Hearing and soft speaking voices and health issues


Well my research has come up with this our ears send sound signals to our cochlear which is realistically a part of our brain and It is the brain that sorts the signals impulses into what we hear. Also in most cases it is the brain that produces the sounds we hear that we call tinnitus due to the lack of stimulus from our ears due to hearing loss.


Well, what you just said is true. I think people are not used to being asked to speak up as I have found. I find it a little embarrassing when I do ask to speak up and I still can’t hear them, and ask again. I think soft speaking people don’t have a speak up voice.


Certainly. But also, when cells die in the cochlea the neurons the used to connect to them also die, and the ones connected to them die or get repurposed in a slightly disordered way when they don’t have their original signal to work with, and so on and so on upwards. So when you have hearing loss you not only lose soft sounds, which is arguably an effect of cochlear damage, but you also get a less clear more smeared sound (also a result of a loss of the active amplifer in the cochlea), and you lose the ability to localize sounds in space (the brain computes this further up, but is now lacking the necessary temporal fidelity) and thus the ability to pick a particular signal out of a sound scape. The death of neurons previously providing lateral inhibitory connections is also currently theorized to play a large part in the development of tinnitus and/or hyperacusis.

I mean, this is maybe a different sort of definition of “brain damage”. You could similarly imagine that if your arm is cut off, the areas in your brain that were previously devoted to using that arm either atrophy or are repurposed. That can be considered a sort of brain damage, but it’s not really what people think of when you speak of a brain injury. So perhaps I should have said “changes” to the auditory system rather than damage, which is a bit less loaded and your brain is constantly growing and pruning anyway.


Like the Low Talker episode on Seinfeld: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKWYg9qFOpA


I think this is a big misconception that the OPN implies that other HAs don’t offer 360 sounds. Everybody and anybody who has worn HAs KNOW that all HAs offer 360 sounds. Whether it’s via the music program or not, that’s irrelevant, but they all do.

When talking about the difference, it is IMPLIED, but perhaps not obvious to many folks apparently , that the openness difference we are talking about here is specific to noisy environments, because that’s where it matters the most.

In noisy environments, users of most HAS have the option to go into directionality beam forming, and they very often do so, while OPN users don’t really have this option (although technically they do, but not very effectively implemented). OPN users remain with their main program and with the 360 soundscape experience even in noisy environments. THAT’S the differentiation we’re talking about here. And again, in noisy environments.

And to take this differentiation further, OPN users gets helps with speech clarity despite having other sounds around them being exposed to them in noisy environments. While non OPN users get their speech clarity in noisy environments via the surrounding sounds being blocked out.

As for the brain hearing part, well, OF COURSE everybody regardless of which brand and models of HA’s uses brain hearing. But the difference is that the brain hearing of users of the non OPN HAs hear mostly the focused sound in front, and don’t hear as well the blocked surrounding sounds, by design, when they choose to engage in beam forming directionality, which most of them do. This gives these users tremendous help in focusing on the speech in front. Meanwhile, the brain hearing of OPN users don’t get that kind of help from the isolation of the noise from the speech, instead, they must hear everything, so they have to rely on THEIR brain doing more of the filtering of the noise and the focusing of the speech.

That is why Oticon brought up the concept of brain hearing on the OPN. NOT to imply that only OPN users have brain hearing and other HAs wearers don’t. But ONLY to imply that “hey, don’t worry if you don’t get help from your HAs to block out the noise via directionality beam forming, your brain can do that job just fine, so let your brain do that instead, and the positive trade off you get is that you get to hear all the surrounding sounds as you wish.”.

The whole idea is to break the traditional notion that the only way to hear speech better in a noisy place is to depend on your HAs to block out the noise. Oticon is simply saying that there are other ways to block out the noise -> depend on your brain hearing (which EVERYBODY has) to block out the noise instead of depending on your HAs to do that. You may be surprised to find out that your brain hearing may be able to do a better job of this than your HAs can. And with this approach, your brain hearing can switch focus on the fly at any moment to make anything previously considered noise into desired sounds.

