The $269 headphones that don’t play music (but they might just put you to sleep)

The QuietOn 3 sleep headphones.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

At first glance, the QuietOn 3 sleep headphones look a lot like AirPods Or other wireless headphones: they are tiny, white and fit perfectly in a magnetic pocket case. But the QuietOn 3 don’t play music. In fact, they do the opposite. These $269 noise-canceling headphones are designed to muffle the sounds of your surroundings almost to silence. Think Bose Sleepbuds II – but instead of playing white noise, they eliminate it.

I was looking forward to trying these headphones as I live in a very noisy part of New York. There is a subway station above ground and a busy intersection outside my bedroom window. I didn’t expect the QuietOn headphones to eliminate all sound – even the most expensive noise-canceling headphones like Apple AirPods Max can’t do that. But I was curious to see how much of all that noise they could cover. I found that while it takes a little more work for me to get these headphones to fit, they can block out a lot of idle sound.

Finding a fit was tricky

Getting a tight seal is essential for any earbud with active noise cancellation. But in my experience, it took several nights of trial and error to figure out the best way to get them to work. While the QuietOn includes several different sized foam tips, I struggled to find the balance between an effective fit and something comfortable enough that I could tolerate wearing them for an entire night.

Some nights I found myself taking the headphones out at 3 a.m. because I just couldn’t stand them being stuck in my ear canal or feeling them while lying on my side. Other nights I chose ear tips that got too loose and fell out overnight. I have similar issues when trying to sleep with rubber earplugs on, which usually fall out of my ears at some point during the night.

QuietOn provides instructions and a video to find that fit, which may involve mixing and matching different sizes to find something that’s both snug and comfortable. I needed to use the larger size tip in one ear and a smaller size in the other, which is common for most wireless headphones with interchangeable tips.


The QuietOn 3 Sleep Headphones come with a variety of foam tips and fit in a charging case.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

So calm, maybe too calm

Once I put the headphones on and went to bed, I was fascinated that the noises I hadn’t even adapted to suddenly disappeared. It seems like the wind is blowing in the street, the air ventilation in my room and apparently most car noises have become imperceptible – which for the first few nights left me feeling uneasy, like if something was wrong. On the nights I chose to remove the QuietOn headphones from my ears, these sounds became instantly noticeable and now kept me from falling asleep.

The QuietOn buds made a dent in the sound of the subway line train outside my window, though they couldn’t mask it entirely. It was especially good for a speeding express train, which the headphones reduced to more of a buzz. I noticed it anyway, but the sound wasn’t as loud. Other occasional noises like a beeping alarm in the morning were still noticeable, but not as loud.

When you’re done sleeping, the QuietOn headphones are placed in a charging case which the company says will keep the headphones charged for around 28 hours before needing a boost through its USB-C port. I found this statement quite accurate, as I would charge it after four nights of rest.


The QuietOn 3 charging case has LEDs on the front to indicate battery charge. As long as each earbud has a light on in the case, it can last all night.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Sensitive sleepers should take note of the trial period

Sleep can be a very subjective experience. Although I’ve found the wireless headphones to be quite effective, I’m one of those people who doesn’t like to put anything in my ears when I’m relaxing. Meanwhile, I know several other people who like to sleep with headphones on. Maybe QuietOn headphones are best for those in the middle – people who are fine with wearing earplugs or headphones in bed, but don’t want to have a music playlist or a white noise in their ears all night. Headphones like these could be particularly useful for those looking to block out a snoring partner or hear airplane noises when trying to sleep during a flight.

The QuietOn 3 sleep headphones are also just plain expensive, costing more than many high-end noise-canceling headphones that also stream music and connect to your phone for calls, like Apple’s $249 AirPods Pro and Sony WF-1000XM4 at $280. If you’re interested in QuietOn headphones, try regular earplugs or our other sleep tips before considering the investment. Although we have not tested them, there are also other sleep headphones products from Amazfit for $150 and 1More for $100, but these also take more of a sound masking approach with white noise as opposed to active noise cancellation. QuietOn offers a 14-day trial period, which should give you enough nights of trial and error to find out if these headphones are the right answer for you.