There is a small round box in my toiletry bag for business trips. What's in the box are not contact lenses, but a pair of 3M earplugs.
Since I first encountered 3M earplugs 5 or 6 years ago, I think it is one of the greatest inventions of mankind. For me who sleeps very lightly and is sensitive to noise, my roommate's snoring, keyboard sounds, and chair pushing and pulling are all the "culprits" that prevent me from falling asleep.
But a pair of 3M earplugs of the right size can solve the above problems, and the price is not expensive. So in the past few years, I have successively bought dozens of boxes of earplugs, each for about 35 yuan (five pairs), which can be used for about a month.
But over time, I found a problem, that is, my ear canal seems to be getting bigger and bigger. Although this is a high probability of my psychological effect, the reality is that the earplugs of the same size once made me feel the ear canal swelling, but now it will come off inexplicably at night.
▲ 3M earplugs with dust
Another reason why I gradually complain about 3M earplugs is its hygiene. After using a pair of earplugs several times, its "body" will be stained with a lot of small fluff or dust, and it is difficult to remove. At this time, if I put it in the ear canal again, it will make me feel itchy and worry about the health of the ear canal.
So last year, I set my sights on a Sleep Buds (Sleep Buds) launched by Bose. According to KOLs, it can effectively block noise and help sleep. It's a pity that it is "too unbelievable." When I was about to place an order, news of the recall came out. The reason is a battery problem, some products cannot be charged normally.
▲The first generation of Bose noise-canceling sleep earplugs. Picture from: mashable
But this fall, Bose said that they have solved the problem of the first generation of sleep earplugs, and launched an upgraded version of the Bose noise-canceling sleep earplugs II. After the official release recently, I bought this sleep earplug with the mentality of giving it a try.
Small enough and light enough
Compared with the previous generation, the second-generation Bose noise-canceling sleep earplugs have not changed much in appearance. They are all cylindrical boxes. Just push the lid up to see the earplugs.
There are five indicator lights below the earbuds, which are used to display the remaining power of the earphone box. There are long strips of breathing lights on both sides, when the earplugs are put in for charging, there will be a breathing effect, and they will always be on when they are full.
Although I haven't bought the previous generation product, I can still find the subtle differences between the two generations from the picture. First, the cavity of the earplug became an oval shape, and secondly, the inner charging contacts changed from two to three.
The change in the shape of the earplug cavity is likely to improve the wearing comfort, especially the position of lying on the side. The increase in charging contacts should be to solve the problem of poor contact when charging some earplugs of the previous generation.
To my surprise, Bose has also become "environmentally friendly". The second-generation sleep earplugs do not have a charging head, only a USB-A to Type-C power cord. There is no reduction in the shark fin silicone sleeve. There are three sizes, you can choose according to your ear size. Choosing the right size silicone sleeve is very important, because it is related to the effect of noise shielding and the comfort of wearing.
Taking out the earplugs, the most intuitive feeling is that it is very small and light. The sound cavity is only the size of a fingernail and weighs only 1.5 grams. After installing the medium-sized silicone sleeve, the weight is only 2.6 grams.
For reference, I weighed the 3M sleep earplugs I used before, and the weight was 0.6 grams. The weight of a single AirPods is 3.9 grams, which is 1.5 times that of Bose sleep earplugs. The small size and light weight can theoretically achieve good comfort and reduce its presence in the ears as much as possible.
In terms of connection, the second-generation sleep earplugs are still connected to the mobile phone through an app called "Bose Sleep". The connection process is not cumbersome, as long as the earplug box is pushed open, the app will automatically find the earplugs, and click to pair.
It should be noted that it cannot play audio files of any other apps, but can only play ambient sound effects in "Bose Sleep" . So don't mistake it for a "Bluetooth headset".
"Bose Sleep" provides a total of 34 types of three types of sleep aid sound effects, including noise-shielding, sound and quiet. Among the noise-shielding sound effects, white noise is used as the background sound. In addition, Bose's official website reported that in 2021, a "soothing music library" will be launched to provide more sleep-aiding sound effects.
