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Soundcore Sleep A20 Review: Sleep Soundly

anker soundcore sleep a20 nextpit review 1
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Many of us can relate to the discomfort of wearing in-ear earbuds while trying to sleep—the squeezing, ear aches, and overall uncomfortable design. However, for those with tinnitus or trouble falling asleep due to noisy surroundings, these earbuds can actually provide much-needed relief. That's where the new Soundcore Sleep A20 comes in. The team at nextpit has thoroughly tested these special earbuds and discovered how they were specifically designed to enhance your sleep experience.

Anker Soundcore Sleep A20

Good

  • High wearing comfort, even suitable for side sleepers
  • Excellent battery life of up to 14 hours
  • Nice library of sleep sounds
  • Good passive isolation (in this case better than ANC)

Bad

  • Fiddly insertion into the charging case
  • No built-in microphone
  • Rather mediocre sound in everyday use
Anker Soundcore Sleep A20
Anker Soundcore Sleep A20
Anker Soundcore Sleep A20: All deals

In a nutshell

If you suffer problems sleeping next to your partner, live near noisy streets, or generally like to listen to soothing sounds when falling asleep, you should try the Soundcore Sleep A20 out.

The in-ear earbuds, priced at $149.99, are comfortable enough to wear even when sleeping on your side and offer several functions for better sleep hygiene. The only disadvantages we noticed in this review were the somewhat fiddly charging case and the lack of microphones for making calls.


This article is a collaboration between nextpit and Soundcore. The company, however, had no input on the editorial team's opinion.

Design & processing

The Sleep A20 from Soundcore have been specially optimized for use while sleeping. Therefore, they lack a stem and a thicker body to accommodate larger drivers. To ensure they are not noticeable when sleeping, they rest almost flush against your ear, and Soundcore also provides several silicone tips and wings for a more optimal fit. Tipping the scales at just 3 g, they're extremely light.


Pros:

  • Tiny and lightweight earbuds.
  • Extremely soft material choice.
  • A total of four configurable sizes.

Cons:

  • Very fiddly to insert into the charging case, especially at night.
  • Charging case is rather roomy with plenty of unused space.
  • No IP certification in case you are out and about.

When you unpack the Sleep A20 for the very first time, Soundcore recommends you select the right accessories. This is vital to find exactly the right silicone tips and silicone wings for your ears. On the first night, I couldn't wear the Sleep A20 with the pre-installed medium-sized silicone tips because they made my ears hurt. With S-sized tips, however, lying on my side was quite comfortable.

The Soundcore Sleep A20 charging case opens with a slide.
The charging case of the earbuds opens by sliding it. / © nextpit

Soundcore claims to have specifically developed the Sleep A20 for people who like to sleep on their side. This happens to be my preferred sleeping position and I also like to lie on my arm, I'm probably a good candidate for sleep headphone reviews. The wearing comfort when sleeping is actually significantly higher than with conventional models.

One of the reasons for this is how the Sleep A20 hardly protrudes from the ear. Current in-ear earbuds such as the Nothing Ear (a) (review) or the 2nd generation Apple AirPods Pro (review) normally feature styles or larger housings to make it easier to insert or operate the earbuds. In addition, other earbuds should also be suitable for calls, where directional microphones carry the voice from your mouth to the other person's ear. All of these are minor details with the Sleep A20.

Compared to small earbuds such as the Samsung Buds Live (review), Soundcore also did away with hard plastic and used an unspecified, soft and dermatologically tested material instead. Overall, the A20s are surprisingly small, lightweight, and comfortable even for a side sleeper like me.

You can sleep on your side with the Sleep A20 due to its shape and design.
The earbuds don't protrude too far from the ear, so you can still sleep on your side. / © nextpit

What disappointed me in the review, however, was the charging case. It slides open like the Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro (review). When opened, there is plenty of unused space, which shows that Soundcore could have designed the charging case to be smaller. In addition, it presents the earbuds on the side, where they are held in place quite well thanks to magnets. Together with the small case size, however, inserting the earbuds requires a degree of dexterity. If you want to remove the Sleep A20 from your ears at night where there is very little to no light, you will soon curse this design. It took me about 30 seconds to insert them during an uncomfortable night. Let me tell you this: Anger makes you wide awake!

