EFTM is one of Australia’s leading online lifestyle magazines for men. From the latest reviews of the hottest tech products, to automotive news and more, EFTM covers the lifestyle products and news that Australian men are most keen to know more about.

One of EFTM’s top contributors is Trevor Long, arguably the busiest man in Australia when it comes to technology news coverage. In addition to hosting two podcasts, Trevor also appears on 50 top radio programs across Australia on a weekly basis, he is the in-house tech expert for Channel 9’s Today Show, and he is a regular contributor to A Current Affair.

Trevor Long knows his technology, so we were thrilled to have him trial out the new IQbuds² MAX for several days. Check out his full video review (and transcript) below:

Video Transcript

G’day, Trevor Long. And today, here at EFTM, I’m taking a look at the Nuheara IQbuds2 Max, a brand new Aussie product.

Now, Nuheara came out of the scene at CES a few years ago and they’ve continued to iterate their product to the point where we now have these new IQbuds² MAX. Let’s just call them Nuheara, because that’s their latest product and you’ll find it easily on their website. This is a $399 Australian product. It’s listed at $499. I think they’re calling it a preorder for $399. I think they need to try and maintain that price point, and I’ll tell you over at that shortly.

Now like so many others, these are fully wire-free. So you can see here, they come in a pretty nice case that holds them steady, charges them up. Now what I love about this case is it sits flat on the desk. Now that sounds crazy, but things like AirPods, and previous generations of Jabras and the Sonys, they don’t sit down anywhere. So it’s a silly thing, but it makes a big difference, in terms of the design.

Now in the ear, these are very much like– the Jabra is probably sizewise, a bit smaller than the Bose, similar to the Sony, but very much bigger than what you get with your AirPods Pro. Now, you can see here, they’re not a bad look in the ear. And they don’t protrude out too much, which I really like. I don’t like the big, protruding headphones. Straight away, as I turn on or plug-in the headphones in my ear, I get the full Nuheara app recognizing that I have the headphones on. And I have full control now over all the things I want to do.

And critically, it’s not just noise canceling that Nuheara do here. Nuheara’s actual point of difference is for the hearing impaired. So if you have a mild to moderate hearing impairment, these headphones will help. When we turn the active noise canceling off– you get a genuinely excellent noise canceling. I am going to say these are very close to on par with Apple’s AirPods and Sony’s. It’s a very competitive market, and it really does depend on your style. I find a lot of headphones really do need– the kind of music is the background on a plane to really block out the noise, because none of them really block it truly out. They just change the sensation so that you’re not so overwhelmed by the aircraft noise.

But what you find with these headphones is a bit different. They’re all about everyday use. So rather than just talking about plane use, these are all about everyday use. So critically here, they have what they call the world. The world is on or the world is off. In active noise canceling mode, the world is off. And then when you turn the world on, you can hear– I can hear myself now. I really couldn’t quite hear myself properly with the noise canceling on. If there’s people in the room, I can hear those conversations around me, and that’s what Nuheara is targeting here.

So you can actually wear these in a social environment and these will amplify voices around you. And you can do a whole lot of things to tweak that. You can have a directional. There’s a whole range of things you can do to genuinely take advantage of the three microphones in here that are amplifying those voices, so that you can hear them.

So you can be in a crowded bar and this will amplify that person that’s sitting there talking to you. And I don’t know about you, but even without a mild hearing impairment, that sounds appealing to me. But you’ve still got to be willing to wear headphones. And I think that’s still a stumbling block for the concept, is I’ve got to be wearing the headphones to have the conversation. But I think people are less stigmatized by wearing headphones than wearing a hearing aid.

Look, one of the most powerful things about the Nuheara IQbuds² MAX is actually the app. I mean, the things that you can do within this app are quite stunning. The amount of detail you can put on how much of the world you want to bring in. There are things like the My Bud system that allows you to choose how the tap on each side– because each side is tappable– what the configurations are for each action there. And there’s even a focus point, so you can actually have– the configuration to have the IQbuds focus on the audio in front of you, bringing a clarity of voice to reduce the ambient sound around you. So you’re literally focusing on someone’s voice standing in front of you.

That alone– the app alone is probably one of the best, in terms of any other set of headphones, I’ve ever seen. Plus, when you first set them up, you get your own special Ear ID test. So it’s basically a hearing test. It’s quite confronting really, because you’re sitting there listening for a sound. You need to do it in a quiet environment. You get these little tiny beeps. You do each ear at a time. And it shows you visibly, on an app, using rings, how good your hearing is. Now mine doesn’t seem too bad, but you’ve got to wonder what would– what am I missing out on? It’s very, very minimal, my hearing, I guess, problems. But other people might be staggered to see how their hearing is when you actually go through the Ear ID test. And that configures the headphones so that you’re getting the perfect solution just for you. And that’s what’s critical. These are made and customized for you, using the app.

Look, I’ve tried these in a lot of environments. The sound quality is excellent, music quality is awesome. Couple of little things I’ve noticed. You’ve really got to get a– you’ve really got to try all the tips to get the right fit. I’ve found you still get a bit of head noise when you’re walking, or even just moving your jaw or eating. You hear a bit of that noise through. You’ve got to play with the tips to find the one that will minimize that most for you.

And critically also, I found a bit of a distortion in the audio at full volume. Now for a headphone designed for those with a hearing impairment, that’s probably not a bad thing. But I just feel like when I’m pumping it up loud, there’s a slight distortion to the music. Something that can probably be very easily fixed in a firmware upgrade by Nuheara. And they do those very easily through the app. The app is excellent it works really well.

I think, at $399, these are a sensational headphone. At $499, you’ve really got to want to pay that $100 extra for that mild hearing impairment assistance that you’re going to get through the use of the world and bringing the world in.

Look, a couple here that I would quickly compare them to– obviously, the AirPods Pro. These are the new Jabra Elite 75ts. Oh, this is a really tough lineup, because you’re talking about $299 for the Jabras, $399 for the Apple AirPods and $399 on preorder for the Nuheara. Again, if you’ve got that mild to moderate hearing impairment, this is 100% your choice. If you’re just looking for great headphones, I’m probably still pushing towards the Jabras, just on price and quality. The quality is excellent for the price. But for the added features set of the noise canceling slash world integration, whether you’re someone that walks around the city, someone that uses public transport, needs to hear announcements, there’s a lot more tweaking you can do in the app to bring the outside world into your hearing while you’re listening to music or whatever it might be.

The Nuheara IQbuds² MAX they’re exceptional. They’re made by an Aussie company over in Perth and we love them. They’re very, very good I think on balance, if you look at the whole value prospect here, they’re probably about an 8.4. Because you take away the price– if that $399 was the permanent price, probably put them into the nines. They’re an excellent product. Full details at EFTM.com.

February 11th, 2020