One of the most frustrating things about hearing loss is attempting to keep up with conversations. This is even more the case if you’re in a crowded or noisy environment such as a cafe. Being unable to hear your conversational partner makes it hard to keep the conversation flowing, which is stressful and can even cause seniors with hearing loss to isolate themselves.
Being able to better follow conversations is one of the big benefits of wearing a hearing aid. One company that puts conversation enhancement at the front and center of their offerings is Bose. At the time of writing, Bose offers one hearing enhancement product – a set of earphones – and they now have FDA approval to release an official hearing aid.
Let’s take a closer look at what Bose is doing for those with hearing loss.
Who Is Bose?
Bose was founded in 1964 in Massachusetts, by Amar Bose. The company was inspired by the idea of creating speaker systems that would use multiple speakers aimed in different directions to replicate the clear, rich sound of being in a concert hall. Today Bose has a turnover of $3.8 billion and employs thousands of people worldwide.
Bose is best known for its home audio systems, including speakers and headphones, and for a commitment to excellent auditory quality.
However, Bose has in recent times become more aware of the impact of hearing loss, and the potential for the company to offer solutions that help with that.
What Products Does Bose Currently Offer For Hearing Loss?
Bose currently offers one product aimed at those who suffer hearing loss – Hearphones.
Hearphones look just like a standard pair of earbuds. However, they are far from ordinary earbuds. They’re equipped with acoustic noise-canceling technology plus directional microphones to make it much easier to hear what you want to hear, and cancel out what you don’t.
Hearphones were designed specifically to help the wearer hear better in noisy or challenging environments and follow conversations more easily. They do this by canceling out unwanted sounds and focusing on important sounds.
Hearphones – The Nuts And Bolts
Hearphones are just like a normal pair of earbuds attached to a comfortable neckpiece. You simply pop them in like you would any other headphones, and then adjust the sound to your liking. Hearphones work on Bluetooth so you can stream sound from nearby devices without needing to plug them in.
You can use Hearphones to focus in on specific people in conversation (including in a noisy group), and you can also use them to enhance streamed or live music and to better hear the television. The bass, treble, volume and microphone settings of each earbud can be individually tweaked for a customized hearing experience.
How Do Bose Hearphones Work?
Controlling the sound: You can carry out all the sound control you need from the Hearphones themselves. However, Bose also has a free app you can download and use so you can control your Hearphones direct from your smartphone. Please note that according to the reviews on the Bose site, you’ll need to pair your earphones with an Apple or Android device when you first use them.
Price: Buy direct from the Bose site for $499.95. You also get free shipping, and payment plans are available.
Charging: You charge Hearphones via USB. Charging time is less than three hours, and on average you’ll get about ten hours use from each charge.
Accessories: Each set of Hearphones comes with a USB charging cable, plus a carry case, and three sets of StayHear tips (small, medium and large) so you can choose the size that’s most comfortable for you. The StayHear tips also create a gentle seal to enhance passive noise reduction.
Anything else: All Hearphone purchases have a 30-day risk-free money-back guarantee, so you can return them for a refund if they don’t suit you.
Customer reviews: Hearphones get solid reviews overall. We saw several people talking about how comfortable they are to wear, and how effective their noise cancellation and sound focus technology is. We even saw several people talking about them as a good alternative to much more expensive hearing aids (though this is very much down to individual hearing needs.) On the negative side we saw a few reviews criticizing the sturdiness of the product, but no more than normal for any tech product.
Hearphones are suitable for those with mild to moderate hearing loss.
Does Bose offer Hearing Aids?
Bose now has FDA approval for a hearing aid. According to FDA documentation:
“The Bose Hearing Aid provides performance benefit consistent with that of the same hearing aid fitted by hearing professionals for individuals ages 18 and older with mild to moderate hearing loss.”
The Bose hearing aid looks set to mimic Hearphones in terms of design. The hearing aids will also include 12-channel wide dynamic range compression and continuous noise reduction to damp down environmental noise.
In addition, the new hearing aids will also include feedback cancellation and three different directional hearing modes that are user-controlled. The hearing controls will also include left and right balance, audio equalization, and a high-frequency boost to enhance hearing while enjoying streamed content. There’s a microphone array to make voice calls even easier to follow. The device will also include voice prompts to make it even easier to control.
There’s no word yet on when the new Bose hearing aid will be released, or how much it will cost. However, given that professionally fitted hearing aids often run to around $5000, there’s a very real possibility that the Bose hearing aid could provide a more cost-effective alternative. We also think the design of both the Hearphones and the new hearing aid is very interesting. Because they simply look like any other pair of headphones, seniors who are self-conscious about wearing hearing aids can wear these comfortably knowing they won’t stand out.
We’re interested to see where Bose goes with this, and how the new hearing aids are marketed and priced when they’re available. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.
In the meantime, Hearphones are certainly worth a look for seniors with mild to moderate hearing loss.