The original Bose sleepbuds weren’t exactly a smash hit. Long-term tests have revealed inconsistent battery life, random shutdowns, and unreliable Bluetooth. But the company claims it has solved these problems and landed on a product that should appeal to its discerning customers.
Brian Oh, our senior video producer at Engadget and I both tested the new Bose Sleepbuds 2 at $ 250 to see if they can help us get some more rest at night.
- Comfortable and small
- Wide variety of sounds
- Simple application
- Extremely expensive
- I can’t use them like regular headphones
- Some sounds are missing
Brian, like many of us, has a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep.
The root cause of his sleep problems is very similar to mine: an overactive brain. None of us can sleep in silence because our inner voice literally WANTS. DO NOT. TO CLOSE. UP. For me, this has led to a life of chronic insomnia which sometimes required medication. There are of course differences in our situations. Brian tends to be a light sleeper, waking up to every little noise, including his snoring dog. I, on the other hand, could probably sleep thanks to armageddon. (I still wake up frequently in the middle of the night, usually from back pain or night terrors … I’m happy to share a bed with.)
After two weeks, we can both report at least some success. The bigger question is, can a portable sound machine ever be worth $ 250?
Now I want to be clear: Bose Sleepbuds are not headphones. You cannot use them to listen to music or podcasts. They cannot answer phone calls. You load a selection of soothing sounds onto them from Bose’s library and … that’s it. And yes, you load the sounds onto them, not streaming. Bluetooth here isn’t good for audio streaming, and frankly, it’s slow enough to transfer even the small files we’re talking about.
Sleepbuds are actually a single use gadget. So it all depends on how he does this thing. To be successful, they must be small and comfortable enough to be worn overnight. They need to block out enough sound to keep nonstop traffic at bay, or at least muffle the loud buzzer next to you. But they also need to leave enough for a smoke alarm to keep you moving. Soundscapes should also be pleasing to the ear, with no obvious seams, and cover a wide range of styles to suit people’s tastes. Lastly, they need to be easy to use as no one wants to wrestle with a buggy and complicated app as they prepare for a zipper.
Let’s go through these requirements one by one, starting with comfort.
Are the Sleepbuds 2 comfortable? Yes, with a few caveats.
The soft-touch plastic and anti-friction coating are honestly better than any headset, wireless or otherwise, that I have ever worn. Brian also had few complaints. These have all the hallmarks of the type of premium products on which Bose has built its name. And the seal protects your surroundings enough that you don’t even need the sounds if all you’re doing is trying to keep a noisy radiator at bay.
My wife is an incredibly light sleeper; she needs absolute silence. If I get out of bed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, she pulls like someone has knocked on the front door. So I’ve tried wearing headphones in bed before because our sleeping patterns are so different, but I just can’t do it. However, I had no problem fainting with the Sleepbuds.
As the night goes on, things get a little different.
Brian, for example, is a side sleeper, and although he found the heads comfortable enough in the void, he had to position his pillow. only just so he doesn’t push them deeper into his ear and disrupt his sleep.
I toss and spin a lot in my sleep and almost every night I either find myself in a position where the buds press uncomfortably into my ear or they just fall off. Brian has also dropped one of the buds a few times and we can both confirm that trying to find those tiny earbuds in your bed while half asleep without glasses is a sure-fire way to ruin your night.
Thus, for short periods in a controlled environment, the Sleepbuds 2 are extremely comfortable. But, in actual use, it’s a bit of a mixed bag.
The same goes for sound selection. It took Brian and I a few nights to find the sounds that worked for each of us. He preferred the steady hum of Warm Static in the Noise Masking category, while I was drawn to the ambient drones of Wanderlust found in the Tranquilities section.
Noise masking, natural scenery, and musical choices cover many different areas that should satisfy a wide variety of tastes. There are 50 sounds in total which is pretty decent and they are all perfectly consistent. Yes, you can tell these are relatively short audio loops, but you would be hard pressed to identify the loop points.
Now, personally, I have found the Naturescapes and Noise Masking settings to be almost overwhelming, despite the fact that I often use nature sounds as a sleep aid. (I have a soft spot for crickets and thunderstorms.) Brian, on the other hand, thought the stills were too distracting and could only imagine using them for meditation.
And, listen, you can’t please everyone all the time, but I love the sounds of my nature. The point is, I just don’t like the sounds of nature here. The Boardwalk, for example, looks less like waves crashing on a beach than someone who caught a split second of a wave and looped it until it was basically impossible to handle. distinguish from white. Without variation or movement, Naturescapes… just don’t look natural.
It would be less of a problem if you could just pump your own sounds. I often like to light up Head space do some relaxation exercise and meditate before bed, but I cannot use it with the Sleepbuds. And I’ve even created my own sleep sounds from field recordings I’ve taken of storms, crickets, and katydids. If the Sleepbuds worked like any other set of bluetooth headphones, I could just listen to it. But you are stuck with what Bose has to offer.