Nuheara IQbuds² MAX and Hearing Aids Compared

Testing Nuheara’s Hearables and Phonak Marvel Hearing Aids at a Noisy Convention

A year ago, our guest contributor, Andy Bellavia, shared his impressions on the performance of consumer hearing enhancement hearables in a difficult environment when he tried out the Nuheara IQbuds Boost along with his newly-fitted hearing aids at NAMM 2019, the annual meeting of the National Association of Music Merchants. This year, armed with his year-old hearing aids and a pre-production version of Nuheara’s latest offering, Andy updated his impressions with a report from a noisy exhibit hall at NAMM 2020.

Andy Bellavia at NAMM with Nuheara IQbuds² MAX (hearable) and Phonak Audéo Marvel (hearing aid). Our guest contributor compares the performance of the latest Nuheara buds with his existing hearing aids. Closed captions are available on this video. If you are using a mobile phone, please enable captions clicking on the gear icon.

Both products worked well.

After testing both products, Andy—who suffers from more-than-mild hearing loss—concludes that the less expensive Nuheara hearables are likely sufficient for those with normal hearing or mild hearing loss, who need “situational” assistance in challenging listening environments. His more expensive Phonak Audéo Marvel hearing aids are better for those with moderate-to-severe hearing loss who need all-day assistance.

“When you have mild or more severe hearing impairment, modern hearing tech does wonders for improving the quality of life,” he says.

Hearables provide excellent “situational” hearing help

The Nuheara IQbuds² MAX, available at $399 a pair, are a lot less expensive than premium hearing aids. There are some tradeoffs for the lower price: they are larger, and their rechargeable batteries don’t provide all-day power.

But they offer some customized amplification for your level of hearing loss and the ability to focus on the voices directly in front, along with features found in premium music earphones such as active noise cancellation (ANC) and voice-assistant access.

Nuheara Iqbuds Max2

Nuheara IQbuds² MAX

Andy says hearables like the IQbuds2 MAX can be an excellent solution for people with less severe hearing loss than he has. “When situational assistance is all you need, a consumer device like Nuheara’s works well,” he says. “They do their job well for those who need help in environments like NAMM or a noisy pub.”

Premium hearing aids deliver all-day assistance

A year ago, Andy was a first-time hearing-aid wearer, just getting used to amplified sound. Since then, he’s found that his premium-priced hearing aids, which can cost more than $4,000 a pair, are indispensable.

Andy’s hearing aids filter out unwanted environmental sounds, even on a noisy convention show floor, to make it easier to hear the people he’s speaking with. “They sound so natural and are so comfortable that I sometimes forget to take them out when I go to bed,” he says. “It’s only when my head hits the pillow that I realize they’re still in, and then I have to get up and take them out.”

And the small rechargeable batteries in the hearing aids typically provide power for 18 hours or more on a single charge, even when they’re used for calls or audio streaming.

A solution for every level of hearing loss

Andy concludes that no matter what range of hearing loss you may have, there is a device that will make life easier and rewarding. And “like everyone else,” he waited too long to deal with his own hearing loss.

“I finally got tired of checking out of conversations I couldn’t hear, or asking for a person to repeat themselves even when it was quieter,” he says. “Being a social person, I enjoy myself so much more now that I don’t have to struggle to understand others.”

Watch this space for more from Andy — he’s got an open invitation to contribute more of his insights, in both writing and video, as he tries out more new products. Who knows? Next year maybe we’ll see him testing two pairs of black earbuds, one from a provider of medical grade custom fitted hearing aids, and the other from a supplier of off-the-shelf, self-fit hearables.