The Bose company is well known to music lovers and lovers of quality music all over the world. The portfolio of this North American audio vendor includes both traditional wired solutions and fully wireless high-tech devices, which are now commonly referred to as 'true wireless'. And as a person who is fond of portable sound, I was quite familiar with the products and lineup of this manufacturer, but I did not see anything unusual in this. It was all the more interesting to learn about the appearance in their model range of a device that did not fit into any product niche, but in fact was the ancestor of a new category of devices – we are talking about the so-called electronic earplugs, or headphones for sleeping – Bose Sleepbuds.
To my shame, I found out about the presence of such a product not from news feeds and insiders, but only after my colleague Ilya Subbotin wrote a detailed review of this device (Review of Bose Sleepbuds headphones for sleeping), and when I found out, I got fired up to try them in action .
The fact is that, in addition to people with sensitive sleep, Ilya suggested adding people suffering from tinnitus to the target audience of this product. Tinnitus (also a variation of 'tinnitus') is a syndrome of tinnitus. Fortunately, Ilya did not have the opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of Sleepbuds by this parameter, since he does not have any tinnit and, I hope, never will.
However, with this assumption, he, without knowing it, convinced me even more of the need to try on myself the effectiveness and usefulness of this gadget. The fact is that recently I began to hear an annoying ringing in my left ear, more like a high-frequency whistle, somewhat remotely reminiscent of a mosquito squeak, which, if not poisoning life, certainly does not add joy.
That is why I asked the device for a test, so to speak, in a combat situation.
I will not dwell on the appearance in detail, you can read about this in the above-mentioned material of Ilya, I will describe only my impressions.
It's hard for me to call the headphone case (hereinafter I will call Sleepbuds headphones) compact. On the one hand, this small aluminum tablet with a sliding, spring-loaded lid fits easily into a bag, on the other hand, compared to other fully wireless earbud cases, it does not fit so well in a pocket.
Here it is for the bedside location. Although, given the use case, this does not cause any problems.
The headphones themselves turned out to be very small and compact. In reality, they look smaller than they appear in the photo. I really liked the texture of the silicone tips – velvety and very delicate.
Of the strange features that caught my eye at the first inspection, I would like to highlight this – for different sizes of nozzles, only the size of the ear hook changes, but the size of the skirt of the ear cushion remains almost the same. This is strange, since different people differ not only in the size of the auricle, but also in the size of the ear canal.
In practice, I gave headphones to several people, and one of them was too large for comfortable use. Perhaps this is done to make the headphones easier to remove, as they sit very tightly in the ear, and in order to get them, a certain level of finger dexterity is required. If you make the ear pads smaller, the headphones will be harder to reach. But these are my guesses.
Relying on the simple instructions in the application, I connected the headphones to the phone and first of all began to sort out the sounds, which, as it turned out, were hard-coded in the application.
Of all the ten proposed options, I settled on two that seemed to me the most comfortable and correspond to the concept of 'sounds for sleep'. They turned out to be 'Tranquility' and 'Sound of the Ocean'. The sound 'On the plane' seemed very strange. Personally, I have never associated this sound with sleep, and I have never been comfortable sleeping on an airplane. On the contrary, I even bought noise canceling headphones specifically for use in flight, so as not to hear this hum that is on board during the flight. But these are my preferences, each of them can have their own, personally familiar with people who love to sleep to the drone of an airplane – for them this sound would be just right.
Let's get down to practice. Trying to place the headphones in your ear. It turns out that thanks to the miniature size and cool materials, the headphones in the ear are no longer felt after a few minutes. The first couple of hours I just walked around the house in them to the sounds of the ocean. It turned out to be cool – behind the measured rustle of water, the surrounding noise is practically inaudible. But walking in such headphones is one thing, but what will it be like to sleep in them?
Initially, as a person who can literally live with headphones, I was extremely skeptical about the prospect of sleeping with a foreign body in my ears – previous experience told me that sleeping with headphones is uncomfortable, they will crush, and my ear will hurt. Therefore, the first night in headphones became a kind of Rubicon in the perception of such a scenario of their use.
I'll start with the feel in terms of ergonomics.
There is no discomfort, and at night the headphones do not interfere – I did not wake up because of them. There was no pain or swelling. However, despite the comfortable shape and size, in the morning I caught myself thinking that I still feel some ear fatigue, which disappears a few minutes after removing the headphones.
