Anker’s latest Soundcore Sleep earbuds actually improve slumber for less than $90
7 mins read

Anker’s latest Soundcore Sleep earbuds actually improve slumber for less than $90

“Sleep when you die” was the slogan of my youth. But now, in the soft haze of dull middle age, I think I'll die without enough sleep. That's why I took an interest in Anker's Soundcore brand of new Sleep A20 earbuds, which promise “pressure-free comfort for side sleepers.”

Like many people, I also fall asleep while listening to podcasts. It's either that or the three pounds of fat stored in my skull and neurons make me nervous about the future. But my Apple AirPods Pro, like most true wireless earbuds, are too big for comfortable side sleeping, so I only wear one and keep changing them throughout the night as I fall into fits related to some unknown sleep disorder.

And since they're designed as sleep aids, the A20 buds offer several sleep-focused features like “unmatched noise blocking” and noise masking to “quiet common disturbances like snoring,” according to Anker.

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It's important to understand that Anker doesn't offer any active noise cancellation to silence snoring or talkative neighbors. The Sleep A20 buds passively block out all external sounds by fitting inside the ears just like regular old earplugs. This is partly why the company can only charge $89.99 at launch and still claim up to 10 hours of audio listening before needing a recharge, or up to 14 hours of continuous white noise to mask the sound.

The app lets you switch between two listening modes: Bluetooth Audio and Sleep Sound. The first is for listening to podcasts, music, or anything else you want to stream, while the second gives you access to dozens of very lively sleep sounds grouped by water, nature, life (trains, airplanes and such) . Attention – I especially like showers on tents. You can also double-tap a bud to switch between listening modes and configure them to play audio all night or until you fall asleep. This is done manually (via a timer) or automatically, which I found very unreliable.

The A20 buds also include a variety of masking sounds. You can play with multiple sliders to mix the white noise with seven other colors and two types of snore-masking tracks. When I tried to hide the various snoring sound effects playing on a nearby speaker it didn't really work. Although it reduced snoring by masking less irritating sounds, it definitely did not live up to the claim secrecy General error. It also doesn't silence barking dogs or drunken boys passing beneath my bedroom window, I discovered.

The Sleep A20 pops up in and out of their case. They come with multiple ear tips and wings to dial in your perfect size.

In my side-by-side testing, the AirPods Pro with noise cancellation enabled and playing music did a much better job of neutralizing those glitches than the Sleep A20 buds playing music. But I can't sleep on my side wearing Apple's AirPods Pro buds (they also cost more than double the A20 during Anker's discounted launch period).

For my needs these buds are a game changer.

Still, I have to say that for my needs these buds are a game-changer. Although I experienced a little discomfort the first week of wearing them, sleeping with the A20 buds on my side now feels normal – like pushing and twisting them in and then digging them back out each morning (they are comfortable)! ) I sometimes had to micro-adjust the angle of the ear to the pillow for maximum comfort, and the bud on the front of the pillow would often mute itself due to pressure, which meant listening to audio from just one ear. But the end result is that I am sleeping longer and waking up less often. And, realistically, I feel better rested.

According to sleep data measured by my Apple Watch Ultra, I'm now averaging 7 hours and 14 minutes of sleep in the two weeks I've been testing the A20 buds, up from 6 hours and 14 minutes two weeks ago. is more than 50 minutes. Wearing AirPods Pro with slightly better deep sleep). Other sleep tracking data is almost identical.

Screengrabs from the Soundcore app showing (left) the available noise canceling sounds and (right) data collected by Anchor's sleep algorithm, showing me tossing and turning 45 times… My poor wife.

Anker also offers sleep tracking data in the Soundcore app, including novelties like position (to the left or right) and roll over (whenever I switched sides). Unfortunately, the data is only available for viewing when my iPhone is paired with the buds in my ears. It says I'm primarily a sleeper on the left side, away from my partner, which makes sense. But many nights saw between 40 and 50 rollovers or more. six times an hourWhich probably means I need an exorcism.

When I listened to podcasts for a few hours each night, I found the battery to be at 50 to 75 percent charged when I woke up. (The built-in Soundcore alarms are surprisingly loud and not recommended.) They performed much better than my three-year-old AirPods Pro that couldn't make it through in one night.

Inserting the buds into the charging case requires some practice initially due to the buds' amorphous shape, but can be mastered after a few uses. According to Anker, the case can keep the battery charged for up to 80 hours, if you only listen to a collection of soothing sounds downloaded to the buds in sleep mode. This comes with the added benefit of not having Bluetooth audio alerts to disturb your sleep.

Otherwise, the buds have a Find Device feature, which sounds about as loud as the alarm on an old Timex watch (read: not quite as loud). You can independently configure double and triple taps on each earbud to switch between sleep sounds or Bluetooth audio, volume up/down, next, previous, play/pause, or nothing. Anker's app offers a lot of flexibility to dial in the A20 buds to your exact tastes.

Listening to music with adjustable EQ is fine in a pinch. But if music appreciation is your primary goal then I wouldn't buy these small, lightweight earbuds.

Still, as a side sleeper who listens to podcasts at bedtime every night, I'm completely sold on Anker's $149.99 Soundcore Sleep A20 buds, especially at the starting price. $89.99 when they go on sale today via Kickstarter,

All photography by Thomas Ricker/The Verge

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