A Deeper Look at Oticon’s 4x8 Beeps Microphone Issue
We’ve covered Oticon’s 4x8 beeps microphone issue many times, but questions remain. I seek the collective wisdom of this group to guide my course of action. I will number my specific questions to make answering easier. However, if you know something relevant I haven’t asked, I welcome your general input, as well.
I’ve worn aids for 5 years only and am on my 4th pair of Oticon’s OPN-1 MiniRITEs. My present pair, like the previous 3 pairs, is dying with increasingly frequent episodes of the 4x8 beeps syndrome. To say I’m disappointed would be an understatement.
After the first failure, I bought a PerfectDry Lux box, and I bake my aids nightly and sometimes again in the morning before use. After the third failure, I got a Jodi-Vac consumer model, and I suck out the ports about weekly. Since the beginning, I have had a Minipro to transfer and adjust settings.
THE 4X8 BEEP PROBLEM
(1) Once the beep problem starts, is it always progressive, or can it be corrected with an internal cleaning by a capable audiologist? I paid an audiologist $150 to (supposedly) disassemble and clean my 3rd pair. It did not work. I wish I had asked for a photo of the open aids, for I left with some doubt that they had actually disassembled the aids. (2) Is it common for audiologists to have that capability?
(3) Is the 4x8 beep issue unique to model OPN-1, or do the newer OPN-S and More models have this feature, too? If they do have the feature, are those models more, less, or similarly prone to experience this costly problem?
(4) Do other brand aids have a similar #%^&!@-ing annoying announcement for failing microphones? Do other brands experience microphone failure as often as Oticon OPN-1?
Presently, my right aid is failing. On the previous pair, it was the left aid. (5) With Minipro/Genie, can you pair up aids that weren’t from different original matched sets? Can you convert a left aid to a right aid?
HEARING AID CONSTRUCTION AND MAINTENANCE
(6) On OPN-1 and similar aids, do the three sound ports open into a shared cavity for a single microphone, or are there three microphones? If it’s not a shared cavity, it seems the Jodi vac would not work, for air couldn’t get in to agitate debris. (7) I think the Jodi vac should be called the Joke-I vac, and I wonder if anyone thinks it has really helped their aids. (8) Has anyone used high pressure high speed air to blow into and through the ports to dislodge debris rather than suction? It wouldn’t be difficult to adapt an air compressor to do that. Am I overlooking a risk, such as blowing the mic or circuitry apart? (9) How bad an idea is it really to use very fine brush to stick into the mic ports to dislodge debris? Is the mic super fragile? How about a little shot of alcohol via a syringe followed by a lot of blowing or sucking? (In a sense, what have I got to loose?)
(10) I see three tiny pins that go through the width of the aids. I assume they hold the two housing sections together. If I were younger and with earlier hand dexterousness, eyesight, and ingenuity, I would build a jig to drive the pins out to disassemble them, myself. (11) Has anyone ever done that?
IN CASE I BUY YET ANOTHER OPN-1
The first replacement was done under warranty, but my last two pairs were used demos from an aid supplier on Ebay at about $600/pair. (12) Do you think, like I do, that demo aids would have seen less use less than a pair owned by a single user and thus be a smarter purchase?
IN CASE I UPGRADE
Of course, I assume any used OPN-1 I’d find today will have more use (and fail sooner) than my previous ones, so I am considering moving up moving up to OPN-S or More. (13) Do Oticon models OPN-S and/or model More use the same Minipro connectors? (14) Using the Minipro/Genie, can you impose settings from model OPN-1 onto an OPN-S or More? If not, can you program an OPN-S or More adequately from printed settings of an OPN?
I have to say I have worn aids for over 18 years and Oticon aids for 12 years and I have never had an issue with the microphones. Up until I got my rechargeable aids I had always used the driers over night, but since getting rechargeable aids I haven’t used a drier at all.
My audiologists over the years have said that the failure of microphones, can be moisture, and the microphones getting lint, dead skin, etc in the microphones. I always brush my aids before storing them at night, making sure that I clean the opening where the microphones are.
First off, I want to ask you where you live? Do you live in a humid place like Florida or Houston, TX?
