Phonak Marvel - vibrating tremolo effect for high pitched (electronic) sounds


I have been trying out the Phonak Marvel M70 and M50 and I have noticed that electronic beeps produce an irritating tremolo echoing sound instead of one continuous tone. I especially notice that when the safety belt alarm goes off in my car and when I’m using the induction hob in the kitchen, which also beeps when I activate it.

Selecting a manual program like music does not change that behaviour compared to auto sense.

Has anyone noticed the same? What could be done to avoid that effect? Is it the same with the Oticon OPNs?



One possible explanation of what you are hearing would be a “beat” effect. When you have two pure tone frequencies that are slightly off in timing they will add and subtract to cause a beat effect. Could it be possible that your hearing for this specific frequency is pretty good, and you have an open fitting. If that is the case it may be a combination of hearing the pure tone directly through the vents in the fitting, and slightly delayed to that (due to microphone location and amplifier time delays) another close but not exactly the same tone. Just guessing!

Also in the other extreme if you have significant high frequency loss, could the HA be set up to use frequency shifting/lowering? That also could case a distorted tone effect.

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Since you say the effect doesn’t change when you go the music program, it’s not likely to be the attack and relaxation times for applying compression (variable amount of gain to soft, medium, and loud tones). But in a ReSound Audiology Online course, the effect of attack/release times on tone perception is discussed. Normally for programs involving speech, you want rapid attack/release times but you’ll get a warbling effect when listening to music. Thus, music programs typically employ much longer attack/release times. Another