Exciting new technology has come into play with hearing aids, whose use is on the rise as more hearing deficiencies are diagnosed. One very helpful new technology for the hard of hearing is a Bluetooth hearing aid that has the ability to hear sound directly from smartphones, TVs or other digital devices through the hearing aid itself. The technology sounds complicated but is very easy to use and creates crystal clear sound for the wearer.

People who are hard of hearing benefit from wearing hearing aids in several ways. It helps reduce falls by making the wearer more immersed in the environment; he or she can keep his or her balance better and remain alert for the ever-changing world around him or her. Research has also shown that hearing aid wearers have a reduced chance of cognitive decline since they can communicate better and interact socially with the world. Social isolation is a significant concern to people who hard of hearing, and hearing aids can improve life in a meaningful way.

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Choosing the Right Hearing Aid

For those looking for a Bluetooth hearing aid, there is one top choice on the market. The Oticon Opn, a technologically advanced hearing aid with all the bells and whistles — including cutting-edge device connection capabilities — is forward-thinking, easy-to-use and affordable. With eight models, there are a wide range of options from within the Opn family to choose from while enjoying the technology the Opn possesses. On the smaller end of the spectrum are the miniRITE and miniRITE-T models. The largest, most feature-packed Oticon Opn hearing aid is the BTE13 PP line.

The Oticon Opn

In 2018, the Oticon Opn is a standout when it comes to technology. While hearing aids are not a “one size fits all” sort of purchase, the Oticon Opn has many options from which to choose and enables the wearer to customize an experience for himself or herself through the several different models of Opn on offer. All hearing aid purchases should be made with the advice of a hearing aid expert.

Features of the Oticon Opn

Brain Hearing

Oticon has developed a unique system called BrainHearing, which allows the brain to understand and process sound better. While most hearing aids work by focusing sound and shutting down extraneous noise, Oticon Opn welcomes noise and helps the wearer’s brain sort it out, much as they would be able to do with standard hearing, using what it calls the “open sound approach.” This allows the wearer to enjoy and participate in the world around him or her much more confidently because the hearing aid syncs with the brain to provide an optimal experience.

OpenSound Navigator

The OpenSound Navigator feature can skim the entire 360⁰ environment as fast as 100 times every second. What this does is allow the wearer to shift his or her attention to the sounds he or she wants to hear rather than allowing the hearing aid to decide what it wants the wearer to hear.

Spatial Sound LX

Another feature is Spatial Sound LX binaural data, which allows sound to be transmitted easily from one ear to the other to ensure that the sound is balanced and sounds as natural as possible. Extensive testing was completed to demonstrate that the Oticon Opn reduced the brain stress usually associated with wearing hearing aids thanks to the features of BrainHearing, Spatial Sound, and OpenSound Navigator all working in concert. This strikes a balance that the brain can use to create a sound experience so similar to unaided sound that it doesn't have to work as hard as it does with regular hearing aids. This makes for a pleasant, safe and less fatiguing hearing experience.

Better Speech Experience

Another great feature of Oticon’s new Opn Bluetooth line is the ability to also understand speech better, even in noisy environments, with less listening effort. This allows the user to experience less mental fatigue, enjoy more focus, be able to remember conversations better and have far less social isolation, all of which are common concerns among hearing aid users.

Bluetooth Connectivity

Oticon Opn

The best part of these hearing aids is the Bluetooth connectivity, however. They connect easily with audio devices, and most models are made exclusively for iPhone. (There are a few that work independently, but the majority are made just for iPhones.) This allows hearing aids to work as a headset, and hearing aids can be controlled from the iPhone as well, allowing for discrete adjustments without reaching for one's ear or taking the hearing aid out. The wearer can take phone calls, listen to TVs that are equipped with the technology, and listen to music, all through his or her hearing aids.

The Opn uses the If This Then That (IFTTT) network so that users can also control many different devices including alarms, TVs, emails and laptops using the Bluetooth connection between their hearing aid and their smart device. Some of the devices currently available that can sync up with this hearing aid include baby monitors, doorbells and even thermostats. Even for the less-than-tech-savvy wearer, the Oticon Opn is easy to use and fun, and it makes technology reachable within both home and outside environments for hearing aid wearers.

Pricing

The first question with Bluetooth hearing aids is usually the price. For a midrange hearing aid with some features, such as wireless connectivity to a TV or smartphone. Other features for this price range possibly include speech recognition and enhancement and even directional hearing for conversational clarity. Often, they can be adjustable with the connected smartphone to help hearing acuity.

While this may sound expensive, the midrange to premium models are worth it, as they give the wearer the best options in hearing technology regarding speech recognition, the ability to hear oneself well and dependable use in noisy environments.

Midrange or premium hearing aids are also worth the investment because they can help the wearer orient himself or herself in the environment easily and keep his or her balance much better. They provide safety in keeping the wearer more cognizant of his or her surroundings.

