There is a small round box in my toiletry bag for business trips. What is in the box is not contact lenses, but a pair of 3M earbuds.
Since my first contact with 3M earbuds 5 or 6 years ago, I think it is one of the greatest inventions of mankind. For me who sleeps very lightly and is sensitive to noise, my roommate’s snoring, keyboard sounds, and chair pushing and pulling are all the “culprits” that prevent me from falling asleep.
But a pair of 3M earbuds of the right size can solve the above problems, and the price is not expensive. So in the past few years, I have bought dozens of earbuds one after another, each box is about 35RMB (five pairs), which can be used for about a month.
But over time, I found a problem, that is, my ear canal seems to be getting bigger and bigger. Although this is a high probability of my psychological effect, the reality is that the earbuds of the same size once made me feel the ear canal swelling, but now it will come out inexplicably at night.
▲ 3M earbuds with dust
Another reason why I gradually complain about 3M earbuds is its hygiene. After a pair of earbuds have been used several times, their “body” will be stained with many small fluff or dust, and it is difficult to remove. At this time, if I put it in the ear canal again, it will make me feel itchy and worry about the health of the ear canal.
So last year, I set my sights on a sleep earbuds (Sleep Buds) launched by Bose. According to KOL, it can effectively block noise and help sleep. It’s a pity that it is “too unbelievable.” When I was about to place an order, news of the recall came out. The reason is a battery problem, and some products cannot be charged normally.
▲Bose first generation noise-masking sleep buds
But this fall, Bose stated that they have solved the problem of the first-generation sleep buds and launched an upgraded version of Bose noise-masking Sleepbuds II. After the official release recently, I bought this sleep earbuds with the mentality to give it a try.
Small enough and light enough
Compared with the previous generation, the second-generation Bose Sleepbuds II has not changed much in appearance. They are all cylindrical boxes. Just push the lid up to see the earbuds.
There are five indicators below the earbuds, which are used to display the remaining power of the earbuds. There are long strips of breathing lights on both sides. When the earbuds are put in for charging, they will have the effect of breathing, and they will stay on when they are full.
Although I haven’t bought the previous generation product, I can still find the subtle differences between the two generations from the picture. First, the cavity of the earbuds became an oval shape, and secondly, the inner charging contacts changed from two to three.
The change in the shape of the earbuds cavity is most likely to improve the wearing comfort, especially the side lying position. The increase of charging contacts should be to solve the problem of poor contact during charging of some earbuds of the previous generation.
To my surprise, Bose has also become “environmentally friendly”. Bose Sleepbuds II does not have a free charger, only a USB-A to Type-C power cord. There are no reductions in the shark fin silicone earmuffs, there are three sizes, you can choose according to your ear size. It is very important to choose the right size silicone earmuffs, because it is related to the effect of noise shielding and the comfort of wearing.
Taking out the Bose Sleepbuds II, the most intuitive feeling is that it is very small and light. The sound cavity is only the size of a fingernail and weighs only 1.5g. After putting on the medium-sized silicone earmuffs, the weight is only 2.6g.
For reference, I weighed the 3M sleep earbuds I used before, and the weight was 0.6g. The weight of a single AirPods is 3.9g, which is 1.5 times that of Bose Sleepbuds II. The small size and light weight can theoretically achieve good comfort and reduce its presence in the ears as much as possible.
In terms of connection, Bose Sleepbuds II is still connected to the mobile phone through the “Bose Sleep” app. The connection process is not cumbersome, as long as the charging case is pushed open, the app will automatically find earbuds, and click to pair.
It should be noted that it cannot play audio files of any other apps, but can only play ambient sound effects in “Bose Sleep”. So don’t mistake it for a “bluetooth earphones”.
“Bose Sleep” provides a total of 34 types, three types of sleep aid sound effects, including noise-shielding, sound, and quiet. Among the noise-shielding sound effects, white noise is used as the background sound. In addition, Bose’s official website reported that in 2021, another “soothing music library” will be launched to provide more sleep aid sound effects.
