By Oktay Ozadam
Kokoon is a set of noise-cancelling headphones that are designed entirely around helping you get a better night's sleep.
Boasting an ergonomic design, integrated app and a set of brain scanning biosensors and an adaptive AI that's meant to read your brainwaves and body signs to monitor how you're sleeping and change how it's functioning, Kokoon EEG headphones sounded too good to be true.
Unfortunately, the product has had a troubled production, with delivery on the completed units being way behind schedule and some people having issues with the early build quality and other issues.
But now, finally, at the end of 2019, Kokoon seems to be fulfilling all the promises laid out in their Kickstarter.
Are they as good as promised? How do they function, as a set of the best sleeping headphones, and how good are they for general use? Will they revolutionise your sleeping life? Read on to find out.
Build Quality and Design
When handling a pair of Kokoon, first impressions are good. They're heavy in a way that suggests quality, with an ergonomic and understated design that draws the eye without being garish.
The aesthetic is minimalist, with nothing standing out, but this was probably intentional, given the use, and the engineering background of the creators. It's also an advantage as it means they'll go with everything, and fit in everywhere.
The general design of Kokoon is of over-ear headphones, or 'cans.' The earpiece design is closed back, no doubt to increase the amount of isolation and aid with the sleep and noise-cancelling functions.
The design leans heavily towards fabric as a covering, which is all-natural, with no animal products used in the entire construction.
The ear cushions can also be removed and washed without damaging anything, which is great if you plan on using your headphones regularly.
How are Kokoon Sleep headphones to Use?
The first impression is that these headphones are heavy. At 350g, they're around 25% heavier than other equivalent over-ear models, but once they're on your head, it's not particularly noticeable.
That weight does lend the product a solid, reassuring feel, though, and contributes to the overall build quality. It's obvious that these headphones have been well engineered and put together.
The earpieces are deceptively small, and surprisingly low profile when worn. This makes them aesthetically pleasing, and should also make it much simpler as a set of headphones to sleep in them.
The manufacturers managed this by shifting a lot of the electronics into the structure of the headband, a smart choice which we expect to start seeing in more headphone designs in the future.
Aesthetically, they're attractive but understated. There's no stand out flair or major branding, just a small name and company sigil on each earbud. It's available in two colors, black, and grey, and the only other colors used in the designs are flashes of gold around connector ports.
In terms of controls, there are only two options, a single power button which sits above your left ear, and an action button above the right ear. Both mounted on the headband. This is where you also find the cable jack and charging port.
This is a criticism of the design, in our opinion, as the charging cable can be slightly awkward if you're plugged in whilst using them. It would probably have been better to have it protrude from the bottom of one of the earpieces.
However, the fact that you can use these headphones with the cable when the battery is dead is a significant advantage.
Battery Life and Use
It's hard to find released figures for battery life from Kokoon themselves. The closest you're going to get is a statement by the CEO last year, which stated they should run for around 11 hours of constant use. Expect this figure to change as they update designs and firmware.
However, by all accounts, the battery life is incredibly generous. It's also easy to monitor. First, you can check it with the app, but you can also get an approximate battery life figure by pressing the power button on the 'phones themselves and watching the charge LED.
One smart feature is the automatic shut off. The headphones can read when they're not being worn, and automatically shut down to conserve power after 5 minutes of inactivity.
Supposedly, Kokoon is integrating an automatic shut off once the headphones have detected that you're in a deep sleep. As of writing, this is still in production.
How Comfortable is Kokoon to Wear?
It's obvious when you look at a pair of Kokoon that they've been designed with comfort in mind. The whole thing is packed with smart design choices that make them ergonomically sound and comfy to wear.
The earpieces are large and have a lot of giving.
They're soft compared to a lot of headphones, and the fabric construction gives less resistance, which makes them really comfortable to lay down in.
Plus, the ear cups are designed to let air flow through them, keeping your ears cools during prolonged use, and stopping you from sweating.
Not only that, but the ear cups have a huge amount of movement and flex, able to rotate pretty freely, as well as move backwards and forwards. Kokoon calls this flexmould, and it's their patented design that causes these headphones to basically mold themselves to the shape of your head.
The headband is heavily fabric-covered, being almost entirely wrapped. This makes it quite bulky, but it does increase comfort, especially if you've been wearing them for a long time.
How Good is the Sound Quality of Kokoon?
Headphone sound quality relies on one major component — the sound driver.
Kokoon is built with high quality 32 ohms, 40mm drivers. In general, a larger driver means a higher sound quality and higher maximum volume. Earbud drivers can range from 8mm to around 15mm, and headphone drivers (like Kokoon) can range from 20mm to 50mm.
