Nuheara IQ Buds Boost Review – Intelligent Wireless Earbuds
Posted 10th November 2018by Adam Chell
The Nuheara IQ Buds Boost have had a lot of hype and so I was eager to review them to see what was going on. When they arrived in the post I was impressed with the packaging. It was sleek, and professional, much more so than a lot of the premium hearing aids in fact.
What’s the difference between Nuheara IQ buds boost and a hearing aid?
The Nuheara IQ Buds Boost come under the definition of a Hearable. A Hearable is a smart hearing device, much like an Apple Watch is a Wearable.
The IQ buds Boost provide customised amplification but not to the same specificity as a hearing aid. Hearing aids are designed to be fully customised by a hearing care professional whereas Hearables are designed to be fully automated devices with no professional support required.
Hearables can be purchased over the counter from any authorised retailer whereas hearing aids are medical devices and only hearing health professionals can register to sell them in the UK.
Hearables are often thousands of pounds cheaper than hearing aids and so they may be a good first step for people that have started to notice difficulties with their hearing.
First Impressions of Nuheara IQ Buds Boost
When I opened the case and saw the Nuheara IQ Buds Boost for the first time I couldn’t help but notice how chunky they were. I put them in my ears and they stuck out quite a lot, much more so than any hearing aid. They also lack style. Compared to the likes of the Jabra Elite 65T which look like sporty headphones, the IQ buds boost just lacked identity.
Finding the correct ear fixture
You certainly aren’t short of choice with the IQ Buds Boost when it comes to sizing. You have a choice of 3 sizes in a breathable foam and then 4 sizes of round silicone and 4 in the oval silicone.
The breathable foam would have been my preferred choice to reduce occlusion, but it was just too uncomfortable, even with the smallest size. As such, I had to swap over to the closed silicone domes. After several tries I eventually found the size that fit me best.
Don’t worry too much about finding the size that is right for you straight away. As you go through the setup process the device runs some clever tests to tell if the fit is good enough to continue with the hearing test.
The app is well designed and nicely presented. Nuheara has clearly taken a lot of thought and consideration to get it to such a high standard, much more so than many of the hearing aid manufacturers. I really like the step by step guide to assist in the setup process. Everything was explained in a simple, effective way and most people should have no trouble with it at all.
The hearing test
A hearing test is required as part of the setup process. Before the test commences you are prompted to check the acoustic fit of your chosen ear tips. This is to ensure that you have a good acoustic seal; without which the hearing test would be inaccurate. A good seal also prevents acoustic feedback after the devices have been programmed to your personal hearing thresholds.
After the acoustic seal has been checked and approved you can proceed with the hearing test. I love the way that Nuheara have designed this test within the app. It was concise, clear and effective.
The test results are presented in a unique way which looked nice but it made it difficult for me to check the accuracy of the findings.
When performing the test on somebody with a high frequency loss I was able to identify a similar pattern in the app compared to the audiogram. The test has also been approved by the National Acoustic Laboratory and so I’m sure it is more than sufficient at determining accurate hearing thresholds.
The Nuheara IQ Buds Boost use the NAL-NL2 prescription formula. This is a generic formula used for prescribing amplification in modern digital hearing aids. On this occasion, I didn’t take the time to verify these claims. This is because Dr Cliff, an audiological physician across the pond in the USA, put together a lovely video comparing the output against the NAL-NL2 prescription target using Real Ear Verification (skip to 7:20 on the video). I couldn’t have explained it any clearer so I figured I would just share the YouTube video below which identified that the Nuheara wasn’t sufficiently amplifying to target, even with a mild hearing loss.
Dr Cliff also noted that he was unable to notice a significant difference between using the IQ Buds Boost and original IQ buds which is disappointing. I will come to the defense of Nuheara at this point. Dr Cliff’s hearing loss is complex. It is a moderate mid-frequency cookie bite loss which recovers to within normal limits in the high frequencies. This is not typical of noise induced or age related hearing loss which is really the target market of the IQ Buds Boost.
If you have tried the IQ Buds Boost, what has your experiences been? We would love to hear your thoughts.
The Nuheara IQ Buds Boost are a strong entry in to an emerging market. I’m sure a lot of people will love the sound quality and the features that can benefit those with mild hearing difficulties. Even still, as much as the IQ Buds Boost aren’t trying to be a hearing aid, for me they have crossed a threshold in to providing customised amplification and so the comparison needed to be made.
In that essence, they just haven’t hit the mark for me. In the UK, people have access to the NHS which can offer incredible digital hearing technology for free which in my opinion is better than the IQ Buds boost which retail at £399 at time of writing. If I was spending my money I would get the free NHS hearing aids and purchase an accessory which allows you to stream music/TV/phonecalls to your NHS devices. You’d probably still end up with change in your pocket whilst also supporting funding for NHS departments that may sell these accessories directly.
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