I’ve been looking for a thread on this very topic to chime in on my experience with the Oticon Opn that I’ve been wearing since last December vs the Oticon Agil Pro ITE aids I’ve had for about 4 years now. First off: very salient question as to WHY the brain is somehow going to be able to re-learn how to hear in noisy, chaotic environments just by using Oticon Opn aids when it has maybe NOT done that when wearing older aids like my Agil Pro.
I think I’ve given these two pairs of aids a very LONG and very fair test. I have worn both of them for days at a stretch in myriad environments: quiet home, listening to music, wearing headphones, at the gym, in grocery stores, on a plane, in the airport lounge, on the phone (landline, cell), in front seat of cars, back seat, at restaurants: sitting outdoors and in, at the doc’s office, in humid climates, at high altitude in dry climates, with sunglasses on, winter hat, sun hat, on strolls around the town, in the supermarket - if I’ve left anything out, just fill in the blank. In short: I have worn these two types of aids in EVERY living situation I’ve been exposed to in a decade the past 7 months.
My verdict: The Opn is still not my “go-to” aid. I am kind of shocked to have to say that, given that I spent $6K on the pair. Also that they did not come with any streaming device compatible with the Samsung phone (altho I was told it would be out in Q1 2017). I am actually used to the complete cludge of my life now: two sets of aids, two sizes of batteries to keep on hand, one Streamer Pro for the Agil Pros, one Sennheiser headphone for the Opn’s. I ask myself: is this the optimum customer scenario Oticon had in mind when marketing their aids to folks like me?
I’ve read that the new signal processing tech of the Opn offers wearers a whole new LIVE experience: to hear sounds like we’ve never heard before! Also to stimulate neural connections in our brains so that we, too, can hear speech in a myriad of situations just like a normal person (or close to it). Well, for me, that has simply not been the case.
When I travel with the Opns in, I find I can not understand folks right in front of me in airports, restaurants or any place with lots of ambient noise. Their voice is simply not as loud or CLEAR as the myriad noises competing with them. When I traveled with a group of 18 to Japan in May, I had to remove my Opns right at SFO. Could not hear them. Put my Agil Pro aids in, set to Program 2, and voila! No prob discriminating speech with directional program and competing noises dampened down.
At the doc’s office today, a gal was taking my info down and in the middle of her questions, the exam room’s A/C kicked in. GOOD LORD, I could not hear a thing she said over the roar of the HVAC, no kidding. Is this what Opns are encouraging us to live with? It was very stressful. I can’t tell you how many times and places I have had this same situation crop up: when the acoustics of a room or surrounding simply defeat the Opns ability to boost SPEECH over any other sound.
The only true benefit my Opns offer over the Agil Pros is in the soft, double-dome tip. My ear canals seem to swell up on a daily basis, and these softer domes are a GOD-SEND in terms of being able to put a pair of aids in first thing in the morning. As I now wear them about half or 2/3 of the day, I’m even finding that my hard plastic case Agil Pros are harder and harder to fit in the ear canal. That causes squeaky leakage and my jamming them in tighter till they hurt.
I will go back in to see my aid-guy and present the pros and cons of the two sets of aids. Maybe he can tinker with the programming of the Opns to remove that HARSH, shattering confusion of sounds mostly at the high end that simply competes with and crushes common speech. A little bit of this high-end clarity goes a LONG way. Yes, it can help discriminate speech in a QUIET setting, but add in any other kind of ambient noise, and I want to yank the aids out and put in my old Agil Pros.
I wish someone would invent a zip tip or some kind of softer material for ITE aids, cuz I’m convinced they produce more natural sound. They fit in the ear cup and point forward - like our own hearing apparatus. If it was optimal for hearing to have a mic pointed up at the ceiling, surely we as a species would’ve evolved to that point, with our ear canal pointing UP. But instead, the whole set-up is to enable forward listening, with the added benefit of normal hearing folks picking up sounds behind them.
I guess I wish Oticon product development would somehow illustrate to me how this new listening technology with bazillions of sounds hammering my eardrums and brain is better than a device that separates out human speech and amplifies that. Or am I just quacking in a vacuum here?