Oticon began in 1904 with the world’s first electronic hearing aid, and the company has remained at the forefront of hearing aid technology since then. It is a company known for its scientific research and has pioneered hearing aid technologies for years. Their current push is towards “BrainHearing” with the idea that a lot of your hearing actually happens in the brain though hearing aids have only ever focused on the ear.
The Oticon Opn S is the newest in the OPN family of hearing aids and will be described and reviewed below to help you understand whether or not it is the right hearing aid for you. The Oticon OPN S features some of Oticon’s best technology including BrainHearing, OpenSound Navigator, iPhone readiness, innovative connectivity, and more to make it one of the best on the market in helping you hear speech almost on par with people who have not experienced hearing loss.
Things to Consider Before Buying
The goal of the OPN S is to close the gap between hearing aids and normal hearing especially when it comes to speech clarity and recognition. The OPN series of hearing aids have been around since 2016, but the OPN S was created to be different, it was created for people with hearing loss to be able to understand speech and have normal conversations even in the most challenging listening environments. They even say on their website that “Opn S lets you take an active part in difficult listening situations – just like people with normal hearing.” With great features, improved technology, and some of the best connectivity of any hearing aid on the market, the Oticon OPN S delivers well on their goals. It is also important to remember that these hearing aids work best for people who are experiencing mild to moderate hearing loss and Oticon has other models available if your hearing loss is worse.
- 360-degree sound experience with multiple speakers so you get sound from your entire environment.
- Provides speech understanding that is close to what people get with normal hearing.
- BrainHearing focuses on the processing of sounds by the brain and how your hearing aid can aid in that aspect of listening as well as amplification.
- OpenSound Optimizer adjusts amplification levels to your environment, it also eliminates feedback by anticipating whistling and stopping it before it starts.
- OPN S has a rechargeable option and all you have to do is charge your hearing aids at night when you are sleeping for a full day’s worth of power.
- Multiple colors from which to choose.
- iPhone compatible but can also connect to many Android devices.
- The Bluetooth capabilities are some of the best on the hearing aid market.
- A great lineup of accessories.
- Receiver-In-The-Ear (RITE) design adds a layer of directionality to the device.
- Speech Rescue LX adjusts the frequencies of the sound that comes into your ears to the frequencies that you hear best thus increasing comprehension.
- Equipped with telecoil so that you can connect directly to audio sources.
- Does not work well for severe or profound hearing loss.
- It is an expensive option.
- It may require more consistent adjustments and tuning than other devices.
- No ITE options, so if you want the device to be as discreet as possible, you may want to look at another brand.
Features & Benefits
- Design/Type of hearing aid
Each of the OPN S models are BTE hearing aids with the miniRITE model being the smallest and each additional model growing progressively bigger. The design is sleek and discreet for BTE hearing aids, but the OPN S does not have an ITE version. The BTE PP model is made for more severe and profound hearing loss, but it is still not as powerful or feature-rich as the Xceed model which is better for the most severe cases. Each of the OPN S models are listed as being for mild to severe hearing loss, but the features are really made for people who still have a decent level of natural hearing, so that the more severe your hearing the more likely a different model would be ideal.
Most of the Oticon OPN S hearing aids are RITE hearing aids which means there are multiple microphones associated with the device and one of them is located in the small earpiece that rests inside of your ear canal. This extra microphone allows you to have a greater level of directionality, and it also allows you to use the shape and size of your ear to make your listening experience even more natural and personal.
- Fit and Wearability
The Oticon OPN S hearing aids are comfortable and have a large fitting range so that they can be adjusted to you. Any audiologist will help you both choose the right OPN S hearing device and then make sure it is fitted and customized to your ear.
There is a rechargeable option as well as disposable battery options for the OPN S hearing aids. The disposable batteries are either size 13 or 312 so that they are easy to find and replace and they are large enough to last a long time. Many people like the convenience of a rechargeable hearing aid, and with the OPN S all you have to do is place it on the charger at night when you go to sleep and you will wake up every morning with a fully charged device. A full charge will give you at least 20 hours of life.
