I see lots of people sporting Apple AirPods and other wire-free earphones these days. They think they’re on the cutting edge of personal audio, but they’re not. Cutting edge is earbuds that test your hearing, and then tailor their left and right components to your unique requirements. Cutting edge is processing ambient sound, and then rebroadcasting it to your ears while precisely mixing it with the sound streaming via Bluetooth. Cutting edge is protecting you from hearing loss and expertly compensating for any you might already suffer from. Cutting edge is the Nuheara IQbuds Boost.

The IQbuds Boost ($499 at Amazon) is a smarter, higher-quality (the Boost support the aptX and aptX Low Latency codecs), and more sonically customizable version of Nuheara’s less-expensive IQbuds ($299 at Amazon). Both products perform the same basic trick: They blend the ambient sound captured by tiny mics in the buds themselves with the audio you stream over Bluetooth.  

As you can see in the image below, the IQbuds Boost are handsome, if a little large (the outside-the-ear portion is about the size of an olive).

nuheara iqbuds boost Nuheara

Each IQbud has two microphones and a touch sensor for handling phone calls, playing and pausing music, activating Google Assistant or Siri, and other functions.  

The stem, which is padded with your choice of eight pairs of silicone or foam tips in several sizes, is the only part of the IQbuds Boost that actually fits in your ear. And getting a tight fit is essential, as these earphones work efficiently only when all ambient sound is blocked. I found them perfectly comfortable, although I didn’t wear them all day.

Audio performance

I also found the IQbuds Boosts very sonorous for straight music listening. They’re at least the equal of anything else I’ve heard. My one peeve was that covering the mics sometimes resulted in a feedback squeal. It wasn’t painfully loud, though, and I learned pretty quickly to avoid doing that.

I also wore the IQbuds Boost past some loud constructions sites, and was able to tone down the ruckus to very tolerable levels. I found the ambient sound the IQbuds Boost delivered to be quite usable, but perhaps not completely accurate—there was just a bit of metallic resonance to them. But this largely disappeared as I lowered the level of the ambient sound (more on how that’s accomplished later).

Tommy, can you hear me?

In addition to the aptX codec support and a slightly different industrial design than the less-expensive IQbuds, the IQbuds Boost support Nuheara’s EarID technology, an element within the Nuheara app that evaluates your hearing and ostensibly alters the IQbuds’ internal processing to boost regions of the audio spectrum according to your needs.

nuheara ear buds view 6 noshadow Nuheara

Nuheara’s IQbuds sans Boost sell for $200 less. They come with the same charging case, but you won’t get EarID or support for the aptX and aptX Low Latency These are the regular, $300codecs.

My hearing in my left ear isn’t what it was, but it’s not a seriously debilitating issue. I tried EarID and it did a good job of EQ’ing for my left ear. That said, I had the impression that the volume was still a little low on the left side. Whether that was the fault of my ear, my brain, or EarID, I can’t say. But I would have appreciated having the opportunity to do a little manual tweaking.

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