Earlier this year, Bose abruptly decided to pull the plug on its ultra-tiny Sleepbuds, a set of wireless earbuds that featured noise-masking technology. At the time, we figured it was simply another instance of the company walking away from one of its ideas, as it had also done with its audio-based AR platform.
But apparently Bose had simply gone back to the drawing board and today it’s announcing the fruits of those labors: The $250 Sleepbuds II, which can be pre-ordered immediately and will start shipping October 6.
“You can’t duplicate the experience combining earbuds with apps, playing your music louder, or using earplugs and bedside machines — so millions of people are still suffering,” said Steve Romine, head of the Bose Health Division. “We never gave up on helping them, and that’s why we’re so excited about Sleepbuds II.”
When Digital Trends tried out the first version, we found lots to like, but the noise-masking technology left us wishing for Bose’s active noise cancellation (ANC) that it uses in its premium ANC headphones. The comfort was also something of an issue.
The new Sleepbuds II look a lot like the first version — right down to the cylindrical charging case — but Bose assures us there are significant differences. They combine a new acoustic and electronics design, a new enclosure that’s “lighter than a dime,” and new proprietary ear tips.
Bose has also upped the pre-loaded sounds you can play from 10 to more than 35 tracks, broken down into three categories:
- 14 noise-masking tracks mirror the frequencies of night-time disruptions.
- 15 Naturescapes designed to establish calm, including Country Road, Shore Line, and Boardwalk.
- 10 Tranquilities that are meant to help lower stress and tension with tones such as Lift, Drift, and Dream.
You can load up to 10 of these tracks onto the internal memory of the Sleepbuds II and change them any time from within the Bose Sleep app.
The battery — the likely reason for the company’s sudden termination of the original buds — is now a NiMH (Nickel-metal Hydride) battery which provides 10 hours of run time. The charging case lets you fully recharge the buds three times before needing to be charged itself.
Those who experience sweaty nights need not worry: The Sleepbuds II are IPX4-rated, which is enough protection even for heavy-duty workout sessions.
Bose also claims it has made strides in both comfort and noise reduction on the Sleepbuds II. The buds are only a quarter-inch deep, which should reduce irritating contact when your head is resting on a pillow and Bose says they should work for side-sleepers, too. A new anti-friction coating covers each enclosure to prevent “squeaking” against fabric.
It’s worth noting that while the Sleepbuds II are indeed true wireless earbuds, in the sense that they communicate with the Bose Sleep app on your phone via Bluetooth, you can’t use them to play audio from music sources like streaming apps. For some folks who worry about exposure to electromagnetic frequencies (EMF), this Bluetooth connection, even though Bose claims its a low-energy connection, will still be a source of concern.
How do the new Sleepbuds II compare to something like the QuietOn Sleep earbuds? We’ll let you know as soon as we get a set in for testing.