Last year we covered a wickedly simple product called QuietOn: earplugs with built-in active noise cancellation (ANC). This week at CES 2017, we got our first hands-on.
The core vision behind QuietOn strikes us as one of those "why didn't I think of that?" ideas that will have you kicking yourself. Take the concept of the earplug – block out noise – but use active-noise-cancelling tech to better flush out sounds.
Inserting the plugs into my ears in an ultra-crowded CES hall didn't completely drown out the din, but it made a big difference. Founder Janne Kyllönen tells me the system's ANC is much better at cancelling out lower frequencies, while the hum of voices in the conference hall leans towards the higher range.
At least in theory, this will be well-served for the types of situations where you're most likely to need earplugs. If you're trying to sleep in an apartment building, the walls will already block out most high frequencies from noisy neighbors, nearby parties or barking dogs; leaving only the lower ones that seep through for the earplugs to better tackle. Ditto for airplanes, where the engine's hum is a low pitch.
If you're thinking about the earplugs for work, trying to cancel out the voices of neighboring coworkers, they won't likely be as effective.
The plugs are small and felt comfortable in my ears, even when resting the side of my head on a pillow-like object in the demo area. There's no setup or companion app: Remove them from their charging case, at which point they'll automatically power on. Then insert them in your ears and enjoy the silence. When you reinsert them back into the case they'll automatically power off.
The plugs include several different ear tip sizes, to help you find the best fit. The company says a full charge lasts up to 50 hours.
We have a review unit and will report back on QuietOn after testing it on airplanes and in the bedroom, and comparing to leading ANC headphones from companies like Bose. Based on our time in the demo area, though, it looks like a smart and effective – though somewhat expensive – way to take noise-blocking beyond what standard earplugs can do.
QuietOn noise-cancelling earplugs are available to pre-order from the product page below, for $199.
Product page: QuietOn