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Thread: Thoughts on the OPN Philosophy

  1. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Um bongo View Post
    'This isn't the magic you seek....' The mental plasticity and the desire to deal with multiple sound sources is a determining factor here. The ability to focus on several conversations at once in amongst several noise sources appears to provide a better outcome for some people than others. While other people seem to work better with the forward focus on fewer people talking. That doesn't mean you neatly fall into one type or another - hence destination based aids which mix the optimum performance to maintain the best signal ratio. However, pattern matching your listening needs my be a better way of determining the type of aid that suits you over the basic audiogram.
    All of these comments ring true. I likely would find myself on the destination end of the spectrum as that fits my need to focus closely in mathematics. I suspect I would fail a plasticity test. I can't say I feel guilty about that. I do appreciate all the informed comments.

  2. #12
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    Can you clarify what you mean by "destination based aids?" I think what you're saying overall is that if you really like the idea of trying to keep track of multiple conversations, giving the OPNs a try is reasonable. However if you struggle with dealing with one conversation with the person in front of you, perhaps you are better off sticking with directional aids?

    Quote Originally Posted by Um bongo View Post
    'This isn't the magic you seek....'

    The mental plasticity and the desire to deal with multiple sound sources is a determining factor here. The ability to focus on several conversations at once in amongst several noise sources appears to provide a better outcome for some people than others. While other people seem to work better with the forward focus on fewer people talking.

    That doesn't mean you neatly fall into one type or another - hence destination based aids which mix the optimum performance to maintain the best signal ratio. However, pattern matching your listening needs my be a better way of determining the type of aid that suits you over the basic audiogram.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MDB View Post
    Can you clarify what you mean by "destination based aids?" I think what you're saying overall is that if you really like the idea of trying to keep track of multiple conversations, giving the OPNs a try is reasonable. However if you struggle with dealing with one conversation with the person in front of you, perhaps you are better off sticking with directional aids?
    I'm curious myself what it means by "destination based aids". I'm assuming it means aids that can change to an appropriate program (either automatically or by the wearer) when arriving at a new listening environment. But I can be wrong.

    I would take your other question one step further and ask: If you struggle with dealing with one conversation with the person in front of you,

    1) and if wearing directional aids to help block out the surrounding sounds adequately help you understand the person in front of you most of the times, then should you stick with directional aids? Probably yes, if it works why change, right?

    2) but if wearing directional aids to help block out the surrounding sounds still does NOT help you understand the person in front of you most of the times, then should you still stick with directional aids? Probably not, if this is important to you and it's not working then you may want to try something else, right?

    The reason I dissected this question further is because the question implies a generalization that the OPN is only good for hearing from multiple sources and nothing else. It overlooks the other second important aspect that the OPN does do noise removal, although a different kind of noise removal, the kind that doesn't help with scenario 1 but helps with scenario 2. Actually the OPN does have a directional mode available, so it can do the kind of noise removal that directional aids do for scenario 1 if you so desire as well. The only thing you'd give up there is being able to hear from multiple sound sources.

    If the OPN is only good for hearing from mulitple sources and nothing else, I bet you it would not have sold well so far. People will just say "No big deal, the OPN is just like using my existing aids in music mode."

    The reason the OPN has sold well so far in my opinion is because people notice that even with multiple sound sources present, they can still achieve the speech clarity they're looking for in noisy environment.
    Last edited by Volusiano; 05-10-2017 at 10:56 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neville View Post
    Wait wait wait. Oticon's Brain Hearing marketting campaing was never meant to imply that the Opn forces your brain to learn in a way other hearing aids don't, or that your brain needs to learn to use it, or that it promotes brain plasticity, or ANYTHING like that. That's the message getting garbled.

    Oticon's choice of "Brain Hearing" was reflective of them trying to look at how the brain naturally processes sound and how they can support/recreate that with their sound processing to compensate for the damaged ear in a way that the brain will more easily interpret. The Opn doesn't do something special to your brain, it just reduces the signal to noise ratio in a new and clever way.

    And I know that this is semantics, but the opn IS a directional hearing aid. It just does directionality a bit differently.
    I think both your points here are very well put, Neville. I agree that Oticon designs the OPN around how it understands the brain should process sound and it optimizes the OPN to take advantage of this brain hearing power synergistically. I full heartedly agree that it doesn't do anything special to your brain except present all sounds to your brain.

    Let me address some of your points:

    1. The OPN doesn't force your brain to learn in a way other HAs don't, your brain doesn't need to learn to use the OPN -> while this is technically correct, the OPN presented me with more sound than my old HAs did in noisy environment. It's a different way of hearing, going from sheltered hearing (sheltered from noise) to exposed hearing (to more noise) again. It requires you to get adjusted again learning to deal with all the noise the traditional directional HAs have sheltered you from. It's not the OPN's doing. It's actually the traditional HA's doing (sheltering) that had to be undone.

