General questions on Bluetooth connection to iPhone

My iPhone 6 is running OS 10.3.2. The Oticon Opn 2 miniRite app version is 1.1.3.

Bluetooth connectivity is a mixed bag of good and bad for this user. Thanks in advance for taking the time to respond to my questions.

For the Bluetooth connected HAs, I’m having to adjust each time I get in or out of my Bluetooth-connected minivan. Also having to keep the phone in the same room at all times or the signal drifts. If I am in a “No Cell Phone Zone,” what is the best way to disable the HA-Bluetooth connection? The “Do Not Disturb” mode, “Airplane” mode or switch off Bluetooth (or the iPhone) altogether? What is your workaround?

Often I am hearing callers voices drift from one ear to the other, then back to binaural. Why? How can this be corrected?

Often I hear pops or crack sounds during phone conversation or podcast playback. What causes this and can it be corrected?

When I am receiving an incoming call, I hear a shift from the steady radio-static white noise to a flat disruption before the ringtone begins playing. It is cringeworthy jarring! Can my audiologist adjust this or is this unavoidable? Do you know that sharp “electricity’s on” scratchy sound headphones make if they’re on your ears and then you plug your headset into the stereo? I feel like that effect is happening when a call is coming in.

The minivan Bluetooth wants to dominate the connectivity over the HAs when I get in and out of the vehicle. Sometimes. Other times the HAs seem to get the preferential treatment. Why does this happen? Is there some other geeky doohickey that is a Master Control for Bluetooth where I can swap out user scenarios?

For a more hands-free experience when I am speaking to a caller on the iPhone while wearing the connected HAs, wouldn’t a separate microphone be better than fumbling the phone out of a pocket or bag? The iPhone has 3 microphones built in, are all 3 trying to find my voice when I’m talking? Or is simply wearing the iPhone as a pendant around my neck a better phone placement to pick up my voice?

What may be part of your problem is having sound notifications enabled. Set most apps to vibrate or no sound. If you don’t do that, things can get busily annoying.

My 5s doesn’t connect to my Subaru handsfree service unless I tell it to.

1 Like

It depends on what “No Cell Phone Zone” implies. If they don’t want the cell phone to be turned on at all then you should turn it off. Airplane mode seems to very depending on the phone. Some phone turns off wifi, cell signal and Bluetooth altogether in airplane mode. Other phone may let you re-enable wifi and/or Bluetooth after airplane mode. If you don’t want the connection between your OPN and the iPhone temporarily, turn off your iPhone Bluetooth.

I have the same issues. I’ve read that it’s because the proprietary Bluetooth Low Energy protocol employed by Apple is low quality/finicky, causing artifacts like this to be introduced into the sound quality from time to time. The only workaround I can see is to temporarily turn off Bluetooth on your iPhone and turn it back on and hope that you get a cleaner signal next time around (not always guaranteed to work the first time around, though). This is the workaround I use myself. There’s a short cut that involves a bottom up swipe to bring up a window where Bluetooth can be turned off via a button and a top down swipe puts away that window. This is faster than trying to turn off Bluetooth via the normal Settings app.

I don’t hear that when there’s an incoming call. I just hear the ringtone playing in my HAs. But when I make an outgoing call or start listening to anything (music, video, GPS announcement), there’s a short momentary attenuation of outside sounds before the iPhone sound comes on in the HAs. I guess that’s because my OPNs are programmed to attenuate outside sounds when internal iPhone sound is being played. I hear you can have your audi reprogram to remove the attenuation from your setting if you want. But my attenuation is a momentary silence free of steady radio-static white noise like you described.

In my car that has Bluetooth, the car’s Bluetooth takes over only if I turn the radio source to Bluetooth to listen to music. For phone calls, I haven’t had an incoming call when I drive that car yet (I rarely drive that car) so I don’t really know which way it’d be routed, to my car or to my OPN.

Oticon was supposed to come out with a ConnectClip 3.0 in Q1’17, which is basically a neck or clip-on streamer that works off of regular Bluetooth and not the Apple proprietary Bluetooth Low Energy that’s connecting your OPNs to the iPhone directly right now. This ConnectClip 3.0 will allow you to stream to Android phones or other regular Bluetooth enabled devices like computers and tablets. This ConnectClip 3.0 is supposed to have a built-in mic so you can now leave your phone (Android or iOS) in your pocket and still carry out a phone call if you wear the ConnectClip near your mouth. Unfortunately its release schedule has since slipped to end of 2017 with no firm date.

