Best background noise for focus, concentration, and creativity

8 min read

Let me tell you how I became sound-addicted. A few years ago, I used to live with a friend who liked receiving visitors. The constant trooping in and out of the room was heavily distracting. This slowed me down to a large extent, and at the day's end, I would have covered only half the work I should have.

I couldn’t afford to move out, so I sought solutions. Once, I came across several research studies claiming that background noise can help focus and study and even improve memory and brain stimulation. So, I turned on a random focus sound video on YouTube in my headphones, and… it worked even better than I expected! It was a real cheat code to increase my output in anything I was doing.

Soon, YouTube sounds were no longer enough. I got pickier about my playlist and wanted a better experience. Long story short, if there was a PhD in background sounds, I could get it. That’s why, today, I want to share my gems – AI soundscapes and natural sounds that can help you focus.

Disclaimer. If you only need a decision without long talks, here it is. 

Your aimYour solution
Deep focusing, minimization of distractionsGetSound (ambient with natural layers)
Studying, focusing on tasksLofi Garden (lo-fi music)
Calming anxiety, managing stressNoizio (natural sounds)
Energy and productivity boostEter (search for “fitness”, “techno”, etc.)

Best apps for background noise

Both natural and AI background noise can help you focus and concentrate. Try both formats to see which works best for you.

GetSound: best for focused work

GetSound soundscapes

GetSound, a background noise app, stands out for a number of reasons. First, the app blends different AI sounds for you based on the environment you choose. These could be Urban, Coffee Shops, Office, Train Ride, Airplane Cabin, and Cave, among others. After installation, GetSound shows in your Mac’s menu bar, from where you can choose your environment, pause, play, and refresh the soundscape. Additionally, the software adapts to your location, weather, etc., to suggest soundscapes and silence distractions. Its RTS tech also provides you with new soundscapes on every launch.

My top picks from GetSound

  • Best noise for focus: the one I get from Deep Focus Session (see on the screenshot)
  • Best noise for concentration: Underwater – Scuba diving in India
  • Best noise for studying: Cave – Underwater sea cave, Sardinia

Platform: macOS, iOS

Price: Included with Setapp


Lofi Garden: best for studying 

Lofi Garden sounds menu

The background noise generator Lofi Garden boasts fewer features than GetSound. However, this app knows what type of noise is best for studying, and provides just that. It is wired to assist you in maintaining that 100% focus with its play-at-start feature. You can immediately start enjoying your LoFi music as soon as you launch the app, bypassing the need for a playlist.

My top picks from Lofi

  • Actually, you can’t choose tracks here, but I’d say it’s one of the best soothing background music streams you can ever find for focused studying.

Platform: macOS

Price: Included with Setapp


Noizio: best for focused relaxation and listening to nature

Noizio soundscapes

If you’re a sucker for natural sounds and calm background, then Noizio is the perfect app for you. It’s a relaxing sound software for concentration, calming anxiety, managing stress, meditation, and deep sleep.

You can choose from over 40 sounds on Noizio. The sounds are named exactly after what they represent – for instance, Birds in Pack, Blue Whales, Campfire, Desert, Frogs and Crickets, Kitty Purr, and Sea Waves, among others. 

Rather than having to listen to just one set of natural sounds, with Noizio, you can mix different natural sounds to get your desired effect. Meanwhile, the app also allows you to listen to fractional noises like white noise, pink noise, or brown noise; as well as alpha, beta, gamma, delta, and theta waves. It even allows you to save these combinations in case of next time. You could also schedule an Alarm or Auto Pause within the app.

My top picks from Nozio

  • Best sounds to help you focus: Ghosty + Heartbeat
  • Best nature sounds for studying: Blue whales + Sea waves
  • Best sounds for silence distractions: Gamma Waves

Platform: macOS

Price: Included with Setapp

Eter: best for creating the right atmosphere

Eter energetic sounds

The previous apps offer rather soothing sounds. If you need to cheer up or speed up your tasks, I'd send you to Eter. It's an app with 40,000 radio stations, but I use it like Google for sounds.

