OPN questions for a loyal Oticon buyer

Hi all, I’ve been a long time Oticon user for 25 years since I was five years old. I’d greatly appreciate your thoughts and help for these questions as I am deciding on whether to upgrade my Alta2 Pro hearing aids that I purchased two years ago to the OPN series.

A. Rechargeable Questions:

  1. Can the new hearing aids interchangeably use Zpower rechargeable system and the 312 zinc air battery system?

  2. What is the lifetime in terms of years for the Zpower rechargeable batteries?

  3. Is this new miniRITE 105db receiver the most powerful version of OPN? My hearing loss ranges from 65 to 85 on both ears and I currently have the 90? db receiver that seems to be lacking in power compared to my older Epoq Xw.

B. Connectivity Questions:

  1. Do these hearing aids have compatibility with Direct Audio Boots/Shoes? My old Agil Pros worked with them and allowed for wired headphones, which I sorely miss since the Streamer wireless audio quality is lacking. Examples of Oticon boots are listed here: http://www.connevans.co.uk/catalogue/156/Oticon---Direct-Input-Shoes-for-Hearing-Aids

  2. Have any of you heard any update from Oticon on whether direct streaming capabilities will be available for Google Pixel or Samsung Galaxy phones? I had heard rumors that Oticon is running a beta/trial program to test Android phone direct streaming compatibility. The iPhone currently has this.

C. Water Resistance Questions:

  1. How much depth and duration can these hearing aids be submerged underwater for its IP68 water resistance certification? (e.g., IP68 certification varies by manufacturer. For example, Samsung Galaxy IP68-rated S7 Edge phones states 1m depth for 30 mins of water resistance)

  2. Can these new IP68 hearing aids be worn in the shower?

  3. Can these new IP68 hearing aids be worn in the swimming pool?

D. Pricing and Timeline Questions:

  1. Will there be a promotion for these new hearing aids? What’s the general pricing range for these OPN aids?

  2. When will this new hearing aids be available? Reports say late June 2017

  3. Where can I sell back my current Alta2 Pro hearing aids to a 3rd party at a reasonable price? It is still under warranty.

Thanks in advance for all your advice!

don’t have time / experience to go into all points, but the words are water resistant and not water proof. You can take them outside when it is drizzling but not heavily raining. I don’t think they can withstand being submerged into water.

105dB receiver is the maximum and only comes in a custom power mold.

A.1. Yes, as far as I understand, if you opt for the ZPower rechargeable system, if you forget to recharge the night before or if you travel and don’t want to pack the ZPower charger with you, you simply swap out the ZPower Silver-Zinc rechargeable batteries (and save them somewhere of course), and put in the disposable Zinc-air batteries. Basically you replace the normal door with the ZPower door which has the rechargeable circuitry and voltage regulator circuity built into ZPower door and around the rechargeable battery. I think they need the voltage regulator to bring the rechargeable battery voltage down to a more comparable level of the disposable battery because the rechargeable battery has a higher operating voltage if not regulated.

A.2. The Zpower website estimates their rechargeable battery to last over a year, or replace about 100 disposable batteries. The Oticon announcement estimates between 75-100 disposable replacement. For example, if you get 5 days out of your disposable batteries, the rechargeable one will last you between 375-500 days or about 1 year to 1 year 4.5 months roughly. Oticon hasn’t announced the price of their OEM ZPower system, but I heard that the ZPower system costs around $300 on other brands that OEM them, and the 2 rechargeable batteries cost $50/pair to replace.

A.3. Yes, the 105db receiver is the largest one now, but very soon (in May time frame?), they have already announced the BTE13 PP version which will accommodate 105db SPL to benefit people with severe to profound hearing loss. My hearing loss goes as high as 105db in both ears on the higher frequencies and the 85db receiver works just fine for me because my loss in under 85 in the mid and lower high range. Maybe a 105db might have been better for me on the highs, but the 85db receiver seems sufficient enough for me and that’s what the dispenser fitted me with, also partly because the 105db receiver wasn’t available at the time. What I’m looking forward to is the new Speech Rescue LX technology to be available in Firmware release 4 to released hopefully in May’17 to all OPN models. This technology will hopefully help speech clarity by moving the high frequency parts of speech down to the mid range and add it on top of the existing mid range speech sounds. It’s different from the existing frequency lowering strategy employed by other brands where they just squish the whole range of sounds down toward the mid range. The Speech Rescue from Oticon doesn’t do this, but instead takes the high end of the speech part and move it down (not squish it down) and add it on top of the existing mid range. I think this is better in theory because by not squishing the sound range, you preserve the authenticity of the mid range sound, you just get the inaudible high parts added on top of the more audible mid range area so you get the additional information you’ve been missing without sacrificing the authenticity of the original mide range sound. It looks like a good idea in theory, so I’m excited to get to try it out in practice to see how effective it’ll be.

