Bose SleepBuds Block Out Noise While You Snooze | News & OpinionJune 20, 2018
Bose unveiled a new set of earphones today, and they aren’t meant to stream music. In fact, they aren’t meant to be used while you’re conscious at all. Bose SleepBuds are best described as smart earplugs that use wireless technology to block out distracting noise while you sleep.
The SleepBuds are minimalist, wire-free earphones that measure only one square centimeter for the electronics compartment and weigh just 1.4 grams each. They come with Bose’s StayHear+ Sleep eartips, rubber eartips with fins that tuck into the contour of the ear to ensure a secure fit, similar to the eartips used by the Bose SoundSport Free.
Despite their small size, the SleepBuds can last up to 16 hours on a single charge of their silver-zinc batteries. When not in use, the Bose SleepBuds stay charged in an included aluminum storage case.
They also include built-in flash memory for storing audio data, and have external laser-etched antennae on their compartments.
Despite all of these features, the SleepBuds aren’t intended for music. They can’t even stream audio directly from a phone or tablet, despite wirelessly connecting to them for use with the SleepBuds app.
Instead, the SleepBuds play one of 10 relaxation tracks selected through the app, combining white noise, nature sounds, and ambient music into soothing audio that can play through the night. These tracks are designed to specifically mask the most common sounds that disturb sleep, like snoring partners, noisy neighbors, and street noise.
Curiously, the SleepBuds don’t use Bose’s well-established active noise-cancellation technology. They rely entirely on the relaxation tracks and the passive noise isolation of the StayHear+ Sleep eartips. Bose says its noise-cancellation circuitry isn’t suited for cancelling out common sleep-disturbing sounds (though it’s exceptional at blocking daytime noise like crowded offices, subways, and planes).
I tried the SleepBuds at a Bose press event in New York. The tracks and eartips certainly seemed to block out simulated nighttime noise despite the lack of active noise cancellation. The earphones were also small enough that they felt comfortable when lying down.
The Bose SleepBuds look like promising sleep aids, but the decision to not offer any music-streaming capability on them is puzzling. Combined with the lack of active noise-cancellation circuitry, their $249 price tag seems very steep. We’ll take a closer look at the SleepBuds in the near future, with a full review.
Bose SleepBuds are available in the US and Canada starting June 21, and will be released in international markets this fall.