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QuietOn 3 vs. Bose Sleepbuds 2: White noise or no noise?

There are some nights when I just want a quiet space where I can fall asleep without interruption and stay that way until morning. It doesn’t seem like much to ask, but sometimes it can be difficult to achieve, and that’s when I turn to technology for help.

For the past few months, I’ve been using the Bose Sleepbuds II and QuietOn 3 in-ear headphones, which are designed for sleeping. Bose uses ambient sound to lull you to sleep, while QuietOn uses the silence generated by active noise cancellation (ANC). But which one has sent me to the Land of Nod most effectively?

the headphones

Before we get into which one has worked best for me, let’s talk about how they work. On the surface they both seem pretty similar, they’re things you put in your ears to help minimize noise while you sleep, but once you start wearing them it’s clear they’re very different. The QuietOn 3 buttons have ANC and work completely without a Bluetooth connection. They resemble traditional in-ear headphones and come with a foam tip, similar to the Comply tips that come with some headphones.

Bose SleepBuds 2 and QuietOn 3 headphones in one hand.
Andy Boxall/Clear Tips

The Bose Sleepbuds 2 use different ambient sounds and passive noise cancellation to mask outside sounds. The earbuds are small and curvy, with a very flexible, soft silicone tip and little wings to help them stay in your ears. The Bose requires a Bluetooth connection to your phone to work. Each set of earphones fits into a custom case. QuietOn chooses a standard pill-shaped case with a plastic body and brushed metal interior, and Bose opts for a very stylish puck-shaped case with a slide-on top.

Looking at the hardware, the Bose Sleepbuds 2 look and feel more expensive than the QuietOn 3. The case is really fantastic. From the cushioned movement of the sliding top to the bright charging indicators, everything is of a very high quality. The QuietOn case’s rough plastic lets you down, as does the way the earbuds wobble with the magnets inside, and the tiny earbuds don’t have the Bose design flair. However, the QuietOn 3’s lack of Bluetooth means they’re more convenient, and will also satisfy any concerns about using headphones that emit signals for many hours at a time.

in your ears

I sleep on my side, so I was worried about how the buds would feel at night. It doesn’t matter how much noise they mask if I can’t sleep because they are uncomfortable. I’m not worried about the Bose Sleepbuds 2, which are amazingly comfortable. The silicone tips are so soft they don’t stretch my ears, the body is small and barely noticeable, they are snug enough that they never fall off and they sit flush so I don’t really feel them when I lie down. side.

Bose SleepBuds 2 in ear.

The QuietOn 3s are different. They fit much like tiny versions of regular true wireless in-ears, but without silicone wings to keep them in one place. While they don’t move, I found one that fell in my sleep on a few occasions. The body doesn’t sit in my ear as naturally as the Bose either.

However, it’s the foam pads that frustrate me the most. The QuietOn 3 comes with four sizes of foam eartips, which expand in the ear to form the seal. I had trouble getting the right fit. While the medium-sized tips were more effective at isolating sound, they were too big, and the expanding foam made my ears hurt after a while. Small tips are better, but I don’t feel they isolate as effectively.

QuietOn 3 headphones placed in the ear.

It takes me a while to get used to the QuietOn 3s after I put them on, whereas I can put the Bose on and instantly feel comfortable. It’s quite unnatural to sleep with something in your ears, so comfort is paramount. For the first 30 minutes using QuietOn 3, I’m much more aware that I have something in my ear than I was with Bose.

sleeping with the cocoons

QuietOn argues that while the background noise generated by devices like the Bose Sleepbuds 2 are great for lulling you to sleep, they’re not as good at keeping you asleep. Masking the noise completely is the best solution for this, he says. On the other hand, many people already use ambient noise to fall asleep, either intentionally or simply because they like the sound of a running fan or air conditioner, making it a familiar and proven method.

Bose SleepBuds 2 and QuietOn 3 with the cases open and one earbud removed from each.
Andy Boxall/Clear Tips

I reached for the Bose Sleepbuds 2 or QuietOn 3 on nights when I just wanted to isolate myself. I alternated between both pairs when I came up with the mood of some sleep buttons, but it was very rare for me to sleep all night with them, regardless of which ones I chose. Most of the time, I would wake up, take them out, and go back to sleep. It was the unnatural feeling of plugged ears that made me pull them out rather than the irritation, and it happened with both games.

