Senior Reviewer HJ: The first year

By March 21, 2018 No Comments

Oticon Opn 1

“My hearing test at RJD Hearing Care revealed that the hearing in my left ear was impaired and there was age-related hearing loss in my right ear. Mr Donnan lent me a pair of Phonak V90 RIC hearing aids. The aids were quite comfortable and I could hear better, but I found the sound to be rather harsh, especially when listening to music. The Phonaks were the first pair of aids that I had tried and I had nothing to compare them with, so Mr Donnan suggested that I should try a pair of Oticon Opn 1 aids for comparison.

My initial impression was that the Oticon aids were not as comfortable as the Phonaks, but they had a smoother sound. For that reason and the fact that Mr Donnan had set up a customised Music program, I decided to buy them.

I found them to be satisfactory for a while. I could hear better, but the sound in my left (impaired) ear was thin and the lower frequencies were weak. Mr Donnan changed the receiver to a more powerful one for that ear and it improved things a lot, particularly in the bass. I felt that I could hear speech more clearly in my left ear better than I can remember.

I used the General program most of the time. It was good with speech in quiet situations, but less satisfactory in noisy environments. I found that speech from behind dominated that from a person sitting three feet in front of me. Background music was intrusive.

When travelling in a car, the sound of the engine seemed to be disproportionately loud compared with speech, making it difficult for me to hear what was being said. Electronic beeps were excessively loud and harsh. I thought that the problem would diminish as I got more used to wearing hearing aids, but it didn’t. I became more sensitive about the issue after a passenger commented how quiet my car was. He said that he could hardly hear the engine, making it possible to hear every word that was being spoken, including those from a person sitting in the back.

I had high hopes for the “Speech in Noise” program, but I could detect little difference between it and the General program. Mr Donnan adjusted the program to make the microphones more directional. This helped with face-to-face conversation, but I still found background noise to be intrusive. I couldn’t teach myself how to shut it out.

I noticed that high-pitched sounds had an artificial warble that I found distracting and irritating. The effect was particularly noticeable when listening to music. High notes on a guitar and other instruments had an artificial tremolo effect that spoilt the enjoyment of my listening to the extent that I removed the aids when listening to music.

Mr Donnan identified the issue as being caused by the feedback manager, which he turned off on the Music program. The tremolo effect disappeared, but the sound of music was disappointing. The treble sounded thin and lacking in timbre, whilst the bass was weak and feeble. It was as though I was listening to a cheap 60s transistor radio. Mr Donnan made adjustments that improved the bass, but the treble was still of poor quality.

After discussing the issues with Mr Donnan, he suggested that I should try a pair of Widex Beyond 440 aids. I was reluctant to accept his offer at first, because I had come to the conclusion that all aids must more or less the same. He persisted, and I came away with a pair of Widex aids in my ears.”

F H Jones, 21/03/2018