I’ve experienced the 4x8 beeps mic issue once on my OPN 1 when it was still under warranty, and that aid was replaced for free. It happened because I wear them when I play tennis and in the summer time around August/September, the weather in AZ is very humid, and I also sweat excessively when playing tennis. Once I had the replacement, I stopped wearing it when playing tennis and I never had the problem again.
I think it’s not just condensation on the mics that affects their performance and by placing them on the drier at night, or using Jodi-Vac to vacuum out the condensation that you’d restore the mics to normal operating performance. My personal guess is that once you let the condensation seep into the mic, it must have caused some kind of physical deterioration of the mic, so progressively they get worse to a point of malfunction. Meanwhile, the 4x8 beeps signal you that the integrity of the mic has been compromised. But that’s just my guess. In my only 1 experience with it, the 4x8 beep might have gone away for a while, and I thought that “Oh, maybe it’s cleared up now and I’m in the clear.”. But like you said, eventually it came back with less and less time between the 4x8 beeps. So it’s probably never going to fix itself once you get that 4x8 beeps.
I don’t think a normal run-of-the mill audi would be able to disassemble the whole housing apart to clean the inside. At best, I think if they call it “disassembling”, they probably just remove the receiver connection from the aids and clean that connection part, then maybe just remove the battery door and use the Jodi-Vac on the battery door opening area and around where the mics are. As for the receiver, they probably just remove the dome and clean around the receiver to free up any accumulated wax, and replace the dome for you. The only places I’d trust that they actually can take apart the hearing aids would be a hearing aid repair place like Lloyd’s or one of those places on eBay, or at the factory repair centers. I think for warranty work, it may even be easier to simply replace the aid instead of spending the time and labor to open it up and try to replace the individual component.
As far as I can tell, there’s no provision in Genie 2 to let you convert a left aid to a right aid or vice versa. They come up on detection to be either left or right, so I assume that it’s already baked inside the aid somewhere that the aid is either a left or right aid. But if you find a way, let me know. I recall that even at a firmware update, the aid is already identified as left or right, and I don’t see a choice in a firmware update menu to label it as left or right aid.
As far as pairing up aids that weren’t from different original matched sets, I don’t have personal experience with it, but I don’t see any evidence in Genie 2 that the aids are paired up together via any mechanism, so I think as long as you present a left aid and a right aid (or even just one aid) for Genie 2 to detect, it’ll let you program them as left and right aids, not as a linked pair of left and right aid through some hard link. The link inside Genie 2 between the left and right aid is only for time saving so that whatever changes you made in one aid get applied to the other aid automatically as if you do it twice the same way, one for each aid.
I can’t speak for other brands, but at least for the OPN, you can change the beep volume to Softer (instead of Normal or Louder) to help make the 4x8 beep less annoying. But it doesn’t look like there’s an option to turn off the 4x8 beep, nor would it make sense to disable that warning anyway.
As for whether other brands experience mic failure as often as the OPN 1 or not, I’ve heard from a well respected HCP on this forum that all HA mfgs actually OEM the same receivers and they actually don’t make their own receivers per se, so it’s very plausible that it’s also true that the HA mfgs also OEM the same mics as well and don’t make their own. If that’s the case, you’d think that they all have the same reliability issue in humid conditions. The difference then is that maybe Oticon chooses to give out the 4x8 beep early warning, and if such early warnings are not in the other HA mfg’s brands/models, then it may just be a simple matter of them not choosing to provide a similar early warning, and no early warning doesn’t necessarily imply that the other HA mfgs’ mics are more reliable, if indeed that they all OEM the same mics and don’t make the mics themselves.
There are only 2 mics per aid, not 3. It looks like the mic on top (near the receiver connection) has 2 openings, one on each side, that leads to the same top mic. The 2 openings there is probably just so that you can use the same shell casing for either a left aid or the right aid interchangeably.
I think Jodi-Vac or brushing on the mic openings may help in case you have dust collecting inside that may plug up the mic holes. But I think the 4x8 beep is not when the mic holes get plugged up, but when the moisture already seeps enough into the mic as to deteriorate it. I don’t know exactly how it was designed to trigger the 4x8 beep, but maybe there’s some resistive element in the mic that would cause a change in value when penetrated by moisture, to a point that the 4x8 beep is triggered.
