far away that sound can be from your ear. For instance, you can have the sound of pelting rain close to the ear, then move waves a bit further away and have wind furthest to you, to hear just swishes of it. Also, you can play the app all day long and there will always be a noise in the background. Enough for you to feel it, not too much to make it a distraction.