Would Oticon Opn S 1 be a significant improvement over Opn 1 for noisy situations?

I’d say that my biggest hearing challenging is hearing speech in noisy situations (see audiogram in profile). Now it’s true that since the pandemic started, there are far fewer opportunities for those, but I still want to hear fricatives better.

My audiologist got me a pair of refurbished OPN 1 BTE hearing aids for $1600 (covered entirely by my insurance). To be honest, they have been adequate, but not much more. Even though they have version 6.1 of the firmware, they do reboot occasionally (not just while streaming; streaming has its own issues with some crackling even when my iPhone is nearby). I wound up sending them back to the refurbisher (Prairie Labs) for repair, and they replaced some wires, mics, and mic tubes. Unfortunately, I’ve already experienced a reboot since the repair. They have a 2-year warranty through PL.

Because of these continued problems (and my complaints), my audiologist has proposed a pair of S1s for $3,000 more if I return the refurbished 1s to him.

If I can put up with the occasional reboot, would you say that the S1s are worth the significant outlay? I’m just wondering whether I would hear speech noticeably better. It’s true that I would also get a 3-year warranty covering loss and malfunction. Another consideration is that the S1s are by now somewhat old, and surely there will be an improved model from Oticon soon?

All I can tell you is this, I loved my OPN1 ITE aids, and I still have them as my backups. But as for as speech understanding the OPNS1 aids are far a head of the OPN1 aids when it come to my speech understanding. I notice a lot of difference in feedback. OPN1 I have feedback issues, that I have just learned to live with. The OPNS aids no noticeable feedback. Now there is one big difference that I believe is my winning point with the OPNS and the OPN aids and that is the power of the recievers. That is making a big difference. And for me, I have not had any issues with background noise with either the OPN or OPNS aids.
Will it they do the same for you I cannot say. It depends on your hearing loss, and what you are use to, and it also depends on how good your Audi is at working his magic with the aids.
Also, I will add this the REM test for me is just a starting point to ensure the aids do what the company says that do, then my Audi does his magic with them that he has learned about my needs over the 15 months that my Audi and I had monthly adjustments to get the best I could get. So when I got the OPNS1 aids all he did was transfer the OPN1 progamming to the OPNS1 aids and made the extra adjustments to take me the extra step that I needed that the OPN1 aids could not handle.

Speech in noise is one of my real issues, and to some degree it was dealt with by a succession of Oticon or Oticon off-brand (Costco) aids. I got OPN S1s a year ago after three years of decline in my hearing and it was a night-and-day experience in noise (receptions, restaurants, etc.) They probably need a little fine tuning after a year, but I remain quite happy with them. The units will occasionally make some odd chirping noises that are just minor annoyances, and on occasion have switched programs from regular to focused (speech in noise), or between that and the last program for use while I’m playing in a band. I am a big fan of this particular brand.

Eliot B.

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To answer the OP’s question, the OPN S1 and the OPN 1 has the same functionality when it comes to noise reduction feature for speech in noise.

The main difference between the 2 is that the S version has the new feedback prevention technology to improve and help eliminate feedback issues more effectively.

Since you don’t post your audiogram, we don’t really know what your hearing loss looks like and whether it’s prone to feedback issues or not. But if you don’t really have feedback issues with the OPN 1, or at least it’s under control by using the traditional feedback functionalities employed in the original OPN 1, the OPN S1 is probably not going to help you much in terms of noise reduction.

But if you DO have a significant hearing loss that makes feedback a challenge on your OPN 1, then most likely you will have a lot of gain reduction as part of the feedback control strategies to avoid positive loop gain (the point at which feedback starts to occur). This gain reduction in turn can reduce the signal to noise ratio that is needed for better speech understanding. So if you have steep hearing loss that needs aggressive feedback control with the OPN 1, the OPN S1’s feedback prevention technology (called OpenSound Optimizer) can help alleviate the feedback problem more effectively, enough to allow the normal 0 dB loop gain limit to be raised by up to 6 more dB into the positive loop gain and still keep feedback under control. This extra 6 dB gain can help you get better signal to noise ratio on your OPN S1 performance in noisy situation, thereby improving the speech clarity in noise.

