Simplify your product - your overengineered software is ruining the hardware
This is not going to be another 'phantom sound' complaint thread, although there's reason for it - I'm yet another customer who noticed recurring pattern sounds in nearly every sound which I involuntarily fixate my attention on, ruining any chance of rest.
Rather than just describe the problem yet again, I want to comment on where the product missed the mark at a higher level.
I know these kinds of recurring pattern noises must be all but unavoidable with compressed, short, pre-recorded audio loops. Even the new brown/pink/white noise loops exhibit this problem (in fact they are even more noticeable because their loops are shorter). Which is exactly the point - what product decisions forced you into that solution? What assumptions influenced those decisions?
I'd like to think I'm a target user for this product. My partner snores and I'm a very light sleeper. Bose offers one of, if not the only, low-profile battery-powered active noise headphones made with this problem in mind. Let me walk you through my desired usage of your product:
1. I get into bed
2. I remove the buds from their charging case and put them in my ears
3. The buds emit noise which masks low-to-mid-frequency snoring sounds
4. I fall asleep
Here are a list of features entirely irrelevant to that use case:
1. Being able to load around 10 different noise sounds onto the buds
2. Using my phone to switch between sounds instantly
3. An alarm feature which doesn't work unless I use my phone
4. Anything aimed at active usage like 'meditation' or 'focus' - is the product not for sleeping?
I truly don't understand the presence of these features or how they contribute to the solution of my problem. When I'm lying in bed falling asleep, I do not need to switch between 10 or more different soundscapes. I don't desire to sit up, turn on my phone's bright screen, wait 1 minute for the buds to connect, and squint at the interface without my glasses to start the noise (is there any reason I would have removed the buds from their case other than to activate the noise? Why do I need to use your app?). I definitely don't desire to have to turn my phone back on after 30 minutes of restlessness because I start to pick up on a phantom noise in a 3-second loop and now need to switch to a different audio track.
A product designed for my (presumably common) use case does one thing well:
1. When the buds are removed from the charging case, onboard firmware begins generating infinite pseudorandom noise at a particular volume level and frequency range
2. The user may open the app to adjust the volume or the frequency range, which are saved to the buds onboard memory for subsequent uses. Most users will only need to do this once when they set up the product.
No superfluous features, no need to bring my phone in the bedroom, no need to tinker with layers of UIs for 'phone-free mode,' and most importantly: no compressed audio files, no loops, no subtle noise patterns to fixate on. Your mobile app team also is freed up to work on something else, they really aren't needed here.
Recommended reading for your product team. The user journey illustrated in the pictures is practically the same as the one for SleepBuds.
Simply: there's no need to fit multiple noise loops on the buds' onboard memory. There's no need to make the loops less than 5 seconds to accommodate this non-feature. There's no need for a fancy app UI to control this non-feature. You've overcomplicated a simple solution: play random noise in masking frequencies using your already excellent hardware.
If it's too much effort to write a few lines of firmware (here, use this) for the buds which produces generative noise instead of playing pre-recorded sounds - or if your product team simply can't bear to cut the superfluous features and thus remove from the marketing page bullet list - at least give us an option to load a nice, long noise loop which uses up all of the available onboard bud storage. Anything more than a few minutes should avoid pattern-recognition and fixation. Then release the generative noise product as "Sleep Buds Lite" later and collect another $200 from your captive market. You can rebrand the Buds II as "Sleep/Meditation/Focus Buds for Hypothetical Users who Scroll Through Soundscapes on their Phones in Bed"
Sorry for all the snark in this post - wouldn't you know it, I didn't sleep too well last night.
Bose product name
Sleep Buds II
What devices were you using that were affected and what version are they on
The buds themselves, with a Pixel 3a
Detailed description of the issue and steps to reproduce
Play any of the following sounds and listen for the associated unwanted noise pattern:
- Warm Static (pattern of 5 beeps, last higher in pitch, right ear)
- Elements (high-pitched metalic scratching pattern throughout, center)
- Crosswind (similar high-pitched scratching, center-right)
- Rumble (high-pitched chiming scattered throughout, center)
- Sand (two-tone repeating pattern, right ear)
- Mist (ring followed by a chirp, left ear)
What environment do you experience the issue in?
Silent room at night, or a room with snoring partner
When did you start to experience the issue? Did it work correctly previously?
As soon as I noticed any of the repeating patterns, they became impossible not to recognize unless I'm distracted
Any troubleshooting steps you took
- Forgot and re-paired buds
- Used the case reset button
- Placed buds back in case and took them out
- Switched tracks back and forth
- Used phone-free and non-phone-free modes