A lot of people have trouble sleeping in complete silence. Sound, however, can put them into dreamland just like a mother's lullaby. Because of this, many doctors have prescribed sound making machines to help their patients get the rest they need. These noise machines can make whale song, waves, waterfalls, twittering birds and several other sounds from nature, but the most popular and effective are white noise generators. They make a sound similar to a TV tuned to a channel that is off the air.
Lately, a terrible and messy problem has plagued many users of this electronic sleep aid. White noise generators are malfunctioning during the night, and making the brown note. For those unfamiliar with the term, the brown note is a low frequency or range of low frequencies which, at adequate sound pressure levels, will cause a loss of bowel control. My research seems to be showing that only one brand of white noise generators is affected by this flaw, but it is among the biggest names in the industry.
"My wife and I had terrible trouble sleeping for years," said Ohio homeowner Walter Culo, "Then the doctor prescribed a white noise machine. We slept like youngins again! That first one we had worked for more than a year, then it quit. We couldn't sleep a wink, so we rushed out and bought the new one. It made us crap our guts out so bad in the middle of the night that we had to throw away the sheets, the blankets, the mattress pad and darn near the mattress! It took a steam cleaner and four bottles of Febreeze to fix it!" Mr. Culo went on to tell me that when he tried to return the unit for a refund, the store called him a liar and refused.
I have heard dozens of stories similar to these. Noise generators are making the brown note, and people are soiling their beds all over the Unites States and Canada. I spoke to the manufacturer of one of the more popular brands, and he denied that there was a problem. He would not give his real name, but he told me "There is no such thing as a brown note. It is an urban legend. They did a thing on TV with speakers, and couldn't make it happen. What you have here is some grumpy old people who should be wearing Depends to bed. They are looking for a free mattress handout, and something other than their age to blame." In spite of his assertion, it is happening over and over: a mess the manufacturer refuses to clean up.
I took one of the machines in question to Dr. Reynard Osbourne at The Center for the Institute of Studies. He disassembled and analyzed it. His findings were that it did indeed change pitch after about 90 minutes from white noise to a sound deep in the low range of audible sound, and also made a sub-audible rumble. "This recording that it plays back in an endless loop," Dr. Osbourne said, "has sounds that should not be there at the end. Sensitive people could easily be affected by them. I am only speculating at this point, but this may be a case of deliberate sabotage. Perhaps more public pressure will get this fixed."