PROS / The Sound Soother is one of the only sound machines in our lineup that features an alarm clock and radio.
CONS / The audio quality of the sound profiles is poor, and it doesn't do a good job at masking external noise.
VERDICT / It is best to think of the Sound Soother as an alarm clock with built-in sound machine noises and not the other way around. This sound machine is enticing because of all the additional features, not for its sound quality or sound-masking ability.
The Sharper Image Sound Soother offers many more features than your average sound machine. It has 20 different sound profiles such as rainfall and traffic sounds. The Sound Soother has all of the extras you could ask for in a sound machine, but it didn't fare well at all in our tests.
The Sound Soother was one of the worst performers in our sound-masking test. To test the sound machine, one reviewer sat in a room with the sound machine operating using the white noise setting and listened for noises created outside of the room by another reviewer. One problem is the design of this white noise generator. The speakers are located in the back, so the sound is being projected away from you instead of toward you or up in the air. This doesn't help its ability to mask environmental sounds.
The vacuum and blender were the most intrusive and abrasive sounds we tried in our test. The Sound Soother did not do much to mask their noise. We could still hear both of them pretty clearly during the test.
One of the most disappointing results was the Sound Soother's inability to block the noise from the traffic outside the testing facility. Most sound machines were able to mask the outside traffic fairly well, while the Sound Soother white noise maker struggled to do that.
This sound machine ranked toward the bottom of our lineup in sound quality too. One major problem is that the sound profiles are obvious loops. The loops only run about five seconds before they restart. That is incredibly short for a sound profile. Audible sound looping can make it difficult to fall asleep to the sound profile, because it becomes easy to focus on the loop as opposed to letting the sound fade into the background like it should.
None of our reviewers felt like they would be able to fall asleep to this sound machine. The profiles don't sound authentic. The heartbeat sound profile sounds like the speaker is cutting in and out. The sound profiles are bright and grainy, without much depth to them.
Where this sound machine saves face is with its extra features. In fact, this sound machine could more accurately be considered an alarm clock with sound machine features. The Sound Soother has a big LCD screen on the front that displays the time. The numbers illuminate in bright red, but you can dim them with a button on top of the device. The Sound Soother has a built-in alarm clock with two alarms, a radio, and the ability to be used as an external speaker for a mobile music device via an aux input. It is one of the few sleep machines in our review with an alarm clock and radio.
The Sound Soother is powered by a built-in power cable, but you also have the option to power the device with two AA batteries. This Sharper Image sound machine is covered by the standard one-year warranty.
The Sharper Image Sound Soother has all the extras to look superior, but when it comes down to the sound quality and sound masking, the results tell another story. This sound machine is a good purchase for the alarm clock and radio functionality, not necessarily for its sound profiles or its sound-masking abilities.