Earlier this year, Kokoon released its Sleep Headphones. Designed to aid sleep and relaxation, they exceeded expectations, and a well-received inaugural product was launched. Now, Kokoon is set to release its Nightbuds, which are available over on Kickstarter for $149 (early bird pledge).
This pledge will net you a pair of the Kokoon Nightbuds, three pairs of differently-sized silicone tips, and a USB-C cable for charging the buds. But how will they stand up against the Sleep Headphones? We’ll be following up with a full review so, for now, let’s take a look at what these slumber-aids have in store.
Note: The test sample we have here is a prototype and may not reflect the production sample we test at the review stage.
How Do They Work?
We will leave discussing the actual performance until our full review. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t tell you how they are supposed to work.
The Nightbuds are designed, as said, to help with your sleep. They do this in a number of ways. Firstly, and most obviously, they are earbuds designed with sleep in mind. So, coupled with audio, they are intended to improve relaxation (although they could also be used to improve focus, depending on how you utilize them).
You can use any kind of audio with the Nightbuds, it doesn’t have to be content that Kokoon itself provides, nor does it need to be audio which is designed to aid sleep, such as binaural beats. So, you could listen to some classical music or a podcast in just the same way as you would with a normal pair of wireless earbuds. You can transmit any source material to the Nightbuds via Bluetooth. You can also play content from the Nightbuds app.
Kokoon has developed a brand-new app, with its own in-house 4D binaural beats soundtracks to aid with sleep in different ways. Binaural beats, depending on the frequency of the signal, can have different effects, from mood-enhancing to relaxation-inducing. They block distractions out in much the same way as white noise. Again, all pointing toward a good night’s sleep.
The app is also used to log your sleep pattern. Theoretically, this should then allow you to track your sleep and see where it needs to improve. The app will suggest ways to get a better night’s rest, as the Nightbuds (via the PPG and an accelerometer) monitor your pulse and movement during the night.
Using a process called noise masking, alongside the passive noise cancellation that results from inserting the earbud into your ear, the Nightbuds can increase the depth of your sleep. This is because they block out environmental sounds, such as snoring or a barking dog, masking the noise with a colored sound such as pink noise, for example. That way, you are less likely to be disturbed.
The first thing you will undoubtedly notice about the Nightbuds is that they are in-ear headphones. Gone is the over-ear form of the Kokoon Sleep Headphones; these are designed for even more comfort as you sleep.
The Nightbuds come as an all-in-one unit. The earbuds are gray in color, as is the coiled wire that connects them. Central to this wire sits the in-wire control, which also doubles-up as the Bluetooth receiver and charging panel.
The panel is faced in a stylish grey fabric with an embossed rubber Kokoon logo in the middle. It is a stadium in shape, with the USB Type-C port along the bottom edge and controls along the top. These comprise a multifunction button and volume controls. An indicator light, for power and pairing, resides below the fabric, just above the logo.
The right earbud has a PPG (photoplethysmogram) sensor that helps to monitor your sleep. This looks like a small red light (more on this later). It works in the same way as the light sensors on the back face of your fitness smartwatch, measuring “volumetric changes in your blood flow through the use of infra-red light at the skin’s surface” according to Kokoon. The left earbud is blank, save for the driver to direct the sound into your ear canal.
I love the innovative design of the silicone tips that cover the headphones. They, too, are all in one, with the in-ear tip stretching over the Nightbuds like a little jacket. The silicone tip also incorporates an ear-wing design of sorts, with a long protrusion that braces the Nightbuds against the folds of your ear, for added security. This means they are less likely to fall out in bed.
In terms of initial impressions, the Kokoon Nightbuds are very comfortable. The ear tips are flexible and soft, so they don’t cause undue stress on the inside of the ear canal. Because the silicone bracing arm that protrudes from the ear tip is also soft, supple silicone, it too doesn’t exert too much pressure within the fold of your ear.
I will also point out that the Nightbuds are super-thin. Like, 5.4 mm thin to be exact. They don’t protrude from your ear at all, so wearing them in bed should be significantly more comfortable than their over-ear design; especially for side-sleepers. This compares to the 12.7 mm of the Bose Sleepbuds, so Kokoon could be onto a winner there.
The coiled wire is also very comfortable. It is not too tightly coiled that it presses the Bluetooth receiver against the base of your skull too hard. Nor does it make the earbuds themselves feel like they are being tugged out of your ears.
The in-line control is nice and snug. It doesn’t push too hard against your neck or head, depending on where you find it most comfortable. The plastic backing is smooth and has a soft feel to the touch, which is pleasant against your skin when you are wearing the headphones.
Will the Nightbuds Improve on the Sleep Headphones?
As first opinions go, I’d say that if you liked the Kokoon Sleep Headphones or the concept thereof, then the Nightbuds represent a less expensive way to monitor and assist sleep and relaxation. They cost half of what the Sleep Headphones do, for a start.
You also have an improvement in the comfort factor. These will be an excellent alternative if you bought the Sleep Headphones but found yourself unable to sleep in them; a problem encountered by many side-sleepers. These give you the freedom to sleep on your back or side, without even noticing them. This will inevitably lead to a more natural sleep which, aided by the forthcoming app, should improve in quality.
Given that they are significantly thinner than their competition sleep earbuds, I am excited to see what the finished Nightbuds are like and whether we have a market-beating product in the realm of sleep-aid wearables. For now, having had a play around with the prototype, I remain optimistic.