Last year, Jabra announced its Enhance Plus true wireless headphones – the company’s first to incorporate hearing aid technology. They aim to offer people with mild to moderate hearing loss many of the benefits of medical-grade hearing aids in a design that looks like nothing else. different from hundreds of other wireless headphones on the market. We now know how much they will cost ($799) and when people will be able to buy them in the US (February 25, 2022, only at select hearing care clinics).
The new headphones, available in dark gray or golden beige, have four sound processing features designed to improve the way you hear in a variety of settings like restaurants and business meetings. According to Jabra, these are:
- Warp Compressor: Analyzes sounds in the same way as the human ear for a more natural sound quality.
- Digital Noise Reduction: Provides listening comfort and maintains speech clarity in various sound environments.
- Digital Feedback Suppression: Prevents feedback from interfering with sound quality amplification.
- Binaural Beamformer (with Directionality): Isolates sounds coming in front of you, allowing users to focus on what’s important.
In practice, three modes can be used for hearing enhancement: Adaptive, Focus and Surround. Adaptive is a bit like an automatic feature, with the headphones trying to guess what kind of enhancement you need at any given time, while Focus lets you target nearby conversations and Surround lets you bring in an area of sounds. larger around you.
What’s remarkable about the Enhance Plus, beyond its hearing-enhancing capabilities, is its size. Jabra claims they’re 40 per cent smaller than the company’s Elite 7 Pro true wireless earbuds, which are already among the smallest you can buy. “Their extremely small size makes them virtually invisible, even in conversations,” notes Jabra’s press release.
Yet despite their small size and hearing benefits, the Enhance Plus perform like any other true wireless Bluetooth earphone, with 10 hours of battery life on a single charge and an additional 30 hours in their charging case. They’re IP52-rated for decent water and dust protection, and they use a “high-quality codec for high streaming sound quality”, although Jabra still hasn’t said which codec. The company’s Elite 7 Pro and Elite 85t both use fairly standard SBC and AAC codecs.
The $499 Nuheara IQbuds2 Max offer a similar combination of features, but stop short of a real improvement that promises medical-grade quality.
There is only one catch, but it is a big problem. Since Enhance Plus is considered a medical device, it requires a visit to a licensed hearing care professional, where you will need to undergo a medical hearing test and evaluation. If at this point the Jabra Enhance Plus is deemed suitable for your needs, you will be able to purchase it in person.
However, the United States is about to approve new regulations that will allow Jabra to sell Enhance Plus directly to buyers, just like Bose SoundControl hearing aids. And the Enhance Plus has already been 510(k) cleared with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the self-adjusting hearing aid regulations in anticipation of those regulations coming into effect.
“When the new [over-the-counter] regulations take effect, we look forward to being there to help people with solutions that deliver better situational hearing, plus music and calls in sleek, modern designs,” said Jabra CEO René Svendsen-Tune, in a press release.
In addition to the headphones, you’ll get the Jabra Enhance app, which Jabra says will provide an easy one-time setup experience that can be completed in minutes (this will likely be how Jabra lets people eventually fit the headphones without the help of an audiologist). The app also offers simple controls to adjust the volume and listening mode for any environment.
Given that the Enhance Plus were developed in conjunction with Jabra’s sister company – GN Hearing, the company behind some of the most widely used medical-grade hearing aids – there’s good reason to believe that these headphones will provide significant hearing improvement for those who suffer. hearing loss.