    By the way, the thing I said about needing to train your brain for cognitive hearing skills was a response to someone else's comment that brain hearing is a farce/marketing ploy. I was just saying that Brain Hearing is real and not a farce. I wasn't saying that the OPN created or forces Brain Hearing.

    2. The OPN doesn't promote brain plasticity -> I don't think anybody said that it promotes brain plasticity. The way I read UmBongo's mention of brain plasticity is that people with good brain plasticity can make the adjustment to go from traditional HAs to the OPN faster and more easily, that's all.

    3. The OPN IS a directional hearing aid, it just does directionality a bit differently -> yes, this is true technically but since you said it's a matter of semantics, I think you recognize (like most of us here) that we only use the word directional here in a loose and general sense, to discuss the philosophy of using the HA to block out noise version using the brain to block out noise. I assume that people here already are aware the OPN does use directionality to create a noise model for noise removal. I also mentioned earlier that the OPN does offer a directional mode just the same as traditional HAs if so desired.

    4. The OPN just reduces the signal to noise ratio in a new and clever way -> I think you mean improves the signal to noise ratio, not reduce it. And I think it's more than just a clever trick because nobody else has been able to improve the signal to noise ratio like this before (as little as 5db, on the average 7db, and as much as 9db max noise reduction). The traditional directional noise reduction may be able to block out the noise to help focus on the speech, but that's only half the battle. The other half of the battle is to clean up this speech once you can focus on it, namely to improve its signal to noise ratio (as you put it) to help give it better clarity. I think this is BIG. I think this is the holy grail that everybody in the industry has been trying to achieve but not able to until now by Oticon on the OPN.

    In short, I think there are 2 significantly different things Oticon did with the OPN:

    a. The industry solved the speech focusing issue by implementing directional noise blocking to help focus on the speech. But this comes at a huge trade-off of blocking out other sounds that you may want to hear as well. To some folks this may not be a big deal because they consider surrounding sounds as noise anyway and they don't care to hear it. But to other folks this is a big trade off because they want to hear more, if not everything. So Oticon said why not, let the brain hear everything and let the brain do the picking and choosing and focusing. We'll design the OPN around this philosophy to support it 100%. While this is a significant change in philosophy, everybody in the industry can implement this easily technically as long as they also buy into the notion of the brain hearing power.

    b. But the second thing that Oticon has implemented with the OPN is much more significant and actually exclusive (for now) because nobody else in the industry has been able to do the same: it's this signal-to-noise improvement on the speech that we just talked about in (4) above. This is not just feasible because of a clever way of doing noise modeling, but it's also feasible only because a very fast and powerful new platform must be developed and made available to support and execute this noise modelling/removal strategy.
    Last edited by Volusiano; 05-11-2017 at 12:35 AM.
    HA wearer since the 1990's > Rexton Insite+ CIC (2011-2016) > Oticon OPN RITE (2016)

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  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by MDB View Post
    Can you clarify what you mean by "destination based aids?" I think what you're saying overall is that if you really like the idea of trying to keep track of multiple conversations, giving the OPNs a try is reasonable. However if you struggle with dealing with one conversation with the person in front of you, perhaps you are better off sticking with directional aids?
    Destination based would be hearing aids like Phonak/Unitron/Resound where there are definite profiles (Directional + Frequency + Noise Management) applied when the aid detects a particular environment: Speech In Noise, Quiet, Group Speech in Noise, Music, Speech in Quiet etc. The actual output may be a blended version of the results, but it's a derivative of the destination 'filters'. OPn doesn't use those sort of parameters.

    And the point about dealing with an immediate conversation over hearing your whole 'earscape' is highly valid. I was going to mark them as Male and Female approaches, but it's sexist and doesn't accurately tell the whole picture, plus the gender stereotype carries too many other implied values which aren't helpful to the discussion. 'Direct' vs 'Open' is probably better.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neville View Post
    I did indeed mean improve, thanks.

    You weren't in directional hearing aids before though, is that right? You were in CICs? So the Opn is your first directional hearing aid?
    Yes, the Rexton Insite+ that I had before the OPNs were CICs. But before that, I was on another Rexton RIC pair that was also directional HAs. I forgot what that model name was, but it was actually branded as Kirkland Signature brand. I don't recall it had any particular number, but if I had to guess maybe it was the KS4 or KS5.
    HA wearer since the 1990's > Rexton Insite+ CIC (2011-2016) > Oticon OPN RITE (2016)

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  7. #17

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    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?
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  8. #18

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    ^ opn has 2 kind of noise detectors, static and backround noise, they can both be set to -9dB on the OPN1, would recommend you play with that setting, also make sure your mid frequencies aren't amped up too much, the software gave me a significant boost in 2-5 K Hz which just sounded like garbage
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  9. #19

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    Smile. I visited my Audi recently and she said---what you have (Alta Pro) is not too bad---we should patiently wait to see what the tide brings in. I think she is right although I wish there was magic. I began this thread on intuition and it has advanced to anecdotal. Some users seem pleased. Precious few, too few, data points yet. Evolution is so slow when I am an aging human. We may still need to park the processing power behind the ear, but it would be interesting if the sensor and the 'receiver' could be inside the pinna. May be a tricky feedback issue. Ciao.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1Bluejay View Post
    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?
    Hi 1Bluejay, I know I've exchanged posts with you in the past and I've told you to hang in there and give it some time, etc. for the OPN to work. I'm sure by now you've given it all the times you have like you said, so I'm disappointed that it still hasn't improved for you and I was rooting for you to have better luck with it over time.

