Technologies are so actively penetrating our lives that they have already filled every minute. But instead of lamenting how bad it is, you can go the other way. As the saying goes, if you cannot change the situation, change your attitude towards it.

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Sleep problems occur in about 30% of adults. These figures lead WHO, names similar numbers in his insomnia research Doctor of Philosophy (this is an analog of the title of “Candidate of Sciences,” adopted mainly in the English-speaking world) Thomas Roth.

The numbers are huge. One of the reasons call stress in its most diverse manifestations. Here I have to deftly switch to technology: even if it has become one of the sources of stress, but at the same time, it helps to get rid of it. At least in theory.

I decided to turn my attention to two gadgets that are recognized to reduce stress on a person and give him a normal sleep. The first gadget was the Kokoon Relax headphones, and the second – the smart ear pads of Amazfit ZenBuds.

The difference between the two devices is dramatic. Kokoon Relax is full-size headphones with soft ear pads and a headband, while ZenBuds are small and light TWS headphones with a nice case.

Kokoon

Our editor-in-chief Sergey Kuzmin learned about Kokoon Relax from Instagram. There, these headphones were advertised as a panacea for insomnia. He talked about the first generation Kokoon in his review of Bose earplugs:

Then Kokoon was wired. We couldn’t try those headphones, but now the second generation is out. They have already got rid of the wires and also added an active noise reduction.

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The headphones are not at all light – 350 grams. For sleep, this is a pretty significant factor. Most of the weight is located on the ear cups: all the “smart” stuffing is hidden here: an EEG sensor, a gyroscope, a Bluetooth module, and, in fact, the drivers themselves.

These gold-plated pieces in the cups are EEG sensors. In theory, they track brain activity. 

Putting on headphones, you notice their convenience. They are very comfortable and pleasantly envelop the ears and head. All headphones would be like this! The ears and head do not get tired. In this case, the headphones create a charming impression of themselves.

Noise Cancellation

I turn on the noise reduction. Some quiet noise appears, similar in frequency to brown. I assumed that this is how it should be, and the headphones start it by default. However, no – nothing was included in the application player. I sin on the active noise reduction, which is in this version of the headphones. At the same time, I cannot say that the ambient sounds became quieter after turning on the headphones. Turned it off. A lower mids appeared in the ambient noise, but its volume didn’t really change.

Kokoon announces an adaptive noise damper that will adapt to the surrounding world. Is it too quiet in the headphones’ opinion? I turned on white noise on the speakers for testing. Then I turned on Kokoon Relax. I waited two minutes, torturing my colleagues. The white noise did not become quieter. In general, very strange active noise cancellation. Somehow it is not working.

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Application

When you first start, you will be asked to indicate the year of birth, what you will use the headphones for (rest, sleep, or distraction from extraneous noise), how long your sleep problems continue, and so on.

I wouldn’t say I liked the app. Firstly, it looks like a tome law firm’s site from the United States’ province, made more than ten years ago. Moreover, a very deep province:

Secondly, the choice of noise and music is carried out at the bottom of the home screen, and at the top are recommendations for sleeping, some tutorials like how to breathe and lie down correctly.

Then came the noise and music. They are divided into several subgroups: Soundscapes (ambient noise), Music, Binaural beats (sounds with very wide stereo), and Colored noise (“colored” noise: white, pink, and brown).

From the cool moments: in the application, you can run two audio tracks at once. For example, I liked the mix of one particular binaural beat with the sound of autumn rain. But as soon as the sound of the rain ended, it started over. This transition is made very rough – the track starts to sound very harsh.

Sleep

Fitting and listening ended. I took the headphones and went home to sleep. At first, the most difficult thing for me was to stop laughing because, for some reason, my brain decided that lying in big headphones was somehow silly and funny. It was also difficult to choose the most relaxing noises.

For some reason, I decided to turn on the purr of the cat. The fact is that I really miss my two-tailed comrades, who stayed with my mother in my hometown. And I naively thought this sound would relax me and distract me from thoughts about work and some personal troubles. Distraction: it filled my entire brain and began to enrage me with its synthetics. So the cat does not sound – believe me, I know.

I turned on white noise, pink noise, ambient sounds – it’s all wrong. The ocean annoys me, the rain distracts me, the crackling of a fire sounds unnerving, the music gets boring after five minutes. “What the hell?” – I thought.

I ended up choosing brown noise, and now I started to settle down on the pillow. I have an orthopedic pillow for sleeping on my back and side with neck support – after buying it, my sleep became a little better, and my head began to hurt less often. For some reason, I thought that headphones and a pillow would have some impressive effect, and I would wake up in the morning as if fresh and healthy started life from the very beginning.

Fuck there. I threw out the pillow and took the regular one, as the headband of the headphones constantly slipped down. It got better on a regular pillow, but I still had to adjust the headphones constantly. Then I started to get angry.

It turned out that sleeping with this garbage on your head is unrealistic. Well, that is, somehow I managed to doze off, but in the end, two hours later, feeling irritated and angry from this crap, I threw it off my head.

Sleeping on your side in them is unrealistic, no matter how we are convinced of the reverse promo photo:

I really feel sorry for this model guy. I know how hard it is for him to portray bliss on his face, overcoming the discomfort that he experiences – the headphones are very unpleasantly pressed into his head, preventing her from normally sitting on the pillow. By the way, the latter contributes even more to the sliding of the “kokuns” off the head.

