In the first of our deep dives, we spent a week trialling the QuietOn Electronic Noise Cancelling Sleep Earbuds, a high end solution for those trying to avoid bedtime bedlam.
The QuietOn arrives with a small footprint. A simple cardboard box with gold embossed letters emphasising SLEEP. Inside, the charging case is a hardy, reflective plastic with a prominent USB charge port. It’s an attractive case, strong enough for a commute in a backpack or purse while also looking nice on your desk. Opening the case you see the earplugs are magnetised into the charging position, a neat feature that minimises the possibility of incorrect insertion and missed charge. On first receiving the set, it’s important to ensure they’re fully charged. Plug the case directly into your laptop or any USB-enabled power outlet and you’ll see the case lights up. Once those lights extinguish, you know it’s charged. Now, let’s try them on.
At this point it’s important to note, there’s no need to download an additional app or control your earphones remotely. Whenever they’re out of the case they’re ‘on’. To turn them off, simply place them back in the charging device. Not only does this minimise confusion or additional admin, it’s a helpful mental prompt to avoid losing either earphone. Every time they’re out of use, you’ll remember to put them back into the case, meaning they’re always charged too.
Sizing and First Impressions
The QuietOn comes with three standard tip sizes: small, medium, and large. If you’ve used earphones in the past, you’ll likely have an idea of which size is appropriate for you, but it’s double important you check with this product. The noise isolating feature works by creating an airtight seal between the earphone and your ear. The effect can be quite surprising if you’ve never worn an electronic noise cancelling device before.
Once they’re in your ear and tight, the change will be immediate. All external noise will disappear or dull, such that you can only hear the faintest outline of the outside world. They tell you to test by snapping your fingers either side of your head. Trying this myself I heard only a dull tap, more likely the reverberation from my own body than the actual noise of the snap.
This is where we talk about modes. Each QuietOn earbud has a small, tense button on the back of the unit. It’s quite rigid to begin with but as you get used to the product it works excellently. This button toggles between ‘hearing’ and ‘silent’ modes on the device. Silent is what you start in. It’s the fully isolated noise-free mode. This is the setting you’ll use for sleeping, working, meditating, or just ignoring the world around you. With a tap of the button, you transition to ‘hearing’ mode. In this mode, the sound is filtered through the earbud, almost as if you’re on a phone call with the outside world. It’s useful for brief conversations or scanning your surroundings without having to remove the QuietOn. Each earphone can be controlled individually through these buttons, this way you can have one, both, or neither earbud in a given mode at a given time. It’s quite intuitive and I found myself naturally adjusting between ‘silent’ and ‘hearing’ to talk with my partner, even late at night.
First Night’s Sleep
For an early test, I tried the QuietOn next to a running dishwasher and a buzzing fridge. In both cases, the noise diminished. The slight memory of sound that remained was easily ignored. There was no longer a jagged or jarring sound being produced, but a slight wash akin to a rolling wave. In this regard, the QuietOn passed the first test. They took a loud kitchen and transformed it into an effective working from home environment.
The real test however was that night: the dreaded rattling window. In the past, I’ve slept with simple silicone earplugs and while they do a good job of diminishing certain sounds, I found them ineffective whenever anything truly loud happened. Living in an older apartment, the rattling windowpanes and gutters particularly on a windy night was murderous for my sleep regime. The QuietOn had its work cut out for it.
I’m someone who rolls around at night, so I wanted to be sure the QuietOn was comfortable on my back, front, and side. The QuietOn was undetectable when I was on my back or front, it sat easily within my ear and didn’t budge with movement. While it was more noticeable when sleeping on my side, I found that by angling my body slightly I could take the weight off the earbuds and prevent them from digging in. Again, a good fit on the eartip is crucial here: with the right seal, you’ll be sure that the earphone won’t jiggle or rotate in the night, avoiding any uncomfortable pinch with the exterior of your ear.
One Week On
After a few night’s use, I found that there was a psychological benefit to the mere act of putting them on. By this point, I solely used the QuietOn for sleep, so when I place the earphones in my ear and experience the sound disappear, I could feel my body calming, almost readying itself for sleep. My partner and I wake at different times, the QuietOn did a good job of suppressing the noise of bedroom movement, as well as the sounds of neighbours and street traffic.
A single charge is expected to last about twenty hours, with charging time taking an hour. As such, it’s possible to use the QuietOn for a night’s sleep and a day’s work, with ample time to charge it before bedtime. The manufacturer states the battery is designed for “thousands of charging cycles”, guaranteeing years of optimum use with replacement eartips easily purchased.
The QuietOn is a high end hearing solution that thrives in situations where traditional earplugs aren’t up to scratch. For high density urban living, snoring partners, or old rickety buildings, it does a great job of identifying and dulling variable or sudden sounds. The high quality build of the device and their aesthetic appeal make them ideal as a gift someone would cherish for years to come.
See also: Earjobs' Guide to Mother’s Day