At 40mm, this puts Kokoon's sound drivers in the larger range, at a point that's generally considered a premium level product. As for the actual results? It's hard to say.
The general consensus is that the sound quality is solid, but reviews are varied on the subject. There are enough reviews pointing out a subpar sound quality for the price point that it could be considered worrisome, but mostly customers are more than happy with how well they perform.
Honestly, if we were considering buying a set of Kokoon, we wouldn't be worried about these negative reviews. No product ever satisfies everyone, and unless you're a sound engineer or a musical aficionado, you're probably going to be happy with how these perform.
Can I Use Kokoon to Listen to Music?
Absolutely. In addition to functioning as relaxation and sleep aids, Kokoon is a fully functional and high quality headphones. You can use them for any function you might otherwise use headphones for, meaning they can replace any existing cans you already use.
Kokoon Relax – the App
As of August 2019, there's been a huge update to the app, bringing in to play a lot of features that were promised but were conspicuously missing.
Now, linking your app to the headphones gives you full access to the range of smart features provided, which include intelligent sleep tracking and smart audio recommendations.
This means the app actively tracks your sleeping, which gives you a detailed view of your sleeping data, including historic sleeping trends.So you can see how you're matching up and whether your sleep quality has improved through the use of the app.
The app also incredibly well laid out and easy to use, with everything divided into easily understandable sections that are simple to navigate and make perfect sense.
Not only that, this august update brought a whole bunch of improvements to the firmware, including multiple bug fixes and an update of the Bluetooth codec.
One issue people have noticed is the headphone's propensity to try to connect to all paired Bluetooth devices in its radius. Apparently, if you have it next to, for example, a tablet and a phone that are both Bluetooth connected to your Kokoon, it gets confused and tries to connect to both of them.
For this reason, it's recommended that you only connect one Bluetooth device to them at a time, manually disconnecting the others until a workaround or update fixes this issue.
In terms of the variety of sound options for relaxing and sleep, by all accounts the selection is impressive, with guided meditation and relaxation sessions, sleep exercises that are proven by science to help you get better rest, and a function that reminds you to switch off and relax when it's time to get to bed.
How does the Sleep Monitoring Work?
Kokoon sleep sensing headphones uses two methods to monitor you as you're wearing them. An Accelerometer, which tracks how you're moving, and an Electroencephalography meter, or EEG meter that tracks your brainwaves, built into the earpieces.
For years, the only real way to measure brainwaves was relatively invasive patches, stuck to the head, but headband based EEG meters like the ones used in Kokoon have been put through clinical trials, and they're becoming more and more effective as personal eeg monitors.
This means, whenever you wear your Kokoon, it's going to be reading your mental state and biorhythms. Come morning; you'll have a detailed set of statistics based around how you slept, including when you slipped into REM deep sleep and whether your sleep was disturbed.
Over time, your Kokoon will build up a library of data on your sleeping schedule and will be able to give you advice on how to get a much better night's rest, on top of the benefits being shut away from the distracting sounds of the world will already give you.
Finally, because you're going to have all outside noises canceled by these smart headphones, they come built-in with a smart alarm that wakes you gradually, in a manner that's gentle and matches realistic waking, rather than the artificial blare of a phone alarm.
How does Kokoon's Noise Cancellation Work?
Kokoon's noise cancellation works in three ways.
Firstly, these noise-canceling sleep headphones themselves are built as a closed-back design with a patented audio seal. They provide the first line of physical defense against sounds by effectively locking you away from the world.
Second, it has an Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) function, which works by reading incoming sound waves and neutralising them with an equivalent sound, negating the sound before it can even get to your ear.
Lastly, when you're sleeping, your Kokoon have a function called Active White Noise. White noise is already proven to help most people relax and sleep, but Kokoon goes one step further by adjusting the volume level and frequency of the white noise to better suit the outside environment and your sleeping patterns.
Will Kokoon block Outside Noises?
Because these features all work in concert, Kokoon is a fantastic tool for someone who might be a light sleeper who is regularly disturbed by outside noise. For example, snoring partners, the sound of traffic, sleeping in public areas like planes, Kokoon should cancel it all and let you rest in utter calmness and peace.
Opening the box
First impressions when you crack the box open are good. Everything seems high quality, and it's all set out in an attractive manner.