Leave it to Apple to make me jump through their Bluetooth Low Energy ring of fire. I was not aware that they had their own special protocol for that, too.

The idea of the Internet of Thing$ and IFTTT doodad$ sounds intimidating yet intriguing. If it was only that simple. And it also sounds like another series of night classes. Wouldn’t it be cool to walk in a room while wearing hearing aids and have the room simply “know” to turn on a light, then turn it off when I exit? Wouldn’t it be awesome (or terrifying) to have an internet-connected camera doorbell that puts a disembodied voice in my ear that someone is at the front door? The things we do to keep up with the Joneses…

I do have sound notifications enabled for incoming texts, calendar/appointment alerts and emails. None of those get picked up directly through the Oticon. They just play the note/ding/ping through the phone. I am not necessarily hearing any fluctuation through my HAs. Which means I tend to miss those in real time. It’s the prewarning static scratch to ringtone shifts from phone calls that’s getting on my nerves. I will discuss this with my audiologist.

Perhaps a new car habit to practice will be adjusting the iPhone Bluetooth settings after fastening the seatbelt and returning the tray in front of me to its upright and locked position.

I can work out a trade for a used lav mic from some tv or video recording geeks I know that will better suit my wallet. Oticon or who ever else winds up getting my HA business can keep all the add-on device accessories.

Well, there had been no BLE standard available on Android phones so that’s why Made for iPhone support is only available on select current HA mfgs for DIRECT streaming. For non-iOS regular Bluetooth devices, non-direct streaming is possible to the HAs but only through an intermediary device that you have to wear around your neck or clip on your shirt or pocket (which has a built-in mic). That’s what the ConnectClip 3.0 for OPN is. So Apple is actually ahead of the pack because they didn’t wait for a standard BLE protocol and decided to adopt their own proprietary one for HA mfgs to make use of. Fortunately their share of the phone market is big enough that HA mfgs decide to go ahead and support direct streaming for the iPhones (and other iOS based devices) instead of waiting for a standard BLE to become available for all phones and support that only. I heard that a standard BLE (version 5?) has recently become available but now we need to wait for major Android phone mfgs to start adopting them first.

What you’re thinking about is actually some of the example the IoT through IFTTT thing on the OPN can already do. You can program an IoT enabled doorbell to send a voice alert directly to your OPN to let you know somebody rang your doorbell. You can program your OPN to change to a different program once you arrive to work (or somewhere else in particular like maybe when you return home). I think this is probably based on your connection to your local router that has a special IP address maybe? You can use the OPN to listen to your voice command to do things like turn on/off your IoT enabled TV/lights, etc. Walking into a room and have the room light turned on would be cool but I don’t know how your OPN connectivity through the internet would be unique enough to know the difference between different rooms. Also, I don’t think the OPN connects directly via the internet. It connects to the ON app on your phone which is connected to the internet so your phone acts as a proxy to enable the OPN to be connected to the internet.

I would like to have text alerts and calendar alerts played directly in my OPN but I can’t get that to work either. Only the incoming phone ring plays in my OPN. The rest of the alerts play on the iPhone only like in your case. I think that this maybe an iPhone SW limitation because we already know that the iPhone can send incoming phone rings to the OPN just fine. And yes, you should really speak to your audi about why you get static scratch on your ringtone and other quality issue with iPhone streaming. Although I experience pops and crackles on my OPN when directly streaming with the iPhone, it’s only about maybe once in a while but often enough to bug me, although not often enough for me to consider it unacceptable. Others have reported much less quality issues with the direct streaming with the iPhone. Some suggests that maybe using a higher quality battery brand (PowerOne?) may help eliminate these issues. I use Costco brand batteries myself.

Wish it were that simple but I suspect you probably can’t use third party independent gears with HAs in general. Really the only accessory available for the OPN at this time is the TV Adapter 3.0 (TV streamer). It hooks up to the TV and streams TV sounds directly to your OPN. The TV streaming works MUCH better than the iPhone streaming, both in terms of sound quality and reliability (no pops, cracks, static noise, connectivity issues whatsoever). It uses a different third party BLE protocol that Oticon licenses from CEVA (the RivieraWaves BLE). So that’s why I’m not ready to put the blame on Oticon for the OPN streaming issues with the iPhone because the RivieraWaves BLE for some reason seems to work much better than the Apple proprietary BLE protocol.

