I like having some sort of masking sounds to cover background noise when I sleep. White noise is the classic answer, but I prefer repetitive natural sounds like rain or a bubbling brook. There are plenty of devices made for this specific purpose, but I've found them to be mediocre, at best, and badly overpriced. So when my last one broke I decided to replace it with a better, and less expensive, solution.
I bought an inexpensive digital music player, replaced the firmware with free open source software, purchased a "nature sound" MP3 track, and edited it into a loop using more free open source software. Total cost was around $30, plus an hour of my time to replace the firmware and edit the track. No real technical expertise was required.( Read more... )