I find it very easy to understand the brain hearing concept and why Oticon brought that up to help support their open paradigm. Just as I can see how it can easily be twisted around, or misunderstood, that it’s pure marketing gimmick by Oticon for making the OPN something special which they’re not because other HAs have 360 soundscape capability just as well and other users have brain hearing just as well. That has never been the position or contention that Oticon is trying to make. By the way, I don’t work for Oticon. I just use the OPN and I just understand what Oticon is trying to explain to users.


My experience with OPN 1s supports the view that the brain can and does provide the ability to ignore some sound while focusing on others. It’s not really doing any filtering… I still hear all the sounds, When I first got the HAs, I was inundated by all the sounds emanating from the surroundings. Now, after several months, I find that unless I consciously focus on them, I don’t notice them. I can better pick out a conversation in a crowd of people talking. It’s still very noisy, but I am able to focus on one conversation or another without thinking about it. It took a while before few months before I realized that I had developed (or redeveloped) this ability.


This is a great thread for me. I’ve had my first HA’s for 2 weeks and I have OPN1’s. I got some good info from this thread. Thanks to all for the precise explanations.


Thanks, @Volusiano, for explaining so clearly what I was apparently unable to convey successfully in my previous posts about the OPN hearing landscape and technology.

As has been discussed in other threads, we all have our subjective preferences and the best hearing aids for me might not be the best hearing devices for someone else. Hopefully, we all share our experiences as informational posts here for others to read and consider. I do find, however, that many posters are super loyal to the brand they wear (or to where they buy their hearing devices), and that sometimes leads people to respond defensively when they don’t agree. I try to respect all opinions and not be guilty of that myself. However, at the same time, I have trialed several brands and I just wanted to share what works best for me. Hopefully, we all take the information shared here in stride, and we don’t get overly excited if some folks don’t agree with us about the OPNs. Thanks again, and cheers to all. :wink:


The opn is taking a snapshot of the sound environment behind you, moment by moment, and subtracting it from the sound environment in front of you in order to filter out noise. It is doing an enormous amount of processing to reduce the background babble so that you can hear speech around you more clearly. The hearing aid is doing this for you.

Oticon contrasted it against narrow beam forming because that is what their two biggest competitors use. It is, however, still a wide directional strategy. Not an omnidirectional strategy.


As far as I know, this is a false supposition for the Quattro’s. In the “All-Around” mode, the Quattro’s are still hearing all-around and I have no sense of beam-forming if someone starts speaking. I still hear noise and other people talking from everywhere. Perhaps 2, 4, 6 years ago, sound blinders was what most other brands other than Oticon Opn’s did. If you read the Quattro PR, they claim to achieve the same sort of openness that Opn users have been enjoying.

From ReSound’s Quattro PR web page:

"Clearer speech

Easily focus on speech in noisy environments

For years, the ReSound philosophy has been to deliver sounds to the brain the way nature intended. Our new technology makes it easier to pick up speech and sound from any direction without losing out on the sounds around you.

From the bustling street to the busy restaurant you can follow conversations and still hear the sounds around you. Wherever you are, you get a more natural and balanced listening experience."

Sounds like Oticon Opn PR to me. I’m at a disadvantage in that I didn’t bother trying any other models of HA’s than the Quattro’s but it does seem as many have remarked on this forum that every HA manufacturer has their version of “it’s gets your laundry whiter than white. No other detergent can do what this hearing aid does for you ……” And brand loyalty clouds a lot of objective analysis. “I wouldn’t have spent $x,xxx thousands of dollars on it if it wasn’t the best…” ( I know you get yours on eBay, Volusiano!). It would be great if there were a Consumer Reports type lab that actually put HA’s to the test and objectively and scientifically tested if the manufacturers’ various claims were actually true. Various people have remarked that even whether an HA user has had an REM fitting and it has been done correctly can make all the difference. Since our hearing is all different (my two ear canals have very different shapes, for instance), I pretty much take all claims of “my hearing aid is the best” - including such claims for the Quattro’s - as one’s subjective experience and I think the most important thing is whether you’re hearing all you need to as well as you need to in your particular environment and enjoying the sound of what you do hear.

