My VA-provided Phonak Marvel Audeo M90 R RIC with ear molds are doing strange things that I have never experienced before over many years with other Phonaks and Resounds, some with ear molds and some with rubber tips. My audiogram shows mild low frequency loss with sharp decrease starting around 2000 hertz.
I use the my Phonak app on an iPhone to control the HAs, and as I live alone, most of what I hear and can experiment with is TV, mainly financial and political news and talk shows that have well placed microphones so the speech is usually clear. I have the Phonak SONOVA TV Connector which I usually use and the sound is the best I have ever had with any HAs; voices are usually full range (within my ears’ high frequency limitations) and I can easily identify the speaker by the sound of the voice. Movie dialog is usually less clear but I have watched some programs with heavy thunder and gun fire that, if I didn’t know better, I would think was from an audio system with 12” or 15” speakers. More about the phenomenal bass response later.
Listening through the microphones instead of the streamer is another story. TV dialog is totally lacking in bass, brittle sounding and difficult to understand, partly due perhaps to room resonance but even at very close range, not good. If I’m in a store, hearing and understanding the cashier are very difficult. Even with the my Phonak app set to Speech in Loud Noise, I hear all the clatter and talk around the store but barely hear the cashier directly in front of me. I have had that difficulty with previous HAs so it is not unique to the current ones. Of course audiologists don’t understand that because in their tiny enclosed booth with the audiologist close and speaking clearly and with force, I hear them ok.
With that background, here is the strange thing I don’t understand. I have read that the Phonak has a range from 200 hertz to well above my hearing cut off. My left HA seems to produce bass well below that. If I make a low level sound (growl) in my throat, even with the microphone volume set to minimum or the microphone turned off, I hear loud bass in my left ear. If I make a low level hum in my throat, my left ear hears a loud sound reminiscent of the 60 cycle hum in the old analog audio systems with a shielding problem. If I lightly, no pressure, touch the HA ear mold, the sound loudness decreases significantly and the sound location moves from my left ear to the front of my face. If I lightly drag a finger across the skin below the ear and down the jaw bone, I hear a loud low frequency dragging noise in my left ear, even with the microphone set to minimum. Lightly touching the ear mold decreases the sound. This left ear bass anomaly occurs whether the HAs are set to streaming or microphone. My voice, which I have been told is bassy, is really bassy in my left ear. Pulling the ear mold out slightly greatly reduces the bass and also degrades the natural sound of streaming dialog.
Is it possible that the receiver in the ear mold is causing the entire ear mold to resonate and amplify the bass. That might explain why touching the mold lightly damps the sound substantially. The extreme bass seems to be only with sounds generated in my own head/throat. Streaming sounds benefits from the good bass, which is totally missing when the aids are set to microphone.
Another thing that I don’t understand….At times if sound in my left ear seems to lack high frequency content, I can pull my ear lobe down slightly which makes the sound significantly louder and raises it a couple octaves, as if the sound outlet might be pressing against flesh that blocks the sound until I pull the lobe.
I discussed the left ear bass anomaly with the audiologists. The first one’s response was “you have to get used to the sound of your voice”. The next time a different one changed the wax filter and cleaned the vent and said that should take care of it, do you have any other questions? Since the VA equipment and service doesn’t cost me anything, I am reluctant to get pushy with people who have been very nice to work with, and maybe what seems to me to be an aberration is not unusual for HAs, though this is the first HA with which I have ever experienced it.
Has any one else experienced something like this?