So in short, if you don’t have much feedback issue with your OPN 1, chances are the OPN S1 will not help give you much more speech clarity than you can already get with the OPN 1 because they use the same noise reduction technology. But if you do have a lot of feedback issue, or you can barely keep it under control with the OPN 1, then the OPN S1 can help with better feedback control, and as a consequence, it may help with better speech clarity as well.

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That’s very helpful! I did post my audiogram in my profile – it’s under “Profile header” – but where should it be? Can you take a look?

I don’t experience much feedback with the OPN 1s, but the fact that the high-frequency bost adjustments that my audiologist wouldn’t “take” indicates that I’m not getting all the compensation that I need, wouldn’t it?

Across the top of each page is a row of icons you can select. The farthest right one is “FORUM”. Select that and behind that you will see My Hearing Test. Select that to get to where you can add your audiogram to be public to the forum like others have done.
Good luck.

Sorry, I just don’t see your audiogram under your profile at all. Usually there should be a headphone icon under your avatar if there’s an audiogram posted in your profile if there’s an audiogram there. You may want to check again.

Depending on your high frequency loss, you may (or may not) be able to make use of the Speech Rescue feature in the OPN, which is the frequency lowering technology. This should help let you hear higher frequency sounds in a lower frequency area where you hearing loss may not be as bad. But again, we need to see the audiogram to know if Speech Rescue would be helpful for you or not.

Done. Sorry for the mistake. Since SR remaps frequencies, how does that sound to the ear? Wouldn’t my audiologist have proposed SR if it made sense?

I can see your audiogram now. It’s not that bad. I can see why it’s not bad enough to warrant the use of Speech Rescue. There should be enough amplification to your high frequency area to compensate for the loss. That’s probably why your audi didn’t propose it.

But it doesn’t hurt to explore Speech Rescue and put it in one of the 4 programs you have just to see if you like it enough. You have plenty of Speech Rescue configuration options to choose from based on your loss. I would recommend the 2.4 configuration first, since that’s where your loss is still minimal. And if you don’t like it, switch to the 4.0 configuration next, where the frequency lowering destination region is not as low as the 2.4 configuration, so things may sound a little more natural for you.

As to how the frequency lowering sounds to the ear, I have my Speech Rescue set in the 2.4 configuration and it sounds fine to me. But different people have different perspectives, so your mileage may vary. For me, with Speech Rescue enabled, I can hear a lot more fricatives than before.

Since you mention originally that you’re OK with the OPN 1, but you want to hear fricatives bettter in noisy situations, I would really recommend trying out Speech Rescue. Since your hearing loss is not that severe, you most likely don’t have a feedback issue. So trying out the Speech Rescue option on your existing OPN 1 is a better (and cheaper) approach than laying out an extra $3K on the OPN S1, which doesn’t buy you much more because you don’t have a feedback problem in the first place.

Also make sure you have your audi set the Noise Reduction value in the OpenSound Navigator to the highest value settings, for both Simple and Complex environments. I’ve found that the default Noise Reduction settings, even for the OPN 1, is not the max value, which is not optimal, because why have them in lower settings when the OPN 1 has the ability to give you higher noise reduction values? It’s like having the OPN 1 but only setting the noise reduction capacity to the limits of the OPN 2 or even worse, OPN 3. If that’s the case, you might as well save money and buy the OPN 3 or OPN 2 instead.

If you’re struggling to get speech clarity in noisy situations, the first thing your audi should check is to max out on the noise reduction setting for your OPN 1. Maybe it’s already at max values, but if not, set it to max. Then add Speech Rescue to one of the 4 programs so you can do A/B comparison between the Default program (with no Speech Rescue) and the program that has Speech Rescue and enable, to see if you can get more fricatives out of the Speech Rescue program like you want or not.

Below is an example screen shot of my Speech Rescue page. In your case, I would recommend leaving the High Frequency Bands option to ON, so you can hear both the lowered sound, and the amplified normal sound in the high frequency region. That may help make Speech Rescue sound closer to normal to you because you can hear both the normal and the lowered sound at the same time.

