I’ve reviewed SleepPhones a number of times over the past few years for GeekDad. In 2015, it was the original Wireless version. In 2016, I tried out revised SleepPhones Wireless (with improved Bluetooth), and RunPhones. This time around, Acoustic Sheep sent the latest evolution in its sleep headphones, the SleepPhones Effortless. These ones bring wireless, inductive charging into the mix.
Like SleepPhones Wireless
If you’re not familiar with SleepPhones, you can get the full rundown from my review of the SleepPhones Wireless.
In a nutshell, these are headphones designed specifically to be comfortable when wearing in bed, kicking back on the couch, or even traveling—situations where traditional headphones are too bulky. They employ flat drivers within an elastic fabric or fleece headband. The wireless versions also have a Bluetooth module with pushbutton controls that slips out of sight within the headband. As their name implies, SleepPhones are a great solution for listening to music, relaxation apps, or audiobooks while lying in bed and drifting off to sleep. Unlike traditional headphones or earbuds, these won’t injure your ears or break if you lie down with your head to the side while wearing them.
Audio quality isn’t exactly at the audiophile level. Besides being nowhere near the price of headphones in that market, the drivers aren’t housed in acoustically optimized ear cups that seal out ambient noise—they’re flat squares positioned over your ears in a comfy, cloth headband. That being said, for the purposes of listening to music while falling asleep, the SleepPhones do a nice job and just as importantly, provide that audio without bleeding sound that might keep the person beside you awake.
The basic setup, specs, and operation of the SleepPhones Effortless are the same as the SleepPhones Wireless. Playback is via Bluetooth so there are no wires to get tangled up in. The same control module is inside the headband. Sound quality seemed identical. You can expect up to 10 hours of audio playback on a charge, depending on how loud you like things. But when it’s time to recharge, that’s when the Effortless offer a significant upgrade in the SleepPhones experience.
Without the Charging Hassle!
The SleepPhones Wireless cut the cord of the SleepPhones Classic by adopting Bluetooth instead of a 3.5mm audio cable. But there was still one cord you had to worry about and it could be annoying. Charging the battery requires opening the headband, removing the Bluetooth module (first disconnecting it from the speakers), then plugging it into a USB charger.
Not the end of the world—for my wife, it’s a once every week or two exercise—but why bother if you could skip it altogether?
SleepPhones Effortless eliminates the need to fumble around with removing the module by supporting wireless induction charging. A small USB adapter with a three-foot cable is included, along with the proprietary charge base (which is s square with rounded edges, about 2-inches on a side). Set the SleepPhones on the charge base and they fully recharge in about three hours.
The system does require a little care to get right, especially the first time you try it—the module inside the band has to be aligned properly—but magnets and an LED indicator help. The LED is red if the headphones are positioned incorrectly, it flashes green as they are charging, and goes solid green when they are fully charged.
Great for Watching TV
In the past, I’ve looked at SleepPhones mostly from the perspective of my wife, who gets lots of use out of them with relaxation apps. During the testing of the SleepPhones Effortless, I found a use for myself where they excel. Sometimes if I’m having trouble sleeping, I’ll watch TV in our room, trying to keep the volume down so it doesn’t wake my wife up. However, either of the wireless SleepPhones can be paired to an Apple TV using Bluetooth. So I’ve been using them to watch TV at regular volume, without disturbing my wife. And if I fall asleep with them on, there are no worries. I leave the SleepPhones Effortless on the charge pad so they’re always ready to go.
SleepPhones remain the best solution I’ve found for sleep headphones. They’re extremely comfortable and offer decent audio performance. Each option they add just makes them better and the SleepPhones Effortless live up their name, removing the last remaining annoyance from these sleep headphones. At $149.95, wireless charging does come at a premium. But if that’s too steep for your budget, you can still opt for the SleepPhones Wireless for $50 less and get the same audio, battery life, and Bluetooth connectivity.
Disclosure: Acoustic Sheep provided SleepPhones Effortless for evaluation but had no input into this review.