I am taken with water features. On the other hand, I don't like having to spend a lot of time on them. I've been playing with fountains since I first bought one of the little packaged models in the 80s. All of those were either buzzingly annoying, obnoxiously loud, and/or require perpetual fiddling with the motor filter. Their small size also required that they be filled constantly. My own attempts at building one from scratch have been so-so. They were still rather care intensive. However, I finally did it! I've waited to post about this to be sure it was a long-term success. I've had this one going for over a year with almost little maintenance.
The porcelain pot, about a foot high and wide, was one that was around the house. I can put a ton of water in this so that I only need to top this off maybe once a month. The sound changes with the level of water. If it gets too loud and splishy (is that a word?), I toss some more water in. I also put in a bit of bleach on occasion to keep the bowl from developing scum. Just a splash or what amounts to several tablespoons does the job without getting the eau de swimming pool effect.
The pump is in the 100-155 gph range (about $25) so that it works at its lowest setting. Although that is a high range for the size of the pot, working at the lowest setting means it is less noisy and not taxing the unit. This low setting gives the sound of water throughout the downstairs but does not show water spurting up unless you look down into it. I've learned that spurting water also means the possibility of over-spray which will result in water spots on the surrounding area. You can hear a bit of a pump buzz when you are next to it, but sitting in the room you just hear the water.
If you get a pump that overpowers the sound of the water, return it! Try the next size down or a different brand. IMHO, if the pump is too loud, it is defective--it gets returned. Another suggestion, test the water pump outside if possible to get the setting you want. You will be amazed at how far some of them can shoot water.
My pump is covered with large washed rocks I've collected over time. The cord is covered (well, almost--you can see a bit on the side) by the small potted plastic plant. Yeah, I could drill a hole in the side of the pot, but I'm not willing to risk the pot. The plant works fine for me. Voila! Finally, a fountain that can survive my neglect!