Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.


Trouble sleeping? If noise keeps you awake, these earbuds deliver the sounds of silence

Light sleepers, rejoice! The tiny noise-canceling QuietOn earbuds do just one thing - and do it very well. Are they worth the price? That depends.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
The QuiteOn earbuds and charging case.

The QuietOn earbuds as compared to a dime illustrate their tiny size.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • QuietOn earbuds are available now for a price of $289.
  • When they are properly fitted, they create a soothing sleeping environment. The sound reduction is remarkable,
  • They are pricey and aren't nearly as comfortable as claimed when combining side sleeping with a harder pillow.

I'm a light sleeper and the slightest noise can wake me. Since moving into our new house, I started sleeping with earplugs -- the foam kind you roll up and slip into your ear canals. I opted to go that route because I'm a combination back and side sleeper and the foam didn't bother me when the side of my head was smashed against a pillow.

But those foam plugs have two problems: They don't last very long, and they have to be inserted just right or they fail to block even the slightest sound.

About a month ago, I went on a search for something different. My quest took me to the QuietOn company, which sells a tiny pair of earbuds that use Active Noise Canceling to block quite a bit of sound from reaching your eardrums. These earbuds do one thing and one thing only -- they use ANC to reduce sleep disturbances. They don't play music, there is no Bluetooth, and you don't use an app to control them. You simply remove them from the charger, insert them, and let them do their job.

How well do they perform? Given these cost $289,  you'll want to know if they live up to the hype.

The QuiteOn earbuds and charging case.
Jack Wallen/ZDNET

These earbuds, with the help of outstanding Active Noise Canceling, are capable of muting ambient sound to give you a peaceful sleeping environment.

Before I share my experience with you, understand that the QuietOn earbuds do not deliver total silence. No earplug or earbud can do such a thing. These also do not produce white noise. The only sound you hear happens within the 15-second window of removing them from their case and inserting them. During that time, you'll hear the sound of the ANC switching on. After that, what you'll experience is pretty remarkable.

It is also important to understand that, beyond the initial cost, you'll need to replace the memory foam tips regularly. If you're careful with them and clean them with a damp cloth, you'll be lucky to get about six months out of each pair. The earbuds ship with one of each size, XS, S, M, and L but you can purchase replacement packs for $18. Unfortunately, the shipping can be pretty costly. (Purchasing a 3-pack of M tips costs $18 for the product and $20.80 for the shipping.) But you should get over a year of use out of that three-pack.

Also: The best sleep headphones you can buy

OK, enough build-up -- how do they perform?


  • The smallest ANC earbuds.  
  • Premium ANC combined with passive noise reduction.
  • Easily reduces snoring and other ambient noises.
  • 28-hour life on a single charge (using the case to recharge the earbuds after each use) with a 200mAh integrated lithium-ion battery.
  • Weight (per earbud) 1.8g.
  • Charging interface - USB-C.
  • Product material - plastic (PC-ABS, PMMA, polycarbonate), polyurethane rubber, stainless steel, gold.

My experience

The first thing I want to note is that there was a problem with my order. Even though the payment went through, it was marked as failed and the company didn't bother to inform me. Two weeks after I placed the order, I contacted them and they eventually figured out the problem. The order then arrived about two weeks after that. All told it took about a month for the earbuds to arrive.

As soon as I had them, I topped off their charge and that night, I gave them their first test.

As I mentioned earlier, you insert them, and -- as soon as the ANC kicks in -- you enjoy the soothing sound of quiet. I will admit that it is pretty dramatic when the ANC kicks in. You go from hearing everything around you to hearing the subtle hiss of the ANC, to bliss. The QuietOn earbuds were far superior to the foam earplugs I'd been using (which had been doing a very good job on their own).

The first thing I noticed was the sound of our heating was dramatically reduced to the point where I could barely hear it. Next, my wife's breathing vanished from my ears. The only thing the QuietOn earbuds could not prevent from reaching my eardrums was the midnight singing of our cats, who never failed to reach incredible volumes for such tiny creatures. The difference is, however, that their songs no longer wake me. Yes, I can hear them when I'm awake but once I've drifted off, the QuietOn earbuds dull the sound enough that I can sleep through it -- which is remarkable.

Sounds pretty amazing, right? As far as the noise-canceling is concerned, these sleepy-time earbuds are unmatched.

Also: Android has a hidden feature to help you sleep better. Here's where to find it

However, side sleepers should keep reading.

As I mentioned, I'm a combination back and side sleeper. When I'm sleeping on my back, these babies are perfect. It's when I roll over to my side that things get a bit less so. First off, even though they are small, you feel them when you're on your side. Now, that could be because I use a harder, memory foam pillow that is less than 3 inches thick. I cannot sleep with soft, thick pillows. If you use a traditional pillow, you won't have any problems sleeping on your side with the QuietOn earbuds in place. If you go my route with your pillow accommodations, be prepared for a period of adjustment.

The other thing you have to know about this product is that fit is crucial. This isn't like traditional earbuds where if you get the fit wrong, they may not sound as good. With the QuietOn earbuds, if you don't get the fit right, they can't do their job properly.

To do this, you have to first select the right size foam tips. Once you've done that, you have to pull your ear either back or up, insert the earbud such that the foam tip is in your ear canal, turn the earbud so the plastic portion is securely tucked, and then release your ear. You get used to the process and you'll know, beyond any doubt, when the earbuds are properly seated.

Also: These are the 7 best (and most accurate) sleep trackers you can buy

Finally, I did discover that -- when sleeping on my side -- the earbuds don't always remain in their proper position, requiring me to adjust them. This is a small price to pay, given how well they perform when they are perfectly seated. But for some, that could wind up being a deal breaker, given the price.

For me, however, I'm more than willing to contend with the pitfalls of these earbuds because when they work they are remarkable. If you're willing to pay the price for these tiny earbuds, you might find them to be equally as helpful at allowing you to drift off to sleep, on a wave of muted sound or near silence.

Editorial standards