An employee at Oaktree Products recently assumed the role of “Professional Napper” to test-drive and provide feedback on four new tinnitus maskers: 1) Sleep Therapy Pillow, 2) Serene Under Pillow SleepSound System, 3) SleepPhone Classic, and 4) SleepPhone Wireless System. She shared her experience with Customer Service and Marketing at Oaktree Products and it made sense to share the information.
AU: So, tell me a little bit about yourself!
Nancy: I’m Nancy Steinbrecher, sister of Margy Kemp and sister-in-law to Bob Kemp, owners of Oaktree Products and I just celebrated my 11-year work anniversary here at Oaktree Products!
What do you do at Oaktree Products?
I’m kind of a big deal here! I am the Accounts Receivables Clerk so my main job is to invoice customers and to also process payments.
Why the interest in tinnitus maskers?
A couple of months ago, as I was walking into the warehouse to pick up packing slips related to shipped orders, I noticed a box sitting on the New Products table in the Marketing area that had a picture of a pillow on it. I love to take naps and was intrigued. I read the outside of the box and took it to Marketing to ask if I could try it. Per usual with Marketing, you don’t get something for nothing! I was granted permission under the condition that I would try three other similar products that were also new to the Oaktree Products tinnitus product line.
Do you actually suffer from tinnitus?
No, I don’t have tinnitus BUT I do like to nap.
Ringing in the ear or ears.
Not bad! How did you know?
We talked about it at work about six months ago during one of our daily group hugs (nickname for the daily Oaktree company meeting held every morning from 8:00 to 8:15 am CST). Somebody from the warehouse asked what it was and I remember learning about it.
What criteria did you use to assess the performance of each tinnitus product?
I’m not an audiologist or researcher, nor am I a consumer with hearing loss or tinnitus. I simply loved the idea of having something at pillow level designed to mask out bothersome sounds. For me, if the product was easy to set up, easy to use, and something I would use every day, it got a thumbs up. Having said that, there are pros and cons to these products and I definitely have my favorites.
With that in mind, can you tell me about the Sleep Therapy Pillow (SP-151)?
The SP-151 is a pillow equipped with two removable speakers positioned within the pillow itself. It has an attached cord that plugs into anything with a 3.5 mm socket like an iPod, MP3, Smartphone, or CD player, it has its own dedicated volume control. I was a little disappointed that this product didn’t come pre-loaded with nature sounds because I didn’t want to listen to my own music so I ended up downloading a free iPhone app called Rain, Rain Sleep. The free app offers a wide range of sound choices including my favorite called Rain on the Beach. They also have bizarre sounds like a dishwasher, traffic, and airplane but I guess you gotta have something for everyone.
Pros: easy to use and install, uses only one cord that plugs into iPhone; separate volume control on cord; pretty comfortable.
Cons: pillow not fluffy enough so another one needed for support; you can feel the speakers if you roll over or fluff pillow; even at low volume levels, spouse can hear sounds from speaker creating a conflict that I’m not sure who would ultimately win; does not come pre-loaded with own nature sounds so must download app if that is what you want.
What about the Serene Under Pillow Sound System (PS-100)?
The PS-100 is a thin pad equipped with two thin speakers designed to be placed under your own pillow. It connects to your iPod, MP3, Smartphone, etc. Unlike the Sleep Therapy Pillow, this product come equipped with built-in nature sounds that continue to play as a loop. It also has a built-in sleep timer that automatically powers off after an hour.
Pro: ready to use out-of-the-box with built-in nature sounds which means you don’t have to own an MP3 or iPhone to use it; built-in sleep timer; separate volume control on cord; pretty comfortable.
Cons: built-in nature sounds is a loop without ability to choose sounds (i.e. I can’t stand chirping birds but I had to listen to them loop); set up cumbersome with three cords; one cord dedicated as power supply and must be plugged into wall outlet; even at low volume levels, spouse can hear sounds from speaker.
What was your experience with the SleepPhones Classic Version?
The SleepPhone Classic is a fleece headband equipped with thin, removable speakers that comfortably rests over the ears and around the head. It has a 4 foot cord that connects to the same types of devices previously mentioned and will require the use of your own music or downloading a free app like Rain, Rain Sleep.
Pro: one cord so easy to set up; easy to use; fleece headband is comfortable and available in a few colors and different sizes; my spouse could NOT hear anything
Cons: fleece headband may be hot if worn during warmer conditions; does not come equipped with pre-programmed sounds; if roll-over, connected Smartphone or MP3 could fall off nightstand so place it under the pillow to avoid this during the night.
What about the SleepPhones Wireless Version?
Nothing to say other than this product was my favorite. It works the same way as the Classic Version described above just without the actual wire because this version is wireless. It is very easy to pair to another Bluetooth device including a Bluetooth-enabled TV. Technically, you can connect the other ones to a TV as well but the cords may not be sufficient to make this realistic. I also like that the material of the headband is a lighter polyester/spandex. The product is rechargeable with packaging indicating up to 6 hours of continuous play; I used it for two days without recharging it.
Pro: wireless so no cords; easy to set up; material of headband is light and comfortable; my spouse could NOT hear anything
Cons: most expensive of the bunch but totally worth it; have to use your own device to listen to music or nature sounds.
So, at the end of the day, what did you think?
Loved the concepts of these devices. If you have to have something that works out of the box without worrying about having a Smartphone or MP3, go with the Serene. If you want to use your own music or aren’t opposed to download a free app to hear various nature sounds, the other three will work and it’s a matter of whether a pillow or a headband may be more appealing. Oaktree Products also sells speakers (Marsona Pillow Speaker Set, Item# PS-2) that go into your own pillow if you didn’t want to invest in the entire pillow and speaker like the SP-151. Personally, my favorite was the SleepPhone Wireless; I totally loved it and the price of it is worth it.
Nancy Steinbrecher is the accounting receiving clerk at Oaktree Products and has been happily employed here for 11 years. She loves to sleep and looking forward to serving as a consumer reporter on future tinnitus or sleep therapy products that would required her totake a nap. Nancy is pictured in her office with the lights off doing what she absolutely likes doing the most…taking a nap.