After the user chooses the sound effect he likes, it can be transferred to earbuds for storage and playback. This means that when using earbuds to play sound effects, there is no need to keep the app open on the mobile phone, and earbuds can act as a player.
Does noise-masking and sleep aid really work?
For a noise-masking sleep earbuds, I am most concerned about the following aspects: noise-masking effect, wearing comfort, ease of control, and battery life
“Noise-masking” is the main selling point of Bose Sleepbuds II. Compared with 3M earbuds, can the effect compare to the latter? This question is probably the most curious.
Bose emphasized on the official website that Bose Sleepbuds II does not use active noise reduction technology, but passive noise reduction. This is mainly achieved by the sealing effect formed by its shark fin silicone earmuffs, which are closely attached to the ears.
The next noise shielding work depends on playing sound effects. Bose said that their sound effects have been specially optimized, and the appropriate frequency can make it difficult for the user’s brain to detect external noise.
▲ Description of Bose official website
Generally speaking, users who need sleep earbuds may live in a dormitory, or have inconsistent schedules with their partners, or snoring. Then in these scenes, common sleep noises include snoring, keyboard sounds, game sounds, voices, door opening and closing sounds, and toilet flushing sounds.
If you live alone, you may be mainly troubled by the sound of traffic outside the window, the sound of air conditioning, and the inexplicable sound of the next door.
So, can Bose Sleepbuds II block these common sleep noises? I conducted a special test in the past few nights and adjusted the volume of Sleepbuds II to 1/2. The test results are shown in the table below.
|Type of noise
Masking effect (out of 10 points)
|Sound of walking
|The effect on the mechanical keyboard is slightly weaker
|Normal volume, non-screaming type
|Medium volume on the phone
|Air conditioning sound
|Door opening and closing sound
|The sound of traffic outside the window
Overall, Bose Sleepbuds II does have a good noise-masking effect, but it cannot replace 3M earbuds.
I have to say that Bose’s official website claims that it has a good shielding effect on snoring, but it is not the case after using it. If your roommate or partner is not snoring loudly, then it is still in the usable range; if the snoring is loud, use 3M earbuds.
▲ Description of Bose official website
In addition, the effect of noise-masking depends largely on the volume of the sound effect. When I adjusted the volume from 1/2 to higher, the perception of noise was indeed less obvious. But in actual experience, adjusting the volume to about 1/2 will not affect falling asleep. Using an excessively high volume to block noise is equivalent to “killing a thousand enemies, self-destructing 800”, and the sound effects in earbuds will also become another form of noise.
In addition, in the process of adjusting the volume, I found that the volume is lower than 1/2, which has a good sleep aid effect. Basically within five minutes, sleepiness will strike. If there are no harsh noises like snoring around you, you can fall asleep soon.
Although they are “sleep earbuds”, they can be used when not sleeping.
For example, I put on Bose Sleepbuds II in an office with a noise decibel of about 50dB and played sound effects at a medium volume. The sound of drinking fountains, air conditioners, and purifiers all disappeared. The keyboard sounds of colleagues all disappeared, and only occasional sound can be heard. There are high-frequency sounds such as the sound of moving chairs and the rubbing of plastic bags.
A quiet environment will improve learning and work efficiency. And because it is not active noise reduction, there will be no pressure in the ears, and it is relatively friendly to friends who are not used to noise reduction earbuds.
Next is wearing comfort
When sleeping on your back, Bose Sleepbuds II can be “basically no feeling”. The compact and thin shape, coupled with the skin-friendly silicone earmuffs, make it comfortable.
▲ The earmuffs are very soft
When sleeping on your side, the comfort is not as good as 3M earbuds. After all, the earbuds cavity is hard. When the ear touches the pillow, squeezing will inevitably occur. At this time, the earbuds will begin to “sense of existence”. Fortunately, this foreign body sensation will not make you uncomfortable.
