Miele describes its new S 7580 upright as "remarkably quiet," while Electrolux touts "whisper-quiet cleaning that a baby can sleep through" with its new Ultra Silencer canister. Both were, indeed, among the quietest we tested. But when it comes to cleaning, you could get less—and pay more—than you bargained for.
Highs The Miele ranks with the Dyson DC24 Ball All-Floors as the quietest uprights in our tests. And unlike the Dyson, it was tops at picking up pet hair and cleaning carpets, a vacuum's toughest task. Its Swing and Tango siblings come in steel-blue and titian-red metallic for the style-conscious.
Lows While a swivel-steer handle is supposed to make turning easier, the 22-pound Miele is heavy and relatively hard to handle.
Highs At about 63 decibels at ear level, it's the quietest vacuum inour Ratings (about as quiet as restaurant conversation). It also aced our bare-floor tests and whisked away pesky pet hair.
Lows Lack of a powered brush helps explain its mediocre carpet cleaning, common for many canisters but below the best in that key test. Airflow for tools was so-so, a liability if you need to scour the snack food out of your couch. And it's still much louder than a whisper (roughly 20 decibels).
Quietness and performance can coexist. Among uprights, consider the $350 Kenmore Progressive 35922, a CR Best Buy that's among several reasonably quiet vacuums with comparable cleaning. For canisters, the $600 Kenmore Intuition 28014 delivers top cleaning and is almost as quiet as the Electrolux. If you want to spend less, you may prefer the Kenmore Progressive 27514 or the Hoover WindTunnel S3670. They cost $300 and are CR Best Buys.