Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been replaced by another product. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
The Marpac SleepMate 980A is the original sound machine. Dubbed a sound conditioner, the Marpac founder Jim Buckwalter created this white noise generator to aid in his own sleep troubles. Once his friends and family started asking for their own, he released his product to the public. The rest is history. Since that time, the market for white noise machines has exploded, but with all of the added features associated with its competitors, the Marpac SleepMate 980A just doesn’t measure up.
Solely a sound machine, the Marpac Sleepmate 980A doesn’t come with any additional features. It has been designed strictly for sound therapy, no bells and whistles included. The body of the noise generator is a heavy-duty plastic that holds an internal motor that can be operated on a single or dual speed. A plastic “cap” and “collar” surrounding the body rotates to adjust the sound’s tone and speed. Once plugged in, the sound machine creates a continuous sound of rushing air or white noise.
For sleep deprived patrons who would like a no-fuss solution to their fatigue, the Marpac SleepMate is perfect. The plug-and-play functionality couldn’t be simpler to operate. An 8-foot cord is at your disposal, but once the cord is plugged in, the sound machine will begin working instantaneously. If you live outside of the US, the Marpac SleepMate will come standard with a two pin European plug, a three pin UK plug or a plug compatible in Australia, upon request. This flexibility provided by Marpac makes this sound machine very convenient for travel. Being away from home and in a foreign country, in addition to jet lag, can compound sleep deprivation issues. The smooth “whooshing” sound of this noise machine is sure to put you at ease.
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Because of the simplistic nature of the Marpac SleepMate’s design, it only has one sound setting. You could consider the sound white noise, but it also sounds like rushing, continually moving air. Settings allow you to change the tone and volume of the rushing air, but that is you only option for change. However, because of the constant movement, the sound never loops like a recorded sound would. If, while searching for a sound machine, you stumble upon a product called Sound Screen that looks and sounds the same as the SleepMate, don’t be confused – they are the same product. The Sound Screen is marketed for professional and office use while the SleepMate is advertised for home use.
The sound machine market has been taken over by dual-use products, ones equipped with sound therapy technology, alarm clocks, AM/FM radios and iPod connections. Because the Marpac SleepMate 980A has such a simple design, we fear it has fallen behind the competition. It is still a fantastic white noise machine and current users say they can’t live without it, but perhaps a redesign should be considered. However, if you aren’t looking for a feature-packed sound machine and you just want a good white noise generator to help lull you to sleep, this is the noise machine for you.