Frustration with Oticon Opn 1, looking for advice

I bought these Oticon OPN 1 HAs over 3 years ago. I was excited about it because I thought my hearing would be better, and the technology would make a difference in many areas. I arranged to purchase them from the audiologist who had fitted my first hearing aids about 15 years ago, because he agreed to accept the price that a discount online company would accept. He said he would offer service for the period of warranty, which I think is 4 years. Unfortunately, I only had two weeks to try them out. People on this site often talk about long trial periods, but the only place I have found that offers that is Costco. I trust Costco, but they have limited options in hearing aids.

The HAs I had before these were Starkeys, and I was never thrilled with them either. I know that HAs don’t duplicate normal hearing, but I felt the Starkeys were just not a good fit for me. But of course after you spend thousands of dollars, you’re stuck with what you have. I bought my first hearing aids, Phonak Elevas, because I was teaching large groups of college students, and I couldn’t hear questions from the class. I had a mild to moderate loss at that time. I think they were okay. A fairly accurate test of my current hearing is on this site.

Before I bought the Oticon OPN 1s I tried some Resounds from Costco, but I felt they were too powerful, or “hot” for me, so I returned them. After a good bit of research and a trial of Widex HAs, I read a lot of positive reviews of the OPN1s, and bought them.

I am wondering if the way the Oticon OPN 1s work is simply not a match for my hearing loss. I understand that they leave sounds open, in a sense, so that the wearer hears background noise. I would like to be able to hear as much as possible, so I thought I would like that. In groups, I can’t ever hear conversation. I can’t hear most dialogue in television movies, no matter how loud I turn it up. I know tv sound tends to be poor these days, but not hearing the dialogue ruins the program for me. I do a lot of work by telephone, and I often have difficult understanding. This is particularly difficult for someone who always understood difficult accents, since I’ve studied 5 languages. Music is totally ruined, and the current settings distort all sounds horribly.

For the past couple of years these hearing aids shut down whenever they feel like it. Frequently I will put in a new battery, the same batteries I’ve used for years, and the HA will shut down soon afterwards. I have gone through way too many batteries, having to replace them right after putting in a new one. The batteries are not expired. I have seen the audiologist repeatedly, and she has sent the HAs to Oticon 3 times.

I have wondered if these are simply lemons. I have wondered if the audiologist, a lovely person, simply doesn’t know how to adjust them. I am tired of continually going back to repeated appointments.

I am looking for something that will allow me to hear with some measure of quality again. I’ve thought of buying a device that just amplifies sound, so I can watch movies and hear the dialogue. And maybe I can hear my clients better on the phone.

I am looking for advice from any of you out there who have suggestions about my situation, especially if you are familiar with the Oticon OPN1s. My solution will not include seeking an audiologist who is getting wealthy overcharging for hearing aids, but if you are an audiologist with suggestions, thank you for any assistance you may have. I am shocked when I read what some people pay. Thanks for any suggestions, everyone.

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try on hearing aids of other brands: phonak, resaund…

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I previously used the original OPN (now 1) hearing aids for about 3 years. I’ve had OPN S 1 aids since August 2019. I have found both to be helpful to me. I have a few suggestions but I’m not that experienced with hearing aids.

Many newer hearing aids with built-in bluetooth (either MFI or Classic) with modern signal processing draw significantly more current from the battery than earlier aids and lower quality batteries may not be reliable or provide the required current. I have found that Duracell ActiveAir and Power One work for me without issues where others did not always. Due to the current draw and my usage pattern, batteries lasted about 5 days.

I would first check the firmware level of your aids. Oticon released a number of firmware updates for the OPN 1 to fix various issues and add capabilities. After I got my OPN S 1 aids, the OPN 1 aids were sent to Oticon for a check right before the 3 year warranty ended. After they were returned in October 2019, my provider updated the OPN 1 to Software version 6.1. You can find out the software level using the Oticon ON app running on a cell phone or your audiologist can check/update the firmware to the current level using Genie II. With early versions of the software/firmware, my OPN 1 devices would spontaneously reboot when streaming and that and other issues were addressed by updating. Newer firmware that what was provided originally was also required to allow the use of the ConnectClip. However, some people have reported that the ConnectClip microphone is too sensitive and picks up significant room noise besides my voice. A firmware update to the ConnectClip was supposed to address that but it may still be somewhat of an issue.

For me, I find that listening to audio sources that can be streamed to the hearing aids are more easily understood when streamed. For example, I can understand accented speech (different from what I grew up with in California) much more easily when streaming the TV audio to my hearing aids using the TV Adapter 3 than when listening to the TV audio even if the TV audio is routed though a high quality stereo system or a modern Sonos sound bar. When I’m streaming, I mute the hearing aid microphones so I hear mostly the streamed signal and little of the room noise (AC fan for example). The streamed signal should be a more accurate version of the intended sound as the hearing aids are processing and amplifying only the streamed signal, not the combination of the TV audio output, room reflections, and noise sources.

