Nuheara’s IQbuds Boost work as Bluetooth headphones, but that’s only the start. They are really for people who need just a bit of help hearing. They aren’t true hearing aids, but might actually be better.
Take a listen to my review of these high-end wireless earbuds, along with an optional Bluetooth accessory that connects them to your TV.
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Nuheara IQbuds Boost review: Headphones to hear better
IQbuds Boost do more than ordinary earbuds so it’s not surprising they’re a bit bigger. Each is 1.0 inches by 0.75 in., and 1.0 inches thick, including the piece that fits deep into your ear. The part everyone sees is about the size and shape of an olive.
That makes these in-ear headphones slightly obvious. When wearing them, everyone I spoke with asked what they were. But consider Apple AirPods make wearers look like they have pipes sticking out of their ears. It’s all part of wearing earbuds.
The fit is relatively comfortable. No worse than any other Bluetooth headphones. Just keep in mind that for IQbuds Boost to work properly they need to fit tightly enough to block out all ambient sound. People who aren’t accustomed to in-ear headphones should expect to wear them for hours before they get used to them.
Nuheara IQbuds Boost performance
Like any Bluetooth headphones, the IQbuds Boost can play music and podcasts from your iPhone. But unlike its rivals, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
These aren’t typical noise-cancelling headphones, either. They are designed to block out all ambient noise, but also pass through just what the user wants to hear, like speech.
Each IQbuds Boost has a microphone that takes in nearby sounds. A set of filters strip out the noise the wearer doesn’t want, and magnifies the sounds they do, such as the person they’re talking to.
After decades of concerts, loud parties and hunting, my hearing isn’t what it used to be. I’m not at all ready for hearing aids, but I sometimes have trouble understanding what people say in noisy environments. IQbuds Boost was created for people like me.
To put them to the test, I wore these in-ear headphones to a crowded restaurant while talking with a group of friends. I was genuinely surprised how well they performed. I could hear the people in my group much more clearly than usual. Often more clearly than that could hear me.
I’ve never used actual hearing aids but people tell me they increase the volume of everything. Thankfully, that’s not what IQbuds Boost does. It’s more selective. Background noise is quieter, while nearby speech gets louder.
Nuheara offers a variety of pre-created filters beyond the one I used in the restaurant. The Office filter is similar, emphasizing nearby voices and cutting down the background babble. The Driving filter successfully blocks out tire noise. Home assumes you want to hear everything around you, just better. I wasn’t able to test Plane mode on an actual flight, but the other filters worked so well I’m optimistic.
IQbuds Boost audio quality is very good, if not perfect. When assisting in hearing, there’s often a very slight “hiss” in the background if there’s no other ambient sounds; it’s not problem, though. And music sounds very good, as do podcasts.
A long press on a sensor on the right earpiece switches between these filters. A short tap shuts out all ambient noise. A single tap on the left earpiece starts and stops audio coming over Bluetooth. A double tap wakes up Apple’s Siri.
An iPhone app includes very granular controls for Nuheara’s in-ear accessories. A slider allows the wearer to set exactly how much ambient noise they want to hear.
Part of the setup process involves taking a hearing test administered by this iPhone app. This discovers what frequencies the wearer has trouble hearing so the IQbuds Boost can make those louder. It seems to work for me.
Power and Charging
As with all electronics, the battery life of these in-ear accessories depends on what you do with them. When I was using IQbuds Boost as hearing aids, they lasted all day, though not all evening.
Streaming Bluetooth audio drained them fairly quickly though; 2 or 3 hours of that type of use puts them down to 50%.
Nuheara created an oval-shaped charging case for IQbuds Boost. This contains a built-in battery so the earbuds can be recharged on the go. It was able to give a couple of nearly complete recharges to the wearables.
The black-plastic case is 3.8 inches by 1.8 in. by 1.3 in. The thickness keeps it from being very pocketable, but it fits well in a bag or purse. Red or green LEDs indicate whether each IQbuds Boost has recharged, and other LEDs show how much power is left in the case.
IQstream TV mini-review
Nuheara’s IQstream TV connects to your television and broadcasts the audio directly to IQbuds Boost over Bluetooth. It’s well suited for people who have trouble hearing their favorite shows without turning the volume up louder than their family likes.
It performed very well during my testing, which involved watching numerous TV shows and movies. I re-watched one of my favorite movies and could hear background sounds I’d never noticed before.
I also found a secondary advantage: I can watch TV in a moderately noisy environment without missing anything because the earbuds can block out ambient noise.
The hardware is an unobtrusive black plastic box. IQstream TV comes with a variety of audio cables so there shouldn’t be a problem connecting it to almost any TV.
Nuheara IQbuds Boost final thoughts
There are so many people who could use a bit of help hearing in noisy places, and IQbuds Boost are just what they need. There’s no need to go through the trouble and expense of hearing aids for occasional use. Especially as Nuheara’s offering seems to be better than many professional auditory aids.
You’ll have to put up with some fairly bulky earbuds though. And the battery life is typical of Bluetooth headphones, so you’ll be recharging them after every day you use them.
If you like IQbuds Boost, consider adding the IQstream TV to hear your favorite programs and movies more easily.
Nuheara is currently asking $349 for IQbuds Boost on its website. That’s down from $499. They’re also available from Amazon, but this retailer apparently hadn’t yet been told about the price drop.
Buy from: Amazon
IQstream TV is $69 on the Nuheara website, down from $99.
Apple AirPods 2 are $159, less than half the cost of IQbuds Boost. Or PowerBeats Pro are $249.95. Of course, Nuheara’s offering does much more than either of these, as it’s not just a Bluetooth headset.
Getting an audiologist to fit you with a pair of hearing aids costs far, far more than $349. And those won‘t connect to Apple Music.