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Sleepbuds From Bose Promise Peaceful Sleep In Noisy Environments

Bose Sleepbuds earphones

Bose Sleepbuds earphones


  • Product Name: Sleepbuds
  • Manufacturer: Bose
  • Review Date: July 26, 2018 01:00
  • MSRP: $249
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!
  • Charging time: Up to 8 hours for sleepbuds
  • Battery life: Up to 16 hours per full charge
  • Charging case: Up to 3 hours charging time
  • Dimensions: 0.94” H x 1.06" W x 0.56" D
  • Weight: 0.081 oz each
  • Case Dimensions: 1.06" H x 3.03" W x 3.03" D
  • Case Weight: 3.93 oz

Bose has applied its audio wizardry in some unexpected ways to develop its newest product, the Sleepbuds. Designed to tackle noise-related sleep interruption, the $250 Sleepbuds are tiny, wireless earbuds that play relaxing sounds in order to “block, cover, and replace the most common noises that interfere with sleep,” providing “better sleep, all night, every night,” according to Bose. The Sleepbuds can’t be used to play music, but instead deliver the soothing sounds of rustling leaves, chirping crickets, rolling waves, or crackling campfires. These customized “sleeptracks” have been designed to mask the frequencies of common noises, including snoring, human speech, and traffic.

It’s more than ambient sound or white noise,”

- said Daniel Lee, systems engineer for the Sleepbuds project.

Noise-masking is a science… You can’t achieve it by simply turning up the volume on calming songs. And depending on the situation, it’s more effective than active noise cancelling — even ours.”

Bose is known for its industry-leading active noise reduction, which the company employs in its QuietComfort and QuietControl headphones. The tech is so effective that it’s even used in the aviation-specific headsets worn by airplane and helicopter pilots. But noise cancellation can’t make unwanted sounds completely inaudible, especially in the frequency range of the human voice, where our hearing is most sensitive.

At night, you’re trying to shut down completely, and the world is naturally more quiet,”

- Lee said.

And when it’s quiet, even the slightest sound seems loud. Bedside machines can’t cover it; earplugs can’t block it.”

So instead of noise cancellation, the Sleepbuds use “noise masking,” which takes advantage of the way in which the inner ear and brain automatically combine and process various frequencies. If two competing sounds have the right combination of frequencies, and if the masking sound (in this case, the “sleeptrack”) is louder than the disturbing sound (such as a noisy neighbor), then the ear/brain mechanism simply doesn’t register the disturbing sound at all. Your neighbor’s conversation goes undetected, and you can sleep peacefully.

The science behind Bose’s proprietary noise-masking tech is fascinating, but the most impressive thing about the Sleepbuds has to be their form factor. Without the tips, each Sleepbud is a mere 0.4 inches wide and high, and weighs just 1.3 grams. (Apple’s AirPods weigh more than three times as much.) Yet despite their small size, the Sleepbuds contain rechargeable silver-zinc batteries that can run for 16 hours per charge. The patented, noise-isolating “StayHear+ Sleep tips” provide a soft and snug fit. Bose claims that the Sleepbuds are designed to be worn comfortably for hours, even when you’re lying on your side. In order to achieve such impressive miniaturization, Bose had to make some clever design choices. Instead of being streamed from a smartphone or tablet, the sound files are stored locally in flash memory, inside each Sleepbud. This arrangement requires much less power than a typical design, in which the headphones must maintain a constant connection with another device. The tiny transducer inside each Sleepbud is not required to deliver powerful bass and hi-fi highs, so it too has been scaled down.

On the outside of each Sleepbud is a laser-etched antenna, which allows the Sleepbuds to connect via low-energy bluetooth with a smartphone or tablet. Using the dedicated app for iOS or Android, you can choose from the 10 preloaded sleeptracks (more will become available via future software updates), adjust the volume, and set the amount of time for which you want the sound to play. You can even set an alarm that will wake you up without disturbing your partner. The Sleepbuds ship with a brushed aluminum charging case, with its own internal battery that can provide an extra charge for your buds when you’re traveling. Bose believes that the Sleepbuds could be a game-changer for millions of people who suffer from sleep deprivation.

Is a good night’s sleep worth $250 to you? Share your thoughts in the related forum thread below.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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Jacob is a music-lover and audiophile who enjoys convincing his friends to buy audio gear that they can't afford. He's also a freelance writer and editor based in Los Angeles.

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