Nuheara IQ Buds Squared Max Detailed Review | #VeryDetailed

– In this video, I'm
doing a detailed review of the Nuheara IQbuds² MAX. Coming up. (gentle music) Hi guys, Cliff Olson, Doctor of Audiology and founder of Applied Hearing Solutions in Phoenix, Arizona. And on this channel I
cover a bunch of hearing related information, to
help make you a better informed consumer. So if you're into that, make sure you hit that subscribe button. And don't forget to click the bell to receive a notification
every time I post a new video. It is been two long years since my review of the IQbuds Boost, and three years since my
review of the original IQbuds.

So I am well rested and
super excited to review the new IQbuds² MAX. Now if you're unfamiliar
with my review techniques then buckle up, because as an audiologist not only do I like to give
you my personal perceptions on the performance of different devices, but I also like to objectively
measure performance using the equipment in my clinic. According to Nuheara, the new IQbuds² MAX has been completely
redesigned from the ground up. Most notably with the addition
of active noise cancellation, venting, and even a larger dynamic driver to improve sound quality. But before I get into the review, let's go ahead and check
out what comes in the box. First, we have the
redesigned charger case. Now this is a huge improvement
over the previous generation of IQbud charger cases,
mainly because the IQbuds are magnetised inside of the case. So they don't fall out of the case Like the previous generations did. This right here is the
case for the IQbuds Boost. And what happens is is that these devices are not anchored in there in
any way, they just fall out.

So if you end up throwing this old case inside of a bag and it
gets jostled around at all those IQbuds disconnect and they turn on, which means you have a
case that has a couple of feeding back IQbuds inside of it. You don't run into that
issue with the new case. The new charger case will also give you three additional charges of your IQbuzz . So that's an additional
15 hours of streaming and an additional 24
hours of live-listen mode.

It takes 90 minutes for a charge and when you're done
charging for that 90 minutes, you have five hours
worth of streaming time stored inside of the
IQbuds and eight hours worth of live-listen mode
stored inside of the IQbuds. The only slight drawback that
I can find with this case, isn't the removal of the IQbuds, I find that to be pretty easy, but it's the fact that
they use micro USB steel. Everything new in electronics
is switching over to USB-C, it charges things faster
and quite frankly, these are the only devices
that I have inside of my house right now, that do not use USB-C. The second thing that we
have inside of the case are the ear tips. The ear tips come in small,
medium and large sizes, and they come with silicone
tips and with foam comply tips. The foam comply tips are the kind that you can compress and
then they expand again inside of your ear.

And I had a little bit of a difficult time trying to find the right
size ear tip for me, that was comfortable, but
also got a good seal for sound and didn't allow feedback. And third of course we
have the new IQbuds. The IQbuds MAX definitely
have a different shape than the previous IQbud versions. At first they appeared to be
significantly larger in size, but when you place them side
by side with the IQbuds Boosts, they appear to only be slightly larger. All right so let's check out
what these things look like inside of my ears. Now, from an aesthetic standpoint, you can see that these
things stick out pretty far. Lemme go ahead and give
you a profile view there. And I love that they have a
new larger dynamic driver, but it definitely makes the
devices stick out of your ears a little bit more.

And in my opinion, I think that Nuheara has to start focusing a little bit more on slimming these things
down and giving them a little bit more of a sleeker look. As far as comfort goes
they are pretty comfortable as devices that I could wear
for a few hours at a time, but I definitely couldn't
wear them all day long. And the new redesigned ear
tips are pretty comfortable, but they feel very similar,
to the previous versions of the older IQbuds.

As far as performance goes,
there is a lot to cover. Now because these devices
are kind of like a hybrid, meaning there an earbud, but they're also kind of like a hearing aid
and we may even call devices like these, either a
hearable or a wearable I'm gonna go ahead and split
my review into two sections. And the first thing that I'm gonna review is their performance as an earbud. Nuheara added a 9.2
millimeter dynamic driver to their new IQbuds. A dynamic driver is one of the most common types of drivers inside
of headphones nowadays, and by increasing the
size to 9.2 millimeters, it definitely allows them to
drive significantly more bass than their previous IQbud versions.

I must say that from a music standpoint, the new IQbuds² MAX do a
significantly better job of giving you more bass. That being said, I feel like they give you better music quality than
any other wireless earbud on the market that I've
tested, and this includes the Apple AirPods pro. The only issue that I have with these when it comes to the
quality of streamed music, is that Nuheara does not give
you access to an equalizer to customize your own streamed audio.