After the user chooses the sound effect he likes, it can be transferred to the earplug for storage and playback. This means that when using earbuds to play sound effects, the mobile phone does not need to keep the app open, and the earbuds can act as a player by themselves.
Does noise shielding and sleep aid really work?
For a noise-shielding sleep earplug, I am most concerned about the following aspects:
- Noise blocking effect
- Wearing comfort
- Convenience of control
"Noise shielding" is the main selling point of this earplug. Compared with 3M earplugs, can the effect be compared with the latter? This question is probably the most curious.
Bose emphasized on the official website that this earplug does not use active noise reduction technology, but passive noise reduction. This is mainly achieved by the sealing effect formed by its shark fin silicone earmuffs, which are closely attached to the ears.
The next noise shielding work depends on playing sound effects. Bose said that their sound effects have been specially optimized, and the appropriate frequency can make it difficult for the user's brain to detect external noise.
▲ Description of Bose official website
Generally speaking, users who need sleep earplugs may live in a dormitory, or have inconsistent schedules with their partners, snoring, and so on. Then in these scenarios, common sleep noises include snoring, keyboard sounds, game sounds, voices, door opening and closing sounds, and toilet flushing sounds.
If you live alone, you may be mainly troubled by the sound of traffic outside the window, the sound of air conditioning, and the inexplicable sound of the next door.
So, can Bose's noise-canceling sleep earplugs block these common sleep noises? I have conducted a special test in the past few nights and adjusted the volume of the sleep earplugs to 1/2. The test results are shown in the table below.
Overall, Bose sleep earplugs do have a good noise shielding effect, but they cannot replace 3M earplugs.
What's unpleasant is that Bose's official website claims that it has a good masking effect on snoring, but it is not the case after using it. If your roommate or partner is not snoring loudly, then it is still in the usable range; if the snoring is loud, use 3M earplugs honestly.
▲ Description of Bose official website
In addition, the effect of noise shielding depends largely on the volume of the sound effect. When I adjusted the volume from 1/2 to higher, the perception of noise was indeed less obvious. But in the actual experience, adjusting the volume to about 1/2 will not affect falling asleep. Using an excessively high volume to block the noise is equivalent to "killing a thousand enemies, self-destructing 800." The sound effect in the earplugs will also become another form of noise.
In addition, in the process of adjusting the volume, I found that the volume is lower than 1/2, which has a good sleep aid effect. Basically within five minutes, sleepiness will strike. If there are no harsh noises like snoring around you, you can fall asleep soon.
Although they are "sleeping earplugs", they can be used when not sleeping.
For example, I wear Bose noise-canceling sleep earplugs in an office with a noise decibel of about 50dB, and play sound effects at a medium volume. The sound of drinking fountains, air conditioners, and purifiers all disappears. The sound of my colleagues' keyboards disappears, and only occasional There were high-frequency noises such as the moving of chairs and the rubbing of plastic bags.
A quiet environment will improve learning and work efficiency. And because it is not active noise reduction, there will be no pressure in the ears, and it is relatively friendly to friends who are not used to noise reduction headphones.
Next is wearing comfort.
When lying on your back, Bose's sleep earplugs can be "essentially senseless." The compact and thin shape, coupled with the skin-friendly silicone earmuffs, make it comfortable.
▲ The earmuffs are very soft
When sleeping on your side, the comfort is not as good as 3M earplugs. After all, the earplug cavity is hard, and when the ear touches the pillow, squeezing will inevitably occur. At this time, the earplugs begin to "sense of existence". Fortunately, this foreign body sensation does not make you uncomfortable.
It is worth mentioning that the shark fin silicone earmuffs and auricles will fit very tightly, no matter how you turn over, the earplugs will not fall off. In addition, the second-generation noise-shielding sleep earplugs have an anti-friction surface design. When the earplugs and pillows are in contact, this special coating can avoid the noise caused by friction.
