If you like some background noise while working on your PC then it can be tempting to play music, stream video, maybe just turn on the TV. But that can be distracting, and you might not get as much work done as you’d hoped.

Halotea Free generates ambient soundscapes instead — birdsong, rain, white noise — which help you tune out distractions and concentrate on whatever you’re doing.

On launch the program displays 28 suitably-named themes: Jungle, Magic Chimes, Night Fire, Rain and Forest, Sleep, and so on.

Click any of these and it starts playing immediately. We choose Woods imagination and heard a pleasing mix of random bird and nature sounds, air chimes, an echo effect and an audio preset called Deep Relaxation.

Every theme is customizabile, with options to adjust the volume and balance of every element, or even turn them off entirely. You can then save the tweaked theme for reuse later.

An optional timer turns playback off after a defined period, handy if you’re using the program to help you sleep.

There are some annoyances. We found a scheduler which could play audio files, execute programs or take some system action at a set time, but bizarrely it doesn’t seem able to play Halotea’s environmental sounds.

The program also has what looks like a reasonable audio player — playlist support, 10-band equalizer, echo and reverb effects — but for some reason it refused to play any of our test MP3s.

Despite that, if you’re interested in this kind of program Halotea Free’s wide choice of ambient themes is enough to justify the download. Check out Atmosphere Lite, too, which uses a similar approach but is even more configurable.

Halotea Free is available for Windows XP and later.