They also do not use their ear ID feature, which I'll get into here in a minute, to optimize the sound
quality of music either. The IQbuds app has a mix
of different features both from a live-listen perspective and from a streaming perspective, and since we're talking about
the IQbuds as an earbud, let's go ahead and get
into the aspects of the app that influence this side of it. The app allows you to
toggle between world on which actively allows outside sounds in, world off, which is a passive
noise cancellation setting, and ANC on on which stands
for active noise cancellation. I'll talk more about
this in a few minutes.

You can also activate
an IQstream TV device. You need to purchase these separately, but they allow you to
stream low latency audio directly from your TV, into your IQbuds. You can also do things like,
check out your battery life and change your touch controls. The face plate of the IQbuds²
MAX is touch sensitive and there are a variety of
adjustments you can choose from. You just have to figure out
which ones work best for you. The IQbuds even give you access
to your Google assistant. When it comes to phone call
streaming through the IQbuds, the sound is really,
really good on my end, meaning I can hear the person
talking to me really clearly. The problem is, is that the people that I talked to when wearing the IQbuds, every single one of them
tells me that they get an echo coming from me, and so what do I do? I go and turn off my
bluetooth on the phone, which means I'm disabling the
IQbuds from the phone call and every single one of those individuals tell me, that the echo
goes away when I do that. Now the main feature that
everybody wants me to talk about is this active noise cancellation that you can now get, in an IQbuds² MAX.

Now, if you don't know what
active noise cancellation is, think of it like this, you
have two different types of noise cancellation. You have passive noise cancellation and active noise cancellation. Passive noise cancellation, is any amount of noise
reduction that you get by just sticking something
inside of your ears. This would be like a basic earplug. So, there is some amount
of passive noise reduction just by sticking the
IQbud, inside of your ear. However, active noise cancellation takes a completely different approach. Active noise cancellation
actually measures the incoming sound waves of noise, and it creates an inverted
wave, to cancel that noise out. So it is actively fighting against noise coming into the earbud. This is how devices with
active noise cancellation can reduce outside sound even more. The thing is, I'm not
actually able to tell if active noise cancellation
is doing anything, because it sounds exactly the same to me in a noisy environment
with it on and with it off. Now I can actually perform
some in ear measurements to objectively measure, how
much passive noise reduction the IQbuds² MAX give me, versus how much additional
noise reduction occurs when I turn active noise cancellation on.

The solid red curve
illustrates how much sound is coming through the
Iqbuds, in world on mode when the microphones are active. The solid turquoise curve illustrates how much passive noise
cancellation is reducing outside sound, when I turn world off. And the solid green curve illustrates how much additional reduction
an outside sound occurs when I turn active noise cancellation on. As you can see, the turquoise
curve and the green curve overlap with each other, indicating that my objective measurement of active noise cancellation, does not reduce outside sound any more than passive noise cancellation.

Now I will say that active
noise cancellation on actually does improve the sound
quality of streamed music, but it's not due to any
cancellation effect of outside sound because I was testing this
out inside of a sound booth. So my suggestion is
basically to just leave the active noise cancellation
on when you are streaming in music, even if it's
not actually canceling out any extra outside sound, it
does make the audio quality better. All right, enough of the
IQbuds² MAX as an earbud, let's go ahead and get into
what you came here for, which is using the IQbuds²
MAX, as a hearing aid. Now to be clear, Nuheara does not claim that these are hearing aids.

However, they are definitely
designed and marketed to appeal to individuals,
with a mild to moderate level of hearing loss. They have also made the
bold move of marketing them towards individuals with
autism spectrum disorders and auditory processing disorders. Now the first step in
evaluating the IQbuds² MAX as a hearing aid, to see
how well these devices could treat these types of individuals, I need to perform the ear ID
hearing threshold evaluation. You do not need to perform the ear ID test in order to amplify outside sounds, but if you want to
customize the audio based on your specific hearing thresholds, I highly recommend you take
10 minutes to do the test. The ear ID tests you're hearing at six different frequencies
between 500 Hertz and 6,000 Hertz. I first took the ear ID test to see if it could
identify my hearing loss.

