Jabra’s new Enhance Plus true wireless earbuds are its first to incorporate hearing aid technology, giving folks with mild to moderate hearing loss many of the benefits of medical-grade hearing aids in a design that looks no different than the hundreds of other wireless earbuds on the market. The Enhance Plus will be available toward the end of the year in dark gray or gold beige, though the exact date and pricing have yet to be announced.
The new earbuds have four sound-processing features designed to improve how you hear in a variety of settings like restaurants and work meetings. According to Jabra, they are:
- Warp Compressor: Analyzes sounds similarly to the human ear for more natural sound quality.
- Digital Noise Reduction: Provides listening comfort and keeps speech clear in various noise environments.
- Digital Feedback Suppression: Keeps feedback from interfering with quality amplification of sound.
- Binaural Beamformer (with directionality): Isolates sounds coming in front of you, allowing users to focus on what is important.
What’s remarkable about the Enhance Plus — beyond their hearing-enhancement capabilities — is their size. Jabra claims they’re 50% smaller than the company’s Elite 75t true wireless earbuds, which are already among the smallest you can buy. “Their extremely small size makes them virtually unnoticeable, even in conversations,” notes Jabra’s press release.
Yet despite their tiny size and hearing benefits, the Enhance Plus will operate just like any other Bluetooth true wireless earbuds, 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 protection from both water and dust, and they’ll use a “high-quality codec for strong streaming sound quality,” though Jabra hasn’t indicated which codec. The company’s Elite 75t 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 promising true medical-grade enhancement.
There’s just one catch, but it’s kind of a big one. Because the Enhance Plus are considered a medical device, they require a visit to a licensed hearing care professional, where you’ll have to take a medical hearing test and assessment. If at that point, the Jabra Enhance Plus is determined to be appropriate for your needs, you’ll be able to buy them in person.
Jabra says it is working on acquiring an over-the-counter (OTC) designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which would let it sell the Enhance Plus direct to buyers just like the Bose SoundControl Hearing Aids.
This regulation is apparently one of the reasons Jabra hasn’t released any pricing yet, but we think it’s likely the Enhance Plus will end up somewhere between the $500 Nuheara IQBuds2 Max and the $850 Bose SoundControl Hearing Aids, both of which are thousands of dollars less expensive than traditional medical-grade hearing aids. Other companies, like Olive Union, are also beginning to enter the increasingly busy hearables market.
Along with the earbuds, you’ll get the Jabra Enhance app, which Jabra says will offer an easy one-time setup experience that can be completed in minutes (this will presumably be the way Jabra lets people eventually fit the earbuds without the help of an audiologist). The app also offers simple controls to adjust volume and listening mode for any environment.
Given that the Enhance Plus were developed in collaboration 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 think these earbuds will offer a meaningful improvement in hearing for those who suffer from hearing loss.