During this holiday season, the editors at Hearing Health & Technology Matters (HHTM) are taking some time off. However, we are not leaving you without anything to read on our blog this week. Instead, we are publishing a special holiday edition filled with what we call our Readers’ Choices.
Our Readers’ Choices featured this week are the posts published on each of our individual blogs that drew the largest number of viewers during the year. Whether or not you have read these Readers’ Choice posts before, we think you will enjoy them. Today’s post at Hearing Technologies was originally published on June 27, 2020 and has since received thousands of views.
Best wishes for a Happy & Healthy New Year!
In January 2020, at CES in Las Vegas, Nuheara unveiled its next generation advanced hearing buds–the IQbuds2 MAX. The company’s latest generation devices are built upon Nuheara’s new technical platform, offering a number of improvements and features to personalize the user’s listening experience.
After having set company sales records for pre-orders of the new IQbuds2 MAX following its unveiling in January, Nuheara began delivering devices to customers this past week.
The earbuds arrived in a well-designed package, consistent with what you might expect when opening a new smartphone or other premium electronics.
The charging case and the buds themselves were actually smaller than expected.
An eartip tray, included in the box, helps to ensure a proper fit for a range of ear canal sizes–in both silicone and soft foam (Small, Medium and Large). Replacing the eartips was found to be a simple task and a brief demonstration video can even be accessed on the App.
The buds themselves are specifically marked (L&R), to distinguish between ears and ensure an appropriate and comfortable fit
Insertion into the canal was intuitive and even with significant head movement, the buds felt securely in place–ensuring the buds wouldn’t be at risk of falling out, even during a strenuous exercise. Removing the the buds from the ears was just as easy and straightforward.
Placing the buds in the charging case is made simple by a magnetic system that “grabs” the buds and sets them in the right position to charge. The charging case can easily fit in a pocket or purse, and holds up to 3 full charges.
A full charge takes about 2 hours.
Personalized Sound Experience with IQbuds App
The IQbuds App can be downloaded for both iOS and Android and allows the user to personalize their sound experience. The app offers the user a simple tutorial of pairing their new buds to their phone and then allows them to customize the listening experience, as well as modifying the tap controls found on the buds.
The user begins the customization process by answering some questions, such as whether they’ve had a professional hearing test or wear hearing aids. Like earlier versions of the company’s buds, the IQbuds2 MAX utilize the Ear ID hearing assessment, for sound customization.
The Ear ID assessment was found to be a more thorough test than what was expected. After monitoring the environment for sound level, it walks the user through a test of 6 frequencies, from 20 to 70 dB, in each ear: 500 Hz, 1000 Hz, 2000 Hz, 3000 Hz, 4000 Hz, and 6000 Hz.
The buds utilize the NAL-NL2 fitting formula (the most popular fitting formula used in hearing aids today) to customize the sound following completion of the Ear ID process.
Following the completion of the Ear ID assessment, the overall quality of sound was evaluated. A quick tour through different genres of music via a popular music streaming service found a rich and high-fidelity sound, with deep bass and crisp treble.
After a brief period familiarizing with how the device’s tap controls work–which can be modified within the app itself–phone calls were easy and came through very clearly. Connecting with Siri was simple, through the use of a quick double tap on the buds.
The “World Off” feature–which turns the outside mics on/off–is especially useful when on a call or streaming music, to reduce noise from the outside world if desired.
Testing out the 7 different manual program settings available in the app, found distinct differences between programs in terms of sound quality, similar to what might be expected with a traditional hearing aid (such as a more focused mic directionality setting in ‘restaurant’ mode).
A walk outdoors with the buds discovered the noise reduction features to be quite effective at reducing steady-state noise from a water fountain and a neighbor’s lawn mower.
After only a short time of listening through the various program settings in different environments, one could easily see how these buds could quite effectively be used for situational hearing enhancement and not simply for music or calls.
Other Noteworthy Features
There are several notable features found on the IQbuds2 MAX, of interest to both hearing professionals and end users. Such as:
- 12 channel processing
- Wide Dynamic Range Compression (WDRC)
- Directional microphones
- 7 manual program options via app – 4 stored on device
- Bluetooth 5.o compatible
- Hybrid Active Noise cancellation
- 8.5 hours hearing processing time
- 5 hours music playback time (world off, streaming active)
- NMFi ear-to-ear connectivity
For those interested in a deep dive of the technical specs, a full specification sheet can be viewed here.
The IQbuds2 MAX provide the high fidelity sound expected from a premium wireless headset, but also offer users a unique and compelling set of features not found in traditional wired or wireless headphones.
With hearing processing time at approximately 8.5 hours when not streaming, they aren’t intended for all day use like a traditional hearing aid, but for less than $400 a pair the IQbuds2 MAX offer a premium set of features and sound amplification adjustments that could help with situational hearing difficulty for some people and perhaps get them started on the path to seeking professional hearing care.
More information on the IQbuds2 MAX can be found on the company’s website here.