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How to turn your Amazon Echo into a noise machine

If you have trouble focusing or getting to sleep, here's how you can turn your Alexa speaker into a white noise generator.

Taylor Martin/CNET

If you already have Alexa in the bedroom, office or nursery, you've already got yourself a noise machine. Personally, I use it to break up the silence while I work. Music can sometimes pull me out of focus and podcasts are entirely too distracting. White noise, on the other hand, isn't.

Be it a thunderstorm, waves crashing, the chatter of a cafe or the sounds of flowing water, these ambient, natural sounds break up the silence without causing distraction. They're often used to help aid falling asleep, as well.

Here are several ways you can turn your Alexa speaker into an ambient noise generator.

Option 1: Amazon Prime Music

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Taylor Martin/CNET

Amazon's in-house music streaming service that comes bundled with Prime, aptly named Prime Music, has a decent selection of nature sounds.

Finding exactly what the tracks are titled will take some trial and error. Saying, "Alexa, play Amazing Two Hour Midnight Thunderstorm on Prime Music," will play two separate tracks (one 69 minutes and the other 71 minutes). Asking for "rain and thunder" or "nature sounds" also plays exactly what you'd expect. But some commands simply won't work without knowing exactly what to ask for.

You can go to music.amazon.com or open the Amazon Music app for iOS or Android and create a playlist, if you'd like to play something truly custom.

Option 2: Spotify

Playing nature sounds or white noise through Spotify will provide similar results. Just ask for "white noise," "river sounds," "nature sounds" or about anything of that sort, and Alexa will usually play something close to what you're looking for. Once you choose a song, say, "Alexa, loop," to put it on repeat.

Again, if you want something more specific, use the app to create a custom playlist and ask for the playlist instead.

Option 3: Ambient noise Skills

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Taylor Martin/CNET

One of the best ways to find ambient noise or nature sounds for Alexa is through skills. Developer Nick Schwab created a family of skills under Ambient Noise. There are currently 12 skills or sounds to choose from:

  • Airplane
  • Babbling Brook
  • Birds
  • City
  • Crickets
  • Fan
  • Fireplace
  • Frogs
  • Ocean waves
  • Rainforest
  • Thunderstorms
  • Train

Normally, you could just say, "Alexa, open Ambient Noise," to enable the skill, but there are too many similar skills for Alexa to list and let you choose using your voice. Instead, go to alexa.amazon.com or open the iOS or Android app and open the Skills menu. Search for Ambient Noise and click Enable.

Then, you can say things like, "Alexa, start Ambient Noise," "Alexa, ask Ambient Noise for a list" or "Alexa, ask Ambient Noise to play Fan." The sound you choose will continue to play until you tell Alexa to stop.

You can find tons of similar skills in the Alexa app, but they all work virtually the same.