    One thing I notice is that you have pretty severe loss in the low to mid range (80dB loss at 0.5 and 1KHz). I'm suspecting maybe that's why the OPN "open" paradigm has been more difficult for you to adopt, perhaps. If I remember correctly, you're only being fitted with only the 85dB receivers and not the 105dB receivers, because I remember that you were able to fit them into those Comply soft domes, so they gotta be the 85dB receivers, but correct me if I'm wrong. So while a normal person, or even folks with hearing losses in the highs but still lucky enough to have no or only moderate losses in the low, they're able to have a pretty wide dynamic range of hearing in their low and mid frequencies. For example, a normal person probably has a 90 to 100db listening dynamic range, and even with my own hearing loss, I'm still lucky to have between 45 to 90dB dynamic range in my hearing up to the 1KHz range depending on which ear and which frequency in my case. So I still have adequate dynamic range in the mids and lows to allow my brain be able to detect the variations in volumes of different sounds in those frequency ranges, and that's how my brain is able to learn to focus on some things and tune out other things, etc. -> meaning that the brain is able to perform its own noise reduction.

    On the other hand, with your 80dB loss at 0.5 and 1kHz, you barely have maybe around 20 dB of dynamic range to work with. Coupled that with just 85dB size receivers, maybe the range is even smaller (85dB size receiver minus 80dB loss = 5dB dynamic range maybe?). So take an example of that air conditioner that came on in your doctor's office, it's probably around 50dB. A person talking is around 60 dB (I got both from this link). So at least for most folks with enough dynamic range in their hearing, their brain has a 10dB delta between those 2 sounds to be able to differentiate and maybe focus on the speech over the A/C noise. This is 10dB delta over a 100dB dynamic range, or 10% variation of the normal dynamic range. But in your case, because your dynamic range is only 5dB to begin with, 10% variation of your dynamic range is only half a dB. And normally people don't even notice a difference in volume unless it's 1dB or more. So I suspect what's happening in your case is that the A/C probably gets amplified to above 80dB in order for you to hear it, and so did the speech. But there's probably virtually negligible volume difference/variation between the amplified A/C and the amplified speech sounds for you, because your audible dynamic range in the 0.5 and 1KHz range is SO EXTREMELY NARROW, that in this case the A/C drowns out the speech for you. It's this same so narrow audible dynamic range that's not allowing your brain to have any success or any ability in differentiating and sorting out sounds when there are many coming at you, because all the sounds would come at you at almost the same amplified volume!

    Also, obviously the Agil Pro works better for you because with its traditional directional noise reduction program, it blocks out surrounding noise to allow you to focus on the sound in front, therefore removes most of the interference so your brain can focus on what you want to hear. But with the OPN "open" paradigm, unless there's wide enough audible dynamic range to let your brain be able to tell the differences between the sounds from their volume differences, it's not going to work out.

    Having said that, I notice that some of our fellow members here, like Gery_R for instance, has around 70dB loss at the 0.5 to 1KHz range. Not as bad as your case, but still quite up there. But I notice that Gery_R is wearing 105dB receivers with custom molds. And I haven't heard that Gery has complained of similar issues like you have here. I wonder if perhaps the 105dB receivers provide Gery with more power and therefore enough audible dynamic range to allow his brain to manage the sounds better.

    For me personally, I'm currently wearing 85dB size receivers, but last week I had my OPN updated to the firmware 4.0, and started enabling the Speech Rescue function on my OPNs. But I only noticed the Speech Rescue working more on my left ear but not on my right ear. After learning from a white paper on Speech Rescue that the lowest destination region for the lowered sounds is at around 2KHz, I began to understand why it doesn't work well in my right ear, because I have an 85dB loss in my right ear at 2KHz, so my 85dB receivers is not powerful enough to amplified the lowered sounds at 2KHz for me. I've since decided to upgrade to the 105dB receivers and yesterday I had the impressions to make custom molds for them.

    Anyway, it'd be interesting to see what your audi will have to say once you complained about this to him. I wonder if he'll suggest you upgrading to the 105dB receivers or not. I'm guessing that it'd be the next viable thing to try out if you want to stick with the OPN. I remember that you have allergy issues with hard custom molds however, so I'm not sure how that's going to play out. But I must assume that your Agile Pro ITEs are hard custom molds already, no? So maybe it's OK to do custom molds for the 105 receivers, too, if you're so inclined.
    HA wearer since the 1990's > Rexton Insite+ CIC (2011-2016) > Oticon OPN RITE (2016)

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