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PHONAK MARVEL HEARING AID – IS IT ANY GOOD? By Senior hearing aid tester, S. Choudry

By December 20, 2018 No Comments

TESTED: Phonak Audeo Marvel M90 312, V1 (Nov. 18), Target software 6.0

By our independent hearing aid tester: Sajid Choudry (a long-term hearing aid wearer and avid technology user).

   “I’ve been asked to provide a review of the latest Phonak Marvel hearing aid. Currently, I wear the Phonak Audeo V90s which are performing very well for me and in excellent condition. They were supplied by Rob about two years ago. Previously, I have worn Phonak IICs.

So from a position of strength, I can fairly evaluate the Marvel.

I am partially deaf in both ears so can’t hear the high frequencies. This has been with me since childhood, so wearing hearing aids is compulsory for me.

The Phonak Marvel uses a latest state-of-the-art chip and has features like streaming from any Bluetooth equipped mobile phone and to TV; an app for touch-screen volume and a wonderful remote feature which allows the audiologist to adjust the hearing aid settings remotely.

 My impressions – Positives: 

  1. I love the hearing aids being able to connect to my Android phone (Samsung Galaxy S9 in my case).
  2. The sound quality is excellent. I can hear different tonal qualities in music.
  3. The hearing aids appear to ‘zoom’ to the music from my high-quality speakers. 
  4. I love the idea of adjusting the sound volume ‘passively’ in say, a restaurant with the remote control app. 

 Negatives:

  1.  It’s difficult to close the battery drawer to switch on the aids. 
  2. The remote app is too simplistic. There need to be other settings like bass & treble adjustments.
  3. Due to the domes used for the trial (Phonak SDS 4.0 Medium vented domes, as opposed to my current Medium closed domes), the landline phone sound was very difficult to hear. This was a big factor for me at my workplace. The hearing aids don’t amplify the sound coming from the telephone receiver. * 
  4. They have, in general, a tendency to mask faint sounds and zoom in on the loudest sound. *

(* Rob did explain that these effects were partially due to the dome chosen for this trial. If we tried it again, it would be with either open domes or my original ones).

Conclusion:

Overall, it’s a mixed bag. Some positive points but some also negatives. The fact is that it difficult to switch on the hearing aids as you need to close the battery cover very firmly. (Rob states that the IP68 protection properties make this necessary).

The apps can be buggy and can also lag a bit (for example, when I ended a call, the call stayed connected – I had to switch the hearing aid off and on to get it back to normal). The remote-control app looks like it needs more features, like personalised settings, instead of volume only.

The other issue is landline phone reception. I couldn’t hear properly as the aids weren’t picking up sound from the receiver – maybe it’s due to the dome fitted or the placement of the microphones?

I also think that it will be so much better for audiologists once the remote programming feature is available on all hearing aids, as this will benefit both the user and the audiologist. I understand that this feature may well be standard on all Phonak hearing aids by the end of 2019. I think it’s amazing that with a simple click on the smartphone, fine-tuning can be carried out and adjustments made without me visiting the audiologist in person!

Like any new innovative product, it has potential to change lives. I love the way I hear streamed music with Marvel. Deep bass, clean treble – the sound from the smartphone is truly excellent.

But my instinct is the product needs more time to develop – app reliability and a need for extra features.

I think an app notification from Phonak or the audiologist that a fitting software update is needed would be great. Marvel’s main competitor leaves updates of this sort to the audiologist to sort as and when he / she can.

Rob hints there may be a size 10 battery version later in 2019 and with a few updates – hopefully this will be a lot better proposition. This will be when I buy a pair of Marvels, but I’m not saying avoid it now – just make sure you get Rob to do any updates as soon as they are released.”

 Sajid

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