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Last updated: May 24, 2021
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If you have trouble sleeping because of outside noises at night or if having white noise or music can help you get to sleep faster, a pillow speaker is the perfect solution. Pillow speakers are music speakers that fit inside a standard bed pillow, so you can play music at a low volume close to your ears throughout the night. Pillow speakers are affordable and easy to use, making them an ideal choice for anyone who needs background noise at night.
In order to help you find the best pillow speaker, we considered a number of features of these devices. First, we looked at whether the speaker uses wireless or can connect wirelessly to a music player via Bluetooth. We also considered the length of the wires and the electrical cord, if it has those, to make sure it would reach for most beds. The size and material of the speaker are important considerations for comfort, since the speaker will be under your head. Of course, we also paid attention to sound quality and volume – it’s a speaker, after all.
We spent tens of hours researching the best pillow speakers, poring over manufacturers’ specifications and reading through hundreds of user reviews. The result is our list of the seven best pillow speakers for any sleeper, highlighted in the table below. Continue reading for detailed product reviews, complete with pros and cons. Our Buying Guide covers everything you need to know about choosing the right pillow speaker. Finally, we sum up our three overall favorite pillow speakers on the market today.
This robust set of pillow speakers from Sound Oasis was our favorite pillow speaker for sound quality and our overall Editor’s Choice. The two ultra-thin speakers have a built-in amplifier, which allows them to be significantly louder than most of the other pillow speakers we reviewed. On top of that, the in-line volume control knob actually allows you to fine tune the volume instead of just going from high to soundless in half a turn.
The design of the speakers is also innovative. Rather than use one large speaker with two sound outputs, these two speakers are actually connected only by a wire so you can customize how they’re placed around your head. There’s plenty of cord between them, so you don’t have to worry about trying to place them too far apart from one another.
Better yet, the construction of these speakers is wafer-thin compared to the other speakers we reviewed. Users found that it’s almost impossible to feel them underneath your pillow, although you can absolutely hear them.
The only thing we didn’t like about these speakers is the setup of the power cord. The micro-USB to USB cord is relatively small, so you’re probably going to want to get another, longer cord. The power adapter is also unnecessarily large, which takes up the space for two outlets when you could easily get an adapter that is half the size. If you replace the adapter, this pillow speaker is also quite easy to travel with.
This wireless pillow speaker from Pyle is the only Bluetooth speaker to make our list. It’s a little more expensive than some wired competitors, but not by much – and it’s half the price of the premium but wired Underpillow pillow speaker. Users found that connecting to your devices is simple, and the lack of wires means that you can charge your phone and play music from it all night long.
Better yet, you don’t even have to deal with turning on your phone or another audio player with this pillow speaker. It comes with a variety of pre-recorded nature sounds to help relax you to sleep, and one gigabyte of internal storage allows you to load a huge amount of music into the speaker. That’s particularly useful if you want to travel with this speaker.
Pyle also thought ahead with this speaker, including a headphone jack so you can listen to music through headphones without disturbing your partner. Although most users didn’t actually need this feature – it somewhat defeats the purpose of having a pillow speaker – it’s nice that it’s there all the same. In addition, a wired remote control allows you to skip tracks and adjust the volume without changing your sleeping position.
The only real downside to this speaker is that it doesn’t feature a built-in timer. Given everything else it offers, that would have been a nice addition. Still, if you use a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone to play music, you may be able to set a timer on your phone.
This single speaker from C Crane Company is a good option for sleepers who want more volume. The speaker is loud enough to hear through the thick foam padded cover as well as through your pillow. Better yet, it’s not so loud that your partner on the other side of the bed will be disturbed by it.
It’s worth nothing that C Crane Company makes versions of this speaker with and without volume control knobs. Users actually tended to prefer the version without a volume control, since they found the volume control was not very effective at fine-tuning the volume and mostly got in the way when trying to sleep.
One major downside to this speaker is that it’s a single speaker, rather than a dual speaker with a surround sound effect. That means that if you put your head to the pillow, you’ll only be able to hear sound in one ear. If you’re trying to avoid disturbance from outside noises, this speaker probably isn’t right for you – you’ll still be able to hear that noise through your other ear.
The padded foam cover that the speaker comes with is also contentious among users. Some people felt that it was extremely comfortable thanks to the padding, while others felt that the padding forces the speaker to create an uncomfortable lump underneath your pillow. Thankfully, it’s easy to remove the padding if you find this suits you better and the speaker inside is relatively flat.
What stands out?