In a similar vein, I find my understanding the cell phone is improved when using the MFI connection (from an Apple iPhone as compared to using the phone speaker. Same for Zoom or other apps on an iPad. For me, I now tend to use my cell phone instead of my wired phone as it is easier to understand. Some others on this forum use an adapter (from Oticon) to stream a wired phone to OPN (S) aids but I have not tried that.

At work I have a Cisco VOIP phone that includes Bluetooth. I can connect to that with an OticonConnect clip - the microphone in the ConnectClip and the hearing aids become a Bluetooth “headset” for the phone. This helps me understand the work phone better but it could be even better if the University chose to implement the higher quality codec available in my work phone - that would make the plain old telephone service (POTS) quality better (better frequency response) according to Cisco. Again, I think my better understanding when using the ConnectClip is due to the direct signal connection without the room noise from the loud AC fans and the reduced processing (conversion from digital to audio in the phone receiver and subsequent conversion of the audio to digital in the hearing aids) when streaming.

OPN 1 and OPN S versions apparently help a number of people - they certainly help me. I do think that having a provider who can appropriately adjust the hearing aids is important. You might also find that a music specific program would be helpful for live music (turn off some of the voice specific processing, reduce compression, possibly reduce feedback control). I also have a program to increase the wind noise processing - that helps when riding my bicycle (I commute on a bicycle typically). I find the OPN and OPN S are both significant upgrade as compared to the high-end Siemens Pure I had before for about 3 years. I am fortunate to have good medical insurance that now covers the cost of OPN S 1 hearing aids. The cost of the streaming devices like the TV adapter are not covered but I find them useful although a bit expensive.

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If they were poorly fit, reason for your unsatisfaction could lie there.

Poor fit is when you didn’t get REM and tested for word understanding score, with and without noise, as a baseline fitting procedure. I forgot the exact name of the test.

2 weeks trial sounds to me like a poor fit.

Try to find good fitter in your area, you can check youtube for dr cliff aud, and on his site you’ll find clinics which do proper fittings, maybe some is not far away from you.

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Three years may have been a bit long to wait…

The Oticon, Phonak, and Resound sound good. For me, Resound’s Quattro platform sounds as good as the Phonak Marvel and has the best accessory line and thus fits my needs. The Oticon paradigm is different. You can approximate it in Phonak and Resound by using the Music programs. However, there is still more directional focus than with OPN. I tried the OPN 1 and it wasn’t for me. I work in a loud industrial setting and it did not help me there.

It is natural that you hear better with stream devices. There is a much higher signal to noise ratio…

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After reading your post and your audiogram, I’m pretty sure they’re poorly fit. I tried lots of HAs for months, and the best experience was with Oticon OPN-1. Your audiogram is the more similar to mine that I’ve seen here.
You need a good fitting.

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I have been wearing Oticon hearing aids for just over 10 years and I am use to the sound. I now wear OPN1 ITE aids and find them the best so far for my hearing loss. I am getting new aids next week and they will be the OPNS1 aids, and my Audi will for the most part be transferring my current settings to the new aids then fine tuning to get me to the next level for my hearing needs.
But everyone has different hearing needs. And hearing aids while they are getting so much better, but hearing aids are only as good as the Audi’s ability to fit them to your needs. Also, there is no cookie cutter fitting for most real hearing needs.

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Whoever forced you into a two week trial was breaking New Mexico law…

(2) Any person who practices the sale or fitting of hearing aids shall deliver to any person supplied with a hearing aid, a receipt that shall contain: …

(b) the information regarding the trial period which shall be a minimum of 45 consecutive days; if the 45th day falls on a holiday, weekend, or a day the business is not open, the effective date shall be the first day the business reopens; full disclosure of the conditions of any offer of a trial period with a money back guarantee or partial refund; a trial period shall not include any time that the hearing aid is in the possession of the dispenser or the manufacturer; any extension of the 45-day refund period must be in writing and submitted to the client;

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Have you shared all this information you shared with us with your fitter?
If you have I would lean towards a different fitter.
What type domes or molds are you wearing? Do you have any feedback issues?
It is heartbreaking to buy expensive aids and they do not help as expected.

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Thanks for the information. I bought these a few years ago, unfortunately.

Thanks for your response. I have been to see the audiologist many times. The last time was right before the pandemic started exploding in the U.S. She apparently has the right measurement and adjustment tools, and she has been very accommodating. I am frustrated and feel that any more visits are futile.

