By Alan Pierce

Providing Classroom Resources on New & Emerging Technologies 
AMPED Bluetooth Neck-Band Earbuds & Streamer
     You kind of expect a set of earbuds that are developed by a subsidiary of a company that makes hearing aides to have some special features. I expect that Hearing Lab, LLC had this in mind when they created the Lucid Audio™ subsidiary, the manufacturer of the Amped Bluetooth Neck-Band. This product, see photo 1, is more than a simple neck band set of Bluetooth earbuds. It has a volume limit setting designed to protect young ears from the destructive effects of loud noise. When set for adult use you do get a higher maximum volume; but not enough to compete with products designed for the hearing impaired. They also built in a separate microphone and volume control to allow sports minded souls, that run or bike in traffic, to dial in the ambient noise of their local environment.  This added volume is designed to provide situational awareness so a wearer of these Amped earbuds will be less likely to wander into danger while listening to their music.
     To accomplish these goals the earbuds have three modes.  The “Youth Mode” has a maximum sound limit of 85dB. The “Adult Mode” has a maximum sound level of 98dB. The “Sports Mode” also has a 98dB limit but in this mode you can use a separate set of volume controls to dial in ambient noise to give you situational awareness of your surroundings.  The combo kit also includes the audio streamer. The streamer is shown sitting in the middle of the neck-band in photo 1. It comes with all the necessary cables to attach it to your non Bluetooth devices, such as your TV, to stream audio to the Amped Bluetooth Neck-Band or other brand Bluetooth headsets of your choosing.

Reasons to Drool
A simple press of a button on each side of the neck band causes the earbuds to automatically retract for storage. Photo 1 shows the earbuds wires in their storage position. The youth mode could protect young ears if you can keep the kids from switching to adult mode.  With ambient sound shut off these earbuds can give you about ten hours of use before they need to be recharged. The situational awareness volumes, if used when you are jogging or biking in traffic, could keep you from getting hit by a car. The combo Bluetooth streamer allows you to add Bluetooth to your TV or other audio devices that are not Bluetooth enabled by their manufacturer.

Not So Cool
Switching from one mode to another would have been greatly improved if the earbuds used voice rather than beeps to tell you which mode you are in. The hard foam earbuds regardless of which set I tried tended to fall out of my ears. The sound wasn’t as rich or loud at maximum volume as the sound on the BackBeat Go 3 or the Jabra Halo Smart earbuds that were previously reviewed. Though developed by a subsidiary of a company that makes hearing aides these Amped earbuds will not help the hard of hearing hear the audio from an Apple or Android smartphone or tablet.