- Sound quality
The 360-degree Sound experience is different than any other hearing aid processing feature on the market. Rather than simply focusing a microphone straight in front of you, it uses multiple microphones to give you processed sound from every direction and allows you to choose what you hear and focus on.
- Adaptive noise reduction
The OpenSound Navigator processes noise so quickly it even cleans up noise in between words so that what you hear is what you want to hear.
- Automatic sound adjustment based on environment
Each model of the OPN S hearing aid features wind noise management, OpenSound Optimizer, and Soft Speech Booster to help you adapt to your noise environment. The most feature-rich aspect of adaptive noise reduction is found with the OpenSound Navigator as it naturally adapts your hearing aid settings and features to the environment you are in.
With a wide array of accessories, apps, and Bluetooth capability, you can stream audio from almost any other Bluetooth-enabled electronic device. The OPN S is made-for-iPhone so that you can stream directly from your iPhone to your hearing aids no matter what you are doing. The sound quality is great and the Bluetooth technology allows for continuous streaming for as long as you want to do it. You can also stream from tablets, televisions, and anything that is compatible with telecoil.
Oticon Xceed hearing aids are iPhone compatible, but with the ConnectClip you can connect to any smartphone with Bluetooth capability.
- TV Adapter
Stream the audio from your television directly to your earpieces and you can even adjust your personal television volume without messing with anyone else.
- Remote Control
A remote control will connect directly to your hearing aids so that you can adjust volume, settings, etc. with a discreet handheld device.
Unique Perks and Features
BrainHearing is the basis for most Oticon hearing aids right now and was developed to help with speech clarity, reduced listening effort, and improved short-term recall. This new technology hinges on the idea that, “your ears collect sound, but it is your brain that understands it.” Oticon believes that when your brain does not receive enough sound information, you will not understand what people are saying or what is going on around you. BrainHearing technology takes into account the brain’s role in hearing while remaining focused on what the ear does as well.
One of the key pieces of technology that came from BrainHearing is called a deep neural network (DNN). A DNN is a type of machine learning that mimics the way the brain works, and Oticon was able to apply this to their hearing aids. Oticon hearing aid DNNs are trained with millions and millions of real-life sound scenes such as restaurants, sporting events, classroom lectures, train stations, etc. The DNN then attempted to identify and balance each sound in each sound scene, and through a system of trial and error, DNNs learned how to process sound correctly and to prioritize the most important sounds to you in a given environment.
- Speech Rescue
Speech rescue, including a soft speech booster, shifts the frequencies of the speech around you to one that you are experiencing the lowest amount of hearing loss.
- 360-Degree Sound Experience
Rather than blocking sounds from certain directions, or focusing one single microphone straight ahead of you, 360-degree hearing provides access to all speech and relevant sounds in your environment while also differentiating speech from other noise in the process. This feature gives the hearer some control over the sounds they focus on and the speech that they hear, and when paired with BrainHearing technology it leads to a more natural listening experience.
- OpenSound Navigator
The OpenSound Navigator features a soundscape analysis that processes the noises in your environment up to 100x/second. It then balances the sound so that you can hear the background noise without it being distracting but you can focus on the primary speech and noise in your environment without distraction. It also reduces the noise so quickly that it can actually reduce the noise heard between spoken words so that speech clarity is as optimal as what you get with natural hearing.
- OpenSound Optimizer
Oticon’s “OpenSound Optimizer” prevents feedback and other annoying sounds from impacting your hearing experience. Most hearing aids have technology that automatically turns down the volume when these noises are present, but Oticon’s solution prevents these noises from even being picked up in the first place.
- Bluetooth connectivity
The Bluetooth connectivity is such that you can connect with virtually any other electronic that has Bluetooth capability. The device is iPhone compatible and you will get optimal connectivity when using an iPhone, but you can connect to virtually any modern smartphone with your OPN S hearing aids.
