QuietOn 3 Review Active Noise Cancelling Sleep Earbuds

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Startups chasing the business of sleep can thank loud neighbors, construction noise and snoring partners for driving the sleep health industry to where it is now, at a billion dollar market share! Unwanted noise is never in short supply; hence the high demand for sleep aid gadgets such as QuietOn 3 - a pair of active noise cancellation (anc) earbuds designed for sleeping. Unless you are back sleeper, you will know how uncomfortable it is to get a good night's sleep wearing regular earbuds or over-ear headphones.

QuietOn 3 is a perfect solution for side-sleepers because it incorporates foam eartips that double as regular foam earplugs, which work well but aren't able to mask low frequencies as well. QuietOn 3 takes regular noise cancelling earplugs to another level by incorporating the same anc technology that has already been successfully  implemented in true wireless earbuds. That's one of the reasons people buy anc earbuds to drown out unwanted noise like noise from pesky neighbors. The problem with music earbuds is that even the smallest true wireless earbuds stick out enough to cause discomfort in the ear.

At first glance, QuietOn 3 look like a pair of regular true wireless earbuds but upclose you can see how much slimline they are. The body shell of the QuietOn 3 earbuds is really small and thin, so much so that the earbuds look tiny next to the foam eartips. Length-wise, the QuietOn 3 earbuds are about the size of a micro SD card, 2.5cm long, 1cm wide and 0.5cm thick.

The QuietOn 3 earbuds have a plastic body shell with two small vent holes on the front side and three gold plated metal contacts on the underside. The branding on the earbuds is subtle with the letter Q engraved on the front, as well as R/L indicators on the underside.

The foam eartips can be removed and replaced easily by simply twisting the eartip around. Another noticeable difference with the QuietOn 3 earbuds is the nozzle neck, which is much narrower and longer than the nozzle neck of true wireless earbuds. QuietOn 3 are super lightweight too, weighing just 2 grams each. In fact, the eartip weighs just as much as the earbud (1 gram). The heaviest part is the charging case, which weighs 59 grams. This means, the total of QuietOn 3 is just 62 grams. The charging case measures 6.5cm long, 4cm wide and 2cm high. The word "QuietOn" has been engraved on top of the charging case lid.

The QuietOn 3 charging case is designed to store and recharge the earbuds and has a plastic body shell with a brushed stainless steel docking plate, which compliments nicely the white and gray color scheme of the earbuds. The charging case lid stays open upright 90 degrees, although the hinge tensioning is a bit weak so, it makes the lid flop around. When the lid is closed though, the magnetic connection is secure and the lid does not open even when shaking the charging case upside down.

The QuietOn 3 charging case has a total of nine white leds, three of which are wedged between the hinge of the charging case and the USB-C charging port. The other six leds are located on the front embedded within the metal plate under the recess cutout of the lid. When active, the front leds have a cool light effect that reminds of the light scanner of Knight Rider's Kitt car. The front leds are designed to feedback battery level of each earbud. The rear facing leds feedback the battery level of the charging case 200mAh battery, which takes 2 hours to fully recharge. The earbuds also take 2 hours to fully charge and have a runtime of 9 hours. The charging case can hold up to 18 hours of extra charge so, you can recharge the QuietOn 3 earbuds two times over.

There aren't any buttons on the charging case or the earbuds. To power them, you simply take them out of the charging case. That's it. No pairing required! The QuietOn 3 earbuds use memory foam eartips, rather than silicone eartips because foam has a higher passive noise isolation. Foam eartips are also more comfortable, they prevent the earbuds from falling out and they create a tighter seal inside the ear canals, which is why many people use them to improve the sound quality (especially the bass) of in-ear earbuds. There is no secret that passive isolation improves the performance of active noise cancellation; hence why QuietOn 3 uses foam eartips to help block out ambient noise.

When using the QuietOn 3 earbuds for the first time, they do feel weird. There aren't any buttons or any audio cues. In fact, there is no Bluetooth or wireless, which is one of the key selling points as they don't emit radio waves. The only components built-in are a 17mAh lithium-ion battery, an ANC speaker driver and an ANC chip to process the external noise sensed by the microphone. 

There is one microphone per earbud; hence QuietOn 3 uses a feed forward ANC design, which works well at canceling bass music, snoring and other low to middle frequencies. The higher frequencies get mostly attenuated by the foam eartips, which is why getting a good seal is important. Without a proper seal inside the ear canal, the QuietOn 3 earbuds won't perform as well, especially higher pitch sounds.

QuietOn 3 are designed for sleeping and, while you could take them outdoors you probably shouldn't because QuietOn 3 aren't water or dust resistant. Also, QuietOn 3 earbuds don't have an ambient mode like anc music earbuds do, which lets you hear your surroundings. QuietOn 3 are designed in Finland and made in the EU and, you can buy them via QuietOn's website. Inside the box, you get a 60cm long charging cable and four different size foam eartips with a custom narrow bore to fit the earbuds. The foam eartips feel really lush with a soft grippy coating. There is no plastic in the packaging other than a recyclable light cardboard insert.

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