I slept with headphones on for several nights in a row, and one of those nights I woke up with a strange feeling of discomfort. For some reason I wanted to take off my headphones and sleep without them. Taking them off, I felt a kind of relief and freedom. You know, the feeling is akin to falling asleep in clothes, because of which you wake up in the middle of the night, take off your clothes and feel a certain lightness. This is exactly what I had on one of my nights with Sleepbuds. On all other days, the headphones did not cause discomfort and there was no desire to take them off in the middle of the night.
Slightly different sensations arose in a relative to whom I gave them for three nights. He never had a desire to take them off, but in the morning there was also a feeling of a little tiredness of the ears. Perhaps this is a matter of habit and in the future the ear will adapt and will not experience discomfort.
Now let's move on to the effectiveness of headphones from the point of view of their direct purpose – the fight against external sounds-stimuli.
Sleepbuds against noise
To begin with, a couple of words about the feelings of my relative, who has a super sensitive and disturbing sleep and is able to wake up from any, even very quiet sounds, if they are knocked out of the natural surrounding sound background. In his words, the headphones partially coped with their function – there was no one in the library of sounds that would be comfortable and convenient for him specifically for sleeping, because of this he involuntarily had to listen to these sounds, and the process of falling asleep was delayed. During sleep, the headphones showed their effectiveness, and there were no nightly alarming awakenings. Did the relative feel more sleepy than usual? Oddly enough, no. Perhaps more 'sessions' of this sound therapy were simply needed, but if the device, designed to relax and provide comfort, takes some getting used to, then its necessity is in doubt.
Now let's move on to what this experiment was started for – the fight against tinnitus.
I must say right away that the ringing in the ear itself does not overlap the sounds of the headphones, since they are in different frequency ranges, but at the same time they are noticeably masked. During the time that I have this sound in my ear, my brain has learned to ignore it so that during the day I hardly hear it. But in complete silence it is impossible to completely abstract from it – it rings, an infection. And it is with this residual sound that the headphones make it easier to deal with. The main thing is that the overlap of this squeak by the headphones is such that it is easier and faster to fall asleep, which is a good result in itself. Naturally, there is no talk of any therapeutic effect. This is just a disguise, but it turns out to be quite a lot. If there was not yet the effect of 'sleeping in clothes' and fatigue of the auricle, then we could talk about the high efficiency of this instrument.
Another point that I cannot fail to mention is the length of the audio tracks. The sounds do not differ in variety and have a very short duration, about 7-10 seconds. After some time, you begin to clearly hear the moment of the sound looping back and when it begins to repeat itself. Sorry. But it happens very quickly, which spoils the impression of the product. I was counting on the great length of audio tracks. And I didn't even try to specifically highlight this parameter, it happens by itself – bam, and you already hear the moment at which the sound starts to go in a circle.
Now, if the sounds were longer … I hope the technical component allows us to fix and improve this moment.
But it is not all that bad. An unexpected, very convenient and effective scenario for using these headphones was not originally laid down by the manufacturer, but another, accidentally discovered during testing – it turned out to be very cool to do mental work in the headphones that requires concentration and attention. Here I was in awe of how great it was to use them for work. Nothing distracts, nothing interferes. And unlike music, which many people use as a background for work, in the case of Sleepbuds sounds, the brain does not have to be distracted by trying to analyze this sound. I think the manufacturer should consider finding and adding special sounds to the headphone library for work. This is where the product turned out to be very appropriate, and I quickly got used to using these headphones for work. And yes, this text was typed to the sounds of 'calm'.
Instead of a conclusion
Bose has managed to create a very unusual product, woven from contradictions. On the one hand, this is a unique device that would be great to have among your gadgets. On the other hand, the non-obviousness of the use cases, combined with the not very democratic price of $ 250, make the need to buy them very, very controversial.
So the headphones made a double impression on me. I would definitely not consider them from the point of view of medical use. At least for myself. In this regard, the hypothetical proposal to use pharmacies and medical institutions as distribution channels seems to me somewhat far-fetched and far-fetched. Despite this, the headphones undoubtedly have a wow effect and impress both from a technical point of view – looking at the headphones and their size, it is difficult to believe that there is an assembly of high-tech electronic components inside – and in terms of novelty of positioning.
But the use as a device for knowledge workers seems to me more appropriate and correct. In this role, headphones can 'shoot'. It remains only to figure out who exactly they will be most suitable for, and you can start developing new advertising slogans. I think large corporations can afford to buy these 'toys' for their employees to provide them with the necessary atmosphere. However, these are just my thoughts – a person who is far from marketing and advertising. As for me personally, despite the scenario of use that suits me and the unexpected effect, I'm not ready to buy them for $ 250. However, if the price turns out to be lower, I will definitely consider purchasing, but not today.
The author thanks the Bose office in Russia for the Sleepbuds submitted for the review.