Quality material and unique design alone don’t make a great product. The Kokoon Sleep Headphones look comfortable, but side sleepers will struggle to find rest. Nightly pressure on the ear cups may also throw off the sensors and compromise the sleep tracking. What we liked best was the Kokoon app’s audio library, which also works without the headphones.
- Brand: Kokoon
- Battery Life: 13 hours
- Material: natural fiber fabrics, silicone, plastic
- Bluetooth: 4.0
- Noise Cancellation: yes
- Easy to operate
- White noise and active noise-cancellation
- Great selection of audio tracks in the beautifully designed Kokoon app
- Uncomfortable for side sleepers
- Questionable sleep tracking data
- Unreliable auto-off features
- Poor audio quality
Do you sleep well? If noise or a racing mind keeps you awake at night, the Kokoon Sleep Headphones could bring relief. The combination of comfortable design, active noise-cancellation (ANC), sleep sensing, and an app with soothing sounds and meditations promise a sound slumber.
But can you count on Kokoon or will you be counting sheep? Let’s pull back the sheets and have a look.
What’s in the Box
Your Kokoon Sleep Headphones include the following accessories:
- Carrying case
- Micro USB cable
- Standard 3.5 mm audio cable
- Night mask
You’ll also find an instruction manual and a welcome card.
- Design: over-ear headphones
- Color: black or light grey
- Noise Reduction: ANC, active white noise, passive noise isolation
- Sleep Tracking: EEG brainwave sensors and motion sensing
- Drivers: 40 mm, 32 Ohm
- Frequency Response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
- Audio Codecs: SBC, AAC
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0, micro USB, 3.5 mm audio jack
- Bluetooth Profiles: not specified
- Operating Range: not specified
- Weight: 12.3 ounces (350 grams)
- Capacity: 500 mAh
- Playtime: 13 hours or more
- Charging time: not specified
- Price: $315
Operating the Headphones
The Kokoons are refreshingly easy to operate. Two buttons, a power button on the left and an action button on the right, is all you need.
To pair the Kokoon Sleep Headphones with your device, press and hold the action button. The action button also controls playback. A single click pauses or resumes the track. A double-click will jump forward, while a triple-click will jump backward.
Pressing the power button twice lets you switch between ANC on and ANC off. When the LED next to the power button lights up in solid purple, you turned the ANC on. A flashing purple light signals that the ANC is now off.
You can’t control the volume directly from the headphones.
Sound and Active Noise-Cancellation
Let’s get straight to it: You will not want to use these headphones for listening to music. Both the highs and lows are flat, the bass is missing completely, and the overall sound is bland. Fortunately, the Kokoon have an entirely different purpose. The unexciting sound may even enhance the soothing effect of relaxing audio tracks.
To help block out external distractions, the Kokoons come with ANC and it’s turned on by default. The sample I received featured a static buzz, which vanished when I turned the ANC off. Support speculated that my device contained a “higher than normal fuzz unit.” Since that static buzz essentially resembles white noise, I don’t consider it problematic.
I put the Kokoon through my standard ANC test, using an airplane cabin noise track. Despite its solid and well-padded ear cups, the Kokoon’s passive noise-cancellation couldn’t compete with my Sennheiser PXC 550-II, an ultra-light pair of travel headphones. Consequently, the Kokoon’s ANC performed poorer than the Sennheiser.
Wrapped in natural fiber fabrics, with silicone ear cups, and removable (thus washable) fabric ear cushions, the Kokoon Sleep Headphones are designed to be just as comfortable as they sound. And comfortable they certainly are, until you try to rest your sleepy head on its side. I’m a side sleeper, and, although the ear cups are flat and rounded, I found it almost impossible to fall or stay asleep while wearing the Kokoon. That said, if you sleep on your back or front, or if you want to use these headphones for traveling or meditating, they might still do the job.
In any case, Kokoon’s team advises that you should treat their headphones like a new habit:
Like any change in habits, sleeping with Kokoon Relax headphones may take some time to get used to. We recommend trying different sleeping orientations, different pillows, and giving yourself at least 10 nights to get used to your headphones.
