Saturday, June 22, 2024

These cheap sleep earbuds do one thing better than almost all the others

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The 1More Z30 Sleeping Earbuds next to their case.

1More Sleeping Earbuds

MSRP $90.00

Score Details

“Provided the 1More Z30 Sleeping Earbuds suit the way you like to fall asleep, these small, unobtrusive, simple-to-use earbuds are a great nighttime partner.”

Pros

  • Comfortable and unobtrusive
  • You can play your own audio via Bluetooth
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • Basic app
  • Poor selection of ambient sounds

The 1More Z30 Sleeping Earbuds have become my go-to pair of overnight buds. They’ve replaced my other trusty nighttime earbuds simply because they do one thing better than most of the others I’ve tried. It’s not to do with sound or noise cancellation — it’s the fact that they keep things very simple, and when you’re trying to fall asleep at night, that’s pretty much all most people want. But has the rest of the Z30 package been such a success?

Contents

  • 1More Z30 Sleeping Earbuds: design
  • 1More Z30 Sleeping Earbuds: sound
  • 1More Z30 Sleeping Earbuds: app
  • 1More Z30 Sleeping Earbuds: battery and charging
  • 1More Z30 Sleeping Earbuds: price and availability
  • 1More Z30 Sleeping Earbuds: Are these the sleep buds for you?Show 1 more item

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1More Z30 Sleeping Earbuds: design

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Z30 are tiny in-ear earbuds that sit flat and almost flush with your ear, so they’re designed for side sleepers, which is my personal preference. Each earbud weighs only 2.7 grams, and once they are in your ear, you hardly notice them. They don’t offer active noise cancellation, and rely on passive isolation to lessen sound by 24 decibels around you. The fit can be fairly loose, and they aren’t as effective at dulling sound as the Bose Sleepbuds 2 or Anker Soundcore Sleep A20 buds, so don’t expect them to completely eliminate the noise from a loud snoring partner. But they should do enough to help you stay asleep.

How are they when sleeping on your side? They’re comfortable, but I do find they can dig into the side of my ear quite uncomfortably when it’s pressed in a certain way against my pillow. Unlike the Anker and Bose buds, they sit flat against your outer ear, and it was enough to cause a slight bruise-like pain after the first couple of nights, but this has mostly disappeared over time. Crucially, I do not find them uncomfortable or have any noticeable pain during the night. I also really like the way they don’t seem to completely seal in my ear, which allows them to breathe overnight and avoids the “blocked ear” sensation that’snoticeable with some other sleep earbuds. There also isn’t any buildup of sweat.

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Despite being quite loose in my ear, they have not fallen out and I haven’t had the impression they will. They aren’t distracting and I can’t hear myself breathe when they’re in, yet they still isolate me enough that any sounds around me don’t cause a disturbance. Don’t expect expensive-feeling earbuds though, as they are made of plastic and come in a simple flip-top plastic case. I’d say they feel similar to the QuietOn 3 earbuds, with which they also share an overall shape, but they are not as high quality as the Bose or Anker sleep buds.

Overnight comfort is paramount for a pair of in-ear sleep buds, and 1More has mostly got it right with the Z30. However, I like the softer, more shapely dual-layer eartips used by Anker and Bose, and am disappointed to not find them with the Z30s. Plus, if you want to get away from every sound around you, they probably won’t provide sufficient isolation.

1More Z30 Sleeping Earbuds: sound

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Z30 earbuds connect to your phone using Bluetooth, and you have the choice of either playing audio stored on your phone or to use the ambient sounds provided by 1More, which can be uploaded and stored on the earbuds. Here’s where we come to the overall simplicity of the Z30s, at least for me, and it’s the point where you’ll learn if the Z30 are also for you or not. I use them in a specific way that works for me, and it avoids the worst part of the Z30s.

Connected to my iPhone 15 Pro Max, I listen to podcasts and spoken word to fall asleep, and I use the iPhone’s built-in timer to stop playing the podcast after a set period of time, when the earbuds go silent for the rest of the night. It’s an incredibly simple method that needs almost no attention at all, which is perfect when you’re trying to fall asleep. The volume control doesn’t get quite as quiet as I’d like, but it’s manageable, and voices are crisp and clear.

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

What about music? Remember these are earbuds designed to lull you to sleep, and questioning the sound quality and whether they will challenge the best true wireless earbuds out there really misses the point. The sound is acceptable, but if you’re even slightly critical ,you’ll hear the muddy bass, tight central soundstage, and underwhelming mids. You won’t want to take the Z30 earbuds out on a run or listen while relaxing on the couch, and if you intend to do so, I’d say you’re absolutely looking at the wrong product.

