Wearable marketing reports from IDC and others have predicted for two years that shipments of hearables will help drive market growth for wearables worldwide. In the past few years, we’ve looked and written about at hearing assistance devices from NuHeara, Olive Union, Livio, and others. In 2019, NuHeara’s IQBuds Boost hearables were the first we checked out that came with hearing frequency threshold self-assessment tools.

Earlier this year, we wrote about Wear and Hear’s BeHear Now bearable device. The Behear Now has a neck loop/shawl form factor with each earbud attached by wire to the loop that fits around your neck. The neck loop contains the rechargeable battery, a USB charging port, and listening mode and volume controls. The advantage of the neck loop form is you do not need to worry about the wire-connected earbuds popping out of your ears and rolling away on the floor or ground.

We recently had the opportunity to try BeHear Now and the company’s latest hearing assistance device, the BeHear Access Personalized Hearing Amplifier. The Access hearable uses the same form factor as the earlier BeHear Now model with two notable user convenience changes and one additional technical upgrade. Wear and Hear has a free self-administered mobile hearing assessment app that generates a personalized hearing profile that you can use to fine tune the hearables.

The BeHear Access improves on user control with a sizeable on-off button in the center-back of the loop (the earlier model had a tiny slide switch). BeHear Access still has a USB charging port, but in more than a month’s use, I’ve never used the port because the hearable includes a charging cradle. You place the back of the collar-shaped main section in the cradle, and the charging light comes on. You don’t even have to be careful that the charging contacts connect because there are small magnets that pull the components a few millimeters into the correct position. Charging takes about two hours. Wear and Hear rates the Access battery to last for 13+ hours in hearing mode, 10+ of talk time, or 8+ hours listening to streaming content.

The BeHear Access specifications for Bluetooth, acoustic performance, receiver, microphone, and battery capacity (250mAh) are the same as the BeHear Now hearables. The Access model adds a dual-coil 200Hz to 8kHz T-coil receiver. The T-coil receiver improves hearing in venues that offer induction loop systems such as concert halls, churches, theaters, banks, museums, post offices, and others where people with hearing loss and an appropriate receiver can benefit from an electromagnetic signal transmission. If a BeHear Access user activates one of two T-Coil modes (exclusive or transparent), the presets in the Access hearable increase sensitivity to the transmitted audio signal.

With my moderately severe mid-to-high-frequency loss in both ears, the BeHear Access hearables improved my ability to understand what my wife was saying without always asking her to repeat herself. We could both watch TV at a reasonable audio volume as I could just crank it up a bit with the hearable’s volume control. I used the hearables’ Bluetooth connection successfully for smartphone calls and video conferences. Still, in these days of self-imposed residential sequestering, the most telling benefit for me was in conversation and watching television. The measure of the BeHear Access’s capability was my wife’s request that I put it on any time she could tell I wasn’t wearing it. Wear and Hear sells BeHear Now and BeHear Access on its website for $249 and $349, respectively. Shipping is free worldwide.