Louder volume than other speakers
Available with or without volume control
Comfortable with or without foam padding (easily removable)
This premium speaker from Underpillow is the ideal choice for sleepers who want a pillow speaker that won’t get in their way. The speaker features an ultra-thin construction that allows it to go underneath your pillow without creating pressure points or raising your neck too much. On top of that, it’s covered in a soft fabric cover that feels comfy against your arms.
Users were mixed on the sound quality and volume of this speaker. Some felt it was too loud, while others thought it wasn’t loud enough. Either way, the volume range isn’t particularly wide for a pillow speaker. You can control the volume with a small dial pad connected to the speaker, which also allows you to skip tracks on your audio player device.
The speaker is shaped for surround sound, which is a nice touch for immersing yourself in sound. Users liked the 60 minutes of pre-recorded nature sounds that the speaker comes with, and it’s nice that you can store up to 30 minutes of your own music on the speaker as well. Perhaps the best feature of this speaker is a 60-minute timer that gradually lowers the volume of the music and turns the speaker off after you’ve fallen asleep.
Keep in mind that your audio device will need to connect to a 3.5 mm audio input cable to use this speaker with custom music. In addition, the power cord is somewhat short so you may need an extension cord.
This pillow speaker from PillowPlayer is designed to go on top of your pillow rather than underneath it. That means you’ll be going to sleep with your head directly on the speaker, which makes this pillow speaker somewhat unique in our lineup of favorites. Users found that the soft fabric covering is plush enough to feel like you’re sleeping on a normal pillow and not on a hard plastic speaker. However, you will need to be okay with the firmness of this speaker for sleeping.
The volume on this speaker is extremely quiet, which is great if you sleep with a partner who doesn’t want to hear any noise at night. However, it also means that you can’t use this speaker to completely block out outside noises and you won’t be able to hear your music or sounds if you put the speaker underneath your pillow. The volume is easy to control thanks to a simple in-line dial.
The speaker itself is actually composed of a pair of speakers on either end of the device, which allows it to envelop you in surround sound. Sleepers who were falling asleep to white noise particularly liked this, since it helps to drown out all other sounds.
Unfortunately, this speaker lacks some helpful features like a built-in timer. But, for a price of just $20, it’s hard to complain about this device. The extra-long six-foot cord is also helpful since you typically don’t have to worry about using an extension cord with this pillow speaker.
This pillow speaker set from Marpac is a good compromise between sound quality and budget. The main advantage to the speaker system is that the two speakers are connected by a wire, allowing you to place them virtually anywhere around your bed. The thin construction is relatively out of the way when placed under your pillow, so you don’t have to worry about discomfort.
That said, the sound quality on these speakers is something that users were less than thrilled with. When playing music, the distortion is noticeable – although this matters less if you are playing white noise, nature sounds, or audiobooks. Users also noted that the speakers are not designated as left and right, which can further impact sound quality if you guess incorrectly.
In addition, users complained that the volume is quite low on these speakers. Particularly if you have a thick, firm pillow, like a foam pillow, it can be difficult to hear your music even with the volume turned all the way up. The in-line volume control offers a little bit of fine tuning, but most people reported leaving it all the way turned up.
The cord length is also quite short, at just four feet long. That means you’ll definitely need either a bedside table or to place your music player underneath your pillow with the speakers.
All that said, the versatility of having separate speakers is a major selling point for many sleepers. This allows you to fully customize your surround sound effect as well as to avoid disturbing your partner.
This budget-friendly speaker from Sangean is the perfect choice for sleepers looking to try out a pillow speaker for the first time. It is uncovered hard plastic, so you’ll want to put it underneath a relatively thick pillow. Otherwise, users did not find it to be uncomfortable at all against their head while sleeping.
The volume on this speaker is extremely low, which is good if you are trying to keep the noise from disturbing your partner but not great if you have trouble actually hearing the sound. Part of the reason for this is that the speaker is powered from your audio device – it doesn’t require batteries – so the sound power is limited. There’s no in-line volume knob on this pillow speaker, but rather a single Hi/Lo/Off switch on the side of the unit.
One major complaint that users have with this pillow speaker is durability. In many cases, the input wire detaches where it meets the hard plastic shell of the speaker, effectively rendering it useless. However, at just $11, it’s not too much of a loss if this speaker breaks after just a year or so of use.
The other issue, albeit a minor one, is that the cord on this speaker is somewhat short at just five feet. If you don’t have a table next to your bed, you may need to sleep with your audio device under your pillow as well.
What are our favorite features?
Hi/Lo/Off switch rather than volume knob
No batteries or power cord required
What could be better?