It was able to identify a portion
of the cookie bite hearing loss in my right ear, but
it was not able to test the full extent of the loss,
because of device limitations. Basically, it could not test loud enough. When I used a probe microphone to evaluate how loud the ear ID tested at each frequency In my right ear, I identified that its limits
are around 50 decibels at 500 Hertz and 1000 Hertz, around 45 decibels at
2,000, 3,000 and 4,000 Hertz and around 35 decibels at 6,000 Hertz. So if you have any hearing
thresholds higher than these at these specific
frequencies, the IQbuds² MAX do not have the ability to test them. One other notable thing
that Nuheara is known for is their use of an NAL-NL2
hearing loss prescription, which is one of the same
types of prescriptions that you will find inside of hearing aids. A NAL-NL2 prescription
is designed to ensure that you have enough amplification at certain frequency ranges,
to overcome your hearing loss and to ensure that you have audibility. Lucky for you I can also test
with real-ear measurement, to see if the IQbuds give
you enough amplification to match NAL-NL2 prescriptive targets.

To do this, I had to create a hearing loss that is within the
amplification capabilities of the IQbuds² MAX. Using the ear ID feature I
gave myself a mild hearing loss in the left ear, as
indicated by the blue Xs on this audiogram. For the right ear, which is
indicated by the red circles on the audiogram, I gave myself the worst hearing loss that the ear ID is capable of measuring, which
is a moderate hearing loss. So for the IQbuds² MAX
we're going to evaluate whether or not a mild NAL-NL2 prescription in the left ear can be met,
and whether or not a moderate NAL-NL2 prescription in
the right ear can be met. First, let me orient you
with the real-ear measurement screen. The solid black line
represents a calibrated sound coming out of a loud speaker
in front of the person being tested. The solid pink line represents
the natural increase in sound given by your ear canals,
without any devices in them yet.

We call this the ear canal resonance. The pink hash mark line represents a NAL-NL2 hearing loss
prescription target. This hash mark line will be different depending on the severity
and configuration of a particular hearing loss,
and is what we are trying to match with the solid lines. As we begin testing the IQbuds, we are using a solid purple line to represent the amplification levels of the IQbuds² MAX. And a purple hash mark line to represent the NAL-NL2
prescriptive targets for a mild hearing loss in the left ear and a moderate hearing
loss in the right ear. Ideally, what we would like to see is the solid purple line overlapping with the purple hash mark
line, as close as possible Anywhere the solid line is
below the hash mark line, indicates under amplification.

Anywhere it is over the hash mark line, indicates over amplification. As you can see the IQbuds² MAX do a pretty good job of getting close to the NAL-NL2 prescriptive targets for both a mild hearing loss
and a moderate hearing loss. A few critiques that I have besides some areas that are over amplified and some areas that are under amplified, are the visible feedback
that occurred in the left ear and some insertion loss
in the low frequencies of the left ear, where the IQbuds actually had a blocking effective sound. I was actually kind of
impressed with how close the IQbuds² MAX, came to
an NAL-NL2 hearing loss prescription, for a mild and
moderate hearing loss level inside of my ears.

Sure they did make my low
frequencies a little bit worse, but the mid and high frequencies
were actually looking pretty good. Now, remember when it
comes to battery life, you get eight hours worth
of live-listen mode. So when you actually
have the devices set up to amplify external sounds coming in. And this does not include include if you're also doing
streaming throughout the day. If you're doing streaming as well, it's going to pull that eight hours lower. You can get up to 32 hours worth of use, but remember you have to
charge them several times throughout the day, to
actually achieve that. And it takes money 90
minutes for a full charge. So if you end up using
these devices periodically throughout the day,
you'll probably be fine, but you're not gonna be able to use them from the time that you get up, to the time that you go
to bed uninterrupted. Like I mentioned before,
from a comfort standpoint, I can only wear them for
a couple hours at a time anyway, I couldn't wear them
for an extended period of time Like I can with a traditional hearing aid.

The IQbuds² MAX also have venting now inside of their earbuds, and
I presume this is to prevent the occlusion effect. Basically the occlusion effect is when the sound of your own voice is bone-conducted through your jaw, it ends up in your ear canals. And if they can't escape
outside of your ear canals, it ends up vibrating your eardrum, and you end up hearing your
own voice extremely boomy and loud to yourself. Since you have to wear ear tips that completely seal off your ear canals, you end up running the risk of
having this occlusion effect unless of course you can
vent enough of your own voice outside of your ears. I personally still feel like
there's a significant amount of occlusion effect that
happens with these devices to the point where I find it
to be, relatively annoying talking to someone else.

