Watch below as Juan Carlos Bagnell of SomeGadgetGuy discusses Nuheara’s latest release, the IQbuds2 MAX.

Video Transcript

One of the hottest new trends in consumer electronics is going to be Hearables. You see, I don’t know if any of you are aware– especially those of you who listen to my podcast regularly– but we’re facing an epidemic, like horrifically, shockingly high numbers of younger people experiencing hearing loss. And that these trends have been skyrocketing over the last 10 years. And we don’t want to examine behavior. We don’t want to look at what might be causing some of these increases in hearing loss.

I had 20 and 30-year-olds that are already in the ballpark for needing some kind of hearing aid or hearing assistance. And hearing aids are tremendously expensive, where a nice hearing aid could probably run you around $3,000 in here, not counting the office visits, the specialists, the fact that this is often not covered by any kind of insurance here in North America– and then, the other things too, the supplement to that, where you might have to get molds or a special fitting done. Just the hearing aid itself, six grand for both ears on your skull– plus.

So I think a lot of us might look at the correlation between this rise in hearing loss, especially hearing loss in young people, and the rise of adopting technologies, like smart phones and music players that can go all day where the ear very rarely gets a break from being constantly bombarded with some kind of sound. And yeah, tech is a part of this problem. So tech companies are going to help solve this problem. You don’t need to spend $3,000 on a hearing aid. We have this hot new market segment called Hearables.

So I’m making this a bigger, scarier, angrier topic. But I actually have to say, some of the early entrants into this space have been interesting to cover. The one brand I’ve spent the most time with is a company called Nuheara. And these are the IQbuds. These are the IQbuds² MAX. I can’t remember exactly what the different model names were. But this is the more expensive version of the IQbuds.

These originally launched at $500. They look like any regular true wireless in your earbud. But the whole point of these little buds was to use a lot of the same noise reduction technologies that we have for listening to content to sculpt environmental noise and try and focus on human speech. And while the effect is very AM radio, it’s really hissy. They actually do a surprisingly good job in their stated mission.

I do suffer some hidden hearing loss, where if you give me a hearing test in a quiet environment, I do really, really well. But if you take me to a noisy cafe with a lot of reflection and general noise in the environment, I have a tremendously hard time actually hearing speech. More often than not, it’s little bits of what I can hear. And I’m reading your lips to try and fill in the conversation.

So Nuheara is at CES. And they ran. They launched out of the gates. They are updating the IQbuds. And now, we get the IQbuds² MAX. I’m going to screen share here. These are the IQbuds² MAX, another pair of true wireless earbuds. They’re going to be a bit more vented. That’s a design change. I’ll be curious to see if I can compare against the original IQbuds. But it’s going to be a general improvement to all of their noise-reduction technologies to, again, better help block noise in your environment and isolate, highlight, and enhance human speech.

So one of the biggest updates, I should say, is they’re using a different type of audio driver. This is going to be refined microphone technology– all of the things that we would expect in a Take Two on a product like this. But they’re also going to be coming in substantially cheaper at launch than the IQbuds were last year. So this price is getting dropped from $500 at launch to 350. That’s still pricey, but I still haven’t run into anything with this kind of hard-specific focus on improving hearing.

I reviewed the Audeara last year, or was it the year before? Lots of ear tuning– how can you customize the EQ of your headphones to hear your music better? A lot of it is why I’m so disappointed in things like AirPods– is this push for an open-ear design so that you can hear what’s going on around you. And that’s the least healthiest way to listen to audio on earbuds.

So instead, we’re going to see a whole generation of products now kicking forward. I think Nuheara was one of the first to make as big a play as they did and not have it be one of those terrible infomercial, as-seen-on-TV kind of products. I just wear a microphone around my neck, and it just amplifies everything. And you’re like, those things are horrible for you. They’re really bad. But again, we’ve got a whole consumer group out there that doesn’t understand that they need that kind of hearing assistance, or that they don’t have the money to buy real, true, proper hearing aids.

So this is going to be a mid-price, mid-capability kind of solution for a lot of consumers out there. I really do feel we’re going to be seeing a number of people, probably in their 30s, start shopping solutions like this. This is going to be one of those add-on perks. In a couple of years, Jabber is going to have enhanced voice-modeling technologies and a pair of True Wireless. And that’ll make a purchasing decision. Bose will probably start doing stuff like this. Beats will probably start doing stuff like this.

So someone might not seek out a manufacturer who only does this. But it’s going to be one of those value adds, like, yeah, it’s like $200 for some AirPods or 250 for some beats. And they’ve got more microphones and voice-modeling tech built in. I think it’s going to be an often requested feature for Bluetooth earphones moving forward.

Gary the Fireman– are Hearables like Lunchables? Ugh, Lunchables are gross. From Soulless Geek, I have held what those hearing booths. I hear phantom tones– a lot of people suffering from tinnitus. And again, if you’re already suffering some kind of impact on your hearing, or hearing health, or hearing loss, it can always get worse. So try and protect what you do have. From [INAUDIBLE], I’m going to buy these for my gramp, so he can finally quit yelling.

I was very surprised. I guess that I’ve got a full review on the YouTube channel or on somegadgetguy.com. Search for Nuheara, N-U-H-E-A-R-A. And the biggest problem I have with them is that it looks socially awkward. So I took them out. We went to Bucca di Beppo, which is a really loud restaurant– lots of the plate and fork clink, clatter, and reflective picture frames on walls. And you’re bombarded by sound all over.

And it does look really funky when you’re having a conversation with someone, and they don’t take out their earbuds. That became the weird like I get those weird quizzical looks like are you talking? Are you talking to me? Are you on the phone? Or you’re talking to me? Are you listening to me? Are you ignoring me? Is this rude? That was the biggest hurdle surprisingly to overcome.

Once I would have that explanation, I was. It didn’t sound great. It wasn’t like beautiful, pristine, high fidelity. But it was. It was like all of the noise just got pushed a little further down. And the voice got a little bright, and crispy, and airy. But I could hear it better. And so I could latch onto that a little bit better. And very quickly, I wasn’t doing the I’m-looking-at-your-mouth, not-making-eye-contact thing. It’s amazing. Your brain goes, oh, well, that’s better. And then, you just relax into having a conversation again.

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