If I need to set an active pace for an activity, I search for something like "workout," "fitness," or "techno." Some radio stations play songs non-stop. When I want to get back to the sounds of nature, I search for them (but still, Eter is more about activity for me).

My top picks from Eter

  • What noise is best for productivity: TechnoBase.FM
  • What noise is best for studying: Pr – Las
  • What noise helps you focus: 1001 Nature Sounds

Platform: macOS, iOS

Price: Included with Setapp

What kind of noise works best: Nature or AI

The answer is predictable and a bit boring: it is believed that both the sound of a mountain stream and white noise can help you concentrate, relax, and improve your mood.

Why?

Background noises and soothing music mask other sounds, create some predictability for the brain, and help you get used to the rhythm. They can even help you enter a state of flow. You should try different to find the one that works best for you.

A background noise apps with AI soundscapes will allow you to tailor the sounds (and at times, frequencies) to your taste. They offer you a chance to customize and personalize your concentration experience more than a natural sound. 

On the other hand, nature sounds are best for those who crave familiarity. Nature sounds provide serenity and help you connect with nature better than an AI soundscape.

By the way, your favorite sound is not a constant. For example, now I love Gamma Waves and Blue Whales by Nozio, but a month ago, I adored an ambient stream by GetSound. However, there are still several parameters that help me determine a "good" sound for focusing.

  • No lyrics. A voice can be distracting.

  • The volume is low. You get the pleasant feeling of swimming in a pool of sound.

  • The music is unfamiliar. You definitely don't want to play music from your high school graduation or your last date.

  • The stream is nonstop. Sudden silence or unexpected sounds can jolt you out of your mental journey. If you need to cut down side noises, try Serenity. It selectively mutes the sounds of app notifications – meaning that while you'll still receive the notifications, you won't hear a sound. 

  • The sound is smooth. Or at least the melodies flow smoothly into each other. 

And a final tip here. When I need to customize my listening experience, I use Silenz. Silenz helps you adapt your media sounds to the environment. For instance, if you receive a phone call or important notification, the app automatically reduces its volume as a silent way of alerting you. It is also tailored to enable you to hear your immediate surroundings, emphasizing awareness while boosting focus. The caveat with Silenz, though, is that it is only suitable for use with headphones.

Try soundscape music and sound for focusing for free

AI soundscapes and natural sounds help you focus and get in the flow. Which one will work for you? You should experiment. I recommend starting with nature sounds in Noizio – just because birds, wind, and campfires are something our brains already associate with calm and serenity. Then try other sounds in Lofi Garden and GetSound. After a few tries, I'm sure you'll find your favorite noises for productivity, and your workday will become more effective and comfortable.

FAQs

How does background noise affect creativity?

Background noises are very important, especially if you are creative. Putting on some brown noise, specifically, could be instrumental in helping you attain high creativity levels.

Do nature sounds improve concentration?

Yes, nature sounds can improve concentration. Background sounds like water streams have been proven to help with focus and concentration.

Why white noise isn’t the best solution?

White noise is generated using a combination of several frequencies, which could cause auditory damage over time. This means that, over time, it could be counterproductive when used too much. However, it can help with sleep and concentration issues when appropriately used.

Can background noise help you study better?

Yes, background study sounds and focus sounds can help you study better and longer. Ideally, it should be music without lyrics, smooth, and not too loud. It has also been observed that background noise is not equally effective for all people, and some people learn better without it.

Does silence boost creativity?

It depends on individual preferences and personality. On the one hand, silence can reduce cognitive load and increase focus. On the other hand, some extraneous sounds have been shown to help you focus and increase productivity. To find out which is right for you, try both.
250+ apps for $9.99
per month

Sign up to Setapp and try them for free.

Security-tested