1 Like

After a visit to my audiologist today, I have solutions, a promise and a dream.

Solutions: Some tweaks of bass and treble levels help, switching from solid to vented domes helps. Also she tweaked my settings on my phone and did some keyboard magic from her desktop. That incoming call freak out is not so severe.

We we went through some in office tests, and after much fiddling, she called Oticon. She got passed from audiology to tech. Audiology at Oticon gave us some tips on settings and tech offered the other information. Actually felt good to learn I am not the only HA wearer who’s had these issues, and they had workaround protocols, answers and ideas.

Promise: The L-R drift and sound drops during phone calls I experienced with the Opns are a known problem, and the tech assured us a firmware update will be available in a couple of weeks.

Dream: Although notifications are are enabled on my iPhone, the chimes cannot play into the HAs. This is a problem that is on Apple’s end. Who knows when they’ll adjust that? Like it’s been mentioned before, there aren’t enough HA wearers at Apple or this would be fixed by now. I have had some success in the past writing to Apple so I’ll do that again. Might as well write a letter to Oticon, too.

They already had a firmware update in December 2016 that was supposed to fix a lot of the direct streaming issues between the OPN and the iPhone. Apparently it didn’t fix everything (or anything at all???).

The firmware update in June that the tech assured you is supposed to be more for new features updates, notably the addition of Speech Rescue to the regular OPN 1, 2, 3 models. Sure, maybe it’ll also help fix some of the remaining direct streaming issues. I’ll believe it when I see it, simply because the December 2016 firmware update didn’t seem to do squat to help in my opinion. But at least a firmware update is better than no firmware update, I guess…

Oticon appreciate all you folks who paid to test subjects :joy:

I got a chance to use the GPS navigation from my iPhone today in my car and connect it into the Bluetooth system in my car.

  1. Using Google Maps app on my iPhone:
    a. the navigation voice connects to my car’s (Chevy Volt) BT phone connection automatically if the radio is off. Before the navigation announcement goes on, the fan is actually temporarily turned down (or off?) while the voice is on, then resumes when the voice is off.
    b. If my radio is on and connected to my iPhone via BT and playing songs from my iPhone, then the navigation voice from Google map connects to the radio and not the phone, and the music volume is lowered when the navigational voice comes on.

  2. Using the native Apple Maps app on my iPhone:
    a. unlike the Google Maps app, the native Apple Maps app does NOT connect to the car’s BT phone connection. But the iPhone does connect to the car’s BT phone connection just fine.
    b. The native Apple Maps only connects to the car’s radio BT connection. The music volume is lowered when the Apple Maps navigation voice comes on.

  3. If I make a phone call in the car, and the iPhone attempts to connect to the car’s BT, the car gives me an option to transfer the call back to my phone (and eventually back to my HAs) for privacy. I bet the same if I receive a phone call while in the car and connected to its BT, it’ll allow me to pick up the call through the car’s BT (and then to its speakers and mic), or give me an option to transfer it to the iPhone (and eventually my HAs) for a more private phone conversation.

The moral of this story is that there seems to be many variables at play here. Even between the 2 navigation apps, the routing of its navigational voice is done differently. And cars with BT probably has different ways and options of routing and managing phone calls depending on how the car mfg designs their BT system to work. We just have figure out how it works specifically for our own cars/systems and there’s no guarantee it’ll work the same across different cars’ BT systems.

If you want to route the signals to either the car’s BT or to your OPNs, it’s best to disable BT in the one you don’t want to route it to.

I also have a Volt. An annoying feature is that the Volt hijacks the audio stream from the HA the moment the car is powered up (even with the radio off). Oddly phone calls go to both the car speakers and my HA, but any other iPhone audio (confirmed with others) always jumps to the last connected device. I may just end up unpairing the iPhone from the car.

