The Finished Product is a Killer Device
I got a chance back in June to play with the Beta test version of the BeHear Now Bluetooth Headset. At the time I said that the BeHear had some bugs, but when they iron them out, I thought that they would be an amazing piece of kit. Well, they have, and they are. The BeHear Now is a pretty good solution for people with hearing loss who aren't ready to move forward to hearing aids. Let's talk about the BeHear.
What Are They?
The BeHear Now devices fall within the new Hearables concept. The device is a Bluetooth enabled stereo headset that provides an audio enhancement that you can customise to your hearing needs. That enhancement works with phone calls, audio play, and ambient hearing. The device can be set up to reflect your specific hearing ability which will deliver exactly what you need to hear calls, music and even the speech of someone nearby.
The ListenThrough™ sound enhancement feature of BeHear allows you to clearly hear the sounds around you. It works whether you are listening to streamed audio or not and it suppresses ambient noise while allowing speech and other important sounds, to pass through to your ears. They say "Smart filters in BeHear keep ambient noise out and important sounds in, so you stay connected to the real world".
The BeHear Now also has a really amazing feature called EasyListen™ that helps to improve your hearing comprehension. While you are talking on the phone or listening to voicemail, the EasyListen™ technology slows down speech to improve intelligibility and it works surprisingly well.
Even though it is slowing down the speech, it doesn't feel abnormal. It just works really well. On phone calls there doesn't seem to be any obvious disconnect, the caller doesn't appear to notice any unusual pauses in the conversation and you get a better chance to hear what is being said.
The BeHear Now device itself is quite sturdy and well built with two in-line remote controls, one for the typical Bluetooth features and the other to control the personal amplification features. The buds themselves have magnetic plates on the outside that ensures the earbuds clamp together in front of your chest when not in your ear.
Test Your Own Hearing
The BeHear Now App comes with a simple to use but quite in-depth, self-administered hearing assessment. The free to download Smartphone application is available on both Google Play and the App Store. The app is easy to use and pretty intuitive, it gives you the opportunity to run a simple or more advanced hearing assessment that will test your ability to hear sounds. Go for the more advanced one, it adds a few frequencies of hearing and it will allow a more personal fit. The assessment is really easy and it is basically a pure tone air conduction test done through the headset using a volume slider for each frequency on the app. Basically, slide the volume slider until the sound is barely audible.
I said before that I was surprised at the end of the test procedure to be presented with an audiogram. I have tested my hearing with the best of equipment and the audiogram produced by the BeHear delivered more or less the same results. However, this isn't a full hearing test, it is an assessment of your ability to hear through air conduction only. A diagnostic hearing test will also include bone conduction testing at a minimum. However, it is probably good enough for a set of earphones.
What Does The Assessment Add?
When you have taken the assessment, the device automatically adjusts voice and audio input controls to suit your hearing levels. It also creates various profiles based on the listening environment (indoors/outdoors, crowded and live music). While the presets are pretty good, the app also allows you to fine tune these profiles in real time any time you feel the need. That is a lot of power to hear better.
I said it in the original article, these types of devices are really situational devices, they are good for certain situational problems. They are not devices that you would or should wear all the time. However, if you are just looking for help with certain situations, well then devices might be for you. Alternatively, if you have consistent problems and you want to get an idea of what amplification will do for you, these devices will help with that. However, if you have problems hearing that is consistent across your day, well then you really need to consider wearing hearing aids.
The finished version does not seem to have any of the bugs I found in the beta version. They delivered amazingly crisp sound across all applications. Phone calls were excellent, especially with the slow down feature, music was crisp and really full, ambient sound was sharp and clear. The noise reduction feature which you can change the level of in the app was pretty good. It basically attacked steady-state noise by turning it down (a bass cut really) but it worked.
The devices are light around the neck and wearing them in my ears caused no issue other than occlusion which you would expect with full earbuds. When you wish to take them out the earbuds hang in front of you and the magnetic plates on the outside of them clamp together to keep them neat. The in-line remotes work as advertised with the amplification remote allowing you to cycle through the different listening profiles etc. Takes a little time to build up touch memory, but once you have, the remotes work really well.
The music experience is excellent, streamed music really was a pleasure to listen to. Streamed audio, in general, was excellent. The software-based problems I faced with the beta version are gone. The devices worked as advertised, the ambient noise feature worked without issue. You still get a little cut in sound when you click into an app on your phone but it is short (milliseconds) and manageable
An Absolutely Fantastic Device
In finishing, I think the finished version are outstanding devices that do what they say. You can't say better than that. As I said, these are situational devices, ideal and relatively cheap devices to give you a helping hand in particular situations. However, if you think you need to wear them all day, well then you need to start looking at hearing aids.
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Posted by Geoff
Geoffrey (Geoff, anything else makes him nervous) Cooling is an Irish hearing aid blogger and has been involved with the hearing aid industry for over ten years. He has worked in private practice dispensing hearing aids and as a manufacturer's rep. He has written two books and they are both available on Amazon. He loves technology, passing on knowledge and is legendary for many other things, primarily the amount he curses, his dry and mischievous sense of humour and his complete intolerance of people who are full of themselves. Please feel free to connect with him
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