Professional review of the Oticon OPN Hearing Aid by Dr. Clifford Olson
The Oticon Opn hearing aid is probably one of the hottest hearing aids on the market that we’ve seen in a while. It really took the world by storm when it came out, and that’s because it has the direct to iPhone capability and the ability to connect to the internet through ifthisthenthat.com (IFTTT.com). What this allows you to do is actually connect with different smart devices around your home, your car, your coffee pot, lights, and other things like that, and your hearing aid can actually communicate directly with those devices. It’s not something that a traditional hearing aid user might expect from a hearing aid, but if you’re someone who’s really into technology it’s a really cool feature to be able to have.
The concept of why they actually call it the Opn hearing aid is they’re completely changing the way that they’re treating noise. With a traditional hearing aid, when you get into a noisy situation, it’s almost like the hearing aid puts blinders on. It focuses on the sound that you’re getting from your front, and it doesn’t focus as much on sound that you’re getting from behind you and on the sides. This creates a tunnel vision effect with the hearing aids. Imagine if you’re sitting at the dinner table and you have someone sitting to your side and they start talking to you, but it’s noisy enough during dinner that the hearing aid would kick into this front-focusing mode. You might miss what that person sitting next to you is saying even though you can hear the person in front of you really well.
Opn really tries to remove that downside. The hearing aid processor is so much faster that it can actually keep the listening landscape open and eliminate noise from different directions even though it’s intermingled with speech that you may want to hear. It gives you this more open feeling, hence the name Oticon Opn, and allows you to perform a lot better in background noise.
I am one of the first audiologists to say noise features inside of hearing aids don’t really work that well. What you really want to be using is some kind of remote listening device like a remote microphone. The problem is with the Opn is that as of right now, they don’t have access to a remote microphone that you can use, which has limited some of my recommendation of this hearing aid to individuals who really struggle in noise.
That being said, from a hearing aid standpoint, the Opn is, I believe, the best when it comes to helping you function in a noisy situation. The Opn comes in three performance levels. It starts with the Opn 1 then it goes to the Opn 2 and the Opn 3. You will be able to tell a difference in how well it works in a background noise type situation, but all three levels really are terrific and I would put them on par with other premium levels of hearing aids from any of the other major manufacturers.
They’ve also added a behind-the-ear (BTE) model, so if you’re someone who needs an ear mold with an actual tube, you now have access to the open technology, which is terrific. Another great feature is the tinnitus management system. The different types of distracting sounds might actually be able to help you with your tinnitus. If wearing a hearing aid alone doesn’t already give you relief from tinnitus – we know to be around 60% of individuals will get benefit from that standpoint.
The Oticon Opn line is also now able to be paired with the ZPower rechargeable battery system. If you are someone who doesn’t like to use batteries or you would prefer a rechargeable option, Opn now gives you that as an option. You do have to pay extra for the charging kit for that and the batteries that go with it, but on each charge, you could be able to get up to around 19 1/2 hours if you’re not doing any kind of streaming. Once you start doing streaming from an iPhone or from your TV box, the amount of battery life will drop and it can get as low as 12 to 14 hours depending on how much you’re streaming.
Even though I love the Oticon Opn so much, there actually are some negatives.
The first negative is really that the ear molds from this company aren’t my favorite. I’ve been able to get them to work, but there’s usually a lot more modification that has to happen with this particular company, which is fine. You just have to be willing to spend the time to get it done. If you’re one of the types of individuals with a type of hearing loss that doesn’t require using a custom ear mold, then this is probably one of your best options in terms of hearing in background noise and connecting to an iPhone.
You can connect to Android, but this is another one of the negatives. Android doesn’t let you stream to the Oticon Opn hearing aid so beware of that. You can use it like a remote control, but that’s about it.
All in all, the Oticon Opn hearing aid is probably one of my top three hearing aids with patients because it just flat out performs so well. I would put it up there with the Phonak Titanium (completely in the canal and invisible in the canal hearing aids). I would also put it up there with the Phonak Audeo line of hearing aids, which I think are terrific RIC style hearing aids.
If you’re someone who is struggling in noise and you want any little extra bit of help that you can get, going with the Oticon Opn might be a really good option for you, particularly with their remote microphone.