Mar 31, 2011

Ambient Sound: Going Somewhere Else without Going Somewhere Else

There are settings that, when you are in them, you feel better, even more relaxed, no matter what you are doing.  Whether it's a day at the beach, a spring morning with birds singing, or a rainy day, a big part of being immersed in those environments is the sounds you hear.

The iPhone, the iPad, and the iPad Touch can all help you go there thanks to some of the ambient sound apps, apps that play looping ambient sounds, many of them nature sounds.  These apps can help you fall asleep, help out drown out noise, or simply help you relax enough to focus.  They are good for working, reading, praying, and even sleeping.  Not all sounds are the same but neither are all apps.  A couple of the ones I have are:
  • Ambiance - This app has the largest selection by far, and it grows at a constant pace.  It includes not only nature sounds, but things like an oscillating fan, rhythmic African drums, and even sounds of a battlefield.  The app is inexpensive and most of the sounds are free.  I use this one, not so much for relaxing but for fun.  If you want to sound like you're calling from the corner of a busy street, this is the app for that.  All that said, it does have a lot of nature sounds and you may like it for "getting away".
  • Naturespace - Naturespace is my go-to ambient sound app when I need to relax for the sake of focus or when I want to sleep.  It's my "getting away from it all" audibly app.  The difference between this app and any other app in the App Store is the incredible quality of the sound.  The Naturespace people record all of the sounds themselves using high-fidelity microphones that are set apart at the same width as the average human ears.  This produces a great sense of being in the surrounding you are hearing when listening via headphones or earbuds.  It's something they call "holographic audio" and it's something to hear.  The app is free and comes with six free tracks that themselves are very good.  There are a good number of other sounds you can buy as in-app purchases from $0.99 to $3.99, with most of them being $1.99.  I highly recommend trying out the free sounds, especially one called Infinite Shoreline.
There are other apps like these but none of them comes close to the number of sounds as Ambiance nor the quality of Naturespace.  If there is one to get, it's Naturespace.  Try it when you read, sleep, pray, or work.  It will be like being somewhere else without having to get in your car and go there.

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