Doro Hearing Buds
Every family has one: the one member who is afflicted with a terrible condition known in our house as “selective hearing”. This is not to be confused with an actual medical condition. Selective hearing rears its head whenever uncomfortable conversations are had, or troublesome requests are made. Miraculously, it can be cured as quickly as it afflicts – usually when a more palatable topic is raised – but only temporarily.
This is not to be confused in any way with an actual hearing condition, such as loss of hearing caused by age. But where the lines get blurred and things get difficult is when those previously afflicted with the aforementioned selective hearing – you know who you are – find they now have age-related degeneration. Add in a dose of top-level stubbornness and good luck trying to get them to admit it. Persuading them to get whatever hearing aids they need is practically impossible.
In the meantime, they miss out on conversations and possibly make the problem worse by turning up the volume on absolutely everything, while the rest of the family consider investing in earplugs.
But they may be persuaded to use a set of earbuds. Nothing fancy, nothing with the word “aid” attached in any way. Wireless earbuds are a common sight. And they can contain a lot of similar technology that helps amplify voices.
The “use what you have” solution would be to turn on the transparency mode on your regular Bluetooth earbuds. But that just amplifies everything – background noise included. The result? A cacophony that won’t help in crowded situations.
But Doro, the tech company that specialises in technology for older people, has come up with a solution. The Doro HearingBuds are designed to help boost your hearing in specific situations. Face-to-face conversations, noisy environments or even just watching the TV; the Doro buds will enhance what you need to hear without drowning it out in the background noise.
You don’t need an appointment to get them fitted either. The HearingBuds are designed to be used by anyone who needs them, popped in and out quickly and have their own charging case to ensure they stay topped up for when you need them.
They come with swappable tips, so you can try each one to get the best fit for your ear and they aren’t shaped to fit a left or right ear, so you don’t need to make sure you are grabbing the correct one.
Of course there’s an app; the Hearing app, which is compatible with both Android and iOS systems, lets you set up the buds, including your personalised hearing profile. That requires a short hearing test, which Doro recommends you do a few times, to make sure that the buds customise to your hearing needs.
But it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. What works in a noisy environment won’t work in a one-to-one conversation. Doro has this covered, with some sound scenarios in the app, that you can quickly swap between. There’s a media setting that is suitable for TV and music, for example. The buds will also work with phone conversations.
The buds themselves have touch controls for playing and pausing media, or answering and ending calls. The integrated voice assistant is disabled by default, but you can activate your choice of digital helper if you feel the need.
The buds got the thumbs up from our test subject in terms of function, particularly when it came to watching the TV. Remembering to carry them around is another thing, but that is just a matter of establishing the habit – smartphone, keys, HearingBuds.
The touch controls can be a bit fiddly at times, but using them isn’t a necessity if you have your phone in front of you. The longer you use them though the more natural it becomes to tap your way through your day.
The Doro HearingBuds aren’t cheap, at €400. They are significantly less costly, however than a hearing aid that could sit in a drawer unused.
You could think of it as a gateway. When the person gets used to actually being able to hear the voices of the people around them, they may well decide that is worth continuing and accept help. In which case they become an investment and something that can be used occasionally until – if ever – they need more permanent support.
This is a quick solution to what could be an ongoing problem. The buds are easy to set up and use, and can be passed on when no longer needed.
It’s impossible to put them in the wrong ears, because they don’t have a specific ear as such, and even the swappable tips have been made easier to use, colour-coded according to their size.
Because they look like earbuds, they’re not as subtle as you might like. But if subtlety is your requirement, it might be time to look at a more traditional solution.
They also require a smartphone to a certain extent and individual buds can be easily lost.
The buds can be used by both Android and iOS phone owners, with the buds supporting the former’s Fast Pair technology to get up and running quickly.
Battery life is ok, at 12 hours.
A quick solution for mild hearing loss. Or a gateway to further help. Either way, the Doro HearingBuds work.