Imagine a pair of earbuds that combine with two speakers that can sit comfortably on your shoulders. Add a great microphone and some assistive listening tech and you’ve got the BeHear PROXY Shoulder Speaker and Earphones from Alango Technologies. Tech expert Dave Taylor of www.AskDaveTaylor.com checks out the BeHear PROXY and finds that there really is a lot to like in this slick integration of assistive hearing tech, hearing aid circuitry, a Bluetooth speaker, and much more.
Summary of review points – pros and cons:
This is the BeHear PROXY shoulder speaker from Alango Technologies. At its most obvious, it’s a pair of speakers that you can put around your neck, and you can listen to content. But, there’s lots of hidden features:
Let’s start out with just the music.
I’ve paired, via Bluetooth, with my smartphone, and I’ll just put on some music. And there are controls on this side to let me go to next and previous track and pause and play. All those features are really great, and obviously it’s super convenient to have this here, particularly when you can go up to 10 meters (or 33 feet) away from your Bluetooth source device.
Built-in ear buds for private listening and hearing amplification mode
I can put those in my ears, so then I’m going to turn the music back on, and then there’s a little switch on the side that lets you choose which audio output you want. I got to say, it sounds really good. All of a sudden, there’s way more bass. The ear buds come with a lot of ear tips, which is great. Different shapes, different sizes. As always, take the time to figure out exactly the ones you need to get the best sound.
And there’s little buttons you push, and they retract these back up, and I can obviously switch it back to speakers. And you can also get into, “hearing mode” and it will amplify the sound around you, so these are also, like a hearing aid device. Really cool!
Pairing BeHear PROXY with a Bluetooth device
You can pair PROXY with your mobile phone and then you can take a phone call… It sounds really good. Now, remember, I’m about a foot away from my phone, but I could be up to 33 feet away, so I could be outside gardening or something, and still be chatting with someone, I’d hear them through the speakers, and I’d be talking to them through the microphone. Pretty slick design.
The BeHear PROXY speakers are also tuned for TV dialogue. There’s a big mid-range boost here. They aren’t designed to really be simulating a discotheque or night club, so you you’re not going to get all that full, rich sound (you do with the earbuds – that’s another story) but again it’s really great if you have a TV with a Bluetooth transmitter. This will do a great job of bringing up that mid-range, that center channel, that ability for you to hear what the heck people are actually saying, and that’s what’s weirdly hard on modern TVs now. You can use these with or without your own hearing aids, if you have them. It’s Bluetooth 4.2 pairing with your Android or iPhone, or other Bluetooth device. It is a multi-point connection, so if you have it paired with your Bluetooth on your TV, you can also simultaneously have it paired with your phone, so if you get a phone call you can just take it without having to disconnect and reconnect and mess around…
It supports aptx Low Latency, so if you want to use these while you’re watching TV or something, then the words and the voices are not out of sync with what you’re actually seeing, whether it’s on your phone, or your tablet, or obviously your television.
It charges via a micro USB
Points off for micro USB, I really much prefer USB C, because then you don’t have to worry about the orientation of the plug.
Battery life: it is 1050mAh which means if you use this as a loudspeaker, you get about 10 hours of playback on it. Switch to the earbuds, and you get 40 hours of playback. If you want to make phone calls with this, using the earbuds, then you’re going to get 45 hours, and if you want to use that sound amplification, where it’s basically using the microphone, boosting the voice and audio, and then putting it through your earbuds, then for that you can get 50 hours on a charge.
BeHear PROXY control buttons
On the outer right-hand side there’s pause, play, louder, softer, next track, previous track – all of those multi-function buttons. On the inside of the right side is a retract button for the ear buds, and then there’s the power charging spot. And then power itself, which is kind of like a funky little button which is not an off/off slider – it’s a slider when you put it into the other position, and then hold it for a couple of seconds, and then it will say “power off” or it will say “power on” or similar. On the the inner left side, is the simplest of all, it has the retract button, and then on the outside of the left, is the speakers vs earphones button. Most of it’s on your right-hand side, sorry if you’re left-handed, you’re probably already used to this, but the good news is, as with all of these devices, if you want to, you can just control everything from your source device, and it’s really easy. And really all you need to remember is pause/play. So, pretty darn easy. It also comes with a really good guide, it will help you get up to speed.
Conclusion: I’m actually pretty impressed with BeHear PROXY
I’m pretty impressed with the speakers, the microphone, the ear buds quality and everything. Really good, rich sound range, really good presence for the ear buds. And I tried listening and chatting, like I said, on a Clubhouse call, and that was perfect. So, that’s a lot of people talking all at the same time, and then I could add my two cents too. And that worked out really well. So I could listen, and enjoy the conversation, and when it was my turn to talk, I could just unmute on my phone and talk, not having to worry about having my phone really close to my mouth, or anything like that. Really, really convenient, and since Clubhouse is the kind of service, like podcasts, where you’re mostly listening, if not almost exclusively listening, having it come out of these speakers while I was walking around, or doing housework, or cleaning up, or doing garden work, or yard work or something – all of that, super convenient. Really, really cool.
They’re a little “spendy” because they are on the assistive hearing side, they’re not just Bluetooth speakers. They are $189 and you can pick them up at www.WearAndHear.com. If you are just looking for a pair of Bluetooth speakers these might be a little overkill, but if you have someone in your family that needs the voice, needs the audio to be a little bit louder for them to be able to fully participate, these are a great option, because – among other things – they give you so many other features. Hearing aids are super expensive. And for some people, it’s not really what they need yet. So, something like this is a really great transitional hearing device, hearing assistive device (got to get the right phrase). So, definitely worth checking out.