Can not sleep? The Soundcore A10 earbuds block noise and play lullabies

I’m sick of not sleeping well and I’m sick of it worrying about not sleeping well. Some nights I just lay there and couldn’t turn my brain off. Sometimes I get up to pee and can’t go back to sleep. Even the smallest noise bothers me. (Looks at you snoring spouse.) So what’s the answer? Meditation? melatonin? New pillow or new mattress? Soundcore offers an electronic solution: The Sleep A10 earplugs promise to reduce external noise while playing brain-soothing audio files. But do they really work? I put her to the test.

Soundcore Sleep A10: Let’s Talk Fit

First things first, if you’re not comfortable with the idea of ​​wearing earplugs to bed, move on. Despite being as tiny as these things get, the A10s barely protrude from the ear canals they nestle in, but they still are in your ears. I understand that some people just won’t like that.

And despite being a side sleeper used to wearing foam ear tips at times, I’ve had trouble getting used to the A10s. Whichever side I lay on, this earbud felt pressed into my ear. It wasn’t painful or anything, just noticeable. But that extra pressure had the unfortunate side effect of muffling or even muting the audio on that side. I found I could only move my head a little to compensate, but then I was awake and aware that I needed to do this instead of drifting off to sleep.

A photo of the Soundcore Sleep A10 earphones inside the case with the case door open.

The Soundcore Sleep A10 earbuds pack into your ear canals where they’re comfortable, even for side sleepers. But unfortunately the product has problems. (PhotoRick Broida/Yahoo)

You may have a different experience; A lot depends on your ears, pillow and head position. It may well take a few nights of experimentation to work out the kinks—but you might also find that these just aren’t comfortable to wear all night.

Soundcore offers four silicone ear tip sizes and three “ear wing” sizes to help you achieve an optimal fit; Allow for some trial and error to determine what that is. Speaking of fit, the A10s don’t use active noise-cancellation (ANC) technology like most modern earbuds. Instead you get noise reduction from the combination of this in-ear gasket and the audio you play. Luckily, this can be pretty effective, but don’t expect to block barking dogs or crying babies. It is more useful against, for example, noisy air conditioning or, if you are on a night flight, noisy engines.

The A10 charging case features a sliding top cover that makes it easy to pull out the earbuds and three external LEDs to indicate battery status. You will need the included USB-C cable for charging; This case cannot do it wirelessly. Soundcore promises up to 10 hours of audio (in sleep mode) on one charge, but that’s at 50% volume. In a room that’s already fairly quiet, my preferred volume was around 60%; anything below and I couldn’t even hear the sounds of sleeping. Fortunately, I was able to make up for my eight hours with a small residual charge. As with many aspects of this product, your mileage may vary.

Soundcore Sleep A10: The sound and the fury

These aren’t just for nighttime use; The A10 earbuds can play music, podcasts and the like from any app on your phone. While that adds to the value of the product, I can’t say I would choose them over AirPods or other ANC earbuds. While music sounded okay, it lacked range and richness. However, if you want to stream Netflix or similar as part of your bedtime, these earbuds can stay in place as you transition from Stranger Things to sleep.

But this is where it gets confusing. The Soundcore app has two basic modes: Music and Sleep. Pretty easy, right? Wrong: Music mode has nothing to do with music. Instead, this is where you select a “song” to download to the earbuds. The app’s “music library” houses about three dozen repeating tracks like white noise, brown noise, ocean wave, wind over tree, thunderstorm, and so on. The only real music? A pair of violin and cello tracks.

Left: Music mode that has nothing to do with music. In the middle: sleep mode, which doesn't let you select a sleep sound. Needless to say, Soundcore's app needs an overhaul. (PhotoRick Broida/Yahoo)

Left: Music mode that has nothing to do with music. In the middle: sleep mode, which doesn’t let you select a sleep sound. Needless to say, Soundcore’s app needs an overhaul. (PhotoRick Broida/Yahoo)

So what happens in sleep mode? From there you simply play/pause the downloaded track, set the playback time (from 30 minutes to infinity) and toggle the Smart Volume Control, which detects when you’ve fallen asleep and automatically adjusts the volume based on the level of external noise.

There’s no logic behind dividing these features into two modes, and definitely no reason to call a library of sleep sounds “music” or its content “songs.” It gets worse: while you’re in music mode, you can preview each sleep tone for around 30 seconds, but you can’t just press play and stream it to the earbuds. Instead, you have to pick and stream a custom sound, a process that takes a solid minute (rather than 40 seconds as the app says). That might not seem long, but when you’re already half asleep and trying to download white noise, for example, it feels like an eternity.

Likewise, if I want to flop down at my desk and listen to the Brainwave Focus track, why can’t I just do it Listen to? Why do I need to download it on the earbuds? This wouldn’t be such a big deal if you could download multiple titles – even just two or three favorites – and switch between them. No: one after the other. Whenever you want to hear something different, that means another download.

If your desired track is already there, you can simply plug in the earbuds and double-tap an earbud to start listening. Oh, but you might have to go to sleep mode first, which requires a double-tap on the other earbud. See music mode on the earbuds themselves is for listening to music while sleep mode will automatically play any downloaded track. Even more confusion!

Even more hassle: if you want to adjust the sleep sound volume, you have to grab your phone, launch the Soundcore app, and wait while it connects to the earbuds. There are no touch/tap volume controls on the earbuds themselves, and your phone’s volume controls only work when the app is running.

I’ve also encountered reliability issues: on two separate occasions, I’ve plugged in the earbuds before bed, only to find one had a dead battery. (First it was the left, later the right.) This is despite the charging case showing an almost full charge and one earbud also showing full. It’s possible I didn’t put the other one in the case properly, but I’m pretty careful with that. I ended up losing two nights of testing to this odd bug.

It’s worth noting that the A10 earbuds can do sleep monitoring and provide a sleep quality report, which might shed some light on your sleep. While I found this data somewhat interesting, it’s not very actionable. So I got more than 5 hours of light sleep and 3 hours of deep sleep. Good? Poorly? What do I do with this information?

There is also an alarm function so you can wake up without disturbing your bedmate or to wake yourself up after a short nap.

Soundcore Sleep A10: Should You Buy It?

I’m all for anything that can help me fall asleep faster or get back to sleep in the wee hours of the morning, and I’m happy to pay extra for it if it works well. But the Soundcore Sleep A10 is just too much hassle. The app is confusing, downloading the title is a huge pain. And you worry that one of the earbuds will not charge? This is the opposite of what I need at bedtime.

My advice: if you want white noise to help you fall asleep, buy one White noise machine for around $25. If you want to block outside noise, buy some foam ear tips for a few bucks. If you decide to try the Sleep A10, wait for a sale (like the one happening on Amazon right now).

If you have Amazon Prime, of course free shipping. Not a member yet? No problem. You can sign up for your free 30-day trial here. (And the one without, by the way Prime You can still get free shipping on orders over $25.)

Originally published Can not sleep? The Soundcore A10 earbuds block noise and play lullabies

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