NEW YORK: AUDIO GIANT Bose launched its first ever "noise-masking" Sleepbuds" last week, a pair of freshly-designed in-ear wireless headphones that have been made for specifically for bedtime in a bid to help you sleep better.
The Bose Sleepbuds work in the same way as normal Bluetooth earphones but are smaller and thus more comfortable so can be used while you're in the land of Nod. They aren't focused on music streaming, either, and instead are all about helping you to drift off in a more relaxed way by masking unwanted, external noise and replacing it with soothing sounds.
The idea came after research Bose conducted suggested that, generally, people are not getting enough proper rest when they go to bed on a night, and while most people appreciate the importance of exercise and nutrition to overall wellness, "they don't understand that proper sleep is just as important".
As a result, the Sleepbuds are aiming to improve people's health, and is the second of two products part of the firm's newly established "wellness division", after its Hearphones: earphones for people that struggle to hear but aren't quite ready for a hearing aid.
So, the questions everyone is asking: do they really work? We were at the launch event in New York and gave them a test run. Read on to find out what we thought.
Design and build
In true Bose style, the Sleepbuds are just beautiful to look at and have definitely been designed with "premium" in mind, as the rest of the firm's products are.
They come in a lovely brushed-aluminium case, which also charges the Sleepbuds and provides an additional 16 hours of charge when away from a USB port, making them ideal for travel.
As you'd expect, the case is really well made and seems like it will be sturdy enough to withstand a knock or two in the bottom of your travel bag. Although we were surprised to see they're charged via a microUSB port, not a Type-C connection.
The case slides open in a nice, smooth action, reminding you how much they cost (read: a lot). But when you pull them out all is forgiven. Each Sleepbud weighs just 1.4g and measures 1cmx1cm (not including the rubber sleep tip) so they look and feel tiny. As a result, when you put them in your ear you'll notice they are super comfortable, and after no time at all, you can't really tell you've got them in anymore.
Putting them back in the case is just as satisfying. They slip into place with a magnet, which aligns them beautifully with the charge connector. Oof, these things are sexy as hell.
According to Bose, the Sleepbuds were a "massive engineering effort" and are made up of six layers to create a product that not only works for blocking out external sounds but also comfortable enough to wear for long periods and use while actually lying in bed, even on your side.
On the outside, there's an electronics outer layer, with a high gloss finish, which Bose says allows you to see them in the dark. Following this on the inside is a rechargeable zinc battery that lasts 16 hours on one charge (Bose claims), followed by a microcircuit board to store the sleep tracks, a "miniscule transducer" that plays the sleep tracks, a laser-etched antenna that connects the buds to an external device, and lastly a StayHear+ Sleep tip, which is noise isolating to block out the sounds.
Putting the antenna on outside apparently helped Bose save room on the inside and helped keep the buds so small and thus virtually weightless.
To get you off to sleep, the Ssleepbuds offer a variety of what Bose is calling "soothing sounds", including nature sounds and other familiar audio that's related to relaxation. The 10 sounds are divided into those made for noise masking and those for relaxation.
We got a chance to try some of these in a bedroom-like environment. The Bose team played a number of "external sounds" into the room, such as "noisy neighbours" and "barking dogs", and played the masking sounds over to the top to show us how well they worked.
The masking sounds covered the external noises very well, to the point where you couldn't hear them at all.
It'll be interesting to see how much you need to adjust the volume for them to mask different sounds, as you can do this to balance how undetectable you'd like the offending noise to be, via the attached app. Here you can also adjust the number of hours you want it to run when you go to bed. Bose said they will also be adding more of these sleep tracks to the app's library over time.
The app seems pretty straightforward to use, too.
First impressions and availability
After trying out the Bose Sleepbuds, we're convinced their small size and lightweight construction means they're not only much more comfortable than normal headphones for sleeping in, but after our short hands-on demo we're confident they'll be able to replace the sounds of busy city streets, noisy neighbours or a snoring partner with the soothing sounds to help you drift off.
However, we'll have to wait until we get the sleepbuds in for a full review before we can tell you how well they work in reality, and if they are comfortable over long periods, and if they help you to stay asleep, much easier as promised.
The sleepbuds will retail for £229 in the UK when they are released, which we are told will be sometime in Autumn later this year. µ