Internet Self Improvement

Block Out Distractions With This Excellent Selection Of Background Sounds

Justin Pot 12-10-2014

Can’t focus? Studies show that the right amount of background noise can increase creativity, and web app Noisli lets you mix and match several sound sources. See if audio like rain, coffee shops, and more helps you concentrate.


Silence can be distracting, and so can the sounds around you. The need for something more neutral is why we’ve outlined a variety of sites that help drown out noise 10 Websites That Will Help Drown Out The Noise So You Can Stay Focused Do you find yourself constantly distracted by everything going on around you and having a hard time concentrating on what you're doing? The solution is noise-cancelling headphones. Whether you're in a café with a crying... Read More . Some provide nature sounds, some give you a coffee shop ambiance, and others provide consistent coloured noise.

Noisli is different because it gives you all these sounds and more, which you can combine however you like. It also provides a basic Markdown editor, but we’ll get to that later.

Click To Create A Soundscape.

The real charm of Noisli is simplicity. Head to and click a few icons. The sounds will start immediately.


Note that you can turn on as many sounds as you like, and for the most part everything stacks nicely.


If you can’t decide what you want, there’s a “Random” button.


There are also “Productivity” and “Relax” buttons if you’d like to try a few pre-built mixes – be sure to click these buttons multiple time to cycle through different combinations.

The real fun, of course, is designing your own perfect soundscape. Here are the sounds you can use to do that:

  • Rain – exactly what you’d expect, the soothing sound of rain falling.
  • Thunderstorm – softer rain sounds, but with occasional thunder.
  • Wind – feels like something’s coming this way, which for some reason makes me want to work.
  • Forest – mostly bird songs, but there are some other sounds mixed in there.
  • Leaves – the rustling of leaves, sounds like autumn.
  • Water stream – a nearby babbling brook.
  • Seaside – rhythmic waves, with a hint of seaside birds.
  • Water – more subdued water sounds, almost like something’s swimming in a nearby pond.
  • Bonfire – if that campfire sound relaxes you, try this.
  • Summer night – lots of crickets, the occasional owl, and more.
  • Coffee shop – mingled conversation, but nothing you can make out, along with the sounds of coffee being made.
  • Train night – something about the sound of wheels on rails is very relaxing. It’s probably the rhythm.
  • Fan shop – this is pretty close to white noise

There are also a few colours of noise to choose from. These are basically steady sources of sound, so try them out.

  • White noise
  • Pink noise
  • Brown noise

Some people swear by one of these three sounds and decry the others; I’m not going to make a comment. Try them out for yourself.

Comes With A Lightweight Writing App

If you want to get some writing done, Noisli might be the only website you need to have open. That’s because in addition to offering the background sounds you need to concentrate, this web app also provides a simple text editor. Just click the lines at right to get started:



You can write using Markdown Learning Markdown: Write For The Web, Faster Markdown is the best way to write in plain text but still create complex documents. Unlike HTML or LaTex, for example, Markdown is simple to learn. Read More , and preview how your text will look rendered.


It’s not the core feature of the site, at all, but it works well if only for one reason: colours. Noisli’s background colour changes frequently, with a slow fade. This is supposed to help prompt creativity, and it’s soothing if nothing else. Combined with the right sounds and this site might be what you need to push through that project you’ve been putting off.

Set your browser to full screen and get to work – you might love it.


iPhone and iPad App

If desktop apps aren’t your thing, and you happen to be an Apple user, good news: there’s an iOS app for Noisli ($2). It’s basically the web app, but on your phone:


One nice feature you can’t get on the web: offline listening.

Which Sounds Help You Concentrate?

So I want to know: which of these sounds help you focus? Let’s talk things over in the comments below, because I know you have a point of view on this.

Or, if ambient sounds aren’t your thing maybe music can help. I’ve tried to help you find the best music to enhance your productivity Find the Best Music to Boost Your Productivity Online Listening to music helps you focus and get more done, according to music therapists. What kind of music will improve your mood, and make you more productive? And where should you start looking for music? Read More ; I hope it’s helpful.

Image Credit: Smiling Woman in Headphones (Shutterstock)

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  1. tomxp
    October 13, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Nice site! I like the rain/thunder/wind/leaves combo. BTW, your readers may also like Sleep Pillow which I've happily used to block annoying TV's / crowd noise in public places.

    • Justin Pot
      October 14, 2014 at 4:54 pm

      That is a great combo. I'll have to look into Sleep Pillow, but it seems like there's no Android version.

  2. Bvssunnydale
    October 12, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    The site has an excellent thunderstorm. I used a streaming recorder to record an hour of it as an MP3 that I keep on at my office. I've also got a rainy day album from Amazon but actually like the intermittent thunder more than rain alone. I do recommend bud-earphones that you can quickly just jerk out of your head for boss-others - and you can always adjust the volume as needed.

    • Justin Pot
      October 13, 2014 at 1:28 pm

      RainyMood is pretty excellent, and the ear bud tip is a good one.

  3. Fik of Borg
    October 12, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    The opposite of the continuous gossiping that seems to happen in most offices.
    Let me hear what I am thinking.