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SoundLAB Pillow Speaker review

A super cheap under-pillow speaker that delivers surprisingly decent sound at night

SoundLAB Pillow Speaker
(Image: © Future)

TechRadar Verdict

The SoundLAB Pillow Speaker isn't sophisticated, but if you're struggling to fall asleep at night and find sleeping with earbuds uncomfortable, it could be exactly what you need. It doesn't render high frequencies as clearly as the similarly designed Roberts Radio Pillow Talk Speaker, but it's so cheap that it's hard to complain. It may not do justice to your favorite music, but for listening to ambient soundscapes from an app like Calm, it's ideal.

Pros

  • +

    Extremely cheap

  • +

    Good sound for the price

  • +

    Long cable

Cons

  • -

    Requires headphone jack

  • -

    No in-line volume control

30-second review

Despite being one of the cheapest pillow speakers around, the SoundLAB Pillow Speaker is one of the best around. Despite looking like a piece of PC equipment from the early 1990s, its 'ivory' plastic exterior is actually very well designed. The speaker grills positioned on the sides mean sound isn't muffled excessively by your bedding, the lack of a battery means it won't overheat due to lack of ventilation and present a fire risk, and the headphone cable is long enough to stretch comfortably from a phone sitting on your nightstand.

Sound isn't top quality, and if you're planning to listen to audiobooks then you'll prefer an under-pillow speaker that delivers crisper trebles, but if you're among the many people who like to fall asleep listening to white noise or rainfall, there's no need to invest more than this.

However, you won't be able to use it with many modern phones unless you invest in a headphone adapter, which could cost more than the SoundLAB Pillow Speaker itself.

SoundLAB Pillow Speaker

(Image credit: Future)

Price and availability

The SoundLAB Pillow Speaker costs $9.99 / £7.99 (about AU$15), and is available from Amazon and other third-party stores. That makes it one of the cheapest under-pillow speakers around, and a good option if you're looking for something particularly inexpensive for use while travelling.  

Design

The SoundLAB speaker is a flat, plain looking device free of any branding or logos (which makes sense for a device that sits out of sight), and is made from a type of textured, cream-colored plastic reminiscent of old PCs. Its rounded triangular case is 87mm in diameter and 26mm deep, and sound is emitted through grills on each of its three edges (which are designed not to be smothered by your pillow).

It has no batteries, which is a real advantage for an under-pillow speaker. The lithium-ion batteries used in wireless Bluetooth speakers can be very dangerous if they overheat; if one cell in the battery overheats, it can cause a chain reaction called 'thermal runaway', which could even lead to the flammable electrolyte fluid igniting in a worst case scenario.

Instead, it uses a simple 3.5mm headphone plug, which is attached to a generous cable that we measured at 68cm. That gives you plenty of slack to reach from a phone placed on your nightstand or the floor beside your bed, but means this speaker isn't suitable for phones like the Google Pixel 3 or iPhone 7 unless you also invest in a headphone jack adapter.

SoundLAB Pillow Speaker

(Image credit: Future)

Performance

SoundLAB is a company that specializes in cheap headphones and mirrorballs (plus the motors to rotate them), so we weren't expecting anything groundbreaking from the Pillow Speaker, but it's not too shabby - particularly considering the price.

If you've been thinking of investing in a white noise machine, it's well worth considering as a cheap alternative. Just install a free app like Rainy Mood or White Noise Lite, plug in the SoundLAB Pillow Speaker, and settle down for the night.

SoundLAB Pillow Speaker

(Image credit: Future)

The speaker grilles on the side mean sound isn’t as muffled as it is with devices like the Sound Oasis Sleep Therapy Speakers, and high frequencies are preserved surprisingly well even through your pillow. It’s one of the best pillow speakers we’ve tried for audiobooks, and the detail in ambient noises like rainfall is rendered with impressive clarity. It’s not going to beat a regular speaker for 

The slightly textured surface means it doesn’t slide around like some pillow speakers, and remains exactly where you placed it.

Buy it if

You're on a budget
You'll be hard pressed to find a decent quality under-pillow speaker cheaper.

You like white noise
For gentle ambient audio, there's no need to splash out on a costlier speaker than this.

Don't buy it if

Your phone lacks a headphone jack
Unless you already own an adapter for your phone, you won't be able to connect it.

You enjoy audiobooks
Higher frequencies are weak, so your favorite narrator won't sound their best with this speaker. Check out the Roberts Radio Pillow Talk Speaker for a better alternative.

This article is part of TechRadar's Sleep Week 2022 (running from Sunday 13 to Saturday 19 March), a week-long celebration of all things slumber. We'll be bringing you proven techniques and tips to help you sleep better, and have rounded-up all the top-rated tech to transform your sleep.

Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)