Last Fall we did a round up of SleepTech gear. The collection generated a lot of offline conversations about pandemic stress, sleep disruptions, and related topics.
Not surprisingly, a good bit of the talk was around noise control. A number of readers commented that the reduction in traffic noise caused by the pandemic (because no-one, anywhere, was traveling to anywhere else) led to them to sleep a lot better, and they wanted to find ways to “continue” the trend (without the havoc of a world-wide virus). Other readers noted that, because of the decrease in ambient noise, they actually became more aware of their partner’s nocturnal “vocalizations” and the sleep-depriving consequences thereof. And a third group of readers mentioned that because they were “around” more, their pets (typically cats) had been waking them up FAR TOO early, negatively impacting their REM cycles.
In all of these situations, we responded with pretty much the same advice…get yourself a set of QuietOn Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) earbuds!!!
There are a lot of ways to “silence” unwanted noise. The most high-tech way is to “actively cancel” it. The idea is conceptually easy to understand…get rid of an unwanted sound wave by producing what is essentially its “anti-wave.” When the two waves meet, they cancel each other out.
This idea of “actively cancelling” unwanted sound was conceived in the late 1930s, and development eventually resulted in technology good enough for commercial use in the late 1980s. While the 1980s’ headsets were bulky by today’s standards, they were a god-send for pilots and others in the airline industry.
Fast-forward to 2015, and technology has advanced enough for two enterprising Nokia engineers to try to fit all the pieces (mic, noise-canceling electronics, battery, etc) inside a set of earbuds….and QuietOn Sleep was born!
The tiny QuietOn Sleep ANC earbuds are tuned by hand to cancel out low frequencies between 200-800Hz that foam earplugs cannot block, no matter how far you stick them in your ear canal (don’t try to prove us wrong about this, you’ll only hurt your head), and are specially designed to be worn while resting/sleeping.
The QuietOn earbuds offer:
- Left/Right specific ear buds;
- Extra rubber cones in various sizes;
- Charging case/USB cable (user supplied AC adapter); and
- 20-hour battery life.
Like other powered ear buds, they come with their own case which serves both as charger and storage/transport. The charging wells in the case are left/right specific and are shaped for the expected ear bud. BTW, while the USB cord is provided, no AC adapter is supplied. We didn’t care, as who needs yet another adapter to add to the pile?
There was no wireless setup or connectivity required, and the earbuds will automatic charge while in the case and connected to an outlet. We found a more convenient solution…attach the case to a USB battery pack. It was the most portable way to keep the QuietOn charged.
The QuietOn earbuds were about as easy to use as they come. There is a button in each earbud, which, when pressed, switches between hearing mode or noise reduction mode. When in the hearing mode, we could hear everything (all the frequencies: low, mid, and high) without any filtering or cancellation. In the ANC mode the attenuation level is about 25-30 dB in the 100 – 2000 Hz frequencies and 30-40 dB above that. It is kind of “library quiet,” where you can still hear some sounds, but all are very hushed 🙂
We found the option to switch ANC on/off particularly useful when we had to focus on work at home and needed to block out the neighbor mowing their lawn. These will definitely follow us into our open-plan office so that we can discretely “step into the library” anytime we need!
Putting something in your ear and then trying to go to sleep takes some getting used to. It doesn’t matter HOW tiny the device or how soft the foam, you are going to NOTICE IT.
The QuietOn earbuds were no different. We felt them and you WILL feel them. Yes, they are really small and comfortable, but you WILL know they are there in the beginning. Our “acclamation time?” About 3 weeks.
The main question is…can one really fall asleep with the QuietOn earbuds in the ear and will they help the person stay asleep longer? After having had them for a year, our answers are most definitely YES and YES!
Pro tip: Start off with the smallest rubber tip and move up if they keep falling out. We started with the “medium” and moved down to the small when we kept pulling them out in the middle of the night because our ear canal was irritated. After we swapped in the small tips, we slept through the night like a baby!
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