It’s no secret that true wireless earbuds are one of the biggest trends at CES 2017. But the so-called “hearable” segment, which allows for control and enhancement of the sound around you, is also taking flight. On the floor at CES Unveiled, we checked out audio startup Nuheara’s new IQbuds, which can blast your tunes while also allowing you to control the sonic world around you.
If you feel like you’ve seen this movie before, you’re not wrong. Doppler Labs blew us away at CES 2016 with their almost magical Here Active earbuds, which use advanced technology controlled through an intuitive app to allow you to do everything from silencing or raising the volume of the sound around you, to actually equalizing live shows and adding effects.
However, it took a second-generation product from Doppler Labs, the new Here One, to actually add music into the mix. Nuheara’s IQbuds skipped that first step and jumped right into the world of all-in-one augmented hearable functionality, adding music and ambient sound control in the company’s first-ever product.
The app for the IQbuds looks strikingly similar to the Doppler Labs app, offering a similar dial to control the sound around you. The IQbuds app allows you to raise or lower the total volume (both music and outside noise), enhance augmented sound via an intuitive EQ window, and even raise or lower the right or left earbud volume levels independently — that’s especially handy for those with hearing-loss issues.
Hearing-loss sufferers are a big target for the growing hearables segment, and Nuheara sees the IQbuds as an affordable alternative to hearing aids. The buds can also come in handy for active music lovers, allowing you to bring in ambient sound with impressive control so you can jam out your tunes while still being aware of the dynamic world around you. Nuheara says the earbuds offer three to four hours of music playback time per charge, and seven hours of ambient sound control per charge. The charging case will recharge them three or four times, but it does take about 90 minutes to recharge.
So how do the IQbuds actually sound? It’s tough to judge the music playback in the noisy halls of CES, even for a product specifically designed for such scenarios, but our first impression of the music we did get a chance to check out is that it sounded pretty solid, even as it allowed supreme control of which ambient sounds we let in. We were slightly less impressed with the ambient sound noise cancellation. Unlike Doppler Labs’ Here Active, which nearly eliminate the noise around you with a soft touch, the IQbuds emitted a sort of white noise as they attempted to kill the background noise, and sounded a bit more scratchy.
Still, we walked away impressed with Nuheara’s first shot at the hearable market, and we’ll need further testing to make a true conclusion. The IQbuds are slated for availability in March at a price of $300. Stay tuned for our full review of the IQbuds coming soon.
- Solid music playback
- Decent charge time
- Effective noise cancellation
- Feature packed
- Noise cancellation can sound a little scratchy