In August of 2021, GN made the announcement that it was planning to release a self-fitting hearing aid in advance of the over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aid regulations officially taking effect in the United States.
Rather than use GN’s flagship ReSound hearing aid brand, the company instead decided to use the more consumer-friendly Jabra brand – a widely recognized brand in consumer audio. (for background on this decision, see our recent interview on the Enhance Plus launch with GN’s CEO, Gitte Aabo)
Earlier this month, the company announced that its new Jabra Enhance Plus hearing aids have received FDA 510(k) clearance under the department’s ‘self-fit hearing aid’ regulation (Bose is the only other company to date that is authorized in this category). They are intended to help people with mild to moderate hearing loss.
The new devices became available for sale starting February 25, 2022 at select hearing clinics across the US at a retail price of $799(US).
In advance of the official launch, we had the opportunity to test out a set of the new Enhance Plus devices.
They arrived in a well-designed package which included a set of earbuds, 3 sizes of replaceable eartips, user’s manual and charging cable (USB-C).
Compared to most of today’s traditional wireless earbuds or other hearable devices, the charging case and Enhance Plus earbuds themselves were found to be incredibly small.
Due to their small size, the devices should be able to easily accommodate a wide range of ear size and shape.
Comfortable Fit and Good Sound
The unique earbud-style hearing aids fit easily and comfortably in the ear – with the bulk of the device sitting in the concha (bowl) of the ear and only a small protruding piece into the canal itself with the eartip attached.
With the shorter canal, despite the more closed style eartips, the devices felt and sounded less occluding that other wireless earbuds (like AirPods Pro, for example), which some people may prefer.
The material and style of the eartips for the Enhance Plus are entirely different than what GN currently offers on its ReSound ONE or Key family of hearing aids, but they seem to contour well to most ear canal sizes.
In contrast, GN competitor Signia utilizes the same filter/dome system in its earbud style Active X hearing aids, that it also uses in its Xperience platform of traditional hearing aids.
Placing the new Enhance Plus devices in the charger is a breeze with its magnetized case – one of the features we especially liked with the Nuheara IQbuds2 MAX hearables. The indicator light makes it clear that the devices are in place and charging.
Aside from the physical fit, connecting to the Jabra Enhance App was very simple. A user- friendly process walks you through the initial setup with the phone and fitting it into the ear.
We found no issues connecting seamlessly to an iPhone 13.
Prior to launching into the hearing test portion of the process, the app asks for the age and demographics, to assist in the calibration of the sound, as well as providing the user with a ‘health precaution’ to ensure proper use of the hearing aids.
The app allows you to adjust volume, mute, change speech filter settings and choose from 3 preset listening modes. It also shows you the amount of charge currently found in the device.
Like with streamed music, calls were found to come through clearly and easily.
The push button on the buds themselves also allows you to adjust volume, mute and take calls without having to use your phone.
Jabra Enhance Plus Hearing Aid Features
The new self-fit Jabra Enhance Plus hearing aids boast the following the features:
- Small form factor that is 50% smaller than Jabra’s current smallest earbuds (Elite 75t)
- Adaptive directionality – using 4 dedicated microphones for improved listening comfort and clarity in background noise
- Made for iPhone (MFi) compatible streaming
- Environment based noise reduction
- Automatic Digital Feedback Suppression
- Impulse noise reduction for sudden sounds
- 10 hours of battery life on single charge (30hrs with portable case)
- Bluetooth 5.2 for enhanced connectivity
- IP52-rated for water and dust resistance.
In a non-traditional form factor, the Jabra Enhance Plus hearing aids pack a solid number of features typically found only in more traditional, ‘professional grade’ hearing aids.
At 10 hours of available use per charge, the buds offer excellent battery life for situational hearing enhancement, music streaming and taking calls, although perhaps not quite enough for full day use like a prescription hearing aid.
By using the self-fit option, consumers with mild to moderate hearing loss that aren’t quite ready for a professionally fit device can potentially find significant savings with the new Jabra devices. At a retail price of $799/pair, the earbuds come in slightly less than Bose SoundControl hearing aids – the only other FDA cleared self-fitting devices available to date.
Interested readers can visit Jabra’s website to learn more.