QuietOn Noise Canceling Earbuds
"When comfort and fit aren't in the way, these ANC earbuds are deadly quiet."
Excellent noise cancellation
Very good noise isolation
Smallest ANC Earbuds You Can Buy
20 hours of battery life
A battery is missing in the charging case
May not be comfortable enough to sleep in
The secret to a good night's sleep, depending on who you ask, lies in your diet, range of motion, state of mind, the temperature of your bedroom, the feng shui of your bedroom, or dozens of other factors. But most people agree that what you need most of all is a quiet place to sleep. Otherwise, none of these other things matter.
But silence, like sleep itself, can be elusive, which is why QuietOn created the QuietOn Sleep earbuds for $ 200. They use ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) technology, which, according to QuietOn, can block out more noise than foam earplugs alone.
Do they work and are they worth the price? Let's find out.
What's in the box?
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends
The QuietOn Sleep earbuds come in a tiny black cardboard case. When you pull the main box out of the case, you'll find the earbuds in the charging case, two alternative sizes of foam earbuds, and a micro-USB charging cable.
Aside from a few printed instructions in different languages, that's all. You should be able to recycle all of the material if you don't save it.
The QuietOn Sleep looks like very small real wireless earphones. This similarity is reinforced by the use of a flip-top charging and storage case, which is heavily reminiscent of Theose for products like Apple's AirPods Pro and Jabra's Elite Active 75t.
However, this similarity can lead to problematic expectations. In contrast to real wireless earphones, which are charged with the built-in battery of the case, the QuietOn case does not have its own battery. It's practically just a protective charger. In order to actually charge the earphones, the case must be connected to the charging cable.
The case itself, like the QuietOn Buds, is tiny and easily fits anywhere you want to keep it, whether it's a pocket or a wallet. The lid has a strong magnet that keeps it tightly closed. The hinge has no resistance at all and lets the lid open quickly, but doesn't do much to prevent it from flapping around.
How well can the QuietOn Sleep suppress noise? In a word: fantastic.
If you are used to real wireless earbuds, you know the importance of having them sit evenly in their charging cradles. If they're crooked, they're likely not charging properly.
So the first time you put the QuietOn back in their suitcase, you might get frustrated that they seem to wobble and never really lock into place, even though there are internal magnets that try to help. You need to look beyond that – unlike real wireless earbuds, the QuietOn's charging contacts connect to the lid of the case, not the base. As long as each earbud is more or less seated in its respective slots, closing the lid will force everything to be properly aligned.
The earbuds themselves are remarkably small and their glossy black housings practically disappear into the concha of the ear. You have to look very carefully to notice the single button for the physical mode switch on each earbud that sits between the charging contacts.
Comfort, fit and control
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends
The bottom line with any object in your ear canal is that "comfort" is a relative idea. I've tried many foam earbuds over the years and I'm not sure if I would call them comfortable, but I'm sure you can get used to them.
I found it more difficult to get used to the feeling of the QuietOn Sleep.
I'm a side sleeper and just couldn't ignore the pressure QuietOn put in my ear.
Choosing the correct size earbuds (I ended up using the smallest size) is key, not just for comfort, but also for passive sound isolation that provides a good fit. The earbuds are made of high quality memory foam and are for sure the most comfortable earbuds I've ever tried.
But it's the main part of the QuietOn that is a must-have in terms of convenience.
It has an acoustic guitar-like shape with one rounded section larger than the other. QuietOn recommends turning the earbuds until the larger part is facing back. They know they're sitting correctly when the little "L" or "R" on the surface is level – not upside down or at an angle. Despite these instructions, I found it a little more convenient to flip the larger section.
As small as the body is, it's made of tough plastic and the rounded edges can't completely offset the straight sides and 90-degree corners. For me this meant that I was always aware that something was stuck in my ear.
According to QuietOn, the design is so ergonomic that even people who sleep on their sides will find the earbuds comfortable enough to use overnight. Granted, I'm a focus group of one, but I'm a side sleeper and I just couldn't ignore the pressure QuietOn put in my ear as I rested my head on the pillow. As you say, your mileage can vary, and I suspect that those who sleep on their back are not affected at all.
When I haven't slept, I've used the QuietOn as an alternative to my ANC headphones to block out the household noise that has become the background noise of my workdays since the pandemic began. They're comfortable enough that I could hold them in place for about three hours each, but my ears needed a break after that.
There is no power switch for the QuietOn. Removing them from the storage case turns them on, while replacing them turns them off.
They are much better at reducing sound than normal earplugs.
When on, these tiny mode toggle buttons allow you to switch from full active noise cancellation to walk-through (which lets in external noise so you can chat with someone without removing the buds). Pushing is a little tricky and requires adequate pressure to get to the click. I ended up using the edge of my fingernail to squeeze it as the fingertips turned out to be too soft (apparently, spending nine hours a day on a keyboard isn't enough to build up the right calluses).
Jabra Elite Active 75t (left) and QuietOn Sleep Earbuds Simon Cohen / Digital Trends
Aside from comfort issues, how well can the QuietOn Sleep suppress noise? In a word: fantastic.
When dealing with low to medium frequency noises, like the roar of a fan in a bedroom at night or the kind of knocks and bumps received from a neighboring dweller who thinks moving furniture at 3 a.m. is good is fun, the QuietOn act like a cone of silence and reduce these unwanted vibrations to a whisper.
They're more effective than Sony's ANC used for the excellent WH-1000XM4 headphones and WF-1000XM3 earbuds, and they even outperform Apple's AirPods Pro which have the best ANC of any earbud we've tried. I assume that they can handle aircraft noises properly.
Much more important, however, is that the QuietOn are not necessarily meant to compete with audio earphones, but that they can reduce the sound far better than normal earplugs.
I put them head to head (ear to ear?) With a set of free hotel-issued earplugs, a set I bought at my local pharmacy, and even a pair from Home Depot designed to block out harmful noise in the workplace. The QuietOn Sleep beat them all.
They are so good at creating silence that they actually introduced a new problem: my tinnitus, which I can usually completely ignore, was the only thing I could hear – a high-pitched ringing thanks to the QuietOn's Ceiling was immediately brought to the fore by everything else.
According to QuietOn, when fully charged, the earbuds will work in ANC mode for 20 hours and it will only take an hour to fully charge.
As far as I can tell, these numbers are correct. However, it is not possible to know how much charge is left in the earbuds. Unlike audio earbuds, there is no voice prompt to show the battery status, nor is there a visual indicator.
Your best strategy is to put the earbuds back in your pocket in the morning and plug the bag in to start charging. While charging, a blue LED indicator will appear on the case for each earbud.
If unwanted noise is preventing you from sleeping and you find the QuietOn Sleep comfortable enough to wear all night, $ 200 is a small price to pay for your ultimate silence.
Is there a better alternative?
According to QuietOn, the earbuds are the smallest ANC devices on the market. And since Bose has decided to ditch its sleepbuds because of battery issues, there are no more set of fully wireless in-ear ANC earbuds to sleep in. However, there are some competing products that use different techniques, such as the AmazFit Zenbuds sound masking, but we didn't get a chance to test these out.
How long will they last?
Tiny, solidly built, and with just a single physical button, the QuietOn should be used for years. The foam earbuds need to be replaced occasionally – possibly every few months if used at night – but this is normal for earbuds.
QuietOn claims that the batteries “will take thousands of charge cycles. With normal use, this would mean several decades. “They come with a one year guarantee.
Should you buy it?
Yes. With a 14-day return policy, you should have enough time to check whether the QuietOn are comfortable enough to sleep on. If so, you will love her.