Durability issues with input wiring
Auxiliary cable is short
Things to Consider
Now that you’ve learned more about our seven favorite pillow speakers on the market today, how do you choose between them to get the speaker that’s right for you? Our Buying Guide will cover everything you need to know about choosing a pillow speaker as well as answer some common questions that first-time users have.
Features to consider while choosing pillow speaker
A pillow speaker may seem like a simple device, but there’s actually a lot that goes into these speakers. In order to help you find the perfect pillow speaker, we’ll take a look at some of the most important features that distinguish different models.
If you plan to play music rather than just white noise with your pillow speaker, getting a speaker with decent sound quality should be at the top of your list of considerations. Pillow speakers will never match the sound quality of a dedicated speaker, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a device that sounds good while your head is laying on the pillow.
Unfortunately, there’s no simple number you can look at to determine if a speaker offers good sound quality. The best way to find the best pillow speaker for sound quality is to check what users have to say about that device.
More important than sound quality is volume control. Ideally, your speaker is loud enough that you can hear it clearly, but not so loud that even your partner next to you in bed can hear it. Look for pillow speakers that have easily adjustable in-line volume controls, since this allows you to easily change the volume without even changing your sleeping position.
Finally, consider whether the pillow speaker is a single speaker or two speakers. All of the speakers we reviewed except for the C Crane Company and Sangean speakers have two speakers built into the device. Having two speakers is nice because it allows you to put one on either side of your head, creating a surround sound experience. This is particularly helpful if you are playing white noise or nature sounds, since the surround sound helps to fully immerse you in the noise.
Pillow speakers are a little behind the times when it comes to making the transition to wireless Bluetooth connectivity. While some speakers like the models from Pyle can connect wirelessly to your music playing device, all of the other speakers we reviewed actually connect with wires.
The main reason for this is that it allows pillow speakers to be less expensive, and most people don’t mind having a wire leading out of their pillow when they sleep. However, keep in mind that your smartphone or other device will need to have a headphone jack to be compatible.
It’s also important to think about the power cord for your pillow speaker. It needs to be long enough to reach an electrical outlet near your bed. Otherwise, you’ll need to add an extension cord to your pillow speaker setup.
Almost all pillow speakers are made from plastic, but they may or may not have an additional fabric cover over them. Speakers that are specifically designed to go underneath your pillow, like the speakers from Sangean, Sound Oasis, and Marpac, are typically left uncovered.
On the other hand, speakers that can be used next to or on top of your pillow, like the devices from Underpillow and Pillow Player, often feature a soft fabric cover to help with comfort against your head. Having the cover on these speakers can also reduce pressure points if you put them underneath your pillow.
Pillow speakers are relatively inexpensive devices, which makes them a great solution for anyone who likes some sound to help them get to sleep. The premium pillow speaker from Underpillow costs around $50, while our budget pick from Sangean costs just over $10. There’s a pillow speaker to match any budget in between, as well, including our editor’s choice speaker from Sound Oasis.
Make sure to check whether your pillow speaker comes with a warranty. These devices, while inexpensive, are notorious for breaking down after only short periods of use.
Unfortunately, this breakdown can be hard to avoid. Dirt, oil, sweat, and other grime gets on your pillow and speakers while you’re sleeping, and this can be hard to prevent. Cleaning your speakers occasionally may slow the process of damaging them, but the best solution is to have a warranty to protect against premature failure.
Some, but not all, pillow speakers include timers that will automatically lower the volume and eventually turn off sound after you’ve gotten to sleep. The Underpillow and Pyle speakers are good examples of this – both of these pillow speakers come with one-hour timers built-in.
In theory, the fabric covering over some speakers would reduce sound quality since it puts a barrier between the speaker and your ear. But in reality, pillow speakers are already designed to go inside or beneath your pillow – so there will already be a lot of fluff and other material in between you and the speaker. The effect of the pillow on sound quality will be much more substantial than the effect of a fabric covering on the speaker.
The C Crane Company speaker is extremely compact and can be used with or without the thick foam padding depending on your preference. While it was a favorite among users, note that it’s the only mono speaker we reviewed.
The Pyle speaker is the best wireless pillow speaker available and costs little more than a comparable wired speaker. It’s unique in that it comes with one gigabyte of storage space so you can easily use it without an audio player in most cases.
We feel the Sound Oasis speaker is the best pillow speaker for most sleepers because it offers excellent sound quality and comfort at an affordable price. The built-in amplifier allows it to be louder than most other pillow speakers, and users loved that the stereo speakers can be separated to customize your surround sound experience.