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Kokoon Relax headphones review

March 14, 2019

[this post has been updated, see additional edits being made at the bottom]

April 2018 I saw a Facebook ad for a pair of headphones that sounded like the perfect match for my needs. I’m a severe insomniac, and a frequent flier. I’ve had the same pair of Sony MDR-NC32NX in-ear noise canceling headphones for a decade, and I was looking for something new.

Yesterday they arrived. Now, this was originally a Kickstarter (and I have seen that not all backers have gotten theirs yet) but when I ordered they expected to ship them in July the same year. Delays happen.

Now, for the rest of this review. If you’re looking for the best sound quality, or the best noise cancelation, these are not the headphones for you. My circles tell me the Sony WH-1000XM3 would be what you’re looking for. If you’re however looking for an extremely slim profile with a focus on helping with relaxation and insomnia – keep reading.

After having unpacked them, and tried them on (wow – they’re heavy!) I charged them up and started to play around. Connecting them to my iPhone was no problem (they’re Bluetooth) and the Kokoon Relax app is nicely laid out for you to download calming soundscapes to have in the background. This worked well during the evening yesterday.

Later at night, I connected them to my Macbook Pro (again, wirelessly) when going to sleep. I listened to some tv-series and Youtube episodes, and then decided to try to go to sleep. No matter what audio source you’re listening to, they’re supposed to detect when you have fallen asleep and turn down the sound a few minutes after.

I’m a side sleeper, which Kokoon has this to say about:

Earbuds and bulky noise canceling headphones will make it difficult to sleep for side sleepers. By relocating the headphone electronics from the ear cups to the headband, we have been able to achieve the lowest possible profile, maintaining the natural shape and characteristics of the head in bed. Combining this with cushioning has enabled us to ensure the headphones are comfortable.

… yeah, no. I have the perfect pillows to support this (soft and deep) but there’s no way I can side sleep with these comfortably at home in my bed. That’s a bummer, because that was one of my hopes. However, I still need a pair of headphones for when I’m traveling, and I don’t always upgrade to business class so sit-sleeping is still a thing.

This morning (day of use #1) I was unable to connect the headphones to my phone when leaving in the morning. The battery had run flat, which I now realize is because while the headphones can detect that you take them off (and pause the audio) the ability to turn themselves off is still a feature in development. I then charged them at work, and tried again on the way home. I was still not able to connect – until I tried re-pairing them with the phone.

This caused me to believe that they can only be recognized by one device at a time – but this also turned out to be wrong. When back home, the audio kept disconnecting from the phone and at one point connected to the computer (where a Youtube video started playing automatically). So I had to turn off Bluetooth on the computer. But I still have had no luck this evening – the few times I’ve managed to connect the headphones to the phone I’ve had a few minutes at the most before they suddenly disconnect (and turn off – with a very unpleasant audible ‘pop’ in your ears) and I have problems connecting them back again.

I now tried to hard-reset (power+action buttons for some 10 seconds) them a second time but it seems the battery has run flat.

Conclusion after unpacking day and 1st day of use is: Wow, this is a very very unfinished product.

Day #2 to #4:

Alright, so I’ve learnt that whenever I want to switch between phone and computer use I need to press the action button for a few seconds and reconnect through the Bluetooth menu. That’s not extremely problematic, I can live with it. Besides that I’ve only had a single surprising issue where the headphones disconnected from the computer while I was watching a show. A press of the power button made them come back alive.

I’ve also made it a habit to charge them whenever possible since I believe they have issues when at near low charge, which I’m of the impression happens a lot quicker than I would’ve expected.

So what now? The only thing I’m currently using them for is as a pair of regular Bluetooth headphones. I can’t side sleep with them, the EEG stuff seems unfinished (I know the app claims I fell asleep once when I listened to music, which I decidedly did not) and the ANR (Automatic Noise Reduction) is barely noticeable and I’m even unsure if it’s active. In this case I compare to my old Sonys which were truly awesome at it, but also a lot more noticeable (“pressure” on the eardrums).

Additionally, they make my outer ears hurt after a while, which the headphones I use when playing Playstation VR or my precious “office headphones” didn’t. Not sure why this is yet.

Day #5 to #9:

Regular usage as Bluetooth headphones has worked fine these days, although that’s not really what I bought them for. Just now I’m unable to get them to work though, which I think is connected to having taken them off allowing the automatic music-pause to kick in. After that they’re “dead”. Can’t turn them on, can’t reconnect them to something else, charging doesn’t make a difference, even the hard-reset button combination seems to do nothing.

Will try charging them for many hours, followed by trying to deplete them completely, and see what happens. Since I’m not a Kickstarter customer I do have consumer protection to use if necessary.

Day #10 and #11:

Continuing from above, after they had stopped responding, charging didn’t work. The green led blinked as if they were charging, but after many hours it still hadn’t turned solid green indicating they were fully charge. I tried to see if anything had changed as to responding to any button presses, which it hadn’t, and then let battery run out flat instead.

That worked fine – the next day I could charge them and they went solid green in the expected timeframe. However, they’re still not responding to any keypresses (power on, hard reset by pressing both buttons for an extended amount of time etc) and there’s no LED activity whatsoever.

My conclusion is that they’re bricked. I will now contact Kokoon to let them know these headphones are going back and I expect a full refund. This will be fun.

April 10th

Final update: I today received the refund for the headphones, and I want to credit Kokoon for being swift about it. They initially wanted to send out a replacement but I simple wrote back that I wasn’t a Kickstarter backer but a regular customer, and the headphones didn’t match the spec I had been told when ordering them (besides being completely dead after 9 days).

I bought the Sony WH-1000XM3 instead a while back and they’re absolutely amazing.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Hyde permalink
    April 29, 2019 3:10

    Thank you for your detailed and honest in-depth review. I’ve been looking at this headphone since they were doing kickstart funding due to a sole reason that it deemed to be an adequate headphone for a side sleeper which apparently isn’t the case even after putting up the crappy qualities of the headphone aside. You saved me from hassle of ordering and returning an unfinished product. It’s amusing that your 10-day review is a much more polished project than their multi-year product.

  2. September 4, 2019 19:53

    I can side sleep with mine and they serve that purpose well for me. I can’t get them to connect with my MacBook pro though. Any tips would be appreciated.

  3. Paul Kavanagh permalink
    October 13, 2019 19:57

    Your review is excellent, Thank you. I came across these head phones today while reading October issue of STUFF magazine, they speak highly of them. So when I go to do my due diligence this review comes up in my search. For some time now I have felt that this magazine is just a sales tool for the Tec. Industry and they do very little home work on the products they promote. your review is another example of this for me.

    Sincerely Thank you

  4. March 19, 2023 19:43

    Your review was excellent! I stumbled on it just now. From the initial receipt of these headphones, I complained that the battery would not stay charged. They kept trying to appease me and said no one else had issues. and eventually told me that the warranty no longer counted because I missed the cutoff date! I urged them to take them back because I had been complaining from the very beginning. But they just stopped responding to my request. I am glad you got a refund! And that I now know that I am not doing anything wrong… these headphones just are not worth it.

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