Seville and Madrid

I may have been one of the first complainers reporting about the voices drifting as well as other issues. Initially I had an iPhone 6s which I gave to my wife. Now I have an iPhone 7. Oticon tech was not helpful in troubleshooting the problems with my audiologist. Instead the interactions seemed to be only through her marketing rep. For a very long time the party line from Oticon was they had not heard of any of my issues and instead it must be an Apple iPhone problem. One of their early suggestions was to connect the OPNs to another phone and see if the problem continued. We were only a one iPhone family then and no one was offering to lend me an iPhone for the experiment. My wife finally decided in November she wanted a smartphone. The problems persisted when I got the new phone. The firmware update in December made no difference either. It became apparent that the drifting voice during calls and streaming audio was the way it would always be.
Late winter, early spring this year I began getting a continued static sound in the right side aid that got worse and almost steady. The audiologist office worked with Oticon support and in the end decided they would send me a new right side and I left the office. This was the first experience I had in learning that if the interface software the office use was not correctly terminated the HAs would no longer function correctly. I received a call but it only could be heard in the left side. I immediately went back to the office and another hour and a half was spent trying to resolve the issue. Finally Oticon decided to send a replacement set since apparently the problem couldn’t be fixed.
I got the new set towards the end of April and it seemed to be working much better. No drifting from side to side or static. Battery usage had dropped from 4+ days to 3 but I could live with that. Then a week ago I was at a play in Ashland. I usually turn up the volume in the OPNs with the iPhone app. Not wanting to disturb the folks next to me I tried using the buttons on the HAs. It didn’t work. I finally had time to take it in to the audiologist. I assumed there would just be a setting to change and everything would be wonderful. WRONG. I made sure that the volume buttons were functioning but did not try calling or audio streaming from the iPhone to the aids. When I finally got a call late afternoon it did not stream to the OPNs. I could also not hear any other audio from the phone in the aids. Instead when I tried to stream an audio source a popup message said “Attempting to take connection from another device.” I tried all the usual, restarting devices, forgetting/re-pairing the aids but nothing worked. Yesterday (Monday morning) I went back to the audiologist office. They tried a number of things but most were just what I had been doing over the weekend. The interface showed the settings were all correct but it did not show that the OPNs were attached to an iPhone. I left to wait and see what Oticon would suggest be done. Yesterday afternoon it was suggested I try connecting to another phone. Not having one readily available I connected to my iPad. The audio worked and streamed just fine. I disconnected and re-connected to my iPhone. Nothing had changed. It still didn’t work. When my wife got home I paired and connected to her phone (my old phone) with not problems. Everything worked. Deciding to try resetting my iPhone I first tried just doing a Network reset. That didn’t work. Next I tried a full reset but keep all my data. That didn’t work and it took some time to get the phone back the way I had it set up.
My belief is that somehow when I went to the audiologist last Friday to get the volume buttons setting changed the interface scrambled the connection and will not allow audio content to stream to the aids from my iPhone. It will pair up in the usual way and indicates it is connected. The Oticon ON app connects and shows the battery strength and allows changing the volume and program. I can adjust the volume and program from the Apple iPhone controls. Just no audio streaming. Supposedly there will be a firmware update available today that Oticon suggested may fix the problem. I hope so.

Doc I can’t agree with your statement. I don’t think there is much if any appreciation. Sadly the days of not releasing a product before the bugs and kinks are worked out is long gone. Personally I’m okay with being on the cutting edge if the manufacturer acknowledges the issues and work with me to resolve them. Oticon has never once contacted me and when I attempted to contact them a year ago I was instead told they only work through the audiologist. So every time I have an issue there is a relay effect from person to person. I also experience this from Topcon GPS machine control. Support is only through the dealer and I never know how well the problems and issues are passed on. Again the manufacturer has never chosen to contact me directly. My question for all these scenarios is How can the manufacturer learn about the problem if it is not via direct communication. They can’t. I do think they appreciate the part where they get paid.

Nothing new here… Manufacturers do not work directly with civilians

After posting the description of my current problem I called AT&T (my provider) with questions about the different iPhone reset functions. Supposedly my phone is automatically backing itself up via iCloud but I did a manual backup to the computer to make sure. Next I did a complete factory reset/remove all data and content. Before I restored it back to my setup I tried connecting the iPhone to the OPNs. They were once again successfully streaming calls and audio. I restored my phone from the backup and except for a few settings it was back to full functionality with everything loaded like it was before the reset. It was still streaming.

I’m sure I will never know why it quit working after leaving the audiologist last Friday. My belief is that somehow the interface used in their office made a connection or set some internal switches. How or why resetting the iPhone fixed the problem I don’t know but it did.

