Restaurants, cafes and bars are once again accessible for hearing loss sufferers

Copenhagen, Denmark
11 October 2017

New independent studies prove that Oticon Opn hearing aids help users engage in conversation in noisy situations, and more effectively than alternative solutions

Smørum, Denmark, October 11, 2017 – Have you ever found it a struggle to follow the conversation in a noisy restaurant? Most people will agree that the clattering of plates or loud laughter at the next table can be a distraction. People suffering with hearing loss find these noisy situations a real challenge, so much so, that is has become a well-known problem in the field of audiology, aptly titled the ‘restaurant dilemma’. Two new independent studies, testing the benefits of hearing aids in noisy situations, have proved that hearing aid, Oticon Opn™, is setting a new paradigm in hearing support for hearing loss sufferers by alleviating the effects of the restaurant dilemma, and better than other comparable hearing solutions available.

Opn users can once again enjoy restaurants, cafes and bars without enduring a constant battle with background noise and people talking over each other. By converting sound inputs into clear information for the brain, Opn successfully reduces the load on the brain created by the challenge of understanding speech in complicated soundscapes. This hearing support makes it less overwhelming and challenging for hearing loss sufferers to enjoy noisy social environments where background noise can engulf speech, enabling communication and active participation where previously too difficult. The results of the studies add to a growing toolbox of evidence supporting the benefits of Oticon’s BrainHearing™ research. Pioneered over 20 years ago, BrainHearing™ exploration has produced a number of ground-breaking hearing aid technologies to improve the experience of hearing loss sufferers.

“Hearing aids which simply amplify sound do not address the more complex needs of the brain,” says Thomas Behrens, Head of Audiology, Oticon A/S. “If a person broke their leg, they wouldn’t accept a treatment that restricted them to flat terrain, they would want a full recovery that restored their entire movement to allow them to negotiate all terrains. Hearing loss sufferers also want the best from hearing care, and Opn is designed and proven to deliver it.”

“If hearing loss is not fully resolved, the brain is likely to restructure to compensate for the lack of information it receives about sound. The extra load on the brain, as it works harder to ‘understand’, can make a person feel tired, disengaged, even unmotivated, causing them to choose the much easier option of isolation. Untreated hearing loss that causes social withdrawal can even lead to more serious health problems such as dependency, depression and even the early onset of dementia, which is why our BrainHearing™ technology, which continuously pursues hearing excellence in noise, is so significant for the overall health of hearing loss sufferers,” Thomas Behrens continued.

The #1 complaint of hearing loss sufferers remains the difficulty to navigate and communicate in noisy environments . Both new hearing studies challenged the status quo of hearing technology testing by recreating real-life noisy scenarios opposed to simple lab conditions. The first study used high-tech Pupillometry to accurately measure how much stress was being put onto test subjects’ brains whilst attempting to follow and understand speech through disruptive background noise. The second study, a hearing technology head-to head, recreated the noise soundscape of a noisy café and mimicked a realistic conversation between four friends in order to compare the effectiveness of the three foremost hearing technologies in a series of user tests.

The technology comparison saw hearing aids using common Directionality technologies designed to focus both moderately (Traditional Directionality) and strongly (Narrow Directionality) on speakers immediately to the front, versus Opn, which opens up to the soundscape to embrace sound from multiple speakers and provides wearers access to the relevant sounds in their lives. Opn delivered a significant 20% better speech understanding than a hearing aid with moderate Directionality technology, and outperformed both of the other hearing aids with results showing that Opn provides access to all speakers thanks to its ‘open sound’ approach. Ultimately, Opn solves the noise problem more effectively than competitor technologies. The results from both studies conclude that Opn wearers feel comfortable in increasingly more complex noise scenarios, therefore restaurants, cafés and other large gatherings are once again accessible for hearing loss sufferers.

“The significance of these findings is irrefutable. Being socially active enables us to exercise and enhance our cognitive ability, effectively keeping the brain healthy and active for longer. More proof that Opn makes a profound difference in noisy situations, is not only extremely rewarding for us, but assures Opn users that they can engage in and enjoy the social situations that they have previously found testing. We all instinctively understand that keeping our body fit has long term health benefits, and the health benefits of social interaction are widely reported. By continuing to improve hearing support through our BrainHearing™ technology, hearing loss sufferers can take control of their hearing care and safeguard their long-term health,” concluded Thomas Behrens.

Steve Claridge, writer for Hearing Aid Know, and hearing aid wearer for 30 years, recently tested Opn in two restaurants and commented: “people's voices from other tables around us sounded a lot more natural with the OPNs, I was able to isolate different groups and know where their voices were coming from. The noisy room chatter felt a lot more manageable… background noise was really in the background, was at a pleasant volume, wasn't distorted or overwhelming and had clarity about it.” Mr Claridge went on to conclude. “I was very comfortable listening to people I wanted to hear in noisy environments that would cause other hearing aids no end of problems.”

For more on Oticon, Oticon Opn and BrainHearing™, visit


500 million people worldwide suffer from hearing loss. It is Oticon's ambition that our customers – hearing clinics throughout the world – prefer to use our products for people with impaired hearing. The majority of people with hearing loss are over the age of 50, with 8 percent under the age of 18. Based on passion, dedication and professional expertise, Oticon designs and manufactures hearing aids for both adults and children. Oticon supports every kind of hearing loss from mild to severe and we pride ourselves on developing some of the most innovative hearing aids on the market. Headquartered out of Denmark, we are a global company and part of William Demant Holding Group with more than 12,000 employees and revenues of over DKK 12 billion.

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