B.4. Sorry I don’t know anything about Direct Audio Boots and also haven’t heard any announcement about it for the OPN.

B.5. There will be no direct streaming on existing Android phones in the foreseeable future because existing Android phones lack support for a Bluetooth Low Energy standard that supports low energy direct audio streaming. The recently standardized BLE 5 protocol has yet to be adopted by Android phone mfgs in their existing models. The Android mfgs have to start incorporating BLE 5 in their future phone models first before the HA mfgs can start supporting them. Oticon already finished the beta program to test the ON mobile app for Android and they released the Android OPN mobile app back in Dec’16. But the ON mobile app for both Android and iOS only supports control for the OPN, and not direct audio streaming. Direct audio streaming for iOS 9.3 or later on iPhone and iPad is possible because the OPN (and a few other HA mfgs) can make use of and support the proprietary Apple BLE protocol already available on iPhones and iPads and iPod with iOS 9.3 or later. But for direct streaming between the OPN and the Oticon TV Adaptor 3.0, and possibly the already-late-to-be-released Oticon ConnectClip 3.0 streamer, it looks like Oticon licensed and used the CEVA RivieraWaves BLE protocol between those devices and their OPNs.

C.6.7.8. I think Oticon only advertises that you can wear the OPN while working out or in the rain without having to worry about sweat and rain water intruding the HA with its IP68 rating. I remember it specifically said somewhere that you’re not supposed to shower or go swimming with it.

D.9. There’s already a promotion going on where you get $150 gift card for purchasing the OPN between 11/29/2016 through end of May’17. I just got my $150 gift card from them in the mail today. You just fill out some form online and put down the Serial Number of your HA to claim it. Search a thread on this forum that talks specifically about this. Another member beside me also reported receiving his $150 gift card today as well. As for general pricing, if you go through your local audi channel, expect them to range in the low $6K to low $7K per Opn1 pair. If you buy them online, FactoryDirectHearing.com sells them for $3,700 per OPN1 pair, BuyHear.com sells them for $3,800 per OPN1 pair. The OPN2 and 3 are about $400 and $1K lower than the OPN1 respectively. Many people have bought them online and get initial and remote programming service for them from home just fine. I have insurance and my insurance company paid my local audi around $3700 (after they negotiated with my audi) and I paid my audi $310 out of pocket for a pair of OPN1, so if you can get a local audi to sell and service a pair of OPN1 for you for a price in the low $4K, I think that should be a good deal.

D.10. What new HAs are you referring to? The OPN1, 2, and 3 are already out. The rechargeable option (retrofitable to all OPN lines) and the physical miniRite telecoil version and the BTE13 PP version, and the new firmware package 4 with Speech Rescue LX and Tinnitus SoundSupport were just announced earlier this month (April’17). No availability date was included in the announcement. If you have reports that say late June’17 availability for these, please share here the sources of these reports. Noticeably absent was any mention of availability date for the ConnectClip 3.0 streamer that Android phone users have been told should come out in Q1’17. Some other sources seem to have revised this availability vaguely to late 2017.

D.11. You can try selling your Alta2 Pro on eBay. There are a lot of older HAs for sale on eBay. You should check to see if the warranty is transferable to a third party buyer or not before advertising that it’s still under warranty. If I were you and can’t get a good price for them on eBay, I’d keep it as a backup pair in case you need to send your new HAs in for repair.

Thank you so much for the detailed response and help! Sincerely appreciate it!

Also to answer your question, the new hearing aids that I’m also referring to are the Rechargeable hearing aid version that has the 105db custom mold receiver.

Also to clarify on A.1. further, YOU don’t replace the normal door with the Zpower battery door. If you buy it as a rechargeable system, it should have come from the factory with the ZPower door already. If you have to retrofit a non-rechargeable OPN to add in the rechargeable option, then you take it to your service provider and THEY will replace the plain door with the ZPower door for you. Also, when you switch to use disposable battery, you don’t remove the whole ZPower door. You just remove the rechargeable battery from the ZPower door and insert the disposable battery in its place inside the ZPower door.

But to clarify, I don’t own a ZPower so what I said about it so far is only from my understanding of how it works based on my research from the ZPower website and the recent Oticon announcements.

Thank you for sharing the mechanics. I am very curious on how the Zpower Rechargeable system and Direct Audio Boots (DAI) boot compatibility will be interoperable.

Did you purchase a set or still have the Alta’s ?

I’m in process of buying the OPN by the end of the month. I am looking to sell my Alta2 Pro. Are you interested?