I would not personally force a blast of air into the mic’ ports because mics are generally pressure sensitive devices (to pick up the sound pressure from the air waves), so a blast of air may cause miscalibration or damage easily. I also think that if there’s debris built up in the hole, either a Jodi-vac or a brush would be enough to help clear it. If you already have a shot mic I guess you’re right, there’s nothing to lose to try alcohol or blasting air to it. But if it’s the structural damage to the mic due to moisture and not debris blockage, then doing those things are probably not going to help anyway. I guess there’s nothing to lose to try it out.
I’ve driven out the pin that’s used as the hinge to the battery door to replace it with my ZPower battery door. It’s not that hard. And you’re probably right, you can probably open up the housing if you remove the other 2 pins. If you’re curious you can do it to see what it looks like inside. Be sure to post and share pics of the inside if you do it. But I’m not sure how easy it is to swap out parts inside. You won’t know until you look.
I can see the logic in this as demo aids are probably more likely to have downtime between demos while personally used aids are constantly used day in and day out.
I don’t have an OPN S, but I think there’s a high probability that they share the same miniPro connectors.
I think if you keep the same user profile and when you switch to the OPN S, just select the OPN S device, and it simply will switch device while keeping your OPN settings intact. I think a manual transfer of the settings, if it comes to that, would not be a big deal either.
I have switched sides for a hearing before. But at this moment, I have forgotten the exact procedure. When your dog eats one of your hearing aids you can buy another without worrying about buying right or left. Let us see if I can remember some details of how this is done.
The HAs have a (blue or red) replaceable battery door marker that is easily replaced and simple physical marking. Genie2 will warn you when the hearing was last programmed on the other side but then it will allow you to proceed, and later at the End Fitting step when you save the settings, it will mark the newly added HA as right or left whichever was chosen during fitting.
Well, I tried to play around with it a little bit more on Genie 2 after you indicated that it’s possible to use a right aid for the left side (and vice-versa), @pvc, and below are the 2 scenarios I tried.
The first screenshot is the regular selection when I connect my OPNs, with the left aid (SN ending in 836) being selected by me as the Left aid, and the right aid (SN ending in 255) being selected by me as the right aid, as how they should be.
The second screenshot is where I swapped them around (selecting the Left aid 836 for the Right side, and selecting the Right aid 255 for the Left side). So it does look like Genie 2 allows you to assign sides to the aids, regardless of whether the side you assign to the aid is not the side as indicated on the aid when it’s detected by the interface device.
By that I mean, for example if my Left aid 836 went bad, and I bought a new Right aid from eBay (let’s say its SN ends with 789). Then the interface device would detect the (still good) Right aid 255, and the newly added Right aid 789. Then you can assign the Right side to the Right aid 255 as usual, and now you assign the Left side to the newly introduced Right aid 789. So even though the Aid 789 will always show up a the Right aid as detected, it can be programmed in Genie 2 to function for the left side. You’ll just need to take out its original right receiver (if it came with it) and replace it with your left receiver.
Of course all of the above is just my guess, because I’ve never attempted to do something like that before. But it looks like it’s doable, although the new Right aid 789 will always show up as a Right aid upon detection. I don’t think that’s going to be modifiable. But it seems like it can be used as a left aid just fine by Genie 2.
Although I don’t recommend you try this, at the End Fitting step when you save the new settings (to your HAs and Database) then your new-imaginary-789 will be permanently recorded as your Left HA and the next time you connect your hearing aids to Genie2 there will be no complaints about which side is which.
Maybe there are no left or right hearing aids at all. Maybe they are all the same widget. Take a close look at your Oticon Opn HAs side by side. When you hold your Right Opn up to your head with the battery door ajar then your battery access is towards/against your head. Now do the same with you Left Opn. Yikes, the battery access is away from your head. In other words Left and Right are identical. If one was built for Left and one was built for Right, why would they be identical?
Footnote: Her cousin got a new Dog. When the Dog hears the high frequency squeal from the 100 receivers it proceeds to chew the HA until it is dead! It has done this twice and I have purchased another HA from EBay twice (without worrying about Left or Right). Though, I used a mini Pro and cables (wired not Wireless). So I had physical control over Left and Right. I want to test the procedure again with a wireless connection. But that will have to wait until later because I have other priorities at this time.