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As New York City's temperatures have fallen, the hum of my AC may be off, but the sounds of holiday traffic are louder than ever. Naturally, I've taken to wireless earbuds to get my daily dose of (hopefully) eight hours of sleep. The latest pair on the testing agenda are QuietOn's 3.1 earbuds.
QuietOn has been in the niche market of sleeping earbuds for some time now, and the latest 3.1 model builds off of the successes of the QuietOn 3.0 buds with improved active noise cancellation and a more ergonomic fit. After spending the past two weeks with the earbuds, they've slowly crept to the top of my list of bedside essentials. That said, these retail at $289 and are not without their flaws. Read on to learn more.
To start, the QuietOn 3.1 buds weigh just shy of 1.8 grams, which makes them more lightweight than the standard pair of earbuds. The small size makes the most difference when your head is against a pillow and there is less pressure building up -- especially for side sleepers like me.
Contributing to the lack of pressure is the in-canal fit that's secured by the buds' plush, foam ear tips -- much like traditional earplugs. Straying from the typical silicone ear tip, the foam cushioning sits snugly in your ear canal and allows the rest of the bud to lay flat against your ear. Even then, it's great to see that QuietOn bundles three different ear-tip sizes, so you can easily swap in the right fit.
The only problem is that even though the earbuds fit comfortably in my ears when I start sleeping, at least one of them is missing by the time it's sunrise. As a suggestion to manufacturers: if you don't incorporate a find-my-buds feature, at least make the buds glow in the dark!
A case for good sleep
With an uncanny (and probably purposeful) resemblance to a pillow, the buds' charging case is both compact and sturdy. It's not the lightest case I've held but is still easy to travel with and easy to discern when tossed in a bag of travel accessories.
The case also has three blue LED lights situated right above the USB-C charging port that indicate the battery level of the earbuds. Part of me wishes these were on the front side of the case, though, as it's much easier to scan while the buds are charging.
While the comfort is dreamy, the star of the QuietOn 3.1 earbuds is by far the active noise cancellation (ANC). When you slip the buds in place, you have to wait about 30 seconds before you hear and feel the change in noise and pressure.
There's a smooth transition from ambient noise to simply...nothing, as the buds adjust to your ears, create an audio seal to lock in the subtle white noise, and ultimately block out the world around you -- including your partner's restless snoring and partygoers who have lost track of time. The foam ear tips' passive noise cancellation is the cherry on top.
As a noise-sensitive sleeper myself, I've tried sleeping with my second-gen AirPods Pros before but found them too bulky. Therefore, I was impressed to find QuietOn's ANC comparable to Apple's, while feeling less irritating to wear during sleep.
How long do these last?
QuietOn promises up to 28 hours of battery life with the 3.1 earbuds. I've personally gotten four nights' worth of battery without even placing the buds back in the charging case, but I credit that mostly to the fact that the buds kept falling out of my ear and switching to standby mode instead of ANC. Should you have a more civil experience with the QuietOn earbuds, then I'd expect nothing less than three days of usage before needing to charge.
While the buds see all-around upgrades, QuietOn has yet to add a suite of sound or software to accompany the hardware -- meaning you can't stream music over Bluetooth or use an in-house app to play loops of soothing background audio. Basically, these earbuds are ideal if all you want is silence... and willing to pay for it.