Oticon vs Widex for critical music listening

I have mild to moderate hearing loss and two years ago got Widex top of the line HAs (don’t remember the model anymore- Evoke maybe?). The first time I used them for a live concert I was stunned, amazed by the 3D sound! The instruments seemed spread out in space in a way I don’t remember hearing since I don’t know when. It was incredible! I used the Widex with my home stereo, though, and they were shrieky and distorted some sounds. I got rid of them and got Oticon Opn S. They sound good for most things but that 3D effect of live concerts isn’t there like with the Widex.

I think I dumped the Widex too fast out of frustration. I was new to HAs and hadn’t fully adjusted yet and I was listening in General mode, not Music mode and so all the extra processing can mess with music reproduction.

Has anyone had experience with these two brands listening to music? Do you prefer one over the other? Have you experienced the 3D/surround sound effect from either or is that just a HA newbie experience?

I only have the OPN 1s and don’t have the Widex Evoke so I can’t really compare the 2 for you. But I really don’t know what you mean by 3D sounds. I can hear surrounding sounds with the OPN 1 just fine, meaning sounds from behind, in front, on the sides, etc, and I can tell which locations they’re from. That’s pretty much 3D to me. When I’m at a concert, I hear music coming from all directions where the instruments are.

Basically what you want to look for is the “binaural” effect/technology that a hearing aid has. But pretty much all of the major brand HAs support binaural communication so one can determine the origin of where the sounds come from.

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I only have experience with Widex and currently have the Evokes but the beautiful sound you describe is what has kept me choosing Widex for 25 years. You will be able to get them right for you with fine tuning. I use the universal programme and once everything was set up exactly right to the compass software, didn’t need to change programmes. I go to a lot of live music shows but they are great at everything. You can always ask the dispenser to speak to Widex for advice if any issues.

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@devicktimothy01 What @Volusiano described is true of the OPN S1 as well.What you need is to enable the Music Program which adjusts compression, and turns off all the voice enhancement features.
You will find the music much improved.

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Yeah, it’s not clear to me if @devicktimothy01 knows about the built-in Music program in the OPN and OPN S or not. But @flashb1024 is spot on about it. The built-in Music program basically disables most of the signal processing in the OPN/S and it really opens up the sound space even more than it’s already open with the “open” paradigm. I guess you can say that it seems to add a “3D” effect to the music because of this extra “openness”. But it’s really not 3D per se, it’s just letting you hear everything without any noise reduction and with minimal signal processing so you notice even more “depth” in what you hear than before with the Default program.

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@Volusiano the OP has 2 threads going on this subject already.

Ah thanks! I see it now. I guess the other thread didn’t have the keyword Oticon so I ignored it before.

I’m not sure how much of an audiophile one can be anymore with a hearing loss, unless it’s a very slight loss to begin with.

Also to clarify, to me, an audiophile is not just a music lover, but is also someone very keen/picky about the fidelity and quality of music. That’s why I think if one has a hearing loss and can no longer hear clearly beyond 4 KHz (assuming a normal ski slope hearing loss), one would lose the ability to discern the full spectrum of music, then how does one know what one is missing? And hearing aids can only amplify up to around the 8-10 KHz range anyway, so do audiophiles not mind being unable to hear up to 20 KHz anymore?

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Oh, @Volusiano: how I wish I could express myself as delicately yet as clearly as you do! :disappointed_relieved:

[@flashb1024, who has the gift of being able to read my thoughts, could probably describe to you my inimitable “SpudSoft Touch®️”, in the event that you, yourself, have not already discerned it! Oh, the humanity!!]

For me, at least, I care more about how the music sounds. I want it to sound real, to transport me into another dimension so to speak, to get lost in the music. I want to hear as much of the details in the music as I can, to have the sounds of instruments seem “right”, etc. I’m a serious music listener but not a total gear head either.

Music is my escape from this insane world. I can’t live without music. Take away my music and I’ll die.

The same music on the stereo in my car sounds way different than music through my various headphones, than through my computer speakers, etc. I use an external DAC with my cd player because I like the way it makes music sound compared to the cd player without this DAC.

There are numerous symphonies that have played some of my favorite music used by the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”. That particular recording is my “reference” because I love the movie. I frequently hear some of that music on radio or other places and I can tell pretty quickly whether it’s my “reference” version or not by the timing/pacing, where this or that particular instrument that sticks in my memory sounds “right” or not.

My hearing used to be better, like all of us here, but it has deteriorated over the years from loud noise and live music. I bought hearing aids because music no longer sounded right and hoped they would help bring music back to life. All I can do is work with the hearing I’ve got to get my music to sound as good as I can get it.

Forget the labels. Does that help you understand me better?

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My audiologist created a music program that disables all the fancy bells and whistles - frequency shifting, compression, noise reduction, etc. It only attempts to compensate for my hearing loss.

I wish HAs corrected all the way out to 20khz but they don’t and I just have to live with that. Someday maybe HA manufacturers will care enough about music listeners to extend the frequency response of their HAs.

@devicktimothy01, after wearing Oticon Opn1 for four years I tried Widex Evokes. As a musician I was sure I’d love them, having heard about Widex’s legendary music fidelity. But…I didn’t like them. They were ok, but not as good as the Opn1 I had been wearing.
I asked my audi to try adjusting them several times. He said that if I had such an enthusiastic initial reaction to them, more adjustments weren’t likely to help.
I tried Phonak Paradise and liked them. I was surprised at how good music sounded with them. I ended up with Oticon More. They are an incremental improvement over the Opn1, but sometimes I wish I had chosen the Phonaks.
One suggestion: I would choose hearing aids for speech comprehension first. IMHO speech comprehension is more important than music sound quality.