However, if I don't talk at all and someone is just talking
to me, everything's fine. On a side note, occluding or
blocking off your ear canal is good, from the perspective
of trying to stream music, because you can't get the
perception of low frequency bass tones, if you have
an open-fitting ear tip. So while it makes your
own voice really boomy and loud to yourself, if
you're talking to someone, it also improves sound
quality significantly when you're listening to music. Now let's take a deeper
look at what you can do with the app, when it
comes to using the IQbuds, as hearing aids. You have a variety of preset programs that you can select from,
that are each designed a little differently to
maximize your ability to hear in different environments. In the world tab, under
the volume settings, you can toggle between world on which enables the microphones
to amplify your surroundings, and world off or ANC on,
which disable the microphones entirely. With world on you can also
adjust the volume of sound being amplified, by dragging
the slider to the right or to the left.

Sync allows you to adjust the IQbuds to either accentuate
speech or to bring in more environmental sound, which
Nuheara describes as ambience. The probe microphone measurements that I conducted with sync on and sync off did not show much of an
acoustical difference there. However, I can perceptually tell that there is some additional speech that you pick up when you
take it all the way over to the speech side, and you do get more of the surrounding sound
when you take it over to the ambiance side. Now let's take a look at world EQ, which is the equalizer
designed to allow you to customize your IQbuds
frequency response, for amplified sound, coming
from the microphones.

This particular feature
definitely shifts amplification between low and high frequencies. Shift it to filter bass, and it will boost the high
frequency treble tones and reduce the low frequency bass tones as indicated by the solid red curve. On the other hand, if you
shift it to filter treble, it will give back some of
the low frequency bass tones and reduce the high frequency treble tones as indicated by the solid turquoise curve. One thing that I really wished Nuheara did was give me access to an equalizer more precise than world EQ. This way I could either
increase or decrease the amount of amplification
at each frequency range more specifically. Alright, let's take a
look at the focus feature. When turned on, this feature is designed to primarily amplify
sounds in front of you and suppress sounds
coming from behind you.

A simple way to objectively
test the functionality of this feature, is to turn focus on and measure sound coming from the front, which is illustrated by
the solid green curve and compare it to a
measurement of sound coming from the back, which is
illustrated by the solid pink line. This is a normal test that will typically perform with hearing aids
called directionality. What we should see, is the pink line significantly below the green line. However, this is not what
is actually happening calling into question
whether or not this feature works at all. What it's showing us is that
sound coming from in front and sound coming from behind, are both amplified at
the exact same level, which is not a good thing if
you happen to be in a noisy environment, and you're
trying to hear the person that's right in front of you.

Perceptually, I also experienced
the exact same thing, which basically means
that this focus feature at least on my devices,
does not work correctly. Which is unfortunate because
one of the key features of these devices is
being able to wear them in a noisy situation and
cancel out background noise while focusing on the speech
of the person talking to you. The biggest problem I
ran into with the IQbuds, was feedback. Even with a mild level of
amplification from these devices, sound was leaking outside of my ear and cycling back through the microphones, which was causing that really
annoying whistling sound.

Now I did everything in my power. I tried every single ear
tip inside of the package to see which one reduced
that feedback the most, but even when I found
the best fitting dome, I still had feedback issues. Your experience could be
completely different than mine, but considering that I
can wear a hearing aid at a much higher level of amplification with an open dome, not even a close dome and not get feedback, let's me know that Nuheara really has
some ground to make up from a feedback reduction standpoint. Now, there was one other
issue that I noticed with the IQbuds² MAX and
that is sound artifact. If I have the world feature turned on, which means that external
sounds are being amplified by the IQbuds inside of my ear canals, I experience this really
loud clicking sound or popping sound, every time
that something loud happens.

So whether I'm clapping my hands or set a glass down on the countertop or even type on my keyboard, that almost sounds like
someone's shooting a cap gun next to my head. Now I'm not really sure
if this is something that's just happening
with my set of IQbuds or if it's happening with all of them. So make sure you let me know
on the comments section, if you notice it too. Overall, the IQbuds² MAX as an earbud are really pretty good. As a hearing aid, they
need a little bit more work if you ask me, but they should be able to give you a little bit
of a boost if you need it. That being said, if you
are looking for a good set of 350 to $400 earbuds,
they give you better streaming audio quality
than the Apple AirPods pro, and have the ability to
amplify some ambient sound and some speech, then the IQbuds² MAX are definitely worth a try. That's it for this video. If you have any questions, leave them in the comment section below.

If you like the video, please share it. And if you wanna see other
videos, just like this one, go ahead and hit that subscribe button. Also feel free to check out
my website, drcliffaud.com. (gentle music).

You May Also Like