Connect with us

Reviews

Review: Olive Pro – earbuds for better hearing

If you’ve got some level of hearing loss and want to try enhancing your hearing without spending the thousands professional hearing aids cost, it’s worth checking out the Olive Pro.

olive pro earbuds
Image: Joe Rice-Jones / KnowTechie

If you’ve got hearing damage in the US, your only real option for improving your quality of life is paying for expensive hearing aids. Just like everything health-related, they can cost thousands, and your insurance often doesn’t cover the costs.

Olive Union wants to do something about that, with the $300 Olive Pro earbuds, which aim to bridge the gap between hearing aids and your wallet.

Now, before we go on, we should mention that the FDA is in the process of creating guidelines for over-the-counter hearing aids, like the Olive Pro. That does mean that soon the market will get any number of viable options, but let’s dive into the pair we’ve got on hand right now.

So, what’s it all about?

olive pro earbuds
Image: Joe Rice-Jones / KnowTechie

Okay, the first thing you probably need to know is that even young people can get hearing loss. It’s usually from noise-induced hearing loss if so, so all of those nights out clubbing or cranking your headphones too far take their toll. The Olive Pro takes a two-part approach to combat this, both by measuring the ambient noise around you (which is saved in the companion app), and also by amplifying external sounds based on your personalized hearing profile.

Now, you might not think you need to know the volume of things around you, but with nearly half of people between the ages of 12 and 35 using unsafe levels of volume for their headphones, you can see why you should be taking note. That awareness helps you avoid hearing damage in the first place, which could mean less chance of needing hearing aids when you’re older.

Image: Joe Rice-Jones / KnowTechie

The ability to amplify or focus on external noise means you can hear conversations better while looking like you’re wearing normal earbuds. That’s good to avoid the usual stigma associated with medical hearing aids.

So, are they any good?

olive pro earbuds
Image: Joe Rice-Jones / KnowTechie

Now, the Olive Pro is kind of flat sounding as wireless earbuds, but that’s not the real reason you’d buy these. The ability to listen to music and take calls is just a happy bonus. They are comfortable though, which you’ll want to know since you’ll be wearing them all day to enhance your hearing.

The first stage to enhancing your hearing is to figure out which frequencies you need enhancing, and that means it is time for the My Olive app.

It takes about five minutes, with the app walking you through a series of tones at low, medium, and high pitches, first in one ear, then in the other. All you do is tap on the screen when you can hear it or don’t if you can’t. It’s a reasonable facsimile of a doctor’s hearing test, but it’s not as fancy as the hearing test that Nura uses in its headphones.

olive pro earbuds
Image: Joe Rice-Jones / KnowTechie

I’ve got some minor hearing damage, from my early 20’s as a drum n bass head, amongst other things. I’m also easily distracted by background noise, as my brain doesn’t do so well focusing on a conversation and keeping it as the sole focus. I’m not really Olive Union’s target audience, but I did notice the difference with the enhancements.

The thing is, that difference seemed like it was simply amplifying everything in the room. It also introduced some hiss, like if you’ve turned up the volume on a record player in between tracks.

If Olive Union can make it focus on the person my head is pointing at, instead of pulling all the sound from the room, that would make the effect instantly better. Maybe they can, in a future firmware update.

So, should you buy the Olive Pro?

If you’ve got some level of hearing loss and want to try enhancing your hearing without spending the thousands professional hearing aids cost, it’s worth checking out the Olive Pro.

For $300, you can find out if your hearing actually needs a professional, or if you can get by with the in-app tweaks. I wish they were better at isolating voices, especially in noisy environments, as this is the most critical frequency range for hearing, but maybe that can be improved on over time by the team behind them.

Editors’ Recommendations:

Just a heads up, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the sale. It’s one of the ways we keep the lights on here. Click here for more.

The Good
Comfortable to wear
Long battery life
Ambient noise exposure tracking
The Bad
Struggles with noisy environments
Sound quality isn't great
7
Overall
Comments

More in Reviews