The box comes with the headphones, and several accessories, all laid out in a way that's easy to remove but keeps everything safe. It contains:
- The headphones themselves
- A carrying case, which is a hard shell and built solidly enough to take a knock or two
- The USB micro B charging cable
- A 3.5mm audio cable
- A branded sleep mask
The box itself has a built-in quick start guide, taking you through a six-step process that gets you off the ground and using your new purchase as fast as possible.
What about Returns and the Warranty?
All Kokoons are covered by a 1-year limited warranty (2 years in EU areas.) This covers normal use and damage, so if anything goes wrong, you're covered. Just don't do anything silly with them and you'll be fine.
In terms of returns, if you're unsatisfied with your product at any time within 14 days of purchase, you can return them no questions asked, for a full refund. That's a positive sign, especially considering that early models were much more likely to go wrong. It shows that Kokoon has a strong belief in their product and that you're going to love it.
Issues and Problems
First, to address the elephant in the room: When searching online for Kokoon reviews, there are a surprising number of heavily negative reviews, mentioning build quality and issues with their products failing completely, or 'bricking.'
Put simply, there were a number of issues with the first editions of Kokoon headphones. Structural faults caused headphones to break in several known ways, and the software that controlled everything was missing several vital promised features.
However, since then, Kokoon has worked for literal years to improve the design. The vast majority of these problems are now solved, and as we mentioned earlier, even as recently as August 2019, there are still huge updates being rolled out.
Kokoon has also been incredibly open about issues and delivered replacement products or full refunds to every single person who bought a pair of headphones or backed them on Kickstarter and wasn't happy with what they received.
Despite the fact that Kokoon has been working constantly to improve their product, both physically and technologically, there are still some teething issues.
Firstly, as mentioned earlier, the sound quality isn't quite up to the level of equivalent headphones. It's competent, but nothing to write home about, especially considering the price.
Second, despite being a product based around helping you sleep better, and designed specifically for this purpose with low profile earpieces and more cushioning than an actual cushion, they're still not particularly comfortable for side sleepers.
How Much does a Pair of Kokoon Cost?
If you're buying from the USA, ordering Kokoon headphones directly from the manufacturer will cost $299.99. There's also a discount when ordering a pair, at $539.99.
If you're ordering into the United Kingdom, Kokoon headphones will cost £314.99.
As you can see, Kokoon isn't cheap, but for what you get, they're worth it.
Kokoon - Features & Specifications
- Smart monitoring - Tracks your sleep, learns from your sleep data and provides personalized recommendations
- Designed to mould to the shape of your head.
- Active EEG Sensors
- Built-in Accelerometer
- Disturbance Tracking
- Active Noise Cancellation
- White noise production
- Noise Isolation
- Protective White Noise
- Advanced Audio Seal
- Environment Adaptation
- Breathable design keep you cool
- Dimensions: 159 x 179 x 94 mm
- Weight: 350g/12.3oz
- Connectivity: Low energy Bluetooth 4.0 and cable connector
- Micro USB Charging
- Battery - 500mAh Capacity, Lithium Ion Technology, 13 Hour Battery Life
- Audio: 32 Ohm, 40mm electro-dynamic driver, 3.5mm Audio Cable
- Material: Silicone ear cups, natural fibre fabric, no animal products
- Extras: In-line microphone, carry case, eye mask, washable ear cushions
- OS compatibility: Android and iOS
Now that the teething problems are solved, Kokoon headphones are a winning proposition.
They deliver high-quality sound and an exceptional sleep experience, with a lot of high tech tricks which will make it so much easier to relax and unwind.
While they might be quite expensive compared to similar brands, we feel there's enough proprietary technology and smart features to justify the cost.
Bottom line, if you're looking for a high tech pair of headphones that boast solid sound quality, and are going to help you block out the world and sleep, Kokoon is a very safe bet.
However, if you're looking for a cheaper option, options like SleepPhones by Acousticsheep or Bedphones by DubsLabs should work nearly as well, but they don't have the same level of built-in technology, and can't read your brainwaves to understand your sleeping patterns if that's an essential feature for you.
If instead, you want a pair of headphones that aren't specialized around relaxation, for example, if you need them for music, gaming or general use, it might be worth looking elsewhere, as you can buy a decent set of noise-canceling headphones with similar performance for around half the price.
- Low profile design is sleek and stylish
- Exceptionally comfortable to wear, despite being quite heavy
- Can be used for sleep, and as general-purpose headphones
- Wired option when the battery runs out
- Generous battery life, and fast charging
- Built-in library of relaxation options
- Microphone is only available when plugged into the cable
- Might not be the most comfortable for side sleepers
- Quite heavy
- Relatively expensive