You can find white-noise machines on Amazon for 30 bucks, so why should you spend $300 on Cambridge Sound Management's Nightingale sleep system? Here's a quick rundown:
Good -- Your purchase includes two speaker-equipped smart plugs -- install them on opposite sides of the room for a surround sound effect. Nightingale is highly customizable, even for snorers or for folks with tinnitus. You can set a recurring sound schedule and it works with Amazon Alexa and IFTTT.
Not-so-good -- It's expensive.
Get Nightingale if you're truly interested in advanced levels of sleep machine customization. For everyone else, a more affordable product will probably do the trick.
Nightingale is literally just two smart plugs outfitted with color-changing night-light LEDs and speakers. They connect to the related iPhone app over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth (there's currently no Android support). Install them on opposite sides of your room facing each other to create an immersive stereo effect Cambridge Sound Management refers to as "sound blankets." Because Nightingale is a smart plug, you still have full access to your outlet for lamps, alarm clocks and other electronic devices.
Open the Nightingale iPhone app and it will immediately begin to walk you through the brief configuration process. Make sure your Nightingale is plugged in, select "Find Devices," add your Wi-Fi details or connect over Bluetooth and create an account with your email address and a password.
After that, you can begin to customize your account. Select among various room types or conditions, such as "Adult Bedroom," "Youth Bedroom," and "Tinnitus Condition." Then you can determine if your room is absorptive, neutral or reflective.
An absorptive room is carpeted, with drapes and upholstered furniture, whereas a reflective room has hardwood floors, glass surfaces and minimal upholstery. A neutral room has a mix of both. All of these things help determine what sound Nightingale selects for you. The final step is to create a schedule that will turn your Nightingale on/off automatically.
This entire process should take just a few minutes. While the app is mostly well designed, there's a slight learning curve in terms of locating specific settings and features. They're scattered on various screens through the app.
Nightingale helps you select a white-noise "sound blanket," but you can always change things up if you don't like it for some reason. I learned that I'm not a huge fan of white noise in general. Over the week I tested Nightingale, I switched among all of the options to see if one seemed more calming to no avail. Even so, I can confirm that the two-plug kit is way more immersive than a single-device white-noise machine that only travels from one direction outward. Nightingale successfully canceled out most sounds from the busy-ish road near my house. (You can always adjust the volume to help customize this, too.)
Since the white noise didn't quite do the trick, I switched over to Nightingale's assorted nature sounds -- "Lakeshore," "Crickets," "Loons," "Whale Songs" and "Rainstorm." Like the white-noise sounds, Nightingale's nature sounds literally sounded like I was in nature. In the case of "Lakeshore," "Crickets" and "Rainstorm" that was a good thing. "Loons" and "Whale Songs" were a bit too intense for me.
I also asked my parents to try out Nightingale for one night, since my dad has tinnitus. We went through the same configuration process at their house, except the app selected the custom "Tinnitus Blanket" for them to try. My dad said he slept roughly the same as any other night, but that his ears were ringing more when he woke up in the morning. This could have been due to a variety of factors, but it still wasn't a great result.
Nightingale also works with Amazon Alexa and IFTTT. The Alexa Skill is fairly sparse, but I was able to turn on various sounds, as well as turn Nightingale off with voice commands.
The IFTTT integration was a bit more robust. I created an IFTTT rule that closed a window shade whenever the Nightingale nightlight turned on. You could create additional rules for all of the smart shades and lights in your home -- or even adjust your Nest thermostat's temperature based on Nightingale's status.
While we've tested out the It smart mattress by Sleep Number and have comes across a number of other sleep-related devices, we haven't seen anything quite like Nightingale before. Sleep Number's It bed integrated with select health-and-fitness-related brands like Fitbit and MyFitnessPal, as well as Nest, but it doesn't currently support any voice control integrations.
The $300 Nightingale by Cambridge Sound Management is definitely more immersive than a one-directional white-noise machine. For folks seeking that stereo effect, as well as advanced customization, Nightingale could be a good fit. At the same time, snorers or people with tinnitus shouldn't expect this sleep system to be a cure-all. And, Android customers are completely out of luck (for now, at least).