CPAP Newsletter

CPAP Newsletter: What's New In Machines Series: The Sound Factor

What's New In CPAP Machines: The Sound Factor
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Perception of Sound

The perception of sound is a unique experience for each of us. Some people can tune things out very easily while others are extremely sensitive and bothered by even the slightest sound. What one person considers loud another person may not even notice unless somebody draws it to their awareness. If you read the User Reviews for machines, you will see this pattern. One person will write that it's the quietest machine ever and then someone else will say it is very noisy. And, while CPAP machines have become very quiet these days, there are just so many factors involved when dealing with the perception of sound that is difficult to come to any real conclusive solution that works for everyone. Here are some practical tips and advice that we hope you find helpful.

Decibel Levels

Most CPAP machines have a decibel rating in the specifications from the manufacturer. Generally, the numbers hover right around the 30dB level mark, which is defined as a whisper quiet library. To compare; 20dB is equal to the sound of rustling leaves or a person whispering, and 40dB is equivalent to the sound of a stream or a refrigerator humming. But decibels are not the only factor involved when it comes to machine noise. Perception plays a role, as well as the distinct sound signature of each model of CPAP.

For example, many people start off with one CPAP machine, and eventually replace it with another newer or more advanced machine. Often times when someone gets a new machine they perceive that it is louder, when in fact it is not. If you were to measure it with a decibel meter, the two machines would likely be in about the same decibel range. So, even though they may be equal as far as volume level goes, each CPAP model has a distinct sonic quality. Usually, a few weeks with the new machine, and you hardly even notice it because your mind has become accustomed to the new sound.

View CPAP Machine Specs

Super Quiet New Machines

Just made available to the public, the Devilbiss IntelliPAP models have a decibel rating of less than 26dBA, making them the quietest machines available for your therapy. Two models are available; a Standard CPAP machine and an Auto Adjusting model, or APAP machine. Their Auto-Adjust machine is not only the quietest available but is also the smallest "with humidifier" package on the market. It is ideal for both home and travel. Both machines feature an industry best 3 year manufacturer warranty.

Get Quiet With an IntelliPAP

Keeping Your Machine Clean Keeps It Quiet

It is very important to change and rinse your filters at the recommended intervals. The filters not only keep the air you breathe clean, they also keep dust, dirt, and grime out of the motor, and more importantly, your lungs. Clean filters increse the life of your unit and keep it functioning smoothly and quietly, ultimately helping you to sleep more soundly. The filters also dampen sound that could come through the filter opening.

Buy Fresh Filters

Location. Location. Location!

Where you place your CPAP machine may affect how much sound you hear. You don't have to put it directly next to you on your nightstand. Some of our customers place it under their bed or as far away from them as possible using an extra long 10 foot hose or by connecting two 6 foot hoses together. Some folks have a small enclosure under their night stand where they keep their machine. Some people go to great lengths to try and keep things quiet. While we don't recommend it, we have even heard of one person who actually kept his machine in the next room and drilled a hole in the wall for his hose. We do encourage you to get a little creative with trying to find the right spot. We've found that putting the machine below bed level or ear level works best. However, you never want to cover the machine completely or place it somewhere that is dusty or that is enclosed to the point that there is little or no fresh air coming through. Heat must get out of and fresh clean air must get into the machine.

Caution: Do not use more than 12 feet of tubing as it could prevent you from receiving the correct amount of pressure.

Relocate With a Longer Hose

Ups and Downs

There are CPAP machines out there with a very popular comfort feature that senses when you are exhaling and drops the pressure slightly. This Easy Breathing technology gives it a more natural feel and makes it easier to exhale because you are not breathing out against the full inhalation pressure all of the time. Most people think this type of enhancement to their therapy is wonderful and don't have many issues with sound. However, the sound signature of machines that utilize this pressure relief technology is different, and a small portion of people find it to be annoying. The slight up and down sound (rather than one constant sound) as it goes from inhale to exhale is often found on machines with this type of Easy Breathing technology. If that sound bothers you, we recommended disabling that feature on your machine so it blows at one constant pressure to see if that helps and if the trade off is worth it. Machines that have this feature usually say C-Flex, A-Flex, or EPR in the name or on the packaging.

Be aware that a few smaller machines that do not have the Easy Breathing technology have this type of slight up and down sound signature, also. Please call us if you have questions or need assistance: 1-800-356-5221.

The Mask Factor

These days, compared to several years ago, machines are very quiet. Most of the noise you hear actually comes from air traveling through your hose and then flowing into and out of the mask. You can have a quiet machine, yet a noisy mask. Unfortunately, the manufacturers do not publish mask noise decibel levels. But, certainly some masks are quieter than others. The User Reviews on usually have good information about the sound quality for masks. Also, one of our representatives could go over some of the more quiet mask options available to you.

View CPAP Masks


Consider yourself lucky if noise isn't an issue for you. If none of these tips help in keeping a hushed environment while you or your partner sleeps, then the last resort is to use some earplugs, which may be purchased inexpensively at any drugstore. Some other tips include getting one of those sound machines that produces ambient noises like Rain, Ocean, or Waterfall sounds to help mask the hum of the CPAP machine. Some people like to turn on a fan instead. Lastly, there are a few people who just play some relaxing music to assist in their slumber and there are a number of CDs on the market designed to help you sleep better. Sweet Dreams.