Yes, No, Maybe, Let Me Explain
I received the Jabra Enhance Plus quite a while ago intending to give them a review. Unfortunately, my life got in the way at the end of last year and I am only now beginning to return to some semblance of normality with my writing. Anyway, it was a shame that they remain unreviewed and I will fix that now. The headline of this article is simple and to the point, that's what most people want to know when they are looking at a hearing solution purchase, are they worth my money? The sub-header may seem a bit contrary, but as always with me, there are clear reasons for that stance. I have to say that I found the Jabra Enhance Plus devices excellent, and I am right now listening to the pounding beat of the Prodigy as I type. Her indoors forbids me from raving around the kitchen, but when she's out, what happens in the kitchen, stays in the kitchen, no one will ever know. Anyway, let's talk Enhance Plus.
When I first received the devices I was quite taken with them, the devices are quite small as is the charging case. I thought that NuHeara had done amazingly well with their latest IQbuds, but the Jabra devices and charger are even smaller. The package is discreet, light and easy to throw into a pocket of even the tightest jeans, I would imagine. The devices themselves are very small and I can see them fitting quite a lot of people and being quite suitable for the ladies who tend to have smaller ears. They sit exceptionally well in my big lugs, with a nice low profile. They also retain in my ears well, I am not often worried about them moving out.
Setting up Enhance App
Enhance Plus devices are not currently compatible with Android which is a pain in the arse. Thankfully, I have an iPhone that I use for testing purposes so I paired them to that. It caught me by surprise that I had to pair the earbuds using the iOS accessibility / hearing aids menus instead of the traditional pairing method. I had tried to pair the devices through the Bluetooth interface before I opened the app. I would still be cursing at them and my iPhone if a helpful support person hadn't pointed out I was dumber than a rock.
Anyway, the app works well, and it brings you through a logical process to pair and set the hearing aids up. You have to exit the app and undertake the pairing in the accessibility menu then come back to the app to finish setup, once paired though, we were hot to trot.
Checking my hearing
Once they were paired up, the app sent me through a hearing check, which tests one ear at a time. You are presented with warble tones at different frequencies, eventually setting the softest sound you can hear in those frequencies. To perform this, you need to be in a quiet place where you can focus if you want accurate results.
Comfort and functionality
As I said earlier, the devices sit very well in my ears and I find them comfortable. I have no worries about retention issues and I think I would probably have to do somersaults to dislodge them. If you have ever met me, you will know that is unlikely. The devices function well as hearing aids, they gave me the high-frequency amplification I needed without fuss or fanfare.
They offer three different sound settings through the app, surround, which is an omnichannel programme designed to allow you to hear sound from all around. Focus, which is a directional programme designed to focus on the front, just what you need in noisy situations. Finally, adaptive, which I used mostly. The adaptive sound setting automatically balances the directionality and other features to deliver what you need in changing situations.
That is basically your lot, there are no other controls for any of the features being used or for you to set up some sort of custom sound setting. Although, while perhaps that makes sense at this price point in the context of hearing aids, NuHeara offer a bit better customisation and more sound setting presets at a lower price. I can understand why Jabra are hesitant about offering too much customisation, but I think they need to re-consider this.
The aim here is to attract a new cohort of people with hearing loss, and I would imagine they are concerned about offering a product that might cannibalise their existing hearing aid user base. I understand that, but I think that if they want to really attract this new cohort, they will have to offer devices with stronger customisation options. Just my two cents as they say. The provision channel of these devices is another bugbear for me, again, I understand why they have made the devices available through hearing healthcare professionals, but to be honest, I think it could be an impediment to wider adoption.I will discuss that elsewhere though.
Damned occlusion ensures that I wouldn't be able to wear them all day every day. This is where I clarify my "Yes, No, Maybe" sub-header. I have high-frequency hearing loss, with very good low-frequency hearing. It means that I need a nice open-fit on my hearing aids so I don't rip my ears off the side of my head as I run screaming. Okay, it's not quite that bad, but it is mucho fucking irritating. Closed fit devices are not for me, the occlusion irritates me and eventually leads to me taking them out.
The Jabra Enhance Plus only come in closed fit, that is their nature. So I couldn't wear them for extended periods. Although, for some reason, they lasted longer in my ears than most of the other earphone types I have tried. So, if you have good low-frequency hearing and you are looking for an all-day solution, perhaps the Jabra Enhance Plus are not for you. However, if you are looking for a decent situational solution, well then they are certainly worth your consideration.
If you have a flattish moderate loss, or your low frequencies are worse than 40dB, well then the Jabras may be an ideal all-day solution for you. Well, for at least ten hours, which is the battery life of the devices.
I know that one of my colleagues remarked that the streaming audio wasn't that great, but to be honest with you I thought it was pretty good. The devices use the Made For iPhone (MFi) protocol for audio streaming. You can't expect high definition audio through the protocol, although it has gotten better over the years. The overall sound quality of ambient sounds and speech was excellent. The low-frequency reproduction was good on both streaming audio and ambient sounds which is important because with my ears blocked up I can't use my natural low-frequency hearing.
Should you buy the Jabra Enhance Plus?
I think that these devices are excellent starter devices, they have their caveats as I have discussed, occlusion, customisation, 10 hours only, but if those issues aren't a problem for you, well then I would expect the Jabra Enhance Plus to deliver for you and they are well worth your money. For me, I still wear them from time to time, I can stream decent audio, take calls and hear her indoors talking to me when she does. That and I get to get intimate with some kicking tunes, you're no good for me, I don't need nobody, don't need no one that's no good for me.
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