The Oticon Opn is a midrange line as determined by cost, depending on the model and features. There are eight models available. Most of the features discussed here are available in the midrange to the top models within the Oticon Opn line.

Oticon Opn Specifications

  • Warranty: One year
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Processor: Velox
  • Batteries: Disposable
  • Rechargeable: Yes
  • Water resistant: Yes
  • iPhone compatible: Yes
  • Android compatible: Yes
  • Color options: Eight

Oticon Opn Vs. Charge&Go 7Nx

The Oticon Opn family of hearing aids' biggest competition is the Signia Charge&Go 7Nx, which is packed with several features of its own:

Own Voice Issue

The Signia Charge&Go 7Nx has a unique technology to solve the own voice issue, which is an issue that makes hearing aids unbearable for some wearers who can’t stand the sound of their own voice in their ears. The Signia Charge&Go 7Nx did well in studies with suppressing feedback in windy and noisy environments via their trademark technologies.

Balanced Sound

These hearing aids also have a special feature to balance hearing between the ears so that sound is natural and adjusts automatically. The hearing aids also boast tinnitus therapy with five static settings and four ocean settings. The housing can be changed to allow for color changes to the body of the hearing aid, a feature usually seen only in premium models.

Rechargeability

The second-best part of these hearing aids, much like the Oticon Opn, is their rechargeability. As mentioned, Bluetooth and other technologies take a lot of power, so rechargeable hearing aids are the best out there. This model takes just 30 minutes to recharge for six hours of wear time. For the average wearer, that means that if they are taken out at night and put in the charger for several hours, they would be all set in the morning for a full day’s wear. Fourteen hours of use, per testing, leaves an average of one-third of a charge left.

360⁰ Sound Immersion

The 360⁰ Sound Immersion feature is usually found only on premium models, so it is a definite plus on this model, as is the tinnitus suppression feature.

Comparison Table Info

Oticon Opn

  • Price: The Oticon Opn can be avail at the Hearstore.com. Other online hearing aid stores have similar prices. It is recommended that the wearer be fitted for the Oticon Opn by a professional.
  • Cutting edge technology: 5 out of 5 stars – The Oticon Opn has new technology for a great price.
  • Ease of use: 4 out of 5 stars - The Oticon Opn is very intuitive and easy to use, especially if the wearer is familiar with iPhones and their use. The wearer would need to have an iPhone to get maximum benefit from these hearing aids, and it is generally not recommended to purchase them if you don't have an iPhone. The hearing aids themselves are easy to use and charge.
  • Style: 5 out of 5 stars - Several colors are available to meet the wearer’s personal style, such as royal blue, chroma beige, charcoal, diamond black, brown, terracotta, silver and silver grey.
  • Warranty: 4 out of 5 stars This hearing aid comes with a one -year international warranty.
  • Price: The Signia Charge&Go 7Nx is listed at most online stores, making it a midrange model and affordable. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the Oticon Opn but is a decent model for a good price. Again, professional fitting is recommended.
  • Cutting edge technology: 4 out of 5 stars – The Signia Charge&Go 7Nx has technology that provides some great features but remains within its midrange price point.
  • Ease of use: 5 out of 5 stars - The Signia Charge&Go 7Nx is a more basic model but still high-tech enough to provide features that would make any user happy. The functionality is understandable and easy for those not used to technology to use.
  • Style: 4 out of 5 stars - Signia Charge&Go 7Nx hearing aids are a bit bulkier than the Oticon Opn (by millimeters), but all users reported them comfortable and easy to wear.
  • Warranty: 5 out of 5 stars – This hearing aid has a two-year manufacturer warranty and a two-year loss and damage warranty.

PROS

  • Rechargeable, with no small batteries to manage
  • Bluetooth capabilities
  • Many premium features for it midrange price

CONS

  • Battery life

One negative aspect of the growth in hearing aid technology is the draw on the batteries, which can lead to a shorter wearable life and the clumsiness of frequent battery changes with tiny batteries. Despite the exponential growth in battery technology, it hasn’t quite kept up with the needs of Bluetooth connectivity and other tasks that the modern models can do.

Some models have come up with a solution and developed versions with rechargeable batteries. These save money and are usually long-lasting; they sometimes last up to 36 hours of wear time. Simple to charge, they snap into an inductive charger at night to power up, and there are no tiny batteries ever to remove or change at all. This is great news for a population that doesn’t want to fuss with tiny batteries, trying to find the right batteries or putting them in. It also helps for those with arthritis or other mobility problems.

Conclusion

Overall, the Oticon Opn has many more features for about the same price as the Signia Charge&Go 7Nx. That said, for those who are overwhelmed by technology, the Charge&Go 7Nx may work just fine. But for those who want an optimal hearing experience with the best technology available, the Opn is the way to go. It’s a versatile model with plenty of tricks up its sleeve to keep the average wearer happy for years to come.

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