Nevertheless, the design of the Sleep A20 is impressive for use when sleeping and in everyday life. Incidentally, I used the earbuds while working in the office and while riding on my bike. Even with strong, sudden movements, the earbuds remained in place where they should be without the risk of falling out. 

App & Functionality

One really useful function of the Soundcore Sleep A20 is built-in sleep monitoring. The in-ear earbuds track your sleep via motion sensors and provide information about sleep phases and the frequency of waking up at night. To ensure the latter happens less frequently, you can access numerous soothing sounds in the app. I'll explain further below!


Pros:

  • Clever sleep tracking feature.
  • Lots of calming sounds, where three of which can be mixed at any time.
  • Operation can be customized if desired.

Cons:

  • Sleep tracking works only with a Soundcore account.

If you're going to insert electronic devices into your ears while you sleep, they might as well collect some data. Soundcore does this with digital sleep tracking, which records sleep phases and uses other metrics. Here, the in-ear earbuds act like smartwatches and fitness trackers. Sleep tracking works in conjunction with the smartphone and possibly via motion sensors.

The Whoop app on the right picked up the same percentage figures as the Sleep A20.
The Sleep A20 (left) show the same percentage figures for the sleep phases as the Whoop app. / © nextpit

Compared to my Whoop 4.0 which I wear every night, the recorded sleep phases are pretty much identical. However, the fitness wristband also recognizes REM sleep phases, while the earbuds combine deep sleep and REM sleep. What the earbuds lack, however, is a pulse measurement, which means the resting heart rate at night or stress level cannot be measured. Instead, the Soundcore Sleep A20 indicates which side you lie on most in percentage terms. While that trivia is interesting, there's probably nothing you can do about it at night.

However, the in-ear earbuds aim to improve the quality of your sleep with a range of soothing sleep sounds. You can choose between countless sounds and mix up to three different sounds simultaneously. With various "noise generators", nature sounds, and industrial sounds such as train noises or keyboard clatter, the selection is wide enough to keep anyone happy. The fact that you can mix the volume of the three selected sounds continuously is also welcome. Another clever solution is how the selected sounds are always sent offline to the earbuds. This means the earbuds can also be worn without being connected to a smartphone.

You get various types of silicone tips to suit the situation and your ears.
The silicone tips are available in air-permeable and noise-canceling versions! / © nextpit

The Soundcore companion app was very well-designed. It's easy to find your way around, you're not annoyed by its operation even at night and you can even customize the operation of the earbuds. The fact that you need an account for sleep tracking might bother privacy-conscious users, but this is by no means out of the ordinary.

Sound quality & ANC

Even though the A20s are primarily intended for sleeping, you can still use them to listen to "normal" music with the in-ear earbuds. I will briefly discuss the sound quality in everyday life, but I will also focus on its performance while sleeping. With efficient passive noise isolation, they also provide good protection against noisy streets and snoring sleeping partners.


Pros:

  • Solid sound for everyday music.
  • Good noise reduction thanks to passive noise isolation.
  • No noise at low volumes.

Cons:

  • No ANC supported.
  • Sounds a little thin compared to other in-ear earbuds.
  • No built-in microphones.

The Soundcore Sleep A20 can also be used as conventional in-ear earbuds in everyday life. In my opinion, sleep earbuds at $149.99 a pop should take on a solid dual role when jogging, while you're commuting on the train, and at work. The Sleep A20 does all these rather well. Sound quality is comparable to entry-level earbuds, with a solid overall volume and solid bass and treble clarity. However, with only 4.7 mm drivers and a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz, you cannot expect too much from this.

Despite being lightweight, the sound quality is not too shabby.
The sound of the earbuds is surprisingly good despite the lightweight nature. / © nextpit

Based on my experience, the Sleep A20 are therefore more suitable for listening to music in the background than hi-fi headphones for specialized listening. The only available supported codecs are AAC and SBC, but even cheaper models such as the Nothing Ear (a) (review) offer higher sound quality thanks to LDAC and HiRes certification. However, the fact that Soundcore integrates effective equalizers into its app is welcome.