Frankly, after the first few attempts, I could hardly get myself to sacrifice sleep for any more nights. It took me four nights to accumulate enough data for a sleep analysis, and my sleep was utterly destroyed each time, whereas it was fine before. When I finally had one session of over 2.5 hours of sleep (at least that’s what the app claimed), I was ready to give up.
While my personal experience was rather negative, I’ve tried to present a balanced review.
The Kokoon App
The app is what turns the Kokoon headphones into a relaxation tool. Under My Audio, the app’s library, you’ll find a large selection of free audio tracks to help you relax and fall asleep. You can choose from music, soundscapes or noises, and guided sleep or relaxation programs.
Before you dive in, stop by the Settings, where you can customize the headphone’s behavior when you fall asleep or when you take the headphones off.
Then start with the “Welcome to Kokoon” program, which explains Kokoon’s features and how to use the headphones. You can even combine a background noise with the introductory sessions. It also takes you through specific relaxation techniques, like the Body Scan or Guided Imagery.
Once you’ve completed the introductory sessions, download and try tracks from the app’s collection.
Note that you can use the app with any headphones, or even without headphones at all. The sleep tracking features will, obviously, only work with your Kokoon headphones.
As you’re using your Kokoon headphones with the app, the sensors in the headphones will start recording data. The sensors include EEG brainwave sensors, motion sensing, and disturbance sensing.
The EEG brainwave and motion sensors help Kokoon understand which sleep state you’re in. Disturbance sensing ensures outside noise won’t wake you up. To drown out disturbing external sounds, like a snoring partner, the headphones will introduce white noise as you’re falling asleep.
The sensors can only work properly if they’re in close contact with your ears. Hair stuck between your ears and the sensors can impact their precision. I was well aware of this when starting my tests and prepared accordingly.
Unfortunately, the sleep tracking is where this product fell apart. Not only did I have an incredibly hard time falling and staying asleep while wearing the headphones, when I finally produced a long enough session, the data was also full of errors.
For example, Kokoon scored my sleep onset at 10/10 and recorded me as being asleep for a period, even though I was wide awake. Several of the sleep states displayed on the app didn’t correlate with my memory. While supposedly in REM or light sleep later that night, I remember being awake checking the time.
Unfortunately, these issues were reproducible. I managed to get another second session with sufficient data. During that session, the headphones had correctly detected that I was asleep and had switched from the audio tune to white noise, which was still playing when I woke up. What they didn’t detect, however, is that I got up to use the bathroom. They still registered me as sound asleep, although I didn’t take the headphones off.
When I did eventually take them off, it took over an hour for the device to detect that no human head was making contact with the sensors. At that point, the headphones had switched to a soothing sound again, which they kept playing for over an hour.
You can control what happens when you take off your headphones in the Kokoon app. My settings included pausing the audio and turning the headphones off, which should have happened after 5 and 15 minutes, respectively.
My Kokoon Verdict
The Kokoons feature quality material and a unique design. They’re comfortable, easy to operate, and pack unique features. Sound and ANC are sub-par, but good enough to fall asleep with. Unfortunately, I have no confidence in the sleep tracking feature, which is core to this product.
My personal experience when trying to sleep with the Kokoons was a disaster. The headphones stopped being comfortable when I rolled to my side. They hurt my ears, ruined my sleep, and the sleep tracking data was way off. However, those of you sleeping on your front, back, or sitting up while traveling, may get better results.
If you’re not sure whether sleep-inducing sounds or guided meditations will help you relax or fall asleep, try out the app first. It’s free and works with any headphones. If you’re a side sleeper or prone to moving around during your sleep, however, I’d strongly discourage you from investing in the Kokoon. Likewise, if your aim is to use these headphones to listen to music, just don’t. If you’re an audiophile, you’ll hate the sound.
Even if your sleep position is compatible with headphones, know that accurate sleep tracking is notoriously difficult. For better results, I’d recommend using a more reliable system, like a fitness tracker watch with sensors touching your wrist. The Fitbit Charge 4, for example, features a heart rate monitor and can also track your sleep based on how much you move. It’s less expensive and more dependable than the Kokoon Sleep Headphones.
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