The QuietOn Sleep can certainly help you sleep better, but they can't play music and are not cheap. If you don’t have the cash, you’ll have to keep on sticking cotton wool in your ears.
Great noise cancellation
Neat carry case
Tricky to activate talk mode
Not everyone will like sleeping with earbuds in
Why you can trust TechRadar
Would you like to sleep better? Poor sleep quality is linked to a range of diseases including cancer and diabetes. The importance of a good night’s kip is clearer than ever. QuietOn thinks it can help.
The company previously launched a pair of noise-cancelling earbuds to help travellers sleep on planes. Now it has refined the concept with the QuietOn Sleep, a new pair aimed purely at helping people kip better in their beds.
At time of writing, the QuietOn Sleep Indiegogo campaign had just gone live. You can pre-order them starting at $129 (£92, AU$163).
So what’s changed? The sleep earplugs are smaller this time around, and should be more comfortable to wear while sleeping. The noise-cancelling tech has also been tweaked to specifically target lower frequencies. This means they should block out the noise of someone snoring.
The idea is you pop them in, shut out the outside world and drift off into an uninterrupted sleep. If they work, they could improve your health, make you more alert during the day, and maybe even reduce your risk of disease. They could also save a relationship or two, especially if one of you is a particularly loud snorer.
As we’ve said, the QuietOn Sleep are smaller than the previous model. The earbud part is about the same size as those of the Apple AirPods, but they don’t have the unsightly stalk sticking out the bottom. They’re also a lot less capable than the AirPods, but we’ll come onto that later.
The QuietOn Sleep come with a foam layer to make them feel softer against your ears. They’re still pretty comfortable without this. The foam tips expand to fill your ear cavity, so they block noise and provide a snug fit. Shake your head all you want, they won’t come out.
We tested a pre-production model – the final versions won’t ship until October. The design is likely to change before then, so expect a more prettified look than our slightly battered test model.
There are no buttons, switches or lights to speak of. They come in a carry case. Don’t lose this, as it doubles as a charging cradle, thanks to the microUSB port on the back. The lid is magnetised, and closes with a satisfying snap, though it didn’t close fully when the QuietOn Sleep were encased in their foam coatings. Hopefully this will change before the final release.
When the QuietOn Sleep are in their carry case, they switch off automatically. As soon as you take them out, the noise-cancelling tech kicks in, and the battery starts draining.
If you’re hoping for a wireless pair of earphones like the Apple AirPods or Sony WF-1000X, you’re out of luck. The QuietOn Sleep can’t be used to listen to music, as there’s no Bluetooth onboard. These are purely for blocking out noise and helping you get a good night’s sleep. So how do they fare?
Pretty well, though we have some reservations.
As we’ve said, as soon as you take them out of the case, the noise-cancelling tech kicks in. All you have to do is pop them in your ears. This makes operation nigh-on foolproof. There are no buttons to press or menus to scroll through.
The noise cancelling is excellent. The makers claim it’s been tweaked to focus on low frequency noise like snoring. Seeing as our significant other doesn’t snore, we tried them on the London Underground, and it successfully dulled the rumble of the train.
At the same time, we could still make out the announcements, though they were a lot quieter than they otherwise would have been. That means you’ll still be able to hear higher frequency noises like your alarm clock.
You’re not completely cut off from the waking world, thanks to a talk mode. Press the earbud and it opens the airwaves, so you can hear low frequency noises again. It’s not perfect though. Like Bragi’s headphones, it’s a bit hit and miss, with your presses registering only sometimes. Again, hopefully this will be ironed out before the final release.
You have to press each earbud individually to hear through them – they’re not linked in any way. Admittedly you can do with hearing through one if it’s just a brief chat you’re having, but it’s a bit disorienting. And having to press both adds another step, making it a cumbersome process.
While the QuietOn Sleep are comfortable to wear, it feels a bit jarring going to sleep with something in your ears. If you lie on your side, for instance, the pillow pushes them further into your ears, which is a little uncomfortable. It’s less of a problem if you sleep on your back. And we didn’t have any trouble falling asleep wearing them.
Then there’s the price. QuietOn offered the Sleep for as little as $109 (£78, AU$138) on a "super early bird" deal, but those are all sold. The RRP of $239 (£171, AU$303) seems a little steep, especially considering they can’t be used to listen to music.
The QuietOn Sleep are promising. They do a great job of blocking out low frequency noise and are small, light and comfortable to wear. The 20-hour battery life should see you through all but the deepest of sleeps, and the talk mode is a neat addition.
But they’re not perfect. Activating talk mode is a hit and miss affair, and there’s no way to switch them off or charge them without their carry case. It’d be nice to be able to see how much battery is left, too. And the full RRP is a lot to ask for earbuds that can’t handle music.
- Read more about the best noise-cancelling headphones
Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.