Only two big brands have entered the hearing device market since Biden’s announcement last year calling for low-cost hearing devices to be made available directly to consumers – Bose and their SoundControl device, and now Jabra and their Enhance Plus device.
As one of the certified Jabra Enhance centers in the US, we are delighted to see that the Jabra Enhance Plus is finally available, and we hope it will entice the 22 million US adults who have yet to treat their hearing loss to do so.
Jabra’s Enhance Plus is labelled as a 3-in-1 earbud and is also classified as a self-fit hearing aid approved by the FDA. These will be available to buy over-the-counter once the regulations around OTC devices come into effect.
With expert information for our patients always being a top priority, we just finished up our 10-day pilot with six participants wearing these and giving feedback. (One of them was our Hear for the Holidays winner!) Below is our summary.
The degree and type of hearing loss was unique to each participant.
Who is the Enhance Plus for, and where are people most likely to benefit from using it?
The Jabra Enhance Plus is best for people with slight to mild hearing losses who struggle in one or two listening situations but are not ready for “real” prescription hearing aids.
These individuals currently need to be iPhone users or be open to using an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, as Android has not yet developed an Android app to be compatible with the Jabra Enhance Plus.
There are people who want better hearing but aren’t sure they are ready for hearing aids. That readiness could be emotional, it could be financial, it could be based on perception of disability.
It is not uncommon for someone to say, “My hearing isn’t bad enough for hearing aids,” yet it is bad enough to create some pain points for them. Something like the Jabra Enhance Plus may be just what they are looking for to give them an edge when they struggle to hear during conversations.
The reason for choosing Jabra Enhance Plus devices depends on the person. All six of our pilot program participants had a different situation they liked to use their Jabra devices in.
For one person, it was while watching TV; for another, it was streaming audiobooks or phone calls; for one, it was when she was talking with friends in a small group; and for another, it was while talking with her husband at home.
What is “self-fitting,” and what do the Jabra hearing devices not include?
Self-fitting means that the device can be fit without the assistance of an audiologist or hearing care professional – although they can currently only be purchased through a certified Jabra Enhance Plus center, such as our own.
The Jabra Enhance Plus uses Bayesian pure tone audiometry to personalize the device to the person’s hearing loss by using NAL-NL1 prescriptive target.
Programming – The Jabra Enhance Plus is programmed through a test you take on your phone while wearing the devices. The test identifies the frequency of the hearing loss to help provide the correct settings for the user.
Another tidbit that we learned during our pilot project is that out of the six people we fit, we found:
Comfort – Use time will be much shorter. They are not as physically comfortable to wear compared to prescription hearing aids. One participant, Donna, noticed that her ears would get a little sore after wearing them for 10 to 12 hours, and she thought maybe a smaller prescription hearing aid would be better for her long term. Since the Enhance Plus is only designed for situational use, I agree a prescription device may suit Donna’s needs more.
Staying in place – Three out of six of our pilot participants had one of the devices fall out of their ears during their 10-day trial. Another participant, Tom, liked that his mask didn’t catch on them.
Sound quality – The sound quality will not be as good, both in noise and in quiet. Prescription hearing aids, when fit properly, will have good to excellent sound quality in most listening environments for individuals with mild degrees of hearing loss.
One participant loved the streaming sound quality of the Jabra devices and reported that it was superior to her AirPods.
The other half preferred either their AirPod Pros or their prescription hearing aids depending on if they were streaming music and audiobooks or if they were using it more for conversation in complex listening environments.
Participant, Tom, said his biggest issue was that he got whistling from them when he turned them up loud enough to hear the TV.
Streaming – The same participant struggled the most with pairing the devices, which may have been because he used his Bluetooth a lot for other things and the Jabra devices did not seem to respond well to intermittent connectivity.
Setup – All participants found the setup easy.
Price – At $799, this is a low-cost entry into better hearing. It is less expensive to buy devices that you fit yourself and that you do not have any meaningful follow-up for fine-tuning, acclimatization, or training toward better hearing.
Usefulness – For people who really feel like they only have issues hearing in one or two situations, this might be an easy way to try something that will provide benefit, although one participant, Erika, found it harder to focus on the voices she wanted to hear in noisy settings.
Not quite ready for prescription hearing aids? Try the Jabra Enhance Plus as your bridge to better hearing.
But before you try any OTC hearing device, make sure you have a measurable hearing loss first and find the cause.
Always start with a real diagnostic assessment of your ears and hearing by an audiologist (not just a hearing aid evaluation). This provides a real baseline of your auditory system and ensures that there is not some underlying medical condition that needs to be addressed.
If your hearing loss is mild-moderate, cool new devices like the Jabra Enhance Plus can help give you an edge for those specific listening situations where you are struggling.
For people on the fence or whose hearing loss does not meet clinical criteria for hearing aids, but they are struggling to hear, this might be just the thing to help.
In our pilot, four out of the six participants said they would purchase this product because it made enough of a positive difference for them in their daily lives. They really loved the devices and found that they wanted to put them on every day.
If you think this could be the solution you’ve been looking for, contact us to find out more. We can’t wait to help you find the perfect hearing solution for you.