Personal listening devices include all assistive devices or technology that are used to help people hear. Personal listening devices have been on the market for longer than hearing aids – in fact, they date all the way back to 17th century when traditional ear trumpets were first introduced. Today, there is a multitude of personal listening devices available, and new technology is constantly being introduced.
A new player in the field of personal listening devices has been created by a little-known start-up called Nuheara. The devices are called IQBuds BOOST, which are ear buds that help a listener hear. With IQBuds BOOST, users are able to connect their new earbuds to a smartphone app that gives a “hearing diagnostic”, where users are asked to listen to a series of noises and distinguish what they can hear. The IQBuds then calibrate their settings based on the results of the user’s assessment. When wearing IQBuds, sound that is directly in front of the wearer is amplified, in an effort to make communicating in noisy environments easier.
IQBuds hearing aids also claim the ability to make watching TV, listening to music, and talking on the phone easier and more enjoyable. The IQBuds are able to stream anything that can connect to Bluetooth, and an independent reviewer on Forbes rated the sound quality to be on par with Apple’s AirPods. While the independent reviewer enjoyed the Bluetooth quality of IQBuds BOOST, they also remarked that the relatively large size of the devices made wearing them for more than a few hours at a time quite uncomfortable. IQBuds are water and sweat resistant, and are also rechargeable. When streaming with Bluetooth, the devices have a 20-hour battery life, however, when being used only as hearing devices, they can last up to 32 hours on one charge.
To learn more about the IQBuds BOOST and the technology behind them, visit the company’s website here.
Personal Listening Devices vs. Hearing Aids
Both personal listening devices and hearing aids input sound, digitally process it and then amplify it. While they can both be helpful for people with hearing loss, they differ in many ways. One of the most obvious ways the two types of devices differ is that hearing aids require a prescription and are approved by the FDA to treat hearing loss. On the other hand, personal listening devices are not regulated by the FDA, and therefore do not need a prescription, a hearing assessment, or a recommendation from a licensed hearing aid dispenser or audiologist to be obtained by the public.
Another difference lies in programming ability. In general, hearing aids tend to offer much more opportunities for personalization, and programming for different hearing profiles as well as different environments. For the most part, personal listening devices come preprogrammed by the manufacturer for common listening environments. Hearing aids also typically include many more features than most personal listening devices, and also tend to be smaller, less clunky and more effective for those with all hearing profiles, including mild, moderate, severe or profound hearing loss.
Another key difference between personal listening devices and hearing aids is the price. Personal listening devices tend to be quite a bit less expensive than actual hearing aids. Because of the price difference, many people choose to try personal listening devices to see if they help, before reaching out to a professional to discuss the possibility of hearing aids.
What is Right for You?
For some people, it can be difficult to determine whether personal listening devices or hearing aids are the right fit for them. No matter what type of sound amplification you are considering, getting help from a professional can make the decision process much easier. If you have noticed some of the early signs of hearing loss such as hearing but not understanding, complaints from friends or family about you not listening, or difficulty understanding TV shows, it is probably time for a hearing assessment. If you live in the Sarasota area, reach out to our friendly team at Gulf Gate Hearing Aid Center. We look forward to partnering with you on your hearing healthcare journey.