Below is the chart showing how Speech Rescue maps the Source frequency range into the Destination Frequency Range. Also, they’re different than the other frequency lowering technologies which compress the higher frequencies into lower frequencies. Speech Rescue actually does composition (chopping the source range into 3 sections) and transposition (lowering by moving, not by compressing, the chopped sections into the destination range where they’re stacked on top of one another). So I would contend that it may help reduce the distortion from compression because it’s mostly composition and transposition as opposed to compression.

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Thank you! This is hugely helpful!

The S also has faster processing, and I have noticed that it is fast enough now that I don’t even notice the switching when environments change. And I do notice the changes with my OPN aids.

The original OPN that you have was the ITE model, which has many compromises to get it reduced to the smaller ITE form. So perhaps that accounts for the processing speed difference that you notice. BUT, I think it might have been more due to the setting in the OpenSound Navigator functionality. Below is the screen shot of the OpenSound Navigator on my Genie 2 page. You can see that there’s an Open Sound Transition option where you can select between Low to Medium to High Transition help. It’s more likely that maybe with your ITE model, it’s restricted to LOW Transition Help while with the OPN S model, you can now set it to HIGH Transition help, which makes you notice that it swtiches faster between environment changes. But that’s just a guess on my part. The bottom line is that I really don’t think that the processing speed is different between the original OPN miniRITE and the OPN S miniRite version. Any faster processing speed they could get from the S is probably dedicated to operating the new OpenSound Optimizer (the feedback prevention technology).

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My transition is set the the fastest possible on both sets of hearing aids. My aids are the half shell aids and have the same chip as the Minirite OPN aids, it was the IIC and the CIC aids that have the processor differences due to only have a single mic, and no communication capacity.
I have spend a number of hours with my Audi and Oticon’s reps, and even a couple of Oticon’s developer Audiologists on trying to figure out the issues that I had with not getting the full prescription out of my OPN1 aids. Even Oticon swore that they should get the full prescription. But feedback kept getting in the way. They even disabled the feedback circuits to get to full prescription and couldn’t do it.

Oticon of course claims a considerable increase in processing speed …

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I already asked my audiologist about the noise reduction settings, and he replied

More noise reduction is not always better. If digital noise reduction is made too aggressive it is possible for the hearing aid to work against you and block out sound which is needed.

At the highest setting, does the noise reduction block out needed sound or cause some kind of distortion?

It must depend on your hearing loss, my noise reduction is maxed out and I still hear almost everything I need to or want to. I hear the refrigerator, the ac unit, even the ac hum of the ceiling fans. I hear our wind chimes and the birds, bees etc. But I have to say that my Audi and I spend 15 months of monthly adjustments with calls to Oticon to get my aids this good. That was my OPN1 ITE aids, I now have OPNS1-minirite aids with custom hard ear molds and all that my Audi did was transfer the programs from my OPN1 aids to my OPNS1 aids and make a few adjustments to get them to that next step.

I can confirm that more noise reduction is not always better is accurate. I program my aids myself and I’ve done many tests in different sound environments and for me -7db (vs -9db which is the max reduction) in noisy environments gives me better speech comprehension at the cost of being slightly less comfortable.

What irks me is that when I told my audi that I still have trouble discerning speech in noisy environments, he simply replied, “you’re just not going to hear as well – even with hearing aids – as you were earlier.”

How difficult is it to get a hold of the Oticon software? Is that a Mac OS version that you’re showing? Why can’t I make these adjustments myself?

I think you’re correct that there is a “Very High” Transition Help setting available only in the OPN S is not available in the original OPN (only up to “High”) for the OpenSound Navigator Transition Help. So in this regard, it’s supposed to switch between environments faster. But I have tried between the “Low” and “High” values on my OPN 1 and could barely discern any difference, so that’s why I don’t see a value in the “Very High” setting of the S for me personally. In fact, I chose to set mine at the “Low” setting because the “High” setting gives me some transitional artifacts that is not pleasant for me to hear.