Last November, we reviewed the Nuheara IQbuds — “truly wireless” earbuds that promised to enhance hearing. Though we liked the IQbuds, we struggled with some of their limitations and quirks. Just a few months down the road, Nuheara is back with a new version of the IQbuds — the IQbuds boost — that boasts a new look, new app, and some significant new hearing enhancement features. Though not every issue is completely resolved, we think they’re a worthy upgrade over the original.
We should start with what hasn’t changed. The IQbuds Boost uses the same physical housing, same charging case, and same balanced armature drivers. They’re just as small, light, and comfortable as the original model, though we think the new all-black finish looks far better. Everything else, it seems, has been upgraded: the IQbuds boost boasts larger internal batteries, better Bluetooth profile support (aptX and aptX Low Latency), and better isolation due to the inclusion of three sizes of Comply foam tips. The IQbuds Boost companion app is also much improved — gone is the overly complex black and red interface, replaced with a clean white and blue theme that we found far easier to navigate and understand.
Though much of the IQbuds user experience has been upgraded with the Boost, some issues from the original remain — we still heard the occasional high-pitched microphone feedback when the buds were too close together, wind can still cause buffeting in the Boost’s sensitive external microphones, and there is still a bit of the “distant swarm of bees” effect when the World sound profiles are active, though it’s better than what we heard with the original IQbuds. These are still not audiophile headphones — though their sound is considerably improved over the original, no doubt due to the improved isolation of Comply tips — but, to be fair, we think the IQbuds and IQbuds Boost are more focused on hearing enhancement than music playback.
Perhaps the most important new feature of the Boost is the addition of “EarID” technology. Where the original IQbuds sought to enhance hearing based on environment-based presets that the user could tweak, EarID generates a custom hearing enhancement profile for the user based on the results of a 10-minute hearing test conducted through the Nuheara app. The process is simple enough: the app first makes sure that the user is in an environment quiet enough for the test, and that the ear tips being used are providing enough isolation to give a proper result — these are important, since the test will play sounds quieter than your own breathing. With testing conditions confirmed, the app will then play sounds in different frequencies and volumes, asking the user to tap the screen when the sound is heard. When it’s done, the Nuheara app analyzes the user’s hearing, displays graphical representation of how good your hearing is across frequency spectrum, and generates a customized enhancement profile that can be toggled in real time. Our test result showed almost perfect results (woo!) but was still able to provide some enhancement to our normal hearing — with EarID activated, we heard some mild accentuation to vocal frequencies that added some clarity to our conversations, but also added some sharpness to noises like typing that can fall in the same frequency range. We expect that the effect would be even more dramatic for those who had more compromised hearing than we. Even so, the Nuheara IQbuds Boost mostly deliver on their promise, and are a clear improvement over the original.
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Model: IQbuds Boost