1More Z30 Sleeping Earbuds: app

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

When used with the iPhone’s timer and while listening to spoken voice or ambient sound, the Z30s are great, but it’s when you are forced to use the 1More app that things start to go wrong. The app doesn’t have any controls for music playback and there’s no timer, so you must either listen all night or learn how to best use the one on your phone. It’s fine if you have an iPhone, but it’s more problematic on some Android phones that don’t have a “stop playing” option in the timer app.

What’s more, the app’s so-called soothing sounds are anything but, and have an awful computer-generated tone that’s more aggravating than relaxing. There are also only six available, despite some promotional material suggesting there are many more, leaving you with little choice but to find and potentially purchase your own ambient sound files. Now you understand why I have found the 1More Z30’s work so well for me, as I supply my own audio and use the iPhone’s timer feature.

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

However, if my phone’s timer didn’t have the right functionality, I would not look at them so favorably. Sleep is incredibly personal, and what I find relaxing is almost certainly not going to apply to everyone else. Unfortunately, while 1More manages to supply the right hardware, it fails with its substandard app and terrible ambient sounds.

The earbuds have connected faultlessly to my iPhone every time, and should you follow the same audio and timer system as me, then there is no need to interact with the app at all outside of checking for and installing firmware updates.

1More Z30 Sleeping Earbuds: battery and charging

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Z30 earbuds sit inside a charging case that’s smaller than the Apple AirPods Pro case, and they are held in place by strong magnets. The case does not have wireless charging, and the battery is topped up using a USB C connection. I use the Z30s in the same way each night, with about 30 minutes of audio playing before they are silenced. Used like this, less than 10% of the battery is consumed during playback. So far, the case has required a top up each week, but has not fallen much below 50% power.

The buds will last for about six hours with continuous streaming over Bluetooth, according to 1 More, and the case will deliver 18 hours of use, resulting in a package that should return 24 hours of total use. So far, the Z30 exceed this total time for me. If you somehow enjoy 1More’s ambient sounds, they can be transferred to the earbuds, so no connection is required, boosting the total battery use to 32 hours, according to the company. While decent, this is considerably less than the Anker Sleep A20’s battery life.

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Considering the price, it’s no surprise the Z30s case does not have wireless charging, but there’s ample usage time for them not to be burdensome to own and use. I do not consider the Z30 earbuds ones to use at any time other than when trying to get to sleep, so don’t worry that the battery may not last an entire long-haul flight or a week’s worth of commuting on a single charge.

1More Z30 Sleeping Earbuds: price and availability

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The 1More Z30 Sleeping Earbuds cost $80 or 90 British pounds, but can be found for lower prices. If you only see the retail price, it may be worth waiting for a deal. One thing to note is thatthe Z30 Sleeping Earbuds were initially known as the Z30 Sleepbuds, but this name was changed soon after announcement. If you see them referred to as Sleepbuds and not Sleeping Earbuds, they are likely still the same product.

How does this price stack up against the competition? Due to Bose discontinuing the SleepBuds 2, you’re left with either the $250 QuietOn 3.1 noise canceling earbuds (if you can find a pair) or the $150 Anker Soundcore Sleep A20 earbuds. I like the Sleep A20 earbuds a lot, but they are more complex than the 1More Z30, which I don’t always consider a good thing in a product made for use before sleep.

Anker Soundcore Sleep A20 Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Ozlo Sleepbuds, a forthcoming product from the team behind the Bose Sleepbuds and the likely source of 1More’s hasty name change for the Z30, have been successfully crowdfunded, and the earbuds have recently started shipping to backers. They are more expensive than both the 1More and the Anker earbuds at $299.

1More Z30 Sleeping Earbuds: Are these the sleep buds for you?

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The 1More Z30 Sleeping Earbuds fit very neatly into my preferred nighttime routine, and the level of noise isolation is sufficient to minimize the chance of any disturbance overnight, plus I don’t have to rely on the substandard app or poor built-in ambient sounds. They keep things really simple, and therefore I have exclusively used them since they arrived. I appreciate the bare-bones feature list and ease of use, but my circumstances and preferences may not match yours, and while I’m able to avoid the Z30’s pitfalls, you may not be able to do so.

I also accept the comfort level, but do think the Anker Sleep A20 are better designed and made from better materials, and I much prefer the dual-layer style eartips that aren’t part of the 1More Z30’s package. I don’t need the Anker’s sleep-tracking features, and find the fiddly app and control system frustrating, but there’s no denying the greater level of value you get from the Anker Sleep A20s compared to the 1More Z30 Sleeping Earbuds.

Ultimately, I just want the best earbuds to help me fall and stay asleep at night. For me, the 1More Z30 Sleeping Earbuds do a great job and at half the price of the Soundcore Sleep A20 earbuds if you can find a deal. If you can, they are probably worth a try if you can find a way not to rely on the app. If you can’t, then I recommend spending a little more to get the Anker Soundcore Sleep A20s.

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