A good earplug must be "easy to use" in addition to being "easy to use". For Bose's sleep earplugs, it depends on whether the linkage between software and hardware is smooth.
In terms of hardware, the operation of earplugs is relatively simple and easy to understand. It can be charged automatically when it is put in the box, and it can be automatically connected with the mobile phone when it is taken out. The experience is similar to AirPods.
However, the remaining power can only be viewed in Bose Sleep, and will not be directly displayed in the battery status bar of the phone. In addition, the volume of the earbuds can only be adjusted in its app, and cannot be adjusted directly through the volume keys of the phone, which is a bit cumbersome.
In terms of software, the Bose Sleep app is still very simple. The function is not complicated, and the interactive page is also very beautiful. Even an "electronic novice" can get started quickly.
There are mainly two commonly used functions. One is to time the sound effect playback. The user can choose the duration of the playback, or play it all night. The second is to set the alarm clock, you can add multiple alarm clocks to the earplugs, and the sound of the alarm clock is a bit like "panoramic sound." When I heard it for the first time, I thought it was a mobile phone ringing in the room, which gave a strong sense of space.
The last is battery life. The official said that after the earplug box is fully charged, the earplugs can last for 40 hours.
This is also true in actual use. In the case of nightly use and occasional use during the day, the five indicator lights under the earplug box will turn off one or two every day, which can support 3-4 days of use.
Each time the earplugs are fully charged, they can continuously play sound effects for about 10 hours, which is enough to guarantee a night's sleep.
Is 1999 yuan worth buying?
"Is it worth buying an earplug that can't listen to songs for 1999 yuan?" I asked myself before buying this earplug.
In fact, in the past few years, I have spent a lot of money on improving sleep. In addition to dozens of boxes of 3M earplugs, there are also a variety of steam eye masks, sleep aid aromatherapy, latex pillows, melatonin and more. So when Bose launched the "noise-shielding sleep earplugs", just looking at the name was enough to attract me.
▲ Picture from: Bose official website
I believe that there are many friends who have sleep problems like me. According to the China Sleep Index Report 2018, from 2013 to 2018, the average sleep time per capita in China dropped from 8.8 hours to 6.5 hours. On average, 38.2% of Chinese people have sleep problems, 11.2% higher than the global average.
According to the "Sleep White Paper for Internet Netizens in 2018", high work pressure is the main culprit for insomnia. People with sleep problems in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen accounted for 60%.
The large enough insomnia population became the main reason for me to evaluate the second generation of Bose noise-canceling sleep headphones.
▲ Insomnia makes people doubt life. Picture from: graduan
Back to the question in this section, "1999 yuan, is it necessary to spend this money?"
Compared with the 3M earplugs used daily, the cost performance is obviously not as good as the latter from the perspective of noise shielding. Assuming that the Bose noise-canceling sleep earplugs can be used for three years, the cost per day is about 1.8 yuan. The price of a box of 5 pairs of earplugs is 35 yuan, an average of 5 days, the cost is 1.4 yuan.
But considering the ear health and sleep aid sound effects, its cost-effectiveness is difficult to measure. However, my original intention to buy it was to shield the snoring sound. Judging from the effect of this item, it did not meet my expectations.
Overall, Bose's second-generation noise-canceling sleep earplugs are more suitable for users who have difficulty falling asleep. Its built-in soothing sound effect, coupled with passive noise shielding, will indeed make it easier for people with insomnia to fall asleep.
In addition, it is also suitable for those who seek efficient study and work. Wearing it in the library or office and listening to the soothing sound effects may help you focus better. The premise is that you have a sufficient budget and don't like the ear pressure of noise-canceling headphones, otherwise the AirPods Pro next door will be more fragrant.
If you, like me, can only fall asleep in extremely quiet situations, and are very sensitive to sounds (especially snoring), then you can pull the grass as early as possible, or 3M earplugs are reliable.
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