REVIEW – As I’ve gotten older, my hearing isn’t what it used to be. Maybe my parents yelling at me to turn my music down when I was younger was for a good reason. Too late now! Anyway, while watching TV with my family, I tend to crank up the volume causing others to (not so) nicely ask me to turn it down. It’s like my parents yelling all over again. If this sounds familiar to you, there may be a solution—the Nuheara IQstream TV.
What is it?
The Nuheara IQstream TV is a small table-top device that connects to your TV audio out port. Once connected, the TV’s volume can be independently adjusted for Nuheara’s IQbuds BOOST earphones using the IQbuds smartphone app. So, no matter how low or how high the volume for the TV is set, the volume setting for the IQbuds BOOST can be as low or high as the wearer desires without disturbing anyone close by.
- aptX Bluetooth
- Bluetooth range: 90 ft.
- Compatible earphones: IQbuds BOOST
- Digital Input: Mini-Toslink
- Analog Input: Mini plug
- Sounder output: mini plug to RCA
- Ports: Combo optical/analog in, combo optical/analog out and USB
- Weight: 3.2 oz.
In the box
- USB cable for connection to power
- SPDIF to mini-TOSLINK cable for digital audio
- 3.5mm to 3.5mmcable for analog audio
- 3.5mm to Stereo RCA cable
- TOSLINK to mini-TOSLINK dongle
(TOSLINK is also known as SPDIF)
Design and features
The Nuheara IQstream TV is basically a one-trick pony. At less than an inch tall, it’s small enough to fit under any flat-screen TV. Yet for such a small package, it packs a bit of a punch, delivering quality audio at a volume that should satisfy anyone.
IQstream TV comes with all the wiring you should need as long as you can find USB power (a powered USB port on a tv will do) and audio out sources. The IQstream TV has three ports at the rear—audio in, audio out and USB. The audio in and out ports are both digital and analog. Included is an adapter if your digital port is not the mini plug shape. This means that the IQstream TV can use the far better digital signal if your source uses TOSLINK (SPDIF). But if your audio source is old school, those same ports can handle analog mini plug or RCA-mini plug connections—cables included. Because of its light weight, the base of the unit has a non-slip rubberized surface that helps keep it in place on a tv stand.
There are different setups for the IQstream TV. The most common is a direct connection from the audio out port on the back of your TV (if there is one) to the audio in port on the IQstream TV. Just my luck that this didn’t work for me—usually. Sometimes it did and sometimes not. I would get no audio even though a solid blue light indicating that the IQstream TV was streaming.
After repeated emails to Nuheara support and getting nowhere (not their fault), I decided to connect the IQstream TV to the audio out port of my cable box rather than the tv. Voila—it worked! Who knew that if you have cable TV, that the audio out on the TV would not work? I didn’t know that. The manual doesn’t deal with a cable box connection.
A word about Nuheara’s support. They were knowledgable. They were attentive. They were supportive. They’re in Australia. So, since the time zone is about 12 hours difference, it would take a day for each question to be asked and answered. It took a while to get anywhere. I kept wishing there was a support phone number to call, but no. There is an online chat on the Nuheara site, but it wasn’t available when I had my questions.
The IQstream TV also has an audio out port for connecting to a sound bar. The idea for this is so the IQstream TV can be a pass-through for one audio port at the source. Since I do not own a soundbar, I haven’t tried this method.
Once the IQstream TV’s connection woes were fixed, everything worked great! There was no Bluetooth lag in the audio, so syncing was never an issue. Only if I turned down the IQbuds BOOST earphones and turned up the TV, did I notice a slight echo effect.
The Nuheara IQbuds smartphone app is required to use the IQstream TV. The app may need to be updated to see the IQstream TV. Once paired, you can control volume and how much outside noise you want to allow. That way, a normal conversation can be had without removing the buds.
Because I use the proprietary Nuheara’s IQbuds BOOST earphones, audio quality is quite good, so music, dialog and sound effects ring true. Stereo separation is great—as long as the audio source is stereo. In other words, what is broadcast or played is what you hear.
Note that the IQstream TV only works with the IQbuds BOOST earphones and nothing else—not even the Nuheara’s original IQ earphones. So you should already own the IQbuds BOOST earphones or will need to purchase them for the IQstream TV to work. This will be a huge dealbreaker for many. The IQbuds BOOST earphones retail for $500, so it’s a major purchase. However, the IQbuds BOOST earphones are not your typical earphones. They can test your hearing and adjust themselves accordingly. It’s pretty amazing audio tech. You can read my review here.
What I like
- Simple to use
- Sounds great
- No audio syncing issues
What I’d change
- Make it work with any earphone
- Include cable box instructions in the manual
Nuheara is on to something with the IQstream TV. It’s incredibly simple to use—once it’s set up properly. It sounds great and the ability to independently control TV volume without disturbing others can be a godsend. If Nuheara can figure out a way for the IQstream TV to work with any Bluetooth earphone or offer a less expensive earbud, it could be a near perfect product.