Bose Sleepbuds, we test earplugs that put you to sleep with natural sounds

Bose Sleepbuds, we test earplugs that put you to sleep with natural sounds

Bose Sleepbuds stamp

How many times has noise prevented us from sleeping well? For those who can not fall asleep the American Bose launches something new. They look like in-ear headphones, and they work like one, but they're not for listening to music or talking on the phone. They serve as ear plugs and only offer sounds studied for better sleep . They will arrive in stores at the end of October for a price of 270 euros and we have already been able to test them. It should be noted that this product had an unusual origin in a manufacturer like Bose: Indiegogo. They launched the idea in the factory, and to see if it would be accepted, they started a fundraising campaign on that dedicated website. It was successful, so they decided to manufacture them and whoever signed up got them at a significant discount.

They don't cancel noise: they mask it

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The Bose Sleepbuds are “technically” a Bluetooth headset, but not like the others. To begin with, we will not be able to reproduce the music we want for them . Nor use them to talk on the phone as hands-free. They are also not noise-canceling headphones, as Bose itself has developed. In these, microphones detect ambient noise and generate phase-reversed sound through the headphones. This “reverse” sound cancels the noise, achieving the effect of dampening the annoying perception. It is somewhat effective with constant noises, such as the background noise of an airplane or a train, better if they are low frequency (bass). But it is not effective in case of screaming, sudden noises, horns, and so on.

Bose Sleepbuds inside

Sleepbuds do something else: they make sounds to mask ambient noises . It is about making sounds or soft music that tricks the brain so that we stop paying attention to background noises. It is something similar to what happens when listening to an old vinyl whose music we like a lot: we will stop paying attention to the background noise to focus on the music. In any case, by their very nature, being closed earphones, the Bose seal the ears quite well and achieve some isolation (without sounding).

Relaxing sound

In addition to emitting sounds that mask the noises that may reveal our sleep, the Bose Sleepbuds emit soothing sounds . As we have already said, they are not normal headphones and therefore there is no way to send them the music we want. They only work with their own application, Bose Sleep, which currently only has ten types of sounds. Some are designed to mask noise, as we have explained. When we put them on, they catch our attention and we forget about the background noise that bothered us: the street, a nearby bar, etc.

Bose Sleepbuds (9)

There are other sounds that are softer and that, although they will also help to distract our attention from noises that did not let us sleep, they are relaxing in themselves. It is the other function that should also help us sleep better . In addition to isolating us, and distracting us from noise, those sounds can relax us and make us sleepy on their own. Bose announces that these initial ten sounds will be joined later by others: they will even be dedicated to specific problems (anxiety, insomnia, etc.). They work with doctors who specialize in sleep disorders, and from them came the idea for this unique product.

16 hour battery life

The Bose come in a box that has its own battery (it is charged with a rear micro USB, it comes with a cable and charger with plugs). With an ingenious and precise magnetic system, each one is neatly collected in its place and connected to charge. The small internal battery in each earbud lasts 16 hours according to Bose and we believe them. We used them for two nights (a little over 7 hours each) before charging several times, and they always had battery left.

Bose Sleepbuds (1)

When you open the luxuriously finished box, some LEDs light up that indicate if the Sleepbuds are charging or are charged. And also the battery charge level of the box itself (five central LEDs), which with the micro USB takes about three hours to fully charge. Sleepbuds charge more slowly, they use a silver-zinc battery that takes up to 8 hours to regain its full charge (for 16 hours, let's remember). According to Bose, the box gives one more full charge, with which we would have 32 hours ( four long nights ) of autonomy without plugs. We thought that it could even last longer since the box lasted several nights without losing half a load.

Bluetooth BLE and alarm

How long does the battery last? The key is to use Bluetooth BLE or “low energy”, also called Bluetooth Smart. The headphones are not receiving data (music or sounds) from the mobile all night . That's why they only have ten sounds, which are actually a few seconds repeated. Because those sounds are in the Sleepdbuds, not in the mobile. When we decide what we want to hear and activate it, the Sleepbuds keep repeating that sound until further notice.

The mobile can be idle in the meantime. Another interesting function that we will look at is "scheduling". If we know that our street is noisy from bars, neighbors or traffic, but that (let's say) after 3 AM the noises stop, we can program the Bose to sound until that time and then turn off . A perfect solution for those who cannot sleep until late in the morning because of the noise.

And if we have the Bose on, also with sounds, how will we hear the alarm clock? They have also thought about these possibilities and we can set an alarm with the application. When it is time to get up, the Sleepbuds themselves will emit the alarm sound that we have chosen. Thus we do not depend on listening to the alarm clock or the mobile.

Bose Sleepbuds (7)

Compare the size of the headset without the case with an SD card.

We tested them: first, the right adapter

When you open the packaging and remove the Sleepbuds from their box, it is striking how light they are and that almost everything is very soft rubber . What are the headphones themselves, removable from the covers that come in three sizes (L, M and S for Large, Medium and Small), they are tiny. We do not remember wireless headphones so small ... like the nail of the little finger. See the photo next to an SD card, it looks huge. Once put on the adapter sleeves, they will be hidden inside the inner ear lobe. The first doubt is cleared: they do not cause any discomfort and we can have our head on the side (the ear on the mattress or pillow) without problem.

