What I like about the OPN is that it’s very simple to the user on the outside, yet very effective. You can just use the default program that comes with it 95% of the times or more. I never touch my phone app to try to control anything on the OPN. Even volume and program control can be done directly via the buttons on the hearing aids.
This is in stark contrast to the current/new wave of hearing aids that stout this program and that program, this control and that control on their phone apps. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with this if you like to have lots of control at your finger tip. The question is whether you want to bother to deal with all that stuff, or you want to let the hearing aid deal with all that stuff for you.
This doesn’t mean that the OPN doesn’t have as many features and functionalities as the other hearing aids. You can look at their marketing brochure and you’ll see them list their features/functionalities up the ying/yang just like anybody else. But when it comes down to using it, all their features and functionalities are seamlessly transparent to you, and all you need to do is worry about volume control. And if you have the TV Adapter, then 2 programs, the default program, and how to switch between the default program to the TV program.
The reason many people say that the OPN is the most natural sounding hearing aid to them is because they take a drastically different approach in dealing with noise. They do, but they also don’t. They deal with noise in a very subtle way, solely to clarify speech. Yet it takes a lot of computing power and a different paradigm to achieve this. And they don’t deal with noise because in their new paradigm, nothing really is noise. Instead they’re just natural sounds around you. Whether you want to hear some sound and not others, it’s up to your brain to decide. Because of this, you’re not missing any sound, and as a result, everything sounds more natural, naturally. Even something as subtle as the natural reverbation in the room can be noticed easily with the OPN.
But with the KS8, you can also pick their 360 program and you’ll hear everything in every direction like Don said. Then it becomes wide open like the OPN, except that the diffused noise on the speech may not be cleaned up as nicely as can be done by the OPN. I think this is one of the key differentiation of the OPN. But whether this has value to you or not is subjective. Some people can understand speech diffused with noise just fine. Others may need more help with this, and this is where the OPN shines.
Many hearing aids now has auto sense to sense different listening environments to select the appropriate program automatically for you. Many people are happy with this as well and it makes things simple for them. It’s kinda like having an automatic transmission to pick different gears to match with different speeds in a car. On the OPN, it’s more like you only need one gear that works for any speed, so no need for an automatic transmission. But either way, you put it in Drive, and you go.