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Oticon Hearing Aids: Agil Takes Sound to a New Dimension

Most of us think that our sense of sound enables us to hear and that's that – at least according to 8th grade science class. But the fact is the ability to hear does a lot more than equip you to hear, understand, respond and communicate.

For example, your sense of balance is located within the inner ear, which is why those of us who experience the occasional spell of vertigo are often sent straight to the audiologist to see if our inner-ear gyros are operating as nature intended.

But there's more we get through the ear. Sound, bouncing off surrounding objects, helps us "locate" ourselves in the space around us. Try shouting at a large building. As you move closer to the building the sound changes. Move back and the sound changes again. (By the way, don't try this experiment for too long. Shouting at buildings might be hard to explain to the investigating officer.)

Hearing with the Brain

The hearing mechanism, located from the outer ear lobe (the pina) through the ear drum, on to the three smallest bones in the body, the cochlea, the hair-like structures that line the inner cochlea – all of these ear bits are simply the delivery system for sound.

These mechanical parts take sound waves – disturbances in the air created by anything from a barking dog to interstate traffic – which are captured by the pinna and funneled down the ear canal where they set the tympanic membrane (the ear drum) into motion. In turn, these vibrations are transmitted across three tiny bones within the middle ear which, next, vibrate a fluid filled organ called the cochlea.

The vibrations – still in the form of mechanical energy – vibrate the fluid filled cochlea lined with hair-like projections called hair cells. Here, the vibrations are converted to electrical impulses that are sent to the brain for processing via our auditory nerve.

So, when you hear a sound, you don't actually "hear" until the sound has reached the brain where the processing of sound occurs.

Oticon's Agil Syncs With the Brain – YOUR Brain!

oticon agil hearing aids
Experience better hearing with Agil and set yourself free from hearing loss Courtesy Oticon

In a white paper, "The Audiology in Agil", published on AudiologyOnline by Donald J. Schum, PhD and VP of Audiology and Professional Relations at Oticon, Dr. Schum stated:

"More than anything else, hearing aid wearers want to count on their hearing in all of the situations that they encounter. As the person with hearing loss goes throughout the day, there will be many challenging listening situations. People with normal hearing can immerse themselves in those complex acoustic environments without a second thought. However, for the person with hearing loss, each new environment may pose barriers to effective communication. Hearings aids should break down those barriers and reduce the user's concerns about just how difficult listening will be. Moreover, amplification should sound natural, and become second nature. Hearing aids should not call attention to themselves. Rather, the sound that the user experiences should be as close to real life as possible."

That simple, yet profound sentiment is the foundation of Oticon's Agil product line. Sound is processed to sync with the brain and the result? You have to "think" less about how you hear, what you hear and what it means.

Binaural Noise Management, Music Widening, PowerBass and Spatial Sound 2.0

These are the benefits that set Oticon's Agil line apart from other hearing aids. Why? It's all in your head, man.

Binaural Noise Management

It's just a fancy way of saying that each hearing aid – you wear two – manages extraneous noise independently. As Dr. Schum states, "Binaural Noise Management intelligently directs the operation of the improved binaural compression, noise reduction and directionality systems to capture the very best listening configuration for the user: full binaural cues when possible but also switching to a focused response if the sound environment is significantly more favorable on one side of the head as compared to the other."

Broken down, this means that Agil's Binaural Noise Management System delivers the most natural sound available. But when listening conditions aren't optimal, the Agil hearing aids compensate automatically and unobtrusively, delivering the best sound you can get no matter what listening environment you're listening in.

Think of it this way: your natural hearing runs on auto-pilot until the listening environment interferes with your ability to hear clearly, at which point, digital technology kicks in and, bingo, you didn't miss a beat. Now that's technology with functionality. Yeah, you hear what you're supposed to hear and nothing else. Sounds like a dream come true if you're used to less advanced hearing devices.

Music Widening

Listening to music often poses challenges for hearing aid wearers due to the fact much information of music within an environment is lost. Wearers often say the music sounds flat or lifeless since natural room reflections are lost when listening to music hearing aids.

Music Widening in the Agil is a new way of processing music, allowing to create the perception of the signal coming from outside the head, as if it were being listened to in a real room. Music Widening synthesizes reflections to create the perception that the music is coming from the room and not from the hearing aids.

Agil makes it possible to interpret your environment effortlessly and seamlessly. It just happens, just like it used to.

PowerBass

That's right, rock on. Sure, PowerBass delivers a fuller frequency rage of sound when the tunes are playing, but this feature also delivers benefits even when you aren't plugged in to your MP3 player.

The trend in hearing aid fittings is open and natural. And although they allow for a natural and organic fit, some low frequencies are lost due to the fitting. According to Dr. Schum, "PowerBass provides the listener with a dramatically improved fullness and sound quality when listening to music through the Streamer without giving up the important advantages of vented and open fittings."

Translation? Open ear fit, natural sound, broad-frequency sound (you hear the highs and lows) and improved sound quality, whether it's your favorite hair band from the '80s to your manager giving critical input on your next big project.

Spatial Sound 2.0

Oticon hit a home run, here.

Sounds reach your ears a split second apart and over the years, you've learned to interpret those differences in when sound reaches the brain to do everything from pinpoint the sound of a bird twittering in the trees to measuring the wind when you make a straight-down-the-fairway drive after "reading" the wind. Our brains ability read our environment based on the sounds all around us provide us our spatial awareness and intelligibility.

The Agil delivers Spatial Sound 2.0 which helps preserve loudness differences between both of our ears. These tiny differences are extremely important for the brain to navigate in an environment full of sound.

In addition, Spatial Sound 2.0 technology employs a Binaural Noise Management System to mimic the brain's ability to focus on where to listen by prioritizing the ear with the most robust signal when there is sound louder on one side of our body.

Speech Guard

Another goodie, Speech Guard automatically and continually analyzes incoming sounds before they are amplified. Based on the analysis (is the sound speech) Speech Guard adjusts volume automatically and without distortion, which, as you might imagine, is a real headache. Speech Guard makes a smooth transition to your current listening environment. And you won't even notice.

And isn't that what you want?

Connect Plus

Not only do we live in a digital age, we live in a wireless age. And why should hearing aids hold you back from utilizing the wireless devices that are necessary to stay connected.

You're always connected with Agil's Connect Plus. The Agil line was designed and built for people who are connected and want to stay that way so, if you're plugged in to your cell phone a few hours a day, or you like your iPod or iPad or MP3 player or any audio device, Agil maintains connectivity.

So if you are new to hearing aids and are ready to take that leap towards better hearing Agil will help you transition into wearing hearing aids with little effort by providing natural, effortless hearing. Or if you are shopping for new hearing aids and are ready to make an investment in quality of life, let Agil's innovative technologies take you to the next level of hearing and connectivity.

You want natural? You want automated convenience? You want to hear better without effort? You want a hearing aid that actually simplifies the interpretation of sound by the brain?

Find a hearing aid stores near you today to experience Agil and effortless hearing.

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