With my OPN1 ITE aids it took monthly appointments over 15 months time to get my aids correctly adjusted, but it was well worth the effort. Even though my Audi finally came to the conclusion that my ITE aids were not going to reach my full prescription. Due to feedback capacity of the hearing aids, and I now have new aids coming in a week. I am willing to go outside my comfort zone to get the best speech understanding that I possibly can for my hearing loss. I know I will never get full word recognition due to my hearing loss but I am willing to push as far as I possibly can to get the best possible speech understanding.

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Your hearing loss doesn’t seem particularly too challenging, so I’m not sure where things go wrong. I don’t really know how competent your audi is, but I’m of the opinion that you should have had good success with the OPN 1 if you’ve had a good audi after having had the OPN 1 for 3 years and countless visits to your audi.

Since you’ve said that your solution will not include seeking an(other) audiologist for help, I’m assuming that means you’re not open to trying out another brand of hearing aids (because you’ll need another audi if you do), and you’d rather try to optimize the OPN 1 you have???

The only obvious thing I can think of, given what you said above about “no more audi”, is that if you’re technically inclined, you can try the DIY route so that you can program the OPN yourself. I don’t recommend this lightly, ONLY IF you’re very technically inclined and have a DIY mentality. There are a lot of DIY folks on this forum who’d be glad to help you out if you have questions.

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Thanks for everyone’s helpful comments. I didn’t mean to say I would not see another audiologist. But I have paid upfront with this audiologist by purchasing the aids from them. I imagine someone else would charge me for adjustments.The issue of the HAs shutting down right after I put in new batteries, so they sometimes go through 2 batteries before they will work is not something that can be adjusted by an audiologist, and we have sent these HAs back 3 times. I really don’t want to purchase new hearing aids after having these only 3 years. I welcome comments from audiologists on this site, if anyone has insights about the problems I am having. I have thought about DIY programming, but I don’t think I want to do that now. I may come to that, since it is very frustrating to work with an audiologist. At this point I would try a different type of hearing device if anything works.

Thanks for your response. Yes, I’ve shared this information with the audiologist I see. I bought the hearing aids from this company. The domes are not custom, and are 10 mm single vent. Fitters always tell me I should have some venting so I can enjoy some “natural” hearing. The audi has worked with me to minimize feedback. I do have some different domes, so maybe I’ll try them. I know that ideally they are put on and synched with the machine, but it might be worth a try. Yes, it is heartbreaking to buy expensive aids and get nothing but frustration.

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Thanks for your response.
Your aids are 3 years old. You are having issues with them. You mentioned that you trust Costco. Have you considered giving thier KS9 aids a try? For $1500 you would get really nice aids with great service. The trial period is 6 months.
Might be worth a try.

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You are right, this is not an audi adjustment issue. I think you’re the first OPN owner on this forum who reported this consistent premature battery run down issue, to the tune of 3 replacements already.

I think due to this history of issues, it is justifiable to request for a pair of OPN S1 replacement instead, simply because there’s some apparently flaw with the previous OPN 1 generation. So it’s reasonable to try to get an upgrade replacement on the OPN S1 for free. I’ve heard of a few OPN (original OPN) owners who had issues with their Z-Power rechargeable version of their (original) OPN, and Oticon decided to replace those ZPower OPNs with OPN S rechargeable for those patients instead. I think trying to get the OPN S1 replacement for your original OPN 1 is a very justifiable and reasonable request. I doesn’t hurt to ask, even insist.

Who knows, maybe this second generation of the OPN S doesn’t have that particular issue like the original OPN does for your case. It’s still pretty weird because it’s not a widely reported problem here, but hey, maybe the combination of your type of hearing loss plus how your audi does the programming for it triggered some deficiencies or something.

You have a very good WRS (96%, 80%) which is far better than mine. I bet you can get propper fitting and enjoy your HAs.

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Ibawaya, does your audi specialize in Oticon? Most audis will be very familiar with three or four brands but not at all familiar with other brands. IMHO it is not a good idea to insist on buying a particular HA from your regular audi if she is not very experienced with programming that brand. One of my first questions to an audi would be what brands do you specialize in.
I switched audis when I decided to buy Opn 1’s to replace my previous Phonaks because Oticon was not a brand that my previous audi specialized in. It was unpleasant to fire my previous audi, whom I liked, but, to me, it was worth the unpleasantness to achieve better hearing.
Obviously you want to save money on such an expensive purchase, as anyone would, but if you are so dissatisfied with what you have you might want to consider how much happier your life would be if you could hear well and didn’t have to deal with the daily frustration you are describing. You have tried for three years with your current HAs and your current audi. I’d say find a brand you like and an audi who is an expert at programming that brand. Good luck.

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Great minds think alike! Actually I plan to contact Oticon because these hearing aids have simply not been reliable. I am a psychotherapist, and listening is my work. It’s difficult to rely on these HAs, knowing they may shut down at any time. I hope Oticon cares enough about quality to accommodate me in some way.