It should be said that with these Bose, everything goes through the application . You have to download it before almost opening the box ... or almost without. Just follow the instructions to detect the headphones (they are activated when they are removed from their charger box). Once detected, we will have to learn how to place them, although it is very easy. It will be important to have a mirror on hand to make sure they are well seated, and that we have the adapter in our size.

It is enough to try some other to realize, and the drawing that appears in the application shows very clearly how they are when it is not the correct size. A good trick for those and any earbuds , to ensure that they “enter” the ear canal, is to pull the ear (lobe and upper part successively) while pressing (slightly) inwards. This way they are perfectly seated, and with the rubber “ear” of the adapter seated inside the inner ear lobe. In Bose terms, they call that StayHear +.

Ten sounds to choose from

The sounds that (when we tested it) were available in the Bose Sleep app were ten. They are: drizzle, ocean, altitude (airplane noise), waterfall, energy (wind turbines), spring, wasteland (field), whisper, tranquility (soft music), and camping (bonfire). It's easy to imagine how each one sounds: smooth and relaxing, although each person will have a preference. Some sound a little more "present" to better mask the noises (a couple snoring, for example).

Each sound has a volume regulation (and the volume of the telephone is used to change the level of the Sleepbuds as well). From a certain point, still moderate, an excessive volume warning pops up. It is not very high (nor is it full) but it reminds us that we may not want to leave it so high if we want to "find out" what is happening around us. In fact, there is more than one warning of this style in the application : so that we do not forget to set an alarm (we could not hear the alarm clock). Or so that we are sure if there will be someone near us in case there is an emergency or something similar, and we do not find out. A bit exaggerated, because the Bose do not cover the ears so forcefully ...

The application

Besides helping us to take the first steps, find the right adapter or choose the ideal sound, the application has more utilities. One is to report the status of the Sleepbuds battery, in percentage of charge and in estimated hours . We can even schedule an alert in case they fall too low. This way we would prevent them from running out of battery, and not alerting us with the alarm to wake up. A good excuse for being late for work, in case you hadn't thought about it ...

The Bose Sleep App is also used for those alarms or to program how long we want to listen to the sounds. From "all night" (until we deactivate them in the morning) to a few hours or less. And of course to set an alarm: at what time, with what sound, with repetition ... The truth is that you can't ask for much more .

In bed or on the couch

The first question that is cleared is whether they will bother us. Although we have been users of earphones for years (we were pioneers in fact), the truth is that few are those who do not bother us after a few hours. And sleeping with them on seems impossible because it would limit our mobility: resting an ear on the pillow with them is uncomfortable. None of that with the Bose, designed precisely for that: they are inside the ear and are not noticeable once worn .

Now, no matter how well inserted we have them, they do not isolate like other earphones (closed and with foam adapters). Not like earplugs, which in the end is a more radical but effective option. With them on it costs more to follow a conversation, for example, but it is not impossible. It is a medium or moderate isolation . When we activate a sound, especially if it is "active" (spring for example, water noise) it effectively masks the noises and it would be difficult to follow the same conversation.

In "relax" mode, first on the couch and then in bed, the sensations were good . In the end, it is a matter of choosing a sound that is better in the long term, that does not "distract" us. Here we miss not being able to decide to load a song or cut (or cuts) of music of our choice. It would be ideal to even use Spotify for example, select some song / s, and leave them active. In fact it is how we do it when we have to spend hours by plane or train ... but the Sleepbuds do not allow it.

Bose Sleepbuds (2)


This does not allow Bose to listen to music: without them linked to the mobile we activate Spotify (for example), the music comes out of the mobile because it does not recognize the Bose as "headphones". We tried it several times, but there is no way ... Funny. By the way, the mobile should always be close , which was not a problem in our case. But thinking of older people who may depend on someone else's mobile, it could be. Sleepbuds do not work without a mobile, not only to activate them, but always: let's keep that in mind.

It should be clear that the Bose Sleepbuds are not Bluetooth headphones, or at least not normal ones. We will not be able to listen to music with them, nor use them as hands-free for the mobile. They are more like earplugs for sleeping, with the advantage that they emit sounds and have programmable alarms. Those sounds can help us relax and sleep, and they can also help mask external noises. Coupled with the (moderate) insulation that good positions offer, it can be the difference between getting a good night's sleep or not getting it . If that description fits what we need, and the price (270 euros) fits us too, great . They are very well made, they are comfortable, the battery lasts several nights away from an outlet, and the application is easy to use.

Bose Sleepbuds

TypeEarplugs with earphone and limited sound reproduction
ConnectionsBluetooth BLE and battery charging
ControlBose Sleep App (iOS / Android)
Features10 sounds to choose from, sound programming, alarm (snooze)
Battery16 hours of autonomy, 8 hours of charge
Case-coverWith battery for two full charges. Charges in 3 hours (micro USB)
Weight1.4 grams (each)
Adapters includedThree sizes: Large, Medium, Small
Release dateEnd of October 2018
Price270 euros

Bose Sleepbuds (12)

Bose Sleepbuds Guillermo