Where the Sleep A20 can definitely score points is the suppression of ambient noise. This is despite the fact that the earbuds do not even have ANC — i.e. active, electronically aided noise suppression. Instead, Soundcore threw in various silicone tips with passive isolation, which perform a really good job. Surrounding noise is thus completely suppressed. This also allows Soundcore to avoid a problem I have repeatedly observed with ANC earbuds.

You get touch controls with the Sleep A20.
The earbuds of the Sleep A20 have touch-sensitive surfaces. / © nextpit

This is because various in-ear earbuds with ANC that I have been able to review in recent years produced loud feedback when I held the earbuds in the palm of my hand. Feedback occurs when the microphones pick up recorded sound when it is played back through speakers in their immediate vicinity. I'm sure everyone knows the loud beeping sound from concerts or karaoke bars. I could imagine the Soundcore Sleep A20 would have similar effects if you were to completely enclose them with your ear and pillow while sleeping. Without integrated ANC, this risk is eliminated, which could lead to ear damage in the worst case scenario. Good job, Soundcore!

As there is no need for ANC, Soundcore does not have any built-in microphones. Hence if there is an incoming phone call while you sleep, you can't use the hands-free function to answer it.

Battery & Charging

Despite their small size and weight of just 3 g, the Soundcore Sleep A20 achieved a battery life of up to 14 hours according to the manufacturer in sleep mode without Bluetooth connectivity enabled. When Bluetooth connectivity is enabled, the battery life drops to nine hours and can be extended to 80 hours by recharging via the charging case.


Pros:

  • Very good battery life.
  • Ideally, 10 days is possible using the charging case alone.

Cons:

  • No wireless charging.
  • No fast charging function.

The battery specialists at Anker are known for delivering products with excellent battery life to the market. The Sleep A20 from the Anker subsidiary Soundcore is no exception. On the contrary: integrating such powerful batteries into in-ear headphones weighing just 3 g that deliver a runtime of up to 14 hours is a truly impressive feat.

The front LEDs do more than just indicate the battery level.
The LEDs in front indicate the battery level and more. / © nextpit

However, this runtime information refers to the use of the earbuds in Sleep mode. In this mode, the earbuds play locally stored sounds and cannot play media from the smartphone. Even with Bluetooth activated, the runtime drops to nine hours, which is still good for the small pair of earbuds.

The charging case extends the runtime to a total of 80 hours. With eight hours of sleep per night, this results in excellent freedom from a power socket for ten nights. If the charging case needs to be plugged in, this can be done either via USB-C or wireless via the Qi standard. I found the latter to be particularly useful. In theory, you can always have the earbuds ready on the bedside table if you place a charging pad underneath.

Final conclusion

In the second generation model, Soundcore's sleep earbuds have become even slimmer. They are comfortable to wear even when lying on your side and I was surprised how often I still wore the in-ear earbuds in the morning. If you wear the Sleep A20 all night long, you will definitely enjoy more peace and quiet in noisy environments.

This can be attributed to the silicone tips with effective noise isolation, where Soundcore offers a wide range of "calming sounds" that can be stored locally on the earbuds if desired. This eliminates the need for a connection to the smartphone and Soundcore can extend the battery life to an impressive 12 hours.

It's not that easy inserting the earbuds into the charging case.
Unfortunately, inserting them into the charging case takes some effort. / © nextpit

As a companion device when sleeping, the Sleep A20 also records sleep phases and other metrics. After several nights and days of reviewing it, the only points of criticism are the fiddly charging case and the lack of microphones. The in-ear earbuds are not suitable for lovers who like to talk over the phone until they fall asleep, nor for those who like to wear them as earbuds during the day.

Overall, the Soundcore Sleep A20 impressed us. Above all, Soundcore demonstrated a good feel for well-thought-out products. Functions such as particularly gentle system tones, the availability of different alarm clocks, and a snooze function geared towards the wearer falling asleep proved that Soundcore understands how consumer electronics should behave during sleep.

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Benjamin Lucks

Benjamin Lucks
Product Reviewer

Benjamin works as a freelance journalist and is always on the lookout for special features that make new cell phones, headphones and gadgets interesting for the reader. If he doesn't succeed, he comforts himself by writing short stories and using his digital camera.

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