Sonova talks "situational solutions" with early 2023 launch of a speech-enhanced earbud: Sennheiser Conversation Clear Plus
- Published on 05 January 2023
The hearing aid market has been watching and waiting for a move into the over-the-counter (OTC) by one of its biggest players, Sonova. But January 2023 starts with the Switzerland-based group launching a new conversation strand into the intriguing consumer hearing business plot.
The new product now launched by Sonova is a speech-enhanced hearable - Sennheiser Conversation Clear Plus earbuds - of the kind that consumers might seek to help bring them effortless conversation in noisy situations. The notion of an "early entry" device is one that was expanded in 2021 by GN Hearing when it launched its "as and when" earbud-shaped Jabra Enhance Plus.
Note that, like GN, which bought up the Jabra audio equipment brand, Sonova owns Sennheiser's consumer division so with this new release the Swiss producer continues a market pattern we have seen recently in OTC strategies, namely riding into the marketplace on a known (and cool) consumer brand. This is logical: the earbud product is targeted, similar to OTC devices, at users who consider they still do not have a hearing loss that requires a traditional hearing aid and the professional fitting and advice that move usually involves.
The January 5 announcement by Sonova's Group Vice President Consumer Hearing, Martin Grieder that his group aims to be "the go-to brand for situational hearing solutions", also begs the question as to how many ways there might be to skin a cat in the new market conditions opened up by OTC. Many audiology beards have been predicting that the OTC revolution can bring users into the market early, many of whom will eventually move on to traditional hearing aids and the expertise of audiology professionals. So, in this respect, does it make any difference whether the product is announced with OTC credentials or as a cool earbud hearable that enhances speech?
Grieder's announcement underlines that the way the hearing aid market is going can be looked at in different, fast developing ways. What he actually says at this point is: "These earbuds set a new standard for speech-enhanced hearables that will empower our consumers’ dynamic lives. We see a significant and growing market opportunity for this new category of early entry devices, with best-in-class products for different hearing situations to come in 2023 and beyond.”
And back in 2016, when Grieder was Group Vice President of the Phonak brand, he was already looking at how hearables would grow the market, although he was also saying then that Sonova's market was "a medical device field and that is where we want to build our know-how".
What features does Sennheiser Conversation Clear Plus have?
The new hearable uses Automatic Scene Detection to enhance conversations and calls, while the Active Noise Cancellation feature blocks distracting noise, tempered by an Ambient Awareness mode that enables more connection with the outside environment when desired.
According to the Sennhesier website, there are "dedicated settings for three different listening scenarios make personalising the audio experience effortless. The ‘Relax’ listening scenario lets sound enthusiasts customize the amount of background noise they want to block, while the ‘Communication’ and ‘Streaming’ scenarios automatically adjust settings for the best performance and clarity during conversations and while streaming content, respectively.
Price of Sennheiser Conversation Clear Plus
The Sennheiser Conversation Clear Plus is available for pre-order as from January 5, 2023, and on sale on January 20 with an MSRP of $849.99 USD.