Smart Hearing Device?
Today, September 9th, Olive Union launches the ALL-NEW Olive Pro 2-in-1 True Wireless Earbuds and class II medical device hearing aids. It’s a “smart hearing” device that aids people with their everyday listening experience. These hearing aids resemble AirPods Pro in appearance, feel, and functionality but feature all the advantages of hearing aids.
Olive Pro costs only $299, compared to thousands of dollars in hearing aids which are unaffordable for most people. Many would benefit from Olive Pro, and that goes beyond just persons with hearing loss. This past June, they shipped to over 10,000 pre-orders, and now the story’s out!
It’s highly critical to mention that these aren’t high-fidelity earbuds, and if this is the reason you’re reading the review, you’ll be disappointed. Olive is targeting a different kind of market segment. No matter what level of hearing health you have, the aim is to empower everyone to listen to the important sounds around them safely and optimally, adapted to their needs.
We should treat hearing loss the same way we treat vision loss, which is often viewed as an issue in elderly persons when it affects everyone. WHO projects that by 2050 there will be nearly a billion people living with hearing loss. Almost half of all people with hearing loss today are under the age of 65 – meaning most people with hearing loss aren’t really what we’d call elderly.
Dive in with my review to see what I think of the Olive Pro.
The Olive Pro Design
While the similarities of the design approach the level of Huawei Freebuds 4i, Apple’s AirPods, the uniqueness of the buds themselves sets them apart. The outline aluminum inlay on the stick and top portion define them. They cannot be mistaken for any other brands. Design elements, such as the use of foam tip versus marshmallow tpu style gel tips, are very much appreciated. Additionally, with the various sizes also included in the package, it’s a breeze to get fitted correctly.
With the look and feel Olive has taken with the Olive Pro, you don’t have to worry about people knowing the health of your hearing. To me, this is a big positive in reducing assumptions that people make.
A USB Type-C charging case and USB Type-C charging cable are included with every Olive Pro, along with touch-sensitive left and right earbuds. There are five different sizes of urethane ear tips available. After unboxing, find the most comfortable and best-fitting ear tip. Eartips can be removed by pushing them out firmly and replacing them with the new size by pressing them in firmly until you hear a click.
The Olive Pro Features
Delivering on enhanced hearing with its Automatic Noise Background Cancelation (Hear-Through) AI, Olive Pro will distinguish human voices from background noises, thus allowing users to hear their voices in crowded surroundings. Making use of this while in a busy, bustling setting does indeed work as intended. It’s great to stop people from making me jump 20 feet while engaged in something.
Driving in with active noise cancellation when the Hear-Thru isn’t toggled creates a quiet environment for an optimal listening experience. In turn, this gives a pleasurable experience to enjoy some tunes. I do believe that the “Active Noise Cancellation” could be improved. I didn’t find it far-reaching. I’m not saying that you won’t; It just didn’t feel quite there for me.
Olive is touting 20 hours plus with the charging case, but Olive Pro fails the battery life use. I’ve not been able to get the earbuds to deliver me with more than 4 hours of use before having to put them in the case. The promise of 20 hours worth of battery usage falls flat on my end. An OTA could possibly correct the situation, or maybe I have batteries that are just duds?
You can perform a hearing test using the APP, and you can customize the hearing calibration to make using the earbuds even more enjoyable. With various preset hearing modes, it enhances voice quality and reduces background noise. With customizable passthrough audio, ten band EQ for hearing aids and HD music, Multi-band wide dynamic range compression and two multi-directional microphones.
I also think it’s important to note that Bluetooth 5.1 is being used in these earbuds, making them efficient on battery life, low latency and great for longtime use.
The Olive Pro Audio Experience
I touched a bit on my audio experience. Now, it’s time to dive into what makes the Olive Pro stand out. The earbuds are there to enhance your hearing experience, and it does this part very well. Whether I’m at the computer while the TV is going, on the phone, in a conference call, walking to work, on the street, the office or wherever I might be, I can easily focus on my surroundings. More than that, I can focus and hear people clearly in various settings.
With Hear-Thru active and the Quiet mode toggle, I can easily make out the various people talking around me, allowing me to focus on the important things being communicated. To me, this is the best mode to have enabled. The options for the clarity of enhanced aspects of the voices will depend on each person, and I expect that everyone will have a different experience.
Touching on the other aspect of the earbuds is its music aspect with noise cancellation. As noted previously above, these aren’t meant to be high-fidelity earbuds. They are, however, for everyone who wants to enjoy music that’s adapted to their hearing ability.
The highs are a bit muffled, even with the treble nearing its peak, making some of the higher range notes dull, and some of the higher voices are more muted. Singing that tends to deliver in the mids are pretty decent most of the time and are enjoyable. The bass elements are interesting, and the reason for this is because it’s inconsistent. At times you get great bass, and on others, you don’t. I didn’t find the bass to be punchy enough. I made adjustments to the EQ to bring the sound to the level that I’m used to in general.
The Olive Pro App Experience
The My Olive APP is a must with the earbuds; This is where all the magic takes place to get you that hearing aid experience. After you pair your smartphone, you’ll be ready to start your journey. You’ll get to set up your hearing profile with a short 5-minutes hearing test that will adapt most of everything to you!
The app makes it clear that anything above 80 dB(A) is considered too loud and should be avoided. I kept the music going with an average of 79 dB(A) and a hearing performance of 59 dB(A). With the air conditioner going, the average external dB(A) around me runs at about 61.
When the Hear-Thru mode is activated, this is where you can tailor your experience a bit further with the noise cancellation and the EQ for each ear. Then if you intend to configure the EQ for listening to music, start your favourite music playlist, and within the My Olive app, head over to the control tab hit the cogwheel and click music EQ.
You can also take the time to configure the touch control of the earbuds to your licking within the settings.
Who should get the Olive Pro?
Anyone. These earbuds are made to enhance the listening experience of anyone suffering from some form of hearing loss. It’s not a magical hearing aid, but it does help to increase sound capture both from your surroundings, communicating with people and making listening to your favourite tunes a joy.
What’s the Price of the Olive Pro?
The buds will set you back $299; This is nothing compared to how much actual hearing aids cost. They can, however, help you save money and still provide you with the hearing you’ve lost.
Some Final Thoughts
I’ve had the buds now for a little over a month. I’ve used them on and off in various scenarios. I can attest that they do deliver on enhancing your experience as the wearer. I use them to keep aware of my surroundings as it allows me to keep tabs on what’s going on around me. The best part is that, unlike the usual earbuds, I can still be isolated by the music, all the while having noise suppressed and being able to hear people ask for something or come around to my office for questions.
Minus the issue with the battery situation, I do recommend them. I would still like a more defined profile of the sound itself, though.
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