Focus

To write this text, I decided to refresh my memories and put on these kokuns again. He turned on soothing music and added the sound of an autumn rain to the background. And he began to scrape the text.

Somehow, miraculously, it turned out that it became much easier to focus at work than without headphones. Nothing attracts attention: there were no screams, no snot, no jokes about the coronavirus, screams about a fresh portion of food and everything that our office lives on.

I don’t know if focusing on those $ 349 (approximately 25.8 thousand rubles) before taxes that the headphones’ official website asks for them. I liked this effect. Probably, I will use these headphones for work.

Music

These headphones can play music, but there is no better way to do it. The highs are nicely smoothed, but there is practically no bass at all. And even I, a person who doesn’t listen to bass music, note this.

By the way, that very binaural audio does not impress with the width of the scene. There was no immersion effect. It was just a pleasant melody.

Amazfit ZenBuds

I will clarify right away that these earplugs are not officially sold in Russia. In the US, they ask for $ 149 before taxes.

I have had a longer experience of dealing with Zenbads: I slept with them for three nights, studying their functionality.

Zenbads have a much more suitable form factor for sleeping: they are lightweight and weightless plugs. Each of these earbuds weighs 1.8 grams. They might not be felt at all in a dream.

Convenience

If the ear pads were made of softer silicone, and their length was longer, it would be top-notch. It is now tough to place these earplugs comfortably in the ears: I tried all the options of the earpads, realizing the strangeness of my ears, but I could not find a convenient option under my right ear. TTheear pads’ edges were too irritating to my ear canal, which made me feel uncomfortable and woke up all the time.

Also, an unpleasant vacuum was created in my ears, because of which I heard myself: my breathing, movement of my jaw. Because of this, the headphones had to be constantly plugged in. For three nights, I could not find any optimal location for earplugs.

Amazfit ZenBuds package bundle. 

Here, just in case, I will explain that constantly, I use only on-ear headphones and just “plugs.” With the latter, the cork effect occurs very rarely. And with Amazfit ZenBuds – every time.

Sleep

But you can sleep on your side with them! But, again, due to the pressure, you may feel discomfort – after all, there is a foreign object in your ears.

My right earpiece was beeping – it was a barely audible high-frequency squeak. I don’t know if this is a problem for my specimens personally, or if this is a feature of all Zenbads. This is extremely unpleasant, especially in silence – if you notice this sound, then that’s it. I could not get away from this noise.

I slept with these earplugs for three nights because I had a severe headache after two of them. It’s hard for me to say what exactly this is connected with – with the “Zenbads” themselves or with the weather and pressure (I, you know, a boomer, whose condition is very dependent on the weather, but not as much as in those days that I wore Amazfit ZenBuds).

The third time I managed to wake up without an acute desire to take aspirin. I was relatively fresh. But the headphones were in the case – I took them off myself at night.

Of the interesting things: headphones show your sleep activity, like a fitness tracker. At the same time, they have a gyroscope with which you can find out how long you slept on your back or side. However, I’m not sure if headphones tell the difference between lying on its side and just turning your head on its side.

Also, headphones can mute noise and music if they detect that you are asleep.

All three times, I took out the Zenbads in the middle of the night. At the latest, until what time I could endure the discomfort from them – 4 in the morning.

But I gave these earplugs to our operator Lesha Bulgakov, whose photo is on the cover of this text. And he was impressed by the Amazfit ZenBuds:

I like it. I slept well in them and did not wake up at all. ZenBuds has a very nice alarm clock.

I did not experience any discomfort – comfortable and lightweight headphones. Passive noise cancellation does an excellent job – I have not heard a cat that makes a dygydyk every night. But my wife woke up instead of me, although I usually calm the cat.

I think ZenBuds are perfect for those who constantly use earplugs – there is an alarm clock, and soothing sounds, and music.

Application

The app is more intuitive, and it looks much nicer and more modern than Kokoon. And then there is the Russian language.

There are not many sounds. Some of them are preinstalled, and some need to be downloaded. The volume of the played sounds is immediately set.

In addition to sleep, you can activate the rest mode. Then the headphones will wake you up after a specific time—also the “focus” mode. But listening to my breathing, I failed to focus.

Music

Amazfit ZenBuds only play sounds that are in the Zepp app. All music launched from a smartphone will play through its speakers.

Outcome: Kokoon Relax or Amazfit ZenBuds

As much as I would like to get a wonderful pill that will help me sleep deeply and less sensitively, neither Kokoon Relax nor Amazfit ZenBuds has coped with this problem. At least in my case. Probably, as is the case with any headphones, everything is very subjective: fit, sound perception. But I can’t even imagine how someone will be fine.

There is great sound on the Kokoon side, greater wearing comfort, and a great opportunity to focus while working. There is a small weight on the side of the Amazfit earplugs, a cool case, and a great looking app.

But sleeping in both copies turned out to be uncomfortable for me: Kokoon generally slide off my head, and ZenBuds create a “plug” effect in my ears, because of which I heard all my sounds, including heartbeat, breathing, and so on. However, ZenBuds may suit someone – our operator Lesha appreciated them.

So for now, I would recommend handling this product category with caution. Apparently, they are at the very beginning of their development, and something interesting will come out in a few years. If the category, of course, is not bent from hopelessness.


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