- Oticon ON App
The Oticon On app is available with most of the Oticon hearing aids, including the Xceed family of devices, and can be paired with iPhones and Android devices. It is important to consistently update your app because Oticon makes continual improvements to give you the best listening experience possible.
The following is a description of how you can control your Oticon hearing aids with the app.
- Remote Control
The remote control is where you control your device. You can turn the volume up or down, or switch back and forth from different programs.
- Hearing Aids
This button on the app allows you to check the battery level of your hearing aids. By monitoring battery life through this app, you will avoid finding yourself in the situation where your hearing aid batteries die unexpectedly.
There is also a “find your hearing aids” option, similar to what many smartphones have. This can help you locate your hearing aids if you should lose them.
Oticon calls this aspect of your app “a fitness tracker for your ears.” It tracks your hearing, helps you to set goals, and gives advice on how to improve your hearing. In this area of the app, you can actually set goals for how long you want to use your hearing aids and then check back over weeks and months to see how close to your goals you have come.
- Internet of Things.
The Oticon On app actually opens up the “If This Then That” (IFTTT) internet based service in Xceed hearing aids. This is a service that enables you to connect or integrate your hearing aids with products all around you such as lighting systems, appliances, your email, phones, etc. Here are some examples of things that IFTTT can do:
- Turn your bedroom lights on every morning when you take your hearing aids out of their charger.
- Alert you every time your alarm system goes off or your doorbell rings.
- Send an email to your caregiver alerting them that your hearing aid’s battery is low.
- Have a signal sent to you if your refrigerator door is open or your timer is going off.
The internet of things is a relatively new and expanding technology, especially as it relates to hearing aids. The idea is that “things” can communicate with each other electronically, and Oticon remains at the forefront of this technology because of its potential importance to people who suffer from hearing loss.
- Hearing Guide
This section of the app holds full guides that will help you make sure you are using all of the features that your hearing aid offers. Having these guides at your fingertip will allow you to go through and discover features and aspects of your Oticon hearing aids that you may be unaware of. The guides will teach you how to put these features to use.
The “settings” button allows you to configure the app to your personal preferences so that it can be more useful to you in the long run. This button also gives you access to the “instructions for use” for the On app.
The cost of the Oticon OPN S hearing aids vary greatly depending on the style, technology level, features, and design that you want not to mention where you make the purchase and how much service you receive. You can expect to pay at least $1,500 for the baseline model and without going to an audiologist for help, and that cost could go up to $4,000 or more for the higher end hearing aids purchased through a healthcare professional.
- What is the difference between Oticon OPN and OPN S?
Both models use the same platform and have similar features, but the OPN S has a rechargeable option while the OPN does not. The OPN S also features the highest technology available so that the results experienced tend to be better than what you find in the OPN.
- How much does the OPN S 1 cost?
The Oticon OPN S 1 is their highest level of technology and will also be the most expensive. There are still some variables that go into cost, but you can expect to pay at least $3,000 for this model and in most cases significantly more.
- When was the Oticon OPN S released?
The OPN S was released in March of 2019 at all three technology levels.
- How long do Oticon rechargeable batteries last?
On one charge, your batteries should last more than 20 hours so that you can recharge them each night while you sleep knowing you will have a full day’s worth of usage the next day. If used correctly, the ion batteries should last about 1 year prior to replacement and then they are very easy to replace.
The key to the Oticon OPN S hearing aid is that they offer the highest level of speech clarity and comprehension on the market, regardless of environment. They are innovative in that they focus both on the brain and the ear when it comes to hearing, and they give you access to sounds from every direction rather than only allowing you to hear what is directly in front of you. In short, the goal is to help you hear and converse with people in the craziest environments so that you do not feel like you are missing out on life because of your hearing loss. The technologies and features described above work especially well if you have mild to moderate hearing loss. While the sound quality is excellent, the connectivity is great, and they have good accessories, the thing that sets the OPN S apart is how clear speech sounds and how easily you can converse and be with others even in crowded and noisy places.