Somewhere between Apple's AirPods and medical-grade hearing aids you have Nuheara's new "intelligent" hearing buds. The Australian start-up has produced two earlier versions of its IQbuds, and on Sunday unveiled its IQbuds Max, which it describes as the first intelligent earbuds to feature active noise cancellation.
There's no word yet on pricing or exactly when they're shipping, but company says they will cost more than last year's $500 IQbuds Boost. I'll hopefully get a chance to give them a try here at CES 2019 in Las Vegas, where Nuheara will be previewing them. I found the IQbuds Boost slightly too big and not as comfortable as Jabra's Elite 65t earphones, which don't feature the advanced hearing boost features that these buds do.
What makes IQbuds "intelligent" buds? Well, Nuheara touts its proprietary EarID autocalibration system that "tailors sound — and sound cancellation — to your ears like an audiologist in a box." The EarID calibration system is accessed via a free companion app for iOS and Android.
With a 9.2mm driver, the company says the IQbuds Max offer the biggest sound in IQbuds ever and the most processing power, thanks to a new triple-core On-Ear DSP for advanced hearing processing. Battery life is rated at up to 5 hours Bluetooth audio streaming and 8 hours of "hearing processing." The audio streaming numbers are similar to the AirPods' and Jabra 65t's battery life ratings.
While you can certainly listen to music and other audio with IQbuds — they work like other totally wireless Bluetooth earphones — they're also designed to augment the sound around you and are geared toward people with mild to moderate hearing loss. For instance, they help filter out noise in a restaurant so you can hear the people you're dining with better. Of course, it may seem a little weird that you're dining with a set of large earbuds in your ears.
Targeting the same hearing-challenged demographic, Nuheara also recently launched IQstream TV, an adapter for TV watching that delivers sound directly to its IQbuds Boost and IQbuds Max hearing buds, without affecting the audio from the TV or home-theater speakers.
Here are the IQbuds Max key features, according to Nuheara:
- 9.2 mm driver
- Hybrid Active Noise Cancellation: Advanced filtering circuitry creates cancellation waves in the ear to reduce distracting sounds. With the tap of a finger, you can block external noises.
- Advanced Digital Signal Processing: Using three microphones to analyze and process sounds both inside and outside the ear IQbuds Max triple core DSP system delivers optimal hearing fidelity and the most natural enhanced sound ever in a hearing bud. IQbuds Max has 5x more processing power than Nuheara's award-winning IQbuds Boost.
- A large 9.2mm dynamic driver improves sound quality, especially bass, which can be an issue with smaller earbuds.
- EarID allows you to assess your own hearing from home and then automatically calibrate the IQbuds to your own personal hearing profile. IQbuds Max optimizes a 12-band wide dynamic range compression system for hearing augmentation.
- Battery life: 5 hours Bluetooth audio streaming, 8 hours hearing processing
- Included magnetic charging case delivers up to 32 hours of on-the-go hearing enhancement and 20 hours of Bluetooth streaming.
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Price: $500-$600
- Shipping date: Second half of 2019
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