Nuheara IQbuds BOOST Expert Review
Wireless Bluetooth Ear Buds
19 July 2018
The long-awaited expert review of the New IQbuds BOOST is finally here! Nuheara’s new release boasts new features including EarID, a NAL-NL2 prescriptive method, and Focus.
IQbuds BOOST Features
The EarID feature is essentially a hearing test. It uses the typical descending and ascending tone technique to identify the softest sound that you can hear between 500 Hz and 6,000 Hz. Based on testing and comparisons to a known hearing loss, this feature appears to be accurate. It was also given the stamp of approval from the National Acoustics Laboratory for reliability and validity of the testing procedure.
Where things get even more exciting is the NAL-NL2 prescription. The NL2 is commonly used in hearing aids to ensure proper audibility, clarity, and comfort of amplification. Evaluating the NAL-NL2 prescription in the BOOST is relatively easy considering it can be verified by the same method of verifying the prescription in a hearing aid. We do this by performing Real Ear Measures.
Ultimately, the IQbuds BOOST did not meet the NAL-NL2 prescriptive targets in the high frequencies. Without a way to make significant changes in amplification to meet the prescriptive targets, it falls victim to similar issues of improperly programmed hearing aids. Since everyone’s ear canals are different, there is no guarantee that your prescription would be met. However, what Nuheara is attempting to do is impressive and it likely gets you closer to a better listening experience by using the NAL-NL2.
Another feature that will be released mid-July 2018 is “Focus”. This will allow users to adjust directionality with the BOOST microphones. Simply put, you can focus the microphone sensitivity forward to pick up more of the sound that you want to hear, and less background noise. This will be a relatively simple update in the BOOST and won’t be available in the Original IQbuds devices.
**Update: Focus has been released. Read the press release.
The BOOST still give you the ability to adjust Real World sound vs. Streaming sound. You can still make minor adjustments to Bass & Treble. The touch plate sensors can be programmed to do a variety of controls, so you don’t need to take your phone out of your pocket, and you still get high quality sound considering it uses Bluetooth.
IQbuds BOOST Limitations
As great as the devices are, there are a few things that you should be aware of.
- Nuheara got rid of the Personal Profile that were available in the Original IQbuds. This limits your ability to adjust the devices.
- You won’t get the same sound quality of an over-the-ear WIRED headphone, but this is largely outweighed by the fact that you can amplify some speech, and don’t have to deal with the wires, and don’t have huge headphones that make you hot and sweaty.
- The ear tips are relatively comfortable, but not necessarily something you could wear all day. My personal limit is about 3 hours. Because the ear-tips are designed to completely seal your ears you can also run into is the Occlusion effect. This happens when something blocks your ear canal and your own voice bounces …. causing you to hear yourself very loudly. This can be annoying and is something you don’t generally get used to.
- Despite Nuheara’s use of features that are common in hearing aids, they explicitly state that their devices are not intended for individuals with hearing loss. This could come as a bit of a shock considering all the hearing aid technology being used in the devices, but even they will tell you that if you have a hearing loss, you should be receiving a professional evaluation and using appropriately fit hearing aids.
The bottom line
Overall, the BOOST are a high-quality pair of wireless earbuds that can augment your listening experience. If you aren’t ready to treat your mild hearing loss, or you just looking for a little boost, the IQbuds BOOST might be exactly what you are looking for.