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QuietOn 3 Review: These Buds Made My CES Flight Tolerable

Rating: 8/10 ?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 - Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana
Price: $269
A set of earbuds in a white case
Josh Hendrickson / Review Geek

The Consumer Electronics Show was last week, which meant I got to play with lots of fun gadgets. But it also meant a long flight filled with deafening aural assaults. To combat the noise, I tried QuietOn 3 Sleep earbuds, and surprisingly they tackled the job well.

In preparation for my four hours of flying (and CES in general), I brought along several devices to make the trip more tolerable. I brought an iPad to watch downloaded videos, my laptop to get some work done on the flight (including some of this review!), a pair of Wyze Pro ANC earbuds, and the QuietOn earbuds.

You might be wondering why I brought two sets of earbuds with me, and the answer is pretty straightforward. First, I wanted something to compare with the QuietOn option. But second, because the QuietOn 3 sleep buds don’t serve the same function as true wireless earbuds. In fact, they’re not true wireless earbuds at all, even if they do look the part.

Here's What We Like

  • Very small
  • Long battery life
  • Provides good noise cancelation

And What We Don't

  • Expensive

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Itty Bitty Buds in an Average-Sized Case

A set of earbuds in a white case
Josh Hendrickson / Review Geek

At first glance, the QuietOn 3 Sleepbuds (QuietOn buds from here on out) might look like standard true wireless earbuds. Take a closer look, though, and you’ll see right away that’s not the case. The earbuds themselves are incredibly tiny—far smaller than any true wireless earbuds on the market. How did QuietOn manage such a diminutive size? By stripping out the integral components to true wireless earbuds: connectivity.

That’s right. You won’t find Bluetooth or any other wireless form of communication in these buds. They can’t connect to your laptop, tablet, or phone. They don’t stream music or video, and they don’t play any “audible sound.” All they can do is provide active noise canceling (ANC), which means QuietOn just had to stuff in some speakers and microphones and call it a day.

But what you lose in audio capability, you gain in comfort (sort of). The QuietOn buds fit entirely inside your ear. Think about it for a second: if you’re wearing a pair of AirPods or Jabra Elite earbuds , you can’t lay your head on a pillow. Well, not comfortably anyway. The QuietOn buds don’t protrude from your ear, so with these, you can go to sleep with them.

It also means better battery life overall. Despite their diminutive size, the QuietOn buds come with a more or less average-size charging case. You might even call it slightly on the large size. But it does the job and magnetically seals the earbuds and case top in place. A set of lights near the earbud slots lets you know when the earbuds need to recharge, and another three lights at the back of the case indicate when it needs a recharge. After a whole week of use at CES, without charging, my case still shows two pips on the back.

They Work…In The Right Environment

A tiny earbud next to a near equally sized dime and LEGO
Josh Hendrickson / Review Geek

As the name suggests, QuietOn primarily markets these buds for sleeping. But another good use case scenario is on a plane when you’re surrounded by conversations, the sound of wind rushing by, various dings, the roar of the engine, and more. That’s where I intended to try my review unit, but first, I gave them a shot in my (relatively) quiet home.

Initially, I thought QuietOn sent me a defective review unit. You put the earbuds in by rolling the foam tips between your fingers then sliding them into your ear canal. I’m not sure what I was expecting in my home, but I couldn’t distinguish between QuietOn and earplugs. That’s partly because QuietOn’s foam tips work like earplugs, providing noise isolation.

But without the right kind of noise to cancel, the QuietOn buds didn’t do much else. You see, QuietOn designed these buds to let certain important noises come in—-like people talking or your blaring alarm. After all, even when you sleep, there are some noises you do need to hear. The sound of your partner’s voice is important; the sound of their snoring, not so much.

Unfortunately, testing to ensure that the QuietOn buds are working is difficult. In theory, you should be able to hold the case near your ears with the buds in, then draw it away. That should produce a snap noise to indicate the QuietOn buds are on. But when every time I’ve attempted that, I either didn’t hear a snap, or it was so faint I doubted if I heard a snap.

But once I tried the earbuds on the plane, it became clear how well they work. I flew on a particularly windy day, and the roar of the engines and wind never stopped. People crinkled bottles and held conversations, while one individual fell asleep and snored loudly. You know, the usual noise issues you deal with on an airplane.

A woman sleeping while earing true wireless earbuds

Once I put the earbuds in, most of that noise dropped noticeably. I could still hear voices, but they were muted. And the loud rush of the plane soaring through the air dropped to a dull roar. It’s a remarkable improvement!

And as for sleeping? At first, I thought sleeping with the buds in wouldn’t be possible, as they do hurt ever so slightly. But I nearly fell asleep not long later—until an announcement over the intercom woke me up. Conversations come through loud and clear.

I also tried wearing my Wyze Buds Pro at various points in the flight as well, and while they have Active Noise Canceling, they technically didn’t fare as well. That’s partly because they don’t offer the same tight seal for noise cancelation. But I also think QuietOn’s ANC is better, from what I can tell. Yet the Wyze Buds Pro did have a significant advantage—-I got to watch downloaded Netflix videos. That helped drown out more noise than the QuietOn buds managed and provided entertainment.

If you prefer to read in silence, however, the QuietOn’s are a superior choice. And for longer flights, they’re better, too, thanks to epic battery life. You’ll get more than a full day out of a single charge. I also wore them while sleeping at the hotel, and they were a lifesaver. Hotels can be noisy, especially when you’re on a high floor, as I was. Still, the QuietOn set killed all the sounds I didn’t want to hear, and they were comfortable enough to wear through the night. I could feel them, mind you, but they aren’t painful to wear.

But Still Probably Too Expensive

The back of a case with a USB-C port
Thank you QuietOn for embracing USB-C Josh Hendrickson / Review Geek

So would I recommend the QuietOn 3 Sleep Earbuds? I’m not so sure. They do the job they are designed to do, and they do it well. They made my four hours of flying and week in a hotel more tolerable than it would have been if I didn’t have any earbuds. But you can’t watch shows with them or listen to music. And they don’t even provide ambient noise, like Bose Sleepbuds.

And there’s one final hitch—the price. At $269, it’s an awful lot for a niche product. That’s as much as some premium true wireless earbuds, but without half the features. But they do something true wireless buds can’t—provide good ANC while allowing you to lay your head on a pillow or anywhere else. If you have a noisy bedroom and you need to drown that out every night, well, then the price might be worth it. And if you travel frequently and prefer to read on the flight, these might be the buds for you. But everyone else should wait for a sale.

Rating: 8/10
Price: $269

Here’s What We Like

  • Very small
  • Long battery life
  • Provides good noise cancelation

And What We Don't

  • Expensive

Josh Hendrickson Josh Hendrickson
Josh Hendrickson is the Editor in Chief of Review Geek and is responsible for the site's content direction. He has worked in IT for nearly a decade, including four years spent repairing and servicing computers for Microsoft. He’s also a smart home enthusiast who built his own smart mirror with just a frame, some electronics, a Raspberry Pi, and open-source code. Read Full Bio »