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I’m surprised that the Widex didn’t work for you for music. They are supposed to have a reputation for music reproduction. Can you give me an idea what you didn’t like about the way they reproduced music? Were you using the normal, everyday mode or the Music program?

I’ve heard different things about phonaks for music. Some people say they love them for music while others hated them for music. What did you like so much about the way the phonaks reproduced music?

My Oticons give way too much of everything in the midrange frequencies unless I’m using Music mode and leave me with listening fatigue after a just a few cd tracks. The Music setting is better in many ways but I hear better highs (cymbals, etc) with the General (non-Music setting).

I could try Phonak and Widex on trial, one at a time, but I’d have to wait until insurance would help pay for the switch from Oticon to something else.

@devicktimothy01: It’s definitely hard to accept, but perhaps you need to understand/ consider/ appreciate that parts of your hearing mechanism are dying and no hearing aid in the world can bring them back to life.

The hearing instruments can’t restore your lost 20kHz perception, partly because they can’t go that high, and partly because - even if they could - your ears are now functionally dead in that range. Bombarding the cochlea with more sounds won’t have a Lazarus effect on the hair cells that are gone.

Them’s the facts.

You may have more success by simply finding a good fitter with the patience and access to various makes to attempt to meet your expectations.

This quote of your words is about right. If you can keep yourself to a set of realistic expectations, you may have greater success.

Good luck with your quest.

Very true, but let me it put into perspective, from my standpoint.

1st, nobody over the age of 30 can hear up to 20khz.The average is ±12khz.
Most of us as young adults heard up to ±16khz.

But what we do hear, and feel listening to or playing live music is the depth, and detail of what remains, with a well programmed music mode.

Even as we lose the ability to hear the higher frrequencies, we retain some ability to remember.
Today, with my profound to severe upper frequency loss, I can tell the difference between a track recorded in HQ, CD,and 128kbps MP3, and with 90% certainty discern the difference.

What we’re missing , of course, are the overtones, brilliance, and nuances of the upper octave, but what we’re getting is still enough to put a smile on most of our faces.
I hope this makes sense.

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Excellent my SpudGunning friend! See my post above.

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This is truly impressive, @flashb1024 ! I never did any detailed experimentation myself (like doing an A/B/C comparison of listening the same track recorded in various recording resolutions) to see if I can discern quality differences between them, but I’m fairly happy with whatever I hear if it used to be in CD quality then transferred over to MP3 later. So I guess I don’t have that discerning ability in my hearing to recognize the recording qualities per se. It goes to show how individual hearing losses are different even if the audiograms show similarities.

@flashb1024 unfortunately I can’t use headphones with my behind the ear HAs. The microphones are on the HA body behind the ear and those mics can’t “hear” my headphones.

I could get BT-capable (BT=Bluetooth) headphones and the Oticon Clip BT receiver and listen to music that way I guess. If have to stream it from my phone and I’d have to load the music I wanted to listen to onto my phone before listening. Sounds like a big pain.

I have read a number of HA reviews where people say that their HAs don’t sound very good when streaming BT. One of the latest BT technologies is called “Apt X” and supposedly has better frequency response and sound than previous BT implementations but I don’t think Oticon uses Apt X BT technology.

From what I’ve seen from Oticon I doubt they ever will. I don’t think they give a damn about music listeners.

You may want to double check. If you have the OPN S R (the rechargeable version), it should have the telecoil option in it. All you have to do is add a telecoil program and you can now use headphones with it just fine. It won’t be picking up the headphones sound through the mic anymore. It’ll pick it up via the telecoil.

Even with my OPN 1 (not the S), which doesn’t have the telecoil built-in, I’m still able to use headphones on it just fine with the Autophone model enabled on my OPN 1 (this uses the small coil used for NFMI Near Field Magnetic Induction communication between the HAs). I just have to put the HAs inside my ear well to center it better relative to the headphones. It works OK with it behind the ear as well, but then you’d have to slide your headphones back a little to center the HAs to the headphones. But telecoil would be the ideal solution for headphones listening with HAs.

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Do any of the other major brand HAs use the Apt X BT? If none, then I wonder why blame Oticon only and not just the entire HA industry?

Also, if Apt X BT is the latest tech then maybe it’ll take some time for the HA industry to catch up on it. That is, if they determine that there’s a discernible difference between the quality of the Apt X BT and that of the regular BT when it comes to HAs which can only amplify from 125 Hz up to around 8-10 KHz anyway. After all, HAs receivers are not of the same audiophile quality of full-size headphones that support from 40 Hz to 20 KHz range. So it’s not clear if the Apt X BT would sound much different than regular BT if the tiny little HA receivers can’t deliver the range and the oomph in the first place. It never occur to many folks that the HA receiver has the major physical limitation of being a tiny little speaker and is absolutely no match or even in the same league as audiophile headphones.

Oticon has a wide input dynamic range of 113 dB SPL so that you can get optimal sound quality when listening to live (loud) music. So I think it’s a near-sighted conclusion to generalize about Oticon not giving a damn about music listeners.

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TBH, an MP3 ripped from CD at 320kbs is really very hard to tell from the original.
When I started ripping my Vinyl collection to MP3 I found that 192kbs to 320kbs VBR rips were great, and saved a lot of HDD space.