We are always eager to check out new hearable devices. We expect to be blown away by new AI features in traditional full-powered hearing aids that are prescribed, sold, and serviced by audiologists: the type of products that typically cost $2,000 and up, per ear. We get an even greater kick from hearables that cost a few hundred dollars for both ears. Granted that people with severe to profound hearing loss might need the care and services of medical professionals and high-powered, sophisticated hearing instruments. However, many of us with mild to moderate hearing impairment can find significant benefits from hearables thta are sold over-the-counter (OTC) at pharmacies and direct to consumers (DTC) online. The latest DTC hearable news is from Wear and Hear.

In 2020 we checked out Wear and Hear’s BeHear Now and the more powerful BeHear Access neck loop/shawl form factor hearables. You can use both personalized hearing devices with a free, self-administed mobile hearing assessment app. Wear and Hear recently announced an updated version of BeHear Access with useful enhanced functions: directional focus; self-echo cancellation; and unilateral hearing support.

With the BeHear Access release of their SoundFocus technology, a wearer can set sound amplification directionality using the hearable’s mobile app. Users can choose Narrow for straight ahead focus, especially helpful for conversations in noisy places. Wide mode focuses 180-degrees in front of the users and is most appropriate in groups, classrooms, or meetings. The third setting Omni, doesn’t restrict sound from any direction.

Effective hearables seal the ear canal, which can have the distracting effect of amplifying the sound of one’s own voice. According to Wear and Hear, the new BeHear Access technology lets wearers independently adjust the level of their own voice.

Unilateral mode with BeHear Access makes up for total hearing loss on one side. When activated, the CROS/BiCROS mode transfers sound from the wearer’s non-hearing side to the hearing side to provide a full sound experience. It would be interesting to try out this last feature to see how it effects user perception of sound location clues.

I have not use the new BeHear Access hearables, so we’re only reporting the features the company announced. Given our experience with the firm’s earlier hearables, however, we feel confident they will perform as promised.

Hearables such as BeHear Access cannot fully restore your hearing. If you’ve been living with mild to moderate sound loss for years, as I was, we suggest you at least try this model or another OTC hearable to experience the difference. You may be surprised by the difference spending a few hundred dollars can make on your hearing quality of life. BeHear Access sells for $349 with free direct shipping to the U.S.