Drift off to dreamland with these earbuds

The Bose sleepbuds come in an aluminium charging case.
The Bose sleepbuds come in an aluminium charging case.

Music lovers, these are not the wireless earbuds you are looking for.

Bose sleepbuds, the latest product from the audio firm renowned for its excellent noise-cancelling headphones, do not play your music clearly in noisy environments.

In fact, they do not let you listen to any music at all. Or audiobooks, or podcasts.

What you get are 10 so-called sleep tracks - from the burble of a stream to swelling waves - that are supposed to help you drift off to dreamland.

I was disappointed initially to learn that these Bluetooth-connected earbuds play only their own snooze-inducing white noise.

However, Bose's explanation makes sense.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $379

    WEIGHT: 1.4g

    BATTERY LIFE: Up to 16 hours on a full charge 

  • RATING 

    FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5 

    OVERALL: 4/5

First, the sleepbuds do not stream audio from the smartphone because that would drain their tiny, non-flammable, silver-zinc battery, which is good for about 16 hours when fully charged. The aluminium charging case holds one full charge (an additional 16 hours), so altogether, they are good for about four nights of sleep.

Without their removable silicone ear tips, the sleepbuds are as small as a pill, each measuring just more than 1cm wide and weighing 1.4g.

Making them bigger to accommodate a larger battery would affect the comfort level, which is crucial as you are supposed to wear them the entire night.

More importantly, these earbuds are intended to help you sleep and music playback might be distracting, especially if your tastes veer towards loud music.

They also do not have Bose's active noise-cancelling technology.

Instead, the silicone ear tips block ambient noise passively, allowing the sleep tracks to work their lullaby magic.

Each earbud fits inside the ear without any protrusion, so users will not feel uncomfortable even when they sleep on their sides.

Bose includes three ear-tip sizes. A visual fitting guide in the companion Bose Sleep app (for iOS and Android) helps you choose the right size.

For me, the smallest ear tips fit snugly without coming loose despite my most violent head-shaking attempts.

They felt comfortable enough, but not to the extent that I would forget I was wearing them.

They do not completely block out the outside world - I could still hear my surroundings, but sounds are muffled.

Playing the sleep tracks using the Bose Sleep app only partially drowns out ambient noise, making it seem more distant, but still audible.

You can adjust the volume of the sleep tracks in the app.

 

The app also comes with a built-in alarm that you can set to wake you up via the sleepbuds.

I rarely have difficulty falling asleep. But sharing a room with a three-year-old means I do get woken up by his cries now and then. With the sleepbuds, I was less likely to be disturbed. One of the earbuds fell out on the first night, though.

But I was more annoyed that the app often failed to detect the sleepbuds when I took them out of their case.

This means I had to put them back and take them out for the app to locate the earbuds again.

The case is well-made, with LED indicators to display the level of charge remaining. It has a rubber, slip-resistant base so you will not accidentally knock it off your night stand.

Also, I find myself using the sleepbuds in the office to drown out distractions. Now, Bose probably did not intend them to be used in this manner, but their white-noise audio tracks seem to work for me.

The Bose sleepbuds cost $379, which seems fairly steep because they cannot play music.

But what is the price of a peaceful slumber for insomniacs or those sharing a bed with a heavy snorer?

• Verdict: Comfortable earbuds that work as advertised, but do not expect them to do more, like play music.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2018, with the headline 'Drift off to dreamland with these earbuds'. Print Edition | Subscribe