Thanks for sharing this with us, gpsgrandpa. I’ll remember that resetting the iPhone to factory default is a viable option to fix the streaming problem now. But of course it’d be a last resort.

I just don’t see how any activity done to the OPNs at your audi office could have screwed up the iPhone settings. I’m guessing that it’s just a coincidence that something went wrong with the iPhone after you left your audi’s office, bad enough to prevent streaming and force you to do a factory reset.

I have a couple of reasons to consider the cause was the audiologist office interface connection. Neither myself or my iPhone were in close proximity when the office connection was made. They went to the back and came back out, battery door closed and already turned on. I think by not disconnecting/un-pairing from my phone when handing them over to be worked on was a mistake I will not make again. The office interface is via bluetooth also so some kind of pairing took place. I feel the OPNs were not totally disconnected/un-paired from their computer. I have since read that while the OPN is capable of pairing to up to 10 devices it can only stream to one iPhone. Then when I actually tried to stream audio it keep popping up on my phone that my iPhone was “Attempting to take connection from another device.” At this point since I have no way to experiment and discover if the problem is repeatable I am just happy they work again. I’m posting this mainly to describe the experience and solution should it happen to someone else.

For myself the experience with the Factory Reset worked way better than the last time I used the Restore function in iTunes. The previous time (years ago now) it required me to re-download apps and it seemed almost like starting over fresh. This time it almost restored a 100% clone.

My wife keeps telling me I’m expecting to much from the iPhone/hearing aid technology connection. Nope. It was not marketed as a work-in-progress but instead as a fantastic paradigm shift and MFI. Okay, I don’t exactly believe the marketing either. The truth is that the hearing aids work in many daily situations. When I can’t hear something I know how to use the volume control. If there is still to much interference to hear well I assume most other folks can’t hear it either. I hardly every have issues while driving. Both my SUV and pickup take priority connections. The ability to talk on the phone without holding it to my ear is absolutely wonderful. When I’m working in the field I wear a surveyors safety vest. I just place the phone in an upper pocket with the microphone aimed up and keeps talking. Unless there is a lot of loud noise (like backup alarms) close by I can hear just fine and the callers say they can too. The couple idiosyncrasies are more annoyance than problem. When Oticon comes up with a wireless lapel mike it will be near perfect.

You should listen to your wife…

So I’ve settled on Oticon OPn1s

The firmware has been updated, overall sound quality is much better than the 2s. Bluetooth issues such as drift L-R during a phone call not as bad yet still occurs. Am having to manually reconnect aids to iPhone less often, the Toyota BT connection is more stable. The Connect microphone might be a cool product when it is eventually rolled out.

From what I have read on these forums, none of the aids are perfect all the time. In my case, there’s bound to be a generous margin of operator error. These OPn 1s seem to work best for me. I can now once again distinguish violins from violas, pick out just one singer’s voice in a chorus and best of all I can hear my favorite people easily and without asking them to repeat themselves. If I turn on the tv, the volume is just fine at 12. Batteries (312 size) last me about 4 days, with around an hour or 2 streaming and being on 18 hours/ day.

I’ve trained myself to use the Do Not Disturb feature on the iPhone when I visit a client or professional, go to the movies, meetings, etc. That way, any of my earlier BT settings are not compromised. The connectivity in the vehicle is unaffected, and truthfully, I don’t really need to be using the iPhone for voice calls when driving. The streets are too full of drivers multitask driving as it is. There’s no compelling reason for me to purposefully add to bad traffic statistics.

Thanks for all your replies, you have all helped me.

1 Like

It’s rare to hear from posters on this forum who had a chance to try multiple versions of the OPN (like 1 vs 2 or vs 3) and reporting back which one they decided on. I think you’re only the second or third person who said they tried both the OPN1 and OPN2 and decided on the 1. I never heard from anyone who say they tried both and couldn’t tell a difference so they settle for the 2 (or 3). I just went for the 1 because the 2 and 3 weren’t even available at the time.

So if you can indulge my curiosity, can you elaborate on how the 1 is better than the 2? I know you said sound quality. Is it just overall sound quality? Or is it mainly speech that is clearer? How about speech clarity in a noise environment like a restaurant? Or is it the music (you mentioned that you have better music clarity to differentiate between violin and viola)? I’m just looking to know strictly what the differences are which you can perceive between the 2 and the 1?