I use the Bose Sleepbuds 2 with the surround sound system for two hours before it automatically turns off. There is no such option on the QuietOn 3 so I would just put them on. The QuietOn 3’s ANC is very good, easily masking sounds from outside the house. Wearing them while awake showed that the ANC couldn’t match the Sony WH-1000XM4 or Apple AirPods Pro, but it’s perfectly adequate for nighttime use and, more importantly, there’s no pressure buildup in the ears.

I reached for the Bose Sleepbuds 2 or QuietOn 3 on nights when I just wanted to isolate myself.

I personally like listening to white noise when I fall asleep, so the Bose Sleepbuds 2 felt immediately familiar. They also satisfied another, less talked about aspect of blocking out noise at night. If you have lived in a noisy place, sometimes you start to suppose noise, leaving you nervous, which is not good for sleeping. While the ANC on the QuietOn 3 is good, you’re still somewhat aware of your surroundings and may find yourself hearing noises that may never come. This isn’t really possible with the ambient sound played on the Sleepbuds 2.

This, coupled with the fact that I found the Bose Sleepbuds 2 more comfortable to wear for longer periods of time, meant that I would prefer them to the QuietOn 3. However, this is quite a personal choice, and may not be the case. for you guys. Also, before you think the Bose Sleepbuds 2 have me sold, they’ll lose a lot of points when it comes to battery.

Drums and sound

Bose claims a 10-hour battery life for the Sleepbuds 2, and QuietOn says 28 hours on a full charge. They haven’t given me any reason to doubt either, and both easily last long enough for a full night’s sleep. However, the Boses have a problem with phantom battery drain. Leave them in the case with a full charge, and after a few days, the battery of the buttons and the case will be completely discharged, even if you don’t use them at all.

Bose SleepBuds 2 and QuietOn 3 cases with visible charging ports.
Andy Boxall/Clear Tips

it’s maddening. Worse yet, charging them takes six hours, so if you’re like me and use them sporadically, often not knowing when you’ll want them, they may not be ready. Yes, batteries do die naturally, but I’d expect it to take a few weeks, not a couple of days. You also need to be very precise when placing the earphones in the case, as it is easy for them to connect incorrectly and not charge. Battery and charging is a serious problem for the Bose.

The QuietOn 3s don’t suffer in the same way at all. The case and buttons have held a charge for weeks with no issues. I also like the way you put them in your ears and they work, while you have to connect the Sleepbuds 2 to your phone and open the app. The initial pairing is sometimes flaky, and that’s not what you want in the middle of the night.

However, I really like the Bose ambient sound profiles available in the app. My preference is engine room sound, but there are plenty of options if you want something different, and they all sound very high quality. The app is also attractive and easy to use. All of this is only useful if the Sleepbuds 2 are charged when you want to use them, though, and that’s not always the case.

Which one to sleep with?

Deciding between Bose Sleepbuds 2 and QuietOn 3 is as personal as sleeping. Comfort and fit will vary depending on the size and shape of your ears and the amount of sound they block. Whether either works for you will depend on your environment, and the battery situation will only be frustrating if you don’t use the Sleepbuds 2 every day.

Bose SleepBuds 2 and QuietOn 3 cases with lids open and earbuds inside.
Andy Boxall/Clear Tips

These are also expensive items. The Bose Sleepbuds 2 costs $249 and the quiet in 3 they’re $269, so you’ll want to make the right choice before you decide to buy. Another thing to consider is how healthy it is for your ears to wear headphones every night. Ears need to breathe, and if they don’t, you may encounter problems with earwax buildup. I don’t use them frequently or long enough for it to be a major issue, but with more regular use, my inner ear definitely itched more than usual. Regular tip cleaning is also essential.

So what’s my takeaway after a few months of living with these two sleep-inducing headphones? In an ideal world, I would like a mix of the two. I prefer the comfort and fit of the Bose Sleepbuds 2, but the QuietOn 3 are more convenient and much less hassle when it comes to connecting and charging. Ultimately, I find myself turning to the Bose Sleepbuds 2 more often, and that’s because of the great ambient sound profiles and exquisite comfort.

But I’ll also give you a secret third option if you’re not willing to spend at least $250 on headphones to sleep: Many nights, I find that asking my Google Nest Hub to play white noise for 30 minutes usually does the same job of helping me. to sleep. My suggestion is to give it a try before you splurge on any of these.


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