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Olive Max Are the Beats Powerbeats Pro of Hearing-Enhancing Earbuds

Olive Union has a new set of "adaptive hearing" earbuds coming later this year. They have a sporty look that may seem familiar to Beats users.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Mobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakers Credentials
  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
David Carnoy
2 min read
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Olive Union says the Olive Max will ship in November.

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So-called smart hearable devices that aren't medically certified hearing aids but are designed to be hearing amplifiers have been proliferating in recent years. Last year Olive Union released its AirPods-like Olive Pro buds ($200) with sound-amplification features and noise canceling. They were pretty good but far from great, and now the company has unveiled a new set of two-in-one "adaptive hearing aid and earbuds" with a sporty ear-hook design called the Olive Max. They carry a list price of $549 but are selling for $299 plus a $25 shipping fee as part of an early-bird crowdfunding campaign. They're slated to ship in November, but as with all crowdfunding campaigns, we can't guarantee the product will ship at its promised time -- or if it will ship at all. 

A "hearing aid" and actual hearing aids are not the same thing, but Olive Union says the Olive Max is suitable for people with mild to severe hearing loss. It also says the new buds are much louder and clearer sounding than the Olive Pro buds, with 99.8% "total harmonic accuracy." While I've yet to try them, the Olive Max are supposed to offer better noise reduction and improved sound overall. They're also IPX6 water-resistant (they can take a sustained spray of water). 

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You can tweak the settings from the companion app for iOS and Android.

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These aren't meant to be discreet like Jabra's Enhance Plus ($800) hearing aids that are tiny earbuds. But the more off-the-shelf design helps bring down the cost and allows room for a decent size battery. These are rated for 8 hours of battery life with an additional 1.5 charges from their charging case. That battery life rating is good for a set of true-wireless earbuds but not all that great compared to a set of true hearing aids that typically cost much more.

As I said, the Olive Pro buds, which launched for $300 but are now selling for $200, were decent enough but didn't wow. Hopefully these will offer improved sound all around -- for both sound amplification and music listening. As soon as I try them, I'll let you know if they live up to their billing. 

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In their charging case

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