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Nuheara's wireless earbuds can also enhance hearing

Engadget Engadget 6/04/2016 James Trew
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At what point does something officially become a trend? For trulywirelessearbuds, I'm calling it now. Nuheara is the latest company to enter into the fray, with its IQbuds: a pair that blends ideas from Bragi's music and fitness-focused Dash, and Here's "active listening" experience. The product is currently on Indiegogo, but the category continues to be popular, with IQbuds already raising double its funding goal in 24 hours (Bragi raised millions, Here tripled its goal). I've tried both the Dash, and Here buds, both of which have positives and negatives. IQbuds -- on paper at least -- seems to take the best of both, and roll it all into one, or, er two earbuds.

So what do IQbuds actually do? Plenty. It's a Bluetooth headset for your phone. It lets you listen to music and media (unlike Here). It has active noise cancelling so you can enjoy some quiet time, and the same technology can be used to give your hearing a boost, or focus on voices in noisy environments. Nuhear also claims it has the transparency feature that I enjoyed so much on Bragi's Dash -- so you can blend music and ambient for better awareness. The touch-controlled IQbuds also promise a four-hour battery life and charging case just like the Dash and Here do.

Perhaps just as important is what IQbuds don't do. There's no onboard storage for music, or sensors for fitness tracking like there on the Dash. There's also no focus on modifying live music like there is with Here. IQbuds will let you tweak the sound around you -- add more bass/cut high frequencies etc. -- but Nuheara didn't bother with things like the "60s" or "8-track" musical presets that Here has. IQbuds also let you change ambient sound for each ear individually. This might sound weird, but for someone with high frequency loss of hearing on one side, or similar, it's potentially very helpful.

When I tried Bragi's $299 Dash, I enjoyed the music and wireless experience, but the fitness tracking component felt incomplete. As for Here, the active noise cancelling was really the standout use case, but at $250, that made them an expensive proposition unless you were really into adding echo and other effects to ambient noise. IQbuds are expected to cost $299 when they hit shelves hopefully in December; the early bird price is currently $179. With not much difference in the price, the main thing going for IQbuds is the no-nonsense feature set. To truly win the wireless battle, they'll need to deliver on audio quality and user experience.

Indiegogo, Nuheara

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