I don’t think that pointing out that a claim about Opn’s uniqueness might now be false is “responding defensively…” It’s just pointing out what may have been true for Opn’s two years ago may no longer be true now as other HA manufacturers claim to be catching and are no longer selling you sound blinders but are claiming, also, that you will hear speech and other sounds clearly from all directions with their brand as well. That’s my perception for my Quattro’s but I may have bought into the “whiter than white…” ReSound PR.


I have a friend that had the resounds and he was explaining that he could hear all around in the same way that Oticon says that the OPNs do. I have found over the years that it seems that all of the top manufacturers come up with the same concepts at about the same time.


Not sure how you “know” because that’s not true. I got mine through a traditional audiology channel brand new with a full 3 year warranty. I’ve claimed warranty 3 times so far, a couple of times for receiver replacement and one time I sent it back for a moisture related mic issue. The first few appointments I even had an Oticon rep show up to help my audi out in programming the OPNs for me. He wasn’t very helpful anyway, but that’s beside the point.

But if what you said is a joke then never mind. I can’t tell if it was intended as a joke or not, though.


Sorry! Perhaps I’m confusing you with PVC or stuff for DIY bought on eBay. I’m basically an old geezer who read a lot, remembers (correctly) little!


It’s great to hear that the Quattro can do some kind of “All-Around” mode (however it does it).

The contention here is not that anybody is claiming that the OPN has a monopoly on hearing all-around sounds, like your reaction implied toward Richfamus1’s comment about the 360 hearing experience.

I think Richfamus1 simply conveyed how the OPN different from traditional beam forming approach of other HAs. I didn’t see him say anywhere that the OPN is still the only one that allows you to hear all-around.

So if the Quattro can now achieve that kind of 360 experience effectively, it’s simply a win-win to consumers.


Haha, no problem. PVC definitely does that and is proud of it. If I can do that, I’d be proud of it myself, too!


It wasn’t original with the OPN. Brain Hearing was Oticon’s Schtick for the Alta2 as well which I wore for three years. And that’s fine. All the manufacturers have their own “Thing” that they use to market their product. So we all wade through the hype and reviews and tech sheets and color brochures and (please rise and place your hand over your heart) Dr. Cliff videos until we finally stick one in our ears and get to the one thing that really matters–DOES IT WORK.


I’m not embarrassed anymore, in fact the opposite. Hearing impairment is a disability. They need to deal with it as much as we do.


What you said is very accurate, Neville. While it sounds like Oticon employs an omnidirectional strategy, they actually don’t. In the OpenSound Navigator processor, after the Analyze module, the sound is fed into the Balance module, which is “essentially a directionality system that uses a Minimum-Variance Distortion-less Response beam former.(MVDR). This algorithm is widely used in different system to improve SNR and detectability” (quote from the OpenSound Navigator white paper).

This is how well placed noise sources are “balanced” out. Then the processed sound gets fed into the Noise Removal module, which takes care of the “diffused” (not well placed) noise from the front speech via the noise model which Neville mentioned above…

So yes, the OPN is doing A LOT for you, using an enormous amount of processing. That is why it’s effective. Otherwise what’s the point, right?

NEVERTHELESS, you STILL hear ALL the sounds. It does NOT eliminate the background babble based on my personal experience. I can still hear all the background babble just the same. But, in parallel, I still do hear the front speech more clearly. Like Neville said, the noise reduction is MOMENT BY MOMENT (10 ms intervals), and ONLY when there is speech present. In between the sentences, the background babble can still be heard.loud and clear. This is where the brain will need to do its job to filter out the babble and any other noise heard, and focus on hearing the (clearer) speech when it comes.


The voice of sanity. Of course it is. What would be the reason for having it if all it was doing was collecting 360 degrees worth of sound and funneling it down the ear canal? Oticon is a fine aid and it works for some and not for others just like all the rest. Billy wears jeans that are 34x34. Willy’s are 38x30. Which ones are better?


I HAVE tried the OPN1 and the Quattro.
The OPN was somewhat better than Linx 3D. The Quattro matches OPN step for step…maybe surpasses it. I had settled on Linx 3D because Resounds accessory line was exactly what I needed. The Quattro came out and I had them swapped out. I am very very pleased.

For straight hearing assistance, it would be hard to go wrong with either one.