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If you've ever used earbuds or standard headphones to listen to music or nature sounds in bed, you know they can get pretty uncomfortable after awhile, especially for side sleepers. Pillow speakers solve this problem.
With a pillow speaker, you can transform your ordinary soft pillow into a private oasis with soft surround sound.
In this post, you'll discover the benefits of pillow speakers and guide you through the best pillow speakers on the market today. But first, let's start with the basics.
Conair Sound Therapy Pillow
Sangean PS-300 Pillow Speaker
C. Crane Co SSV SoftSpeaker-2 Pillow Speaker
Sound Oasis SP-101
A pillow speaker is a small, flat sound system placed inside or under a pillow connected to an audio device with a cable. Since it's flat, you get a more restful sleep because there's nothing there that prods your ears.
Pillow speakers aren't complicated. Typically, they work on batteries or use a long cable with a 3.5mm jack to transfer audio from devices like MP3 and CD players, radio, smartphones, and wireless devices.
Sound emits through a standalone single or dual speaker and most include a convenient volume control to customize a comfortable sound level. But like headphones for sleeping, the volume level shouldn't be too loud for safety and privacy reasons.
Some pillow speakers can even be programmed with natural sounds to provide sound therapy — a treatment intended to positively influence and heal broken emotions, thus rebalancing the body's energy in the process (source).
Some pillow speakers also include a timer to set the audio to turn off automatically.
It's not always easy to fall asleep and one contributing factor relates to noise level. While some people need complete silence, others find it deafening and need sounds or music to block it out.
Oftentimes, partners sharing the same bed don't share the same preference for noise level. While your partner sleeps peacefully in silence, you're wide awake longing for a distracting sound to help you drift off to sleep. Pillow speakers are a possible solution since the sound is loud enough for you to hear without bothering your partner.
Some people suffer from an audiological and neurological medical condition known as tinnitus — a perception of noise in the ear like ringing, clicking, whooshing, buzzing, hissing and whistling. According to the American Tinnitus Association (ATA), Tinnitus affects nearly 50 million Americans, over 15% of Americans (source).
Getting a good night's sleep can be very difficult with a persistent noise sounding off in your ear. Pillow speakers help many tinnitus sufferers reduce the irritating noises by replacing it with music and sounds they actually want to hear.
For thousands of years, sound therapy has been used as a healing and calming aid (source). Today, a pillow speaker combined with an audio device can create the same effect. And not only can sound therapy help you relax, it also helps relieve anxiety, depression, PTSD, stress, chronic pain, and sleep disorders.
As noted, pillow speakers are typically placed inside a pillow or underneath it. But the weight of your head on the pillow night after night can cause the pillow speaker to break after a while. The connective cable, in particular, can stop working when it's exposed to too much oil, dirt, pulling and twisting.
Another disadvantage which some customers complain about relates to sound quality. Since pillows naturally muffle sound, volume and clarity can be affected.
Unlike other pillow speakers on this list, the Conair Sound Therapy Pillow is an all-in-one product featuring a pillow and built-in pillow speaker for your convenience.
The pillow itself is queen-sized and filled with 100% polyester stuffing and 100% soft cotton exterior.
At the edge of the pillow is a navigational display that controls the sound system — 10 natural programmed sounds designed to induce relaxation and soothe your senses.
The sound system includes a volume control wheel and three buttons: one to turn it on and off, one to browse through audio, and a built-in timer option. The timer can be set to 15, 30, or 60 minutes to play audio before automatically shutting off.
The pillow includes a cable to connect to any audio device with a standard 3.5mm jack.
Since the Conair Sound Therapy Pillow is an actual pillow, it's more for home use than travel. And while there are more comfortable pillows on the market, this is one of a select few which have built-in pillow speakers. You won't be bowled over by the sound quality but to relax and/or distract you, it does the job well.
The Sangean PS-300 Pillow Speaker is a flat, lightweight speaker that fits comfortably inside or under your pillowcase. Its slender frame makes it a perfect pillow speaker for travel.
A standard 3.5mm jack plugs into most audio devices. With a 6.5 foot cord, it's long enough to reach any audio device and includes an in-line volume control wheel and on/off amplifier switch. When the amplifier switch is off, only you hear the sound; when switched on, others can hear it too, a feature that sets it apart from other pillow speakers (50mW range of sound).
Customers are generally happy with the sound quality of this device but its flimsy construction may make it less durable. But considering the low price, it's still a solid option.
The C. Crane Co SSV SoftSpeaker-2 Pillow Speaker is a small speaker blanketed in padded foam and tucked inside a soft, round cover.
Like the Sangean PS-300, the SoftSpeaker-2 is attached to a 6.5-foot long cord with a 3.5mm jack that connects to a variety of popular audio devices. A volume control wheel built into the cord allows you to adjust sound without having to control the volume on your audio device. Unlike the Sangean or Conair pillow speakers, this device doesn't run on batteries.
The Softspeaker-2 is designed with durability in mind. First, its outer cover is removable and washable for better sanitation and increased longevity. Second, its cord stands up to dirt and body oils. But where it excels in durability, it might not be loud enough even with your audio device cranked up. Even so, most customers are generally satisfied with this device.
The PillowSonic FM15 pillow speaker features two side-by-side, flat micro-speakers covered in a soft, slip-resistant acoustic foam material that prevents it from sliding from under your pillow.
As an upgraded feature, the foam is now removable and washable to keep it clean and increase its longevity. The new version also includes a back pocket to tuck away a small audio device and the included audio cable.
At six feet, the length of the PillowSonic cable is slightly shorter than other models but still retains the volume control wheel and 3.5mm jack, allowing you to connect to most audio devices.
While the two speakers produce a clear, stereo sound designed to resonate through pillows, they may not be loud enough to reach through dense pillows. And depending on the thickness of your pillow, you may also find the device somewhat uncomfortable. Having said that, most customers find the PillowSonic FM15 more than enough for their needs.
Like the PillowSonic FM15, the Sound Oasis SP-101 pillow speakers also feature two, thin stereo-producing speakers designed to fit under your pillow.
But unlike the PillowSonic, these speakers aren't bonded together by foam as one unit. Instead, they're separate speakers made out of hard plastic which can go anywhere under your pillow. But these loose speakers can move around a lot, especially when tossing and turning so it's a bit of a trade-off.
Connected to the speakers is a six-foot long audio cable attached with an in-line volume control wheel. Like all pillow speakers reviewed in this article, the Sound Oasis connects to any device that supports a standard 3.5mm jack, making it easy to use with smartphones, MP3 players, iPods, and other wireless and audio devices.
Depending on your audio source, the volume level on this pillow speaker may not be loud enough but it seems to do the trick for most customers.
While every pillow speaker in this list does the job satisfactorily, the best pillow speaker goes to the Conair Sound Therapy Pillow.
First, it's an actual pillow with a built-in pillow speaker. As an all-in-one unit, everything is already there for you with the option to connect to any audio device you'd like.
Second, it's less problematic than standard pillow speakers. You don't have to worry about getting a cable wrapped around your neck while sleeping or the speaker sliding around under your pillow.
Third, it comes with 10 natural programmed sounds. These sounds offer a nice introduction to sound therapy designed to help you relax and reduce stress without needing to connect to a separate audio device.
For these reasons and more, the Conair is probably your best bet.
What are your thoughts about pillow speakers? Leave your comments below!