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Different people use different methods to relax in bed. One of the most common approaches is to block out any random noise that you can normally hear from outside, or from your pets playing, or someone else having the TV on. A common way to block these noises is to either play music on your headphones or use a bedroom fan to create a pleasant whirr. However, bedroom fans can lower the temperature below what you can comfortably sleep in, and headphone cables can get twisted up and even damaged while you’re sleeping, which only creates further problems. This is where pillow speakers come in.
Pillow speakers and special speaker pillows are created to play music near your pillow so you can comfortably drift off to sleep without any noise disturbing you. Some models will only play their pre-recorded tracks (usually nature sounds and other soothing pieces), while others let you play any kind of music you have at hand. In this article, we will cover the best options for anyone looking to purchase a speaker pillow or pillow speaker.
Sangean PS-300 Pillow Speaker
The Sangean PS-300 Pillow Speaker comes with a standard 3.5mm audio jack, so it can be used with a huge variety of music-playing devices to play anything you want. The flat design hints that it should be placed underneath your pillow. For its very low asking price of around $18, the sound quality is quite good, and it doesn’t get lost through the pillow. This model comes with in-line volume control, letting you easily adjust volume without having to mess with your pillow and tense up.
The cord is long enough to suit people of all height levels, clocking in at 6.5 feet of distance. It means you can wrap the cord around a bedpost or anything similar nearby to prevent it from getting tangled or pulled. Alternatively, shorten it naturally by folding it a few times. While this speaker is already easy to use, it comes with a handy instruction manual just in case. Perfect for less tech-savvy people who still want to enjoy soothing music or podcasts while falling asleep.
Conair Sound Therapy Pillow
Sometimes when a simple item like a pillow comes with bonus tech attached (think something like blankets with bonus heating), it comes at the cost of reduced comfort and practicality compared to non-tech versions. It is not the case here. The Conair Sound Therapy Pillow is 100% polyester filling, with a 100% cotton cover. You don’t even come into contact with the speaker portion unless you explicitly reach for it.
This pillow can be connected to a variety of audio devices to play anything you want, or you can pick from one of the ten soothing sounds that come included. A lot of people keep their smartphone near their bed anyway, so that’s added convenience. The pillow uses two AA batteries to power the sound-playing feature, although those batteries are sadly not included from the start. If you’re worried about battery life, you’ll be pleased to know that the pillow comes with a sleep timer (no pun intended) that lets you conserve power by having it shut off after 15, 30 or 60 minutes.
Crane PS2 SoftSpeaker
The soft, washable fabric cover of Crane PS2 SoftSpeaker helps you place the speaker anywhere on the pillow, even right next to your head. It’s far more comfortable than most other models since in those cases you’re just putting your ear on hard plastic. It has a hidden benefit if you sleep in the same room as another person – because the speaker can be super close to your ear, you can lower the volume in a way where only you can hear the sounds coming from the speaker. This is super helpful if the other person doesn’t subscribe to the same method of relaxation as you.
Make sure you have room near your bed for an audio device to plug this speaker into. The cord is long enough to give you some flexibility, thankfully. This pillow speaker comes with a one-year warranty, which is excellent given the price.
Dreampad Sleep Technology Music Pillow
You have two options with this product – memory foam and down alternative. Whichever you select, the cover is pure cotton, which makes the pillow as comfy as any conventional model out there. Dreampad Sleep Technology Music pillow comes with five pre-loaded songs for relaxation, helping you suppress anxiety and insomnia without using medication and risking side-effects. Alternatively, you can just plug this speaker pillow into a nearby audio device.
The price is the highest on this list, but you get a full one-year warranty and high-quality construction that will most likely last way past a year. The hypoallergenic nature of the pillow coupled with the 100% cotton shell should match the comfort levels of any pillow you already have, without any unpleasant side-effects to worry about.
Sound Oasis SP-101 Sound Therapy Pillow Speakers
While it may not fully replicate a complete surround-sound experience, Sound Oasis SP-101 pillow speaker is the closest you can get. You get two flat speakers to place on both sides under your pillow, and this feeds the sound to both ears equally while giving you a feeling of being immersed in the music you choose to play. You can connect this product to any conventional audio device and pick your favorite tunes or podcasts.
The in-line volume control lets you adjust volume without making relaxation-breaking movements, which can otherwise spell disaster for another hour’s worth of sleep. It also lets you help out nearby people who don’t specifically enjoy music during bedtime by lowering the volume to levels only you can hear. We strongly suggest putting both speakers as far away from others as possible if they express dissatisfaction with the sounds.
