Audio

Can't shut out chatter even with QuietOn

To charge the QuietOn earplugs, put them into the case and connect the case to a power source with a USB cable. The case itself doesn't hold power.
To charge the QuietOn earplugs, put them into the case and connect the case to a power source with a USB cable. The case itself doesn't hold power.PHOTO: QUIETON

The QuietOn earplugs, developed by a Finnish company of the same name, don't play music and don't sync with any music players.

These earplugs, unlike regular ones which provide only passive noise isolation, use noise-cancellation tech to further tune out ambient noise by playing back sound waves that cancel it out.

The QuietOn earplugs are light, comfortable and, most importantly, wire-free. They turn on automatically when you stick them into your ear and the earplugs' sensors immediately pick that up.

While the noise-cancellation works as advertised, they aren't quite on a par with market leaders in noise-cancellation headphones, such as Bose or Sony.

The QuietOn earplugs are effective at substantially reducing background ambient noise. Engine noise, the drone of traffic and the rumble of trains get tuned down to a minimum, although you can still pick up on them if you focus.

They don't work as well when it comes to conversation. In a crowded coffee shop, for example, I was still aware of the chatter around me, and could still hear people talking to me directly.

Because they don't sync to a smartphone and have no indicators, it is hard to tell when the battery level is low.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: €179 ($285)

    WEIGHT: 3.8g

    RATING

    FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 2/5

    OVERALL: 3/5

You charge the earplugs by sticking them into their plastic carrying case and connecting that case to a power source through a USB cable. The case itself, unfortunately, does not hold power, so you can't charge the earphones on the go.

Since the earplugs don't draw power the same way that music-playing earphones do, their battery life is outstanding. QuietOn claims a single charge will last for 50 hours of use, and my review pair has lasted about 48 hours on a single charge.

The one kicker is its price - QuietOn currently retails online for €179 ($285). It is expected to be available in Changi Airport in the future for around that price, although a local price has not been set. That's a hefty price tag for earplugs, especially given its niche function, and I expect only frequent business travellers with cash to spare will have the means to give these a try.

Lester Hio

•Verdict: The QuietOn earplugs are convenient and effective at keeping the world around you quiet, but its high price tag and limited use make it a tough sell for most consumers.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 15, 2017, with the headline 'Can't shut out chatter even with QuietOn'. Print Edition | Subscribe