Bose Releases Fantastic Earbuds That Don’t Play Music

Soothing sounds to block out noise

Key Takeaways

  • The new Bose Sleepbuds II only play a limited selection of relaxing noises. 
  •  The Sleepbuds are like tiny MP3 players, letting you can download a certain number of sounds and control them through an app on your smartphone. 
  • The Sleepbuds have become my new favorite way to get a good night’s sleep.
Person in bed putting in wireless earbuds while looking at smartphone.
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My new favorite earbuds don’t play music. 

Even worse, these earbuds cost $249 and come from Bose, one of the most respected audio brands. How are they planning to get away with this? It turns out that by taking away music, you can make earbuds more liberating if all you’re planning to do is use them to get to sleep. 

The Sleepbuds II might be some of the quirkiest earbuds that ever have been released. They do one thing and one thing only—play a limited selection of relaxing noises. After using the Sleepbuds II, I’ve affirmed my conviction that the best gadgets are often those that have a single purpose. Of course, there are a million ways to get sounds into your ears, and I’ve tried many. 

“Who wants to be fiddling with music and iTunes when all you want to do is try to get a good night’s rest?”

Sweet Dreams, If You Can Get Some

I’m such a light sleeper that a butterfly batting its wings a football field away can have me bolt upright in seconds. I’ve tried pills, foam ear protectors, and stuffing a pillow over my head to no avail. My current solution is to listen to white noise played through my wired Apple earbuds. 

My approach has its disadvantages. First of all, after a couple of near misses, I’m convinced that I’ll end my days with the cord wrapped around my neck like an anaconda.

It’s also distracting to have your phone a few inches from your head 24 hours a day. I don’t believe that cell phone radiation causes health problems, but I’m unsure enough about this hypothesis that I turn my phone to airplane mode every night. 

The Sleepbuds are my salvation. These are no normal earbuds, which are often cumbersome and bulky. The Sleepbuds are tiny, so tiny in fact that I’d be worried about them getting lost in my ears, except for the fact that they have small handles probably designed for that very problem.

Bose Sleepbuds II.
Sascha Brodsky / Lifewire

They are incredibly light and comfortable, made out of a squishy plastic material. 

The small size of the Sleepbuds is the key to why they are so limited in their ability to play sounds. There was seemingly no room to fit in a battery that could handle streaming inside the earbuds.

Instead, the Sleepbuds are like tiny MP3 players that let you download a certain number of sounds and control them through an app on your smartphone. 

Come On, Feel the Noise

There are three kinds of sounds that you can listen to on the Sleepbuds. The Noise Masking sounds are intended to block out noise.

Naturescapes offer natural sounds, such as rain or leaves rustling. Tranquilities, which consist of “relaxing” music, drove me bonkers, so I stuck with the first two categories.

Some of the sounds come downloaded onto the earbuds, while others can be downloaded with Bose’s Sleep app. 

The sound quality is excellent for sleep. I’m not sure that the earbuds would meet audiophile standards, but they sounded clear and crisp enough for me to relax and enjoy the sounds they produced.

A close up of the Bose Sleepbuds II in their charging case.
Sascha Brodsky / Lifewire

The battery life was good enough to get me through a night’s sleep, plus a nap (not that I take naps). However, after a good eight hours, the charge was down to 30%, so count on putting these back in their charging case every night. 

The Sleepbuds come in a nifty charging case that looks like a futuristic, rounded mints tin. It’s a little awkward to figure out how the earbuds fit into the case at first, but the motion becomes natural with practice. There are glowing bars on the inside of the case to show that the buds are charging. 

Some might call $249.95 for a pair of earbuds that don’t play any tunes too expensive. I say you can’t put a price on a good night’s sleep.

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