We’ve covered some products, but we’re just getting started. This section aims to provide extra information and advice to people who are still unsure as to which pillow speaker or speaker pillow they want. Let’s look at some questions the average potential buyer might have, one by one:
What kinds of pillow speakers exist?
This categorization is based on where the speaker is positioned during active time. Here are the categories:
- Under-pillow models of speakers are placed underneath the pillow, as their name suggests. They produce a sound that goes through the pillowcase and pillow, and into your ears. The vast majority of under-pillow speakers are as flat as possible, to ensure that you can still sleep comfortably without feeling the edges of the device.
- “Anywhere” speakers are characterized by the fact that you can position them anywhere you want around the pillow. It makes them highly adaptable to your immediate sleeping area, and especially forgiving for sleepers with sleeping partners or kids in the same room. A lot of these type of pillow speakers come with soft foam and fabric covers to enable the user to lean on them with their ear.
- Speaker pillows are, as their name suggests, pillows with speakers built-in. All speaker pillows offer you the option to use pre-loaded recordings meant for relaxation, but also come with a way to connect to one of your audio devices. Speaker pillows are as comfortable as any conventional pillow, despite coming with attached audio output.
Obviously, this isn’t all there is to speaker pillows and pillow speakers. The type is often attached to specific functionalities, but you want to look at the product in detail to find out if it has any extra perks you’re interested in. Such additional features include:
- Bluetooth connectivity: More advanced speaker pillows and pillow speakers come with a way to connect with your audio device without the use of a cable. This is extremely useful if you don’t have space to maneuver with cords, or if you feel there’s a risk that you’ll accidentally drop your device to the floor while turning around in your sleep.
- In-line volume control: Another convenient piece of design that helps you relax enough to sleep. Being able to change volume without doing sudden movements or grasping around wildly is crucial for keeping stress and anxiety away.
- Cord protection: Sometimes, there will be plastic “boxes” for the cord to fit in that are designed to prevent tangling or exposure to any source of potential damage. It is still a rare addition to pillow speakers, but you can fashion an improvised version for yourself if you need one.
On the packaging, you may also find these specs. Don’t just treat them as auxiliary factors, because these can make or break a deal:
- Cord length: If you want to listen to music outside of pre-recorded tunes (which are usually uplifting, relaxing masterpieces, mind you), cord length is quite important. Most products will sport a cord length over six feet, but in some cases, the cord is considerably shorter. To be perfectly safe, measure the distance between your pillow and where you would put your smartphone or mp3 player.
- Volume: Normally the higher decibel ranges aren’t used for sleep relaxation since a lot of users have sleeping partners and children that they don’t want to upset. However, if your sleeping environment is buried in noise (for example, if you sleep during the day and work nights), then turning up the volume can be the only thing that lets you sleep properly. Expect your speaker to register 90-120 decibels or higher.
- Frequency response: This value represents the output spectrum of an audio device in response to a stimulus. It is measured in hertz (Hz) and the lowest value you can expect to see is anywhere between 20Hz and 100Hz. The value goes to about 20,000Hz on the higher ends.
We will quickly list out some bonus questions that are a good idea to consider before making an investment. Think of it as a step-by-step questionnaire that you should have filled out somewhere in your head before ordering anything.
- What is your budget?
It is step one when it comes to making any purchase. How much money are you willing to spend on a pillow speaker or speaker pillow? Think about how much money you’re already spending to get proper sleep. If you’re experiencing severe insomnia, consult a doctor before making any purchases.
- How important is it to be able to play your own music?
Although most models have the ability to play music from any of your audio devices nearby, doing that involves dealing with cords and limiting your movement somewhat. Try to find a way to avoid having to maneuver around cables while trying to relax or sleep, since otherwise, you risk dropping that device to the floor.
- How loud do you like your music?
This is largely preference. However, there is an essential bit of advice you should follow: Never turn the volume up too loud. Almost every music playing device defaults at a value around half as loud as the maximum. There are two risks associated with turning the volume up to the max – you can damage your hearing, or you can damage the sound card in the device you’re using, thus lowering audio quality.
Another consideration is the potential stress your relaxation method could inflict on nearby sleepers. If you have people nearby who actively dislike hearing that kind of music during bedtime, consider another form of sleeping aid.
- How long does the warranty have to be?
If you can see yourself using a pillow speaker for a long time, consider models with around three years of warranty included. There aren’t many, and they may cost extra, but it’s worth the asking price if it ensures you can still listen to relaxing music years down the line.
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Tanya is a professional writer and editor with a B.A. in English from the University of Chicago. Tanya has been fighting insomnia for most of her adult life, and she knows firsthand how vital a good night’s rest can be for people with sleep problems.