I finally got my hand on the QuietOn active noise cancelling (ANC) earplugs, what I ordered back in 2016 March. Does it worth it for $160? Are you looking for full silence or just want to sleep when your significant other is snoring. Let’s see if this gadget helps you or not.
I love gadgets. I often buy things than I don’t need. Although a headphone or an earplug is different. Everyone uses them. I’m a bit misophonic so sometimes I need to be in a quiet place. Luckily I’m working from home, but what if I have to work from a coffee shop?
Things to consider before buying any active noise cancelling headphones/earplugs:
Size. Is it heavy or too big to carry around? Or maybe very fragile and won’t easily fit into your packet.
Price. If it’s pricey you will likely to protect it rather using it, just like I did with my JBL J88i.
Comfort. Is it convenient to wear? For a headphone or earplug it’s mandatory to be comfortable to wear.
Performance. Is it really cancelling all kind of noise or just specific high or low frequency noises.
Battery life. How long does your headphone/earplug last with one charge.
Charging time. How long does it take to charge your device.
Wired or Wireless. Do you have to deal with the wires or you can just stand up and do whatever you want.
Originally the QuietOn project was launched on indiegogo on the 2016 January. At that time they already had a prototype and established the company. What’s more, they had already started the usability tests.
I see their promo video in March and decided to support the project, so I ordered a pair of QuietOn for $130.
The video suggests that it filters out any frequency noise including:
- office noises
- car horns
- hotel room noises
Although the reality is way to far from this, but let’s starts with the size.
It is quite a small gadget if we take into account that it can do ANC and passive noise reduction. A pair of earplug weights around 3.8g and fits easily into any small packet. QuietOn recommends to carry them in their charging box. With the box it’s 25g. An extra pair of tips can be easily fitted into the box too.
There are a lot of ANC earplugs about the same size out there in the market. To size I give 9 / 10, because it’s possible to sleep with it. Although others reported that they always hear the test beep sound during the night.
The pre-retail price is $160 at the moment. The retail price will be around $200. When I ordered it in 2016 March, it was cheaper: $130.
The cheapest earplug is the O-TAP (6 pcs) earplug costs around $5. Hypoallergenic, moldable, reusable, waterproof, no charging needed. The most expensive earplug is the Bose QuietComfort 20 costs around $250-$300. So QuietOn positions itself just under Bose.
I give ** 3 / 10** for price, because it’s just a noise cancelling earplug nothing else and for that it’s too pricey. It’s price should be somewhere between $100 and $120.
A pretty nice price comparison can be found here for the 7 Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds in 2016.
The tips shipped with the QuietOn aren’t the most comfortable tips I’ve ever used. I’d say: they’re OK, but way too far from super comfortable. Wonder how people can sleep at night while the QuietOn is plugged in.
The QuietOn package comes with two different tips. A green (small) and a blue (normal/big). It is important to mention that for better noise cancellation the earplug must be air tight, so if possible use the blue tip. If it hurts or it’s too big, use the green one.
Of course you can buy any kind of tips, for example the Comply T-200 foam tips which are great. Note that QuietOn sent this foam tips to the first few thousand backers with the QuietOn.
To comfort I give 5 / 10.
I found the Comply tips pretty comfortable even after three hours of usage which is a good point. There is a good video how to install and properly insert the Comply foam tips to get the best experience.
Probably this is the most important part for everyone. I don’t care if something costs too much but in return I get a high quality gadget. So from an ANC device we expect pretty good noise cancellation.
Below is a chart which explains where QuietOn makes difference comparing to a normal foam earplug.
As you can see QuietOn’s goal is to reduce the low frequency noises from 20Hz up to 1000Hz. QuietOn says:
Thus, the problem area for traditional earplugs is these low frequencies. Examples of such penetrating low frequency sounds are airplane noise (noise level peaks at 70 Hz), noise in factories and noise that comes through the walls of buildings. Also, snoring is mostly comprised of this low frequency sound. When you use passive earplugs on an airplane, you will notice that, although it reduces sounds from people chatting in the cabin, the background engine noise is almost unchanged.
And a lot of backer misunderstood it! They thought that this small device for $160 will block low and high frequency noises 100% and they’ll get absolute quiet just like they were in the outer space. Since it has ANC, so you’ll hear a very-very quiet white noise.
A lot of backer wants a refund because they can’t properly fit QuietOn in, or they can hear a lot of high frequency tones like water drops etc. They weren’t reading the product specification before ordering QuietOn.
QuietOn works flawlessly against low frequency noises like airplane, aircondition, background city noise, factory noises, snoring. I was testing it at home and in open space co-working spaces.
My experience shows that the following noises are 100% filtered out:
- keyboard typing
- train traffic
- air conditioner (huge one, we use it for heating/cooling)
- nearby workers
- car traffic (note that I’m living in Tokyo!)
- airplane noise
The following noises are so-so filtered out:
- baby crying
- high pitch singing
The following noises are not really filtered out:
- glass sound
- water flush in the toilet
- water drops in the kitchen
Comparing to a Bose noise cancelling headphone, oh well. Bose is way much better. It will outperform QuietOn. It cancels low and high frequency too. But note that QuietOn does not aim to beat Bose, but any foam earplugs.
To performance I give 9 / 10, because they it does what it promised to do.
This is where the guys at QuietOn did a pretty good job. The battery life is around 50 hours! That is amazing. If you look at the comparison chart, there is only 2 (Sony 100h, Audio-Technico 60h) with the same battery life. Others varies between 5h - 35h.
The charging time is pretty quick. It never took longer than 30 minutes to charge it. To battery life I give 9 / 10.
Another huge plus is that it’s completely wireless. No wires at all. However almost all other ANC device has wires, since you can listen to music too. Unfortunately with QuietOn, you won’t be able to play anything on it. It is a single purpose earplug: to cancel noise.
A few backer on indiegogo thought that they will be able to use QuietOn just like any other earplug. They haven’t read the product sheet carefully. It’s not possible to use QuietOn with any device. It stands alone and only does ANC.
It comes without an USB charger cable. It’s a shame on them. For $160 - $200 I’d expect a charger too with the device.
To accessories I give 5 / 10.
The QuietOn earplug is massive. It won’t break easily. But the printed/painted text on it is low quality. One of the pair has already lost the “On” text from the “QuietOn”.
The store/charger box itself is made of plastic. You don’t want to drop it, because it might break. I wouldn’t say this is the best quality product ever I’ve seen but will probably last for a few years before falling into pieces.
In summary all I could say is that it’s a pretty nice little gadget which does it’s job pretty well. Although does not compete with the big names like Bose or Sony.
QuietOn is a small startup from Finland and they had difficulties with the early production, so a lot of backers are still waiting for their device. Luckily they are now able to produce and test more and more devices per day. At the time of writing this entry, they sent out 6370 pieces worldwide.
easy to carry
long battery life
easy to charge
no wires, no cables
focuses only on low frequency noises
can’t use it for listening to any music