It is worth mentioning that the shark fin silicone earmuffs and auricles will fit very tightly, no matter how you turn over, the earbuds will not fall off. In addition, Bose Sleepbuds II has an anti-friction surface design. When earbuds are in contact with the pillow, this special coating can avoid the noise caused by friction.
An excellent earbuds must be “easy to use” in addition to being “easy to use”. For Bose Sleepbuds II, it depends on whether the linkage between software and hardware is smooth.
In terms of hardware, the operation of earbuds is relatively simple and easy to understand. Put it in the charging case to automatically charge, and take it out to automatically connect to the phone. The experience is similar to AirPods.
However, the remaining power can only be checked in Bose Sleep, and will not be directly displayed in the battery status bar of the phone. In addition, the volume of Bose Sleepbuds II can only be adjusted in its app, and cannot be adjusted directly through the phone’s volume keys, which is a bit cumbersome.
In terms of software, the Bose Sleep app is still very simple. The function is not complicated, and the interactive page is also very beautiful. Even an “electronic rookie” can quickly become familiar with it.
There are mainly two commonly used functions. One is to time the sound effect playback. The user can choose the duration of the playback, or play it all night. The second is to set the alarm clock, you can add multiple alarm clocks to the earbuds, and the sound of the alarm clock is a bit like “panoramic sound”. When I first heard it, I thought it was the phone ringing in the room, which gave people a strong sense of space.
The last is battery life. The official said that after the charging case is fully charged, the earbuds can last for 40 hours.
This is also true in actual use. In the case of nightly use and occasional use during the day, the five indicator lights under the earplug box will turn off one or two a day, which can support 3-4 days of use.
Bose Sleepbuds II is fully charged and can play sound effects continuously for about 10 hours, which is enough to guarantee a night’s sleep.
$249.95, is it worth buying?
“Is it worth it to spend $249.95 on earbuds that can’t listen to songs?” I asked myself before buying this earbuds.
In fact, in the past few years, I have spent a lot of money on improving sleep. In addition to dozens of boxes of 3M earbuds, there are also various steam eye masks, sleep aid aromatherapy, latex pillows, melatonin and more. So when Bose launched Sleepbuds, the name alone was enough to attract me.
I believe that there are many friends who have sleep problems like me. According to the China Sleep Index Report 2018, from 2013 to 2018, the average sleep time per capita in China fell from 8.8 hours to 6.5 hours. On average, 38.2% of Chinese people have sleep problems, which is 11.2% higher than the global average.
According to the “Sleep White Paper for Internet Netizens in 2018”, high work pressure is the main culprit for insomnia. People with sleep problems in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen account for 60%.
A large enough insomnia group became my main reason for evaluating Bose Sleepbuds II.
▲ Insomnia makes people doubt life. Picture from: graduan
Back to the question in this section, “$249.95, is it necessary to spend this money?”
Compared with the 3M earbuds that are used daily, only from the perspective of noise-masking, the cost performance is obviously not as good as the latter. Assuming that Bose Sleepbuds II can be used for three years, the cost per day is about 1.8RMB. And a box of 5 pairs of earbuds, the price is 35RMB, an average of 5 days, the cost is 1.4RMB.
But considering the ear health and sleep aid sound effects, its cost-effectiveness is difficult to measure. However, my original intention to buy it was to block the snoring sound. Judging from the effect of this item, it did not meet my expectations.
Overall, Bose Sleepbuds II is more suitable for users who have difficulty falling asleep. Its built-in soothing sound effect, coupled with passive noise shielding, will indeed make it easier for people with insomnia to fall asleep.
In addition, it is also suitable for friends who seek efficient study and work. Wearing it in the library or office and listening to the soothing sound effects may help you focus better. The premise is that you have a sufficient budget and do not like the ear pressure of noise-canceling earbuds, otherwise AirPods Pro is better.
If you, like me, can only fall asleep in extremely quiet situations, and are very sensitive to sounds (especially snoring), then you can give up as soon as possible, or 3M earbuds are reliable.