I own a pair of what you have now. :slight_smile: They are out for repair / refurbishment since warranty will be concluded next month. I’m wearing demo OPN’s now . I was just wondering if you made the jump and why you felt the need .

I wanted more power with the 105db amplifier and also I was dissatisfied with the Streamer wireless audio quality.

So I am hoping that the OPN will have better audio quality in terms of the below:
1 improved phone audio quality better than the Streamer (switching to iPhone 8 in the fall)
2 improved conversational audio quality. Especially in noisy bars
3 IFTTT geek customization
4 greater amplification from the new 105db receiver

How has your experience been so far with the demo OPN and how do they compare to the Alta2 Pro?

I just got them today. I downloaded the app to my 6S phone and had them connected in seconds. Works great and i give it a big thumbs up over the streamer. As to the rest i’ll try to give you my answer in about a week.

Great! Glad to hear and can’t wait to hear your results

I just had these handed over to me with no real information on them. So i have absolutely No Background on them. Nothing to prejudice me and i’ll keep it that way by staying completely away from the Oticon sales hype site .

Well it just dawned on me Music from my phone is now in Stereo. That’s not the case with the streamer / Alta2 Pro package. That was a huge complaint with us purchasing such a high end item but No Stereo. Anyway music from my phone is suddenly interesting again. It’s a WOW

Stereo is big! This is through iPhone streaming or the TV adapter?

I missed stereo when I lost my ability to use wired headphones via Direct Audio Input (DAI) cables on the Alta2 Pro.

Thanks for sharing. How is the bass/treble quality?

Obviously these are hearing aids and not a set of Beats . That being said bass / treble would be controlled from the phone. I find the music EQ that comes with the iPhone is useless. I went through that and honestly it all sounds the same to me. Anyone know of a great Equalizer app for iPhone ?

OPN stereo is a huge improvement over Alta2 Pro mono.

Ok so these are great hearing aids but honestly no better than the Alta2 Pro when it comes to hearing speach . I cannot hear any difference on that basis alone.

The improvement for me would be simply in the bluetooth. Head over heals better than the Alta . That is just not enough for me to spend the thousands and leave my 3 year old Alta 2 Pro behind .

I will be giving the Widex Beyond 440 a test run within the week.

The OPN is not necessarily better for speech, but it may be different if you normally use a directional noise program on the Alta2 Pro in a noisy place for speech. In this case, while you understand speech equally well between the Alta2 Pro and the OPN, the difference is that you’ll hear more of other sounds around you in a noisy place but still understand speech well with the OPN because it still has the ability to clean up the noise from the speech in front without having to block out the surrounding sounds. Meanwhile, with the Alta2 Pro, if you go to a directional noise program to block out surrounding sounds to help you focus on speech, it’ll help you understand speech well, but at the expense of not being able to hear other surrounding sounds well.

I know you mentioned earlier that you try to get a more unbiased opinion of the OPN by having no background on them and don’t want to read any marketing hype on the OPN to form any bias. But that is basically the key difference between the OPN and previous Oticon HAs like the Alta2 Pro. So for people who are already happy with the directional noise program and are happy with speech in noise on the Alta2 Pro and don’t care to hear surrounding sounds well because they consider them noise, then the OPN doesn’t really offer any advantage for speech in noise. But for people who want to be able to hear speech well, but also be able to hear other surrounding sounds in a noisy place just as well, then the OPN offers this capability to them. For example, if there’s a waiter standing behind you talking about the menu, or multiple conversations going on at the table not just in front but also on your left and right, etc. then the OPN may work out better for you without your having to keep turning your head around because you’re not limited to having only the speech in front being clear.

Another scenario is in a noisy car. If you sit in the front and there’s somebody talking in the back seat. The OPN may let you hear that person talking in the back better compared to the Alta2 Pro.

That is the key differentiator between the OPN “open” paradigm vs the traditional directional speech in noise paradigm.

Like you said, these are HAs and not a set of Beats. So if you try to use the iPhone EQ to boost the bass you probably won’t be able to get any more bass out of the OPN because all HAs don’t have the physical attribute by nature of their tiny receivers to be able to produce great sounding bass anyway. Furthermore, if you’re fitted with open domes or large/multiple vents, the low frequency sounds (any little of it in the first place) will tend to leak out of the vents in your domes/molds already. You can control probably treble better from the phone but that’s usually not what people want to boost when they listen to music anyway, and usually because the HAs can already deliver the adequate amount of treble you want to hear so there’s usually no desire to boost the treble further. So even if you can find a phenomenal EQ app for the iPhone, it’s not going to help make the bass any better if the tiny HA receivers can’t produce great bass in the first place.

Thank you for sharing. Is this trial of OPN including the latest firmware update? I had heard it includes features like frequency transposition, etc.