We’ve talked extensively about choosing an audio baby monitor that offers sound clarity and so forth, so it seems a little ironic to suggest a baby monitor that also filters out sound. However, that’s what we do recommend. The best baby monitors include a feature that allows you to hear only what’s important. Not every little snuffle, not the sound of fabric against fabric, or any of the other background noises that might happen. These monitors are tuned to a specific frequency, the sound frequency of a baby’s cry. These baby monitors even filter out some of the common electronic background noises such as hums and hisses. So the only thing you’ll hear during the night through the baby monitor is what’s important — your baby’s cry. When that happens, the monitor immediately tunes in, and depending upon the model, may even amplify the sound so there’s a better chance of you waking up.
If you’re a new or first time parent, you may be thinking that yes indeed I want to hear every sound like child makes when I’m not with it. You probably haven’t dealt with sleep deprivation yet, though. The advantage of this voice activation feature, especially if it’s one that amplifies the sound of the baby crying is that it will wake you up in the night. If you’re using a monitor that doesn’t have this feature, and you want to be sure you awaken when your baby cries, you would likely have the sound on the receiver in your bedroom cranked up. However, this means that every other noise on the frequency is going to be cranked up as well – all those little background hisses, and all that static is also going to be amplified. You won’t have to worry about being awakened when your baby cries, because you’ll never be able to get sleep in the first place.
But what if there are times when you do want to be able to hear everything? There is another feature you should be looking for as well, in this case. And that’s the ability to be able to turn the sound activation off from the receiver. With this feature, you can briefly monitor any of the sounds coming from your baby’s room, for whatever reason. Perhaps you just want to make sure the monitor is working properly or you want to make some adjustments to the sound volume.
If you’ve decided that sound activation is a feature you would like to have in your new baby monitor, be aware that different manufacturers have different descriptions for the feature. It may be referred to as a background noise filter, voice activation or VOX, microphone sensitivity or some other terminology. And also be aware that for the most part, most of the low end or low cost baby monitors do not offer this feature.
We do have reviews here for two different monitors that offer not only the voice activation feature itself, but also the ability to adjust that control from the parental unit as recommended above. These are the Angelcare Movement and Sound Monitor Deluxe and the Philips Avent DECT Baby Monitor. The Angelcare monitor is significantly more expensive than the Philips monitor, although deals can often be found on both. At the time of this writing, the Philips baby monitor is about two thirds of the cost of the Angelcare monitor. Having said that, the Angelcare monitor does have a lot of other features as well.
If after all of this, you’re still not sure that this is a feature that you would like to pay the extra money for, why not test it out first? Don’t just take our word for it. If possible, purchase two baby monitors, one with this feature and one without. Assuming you have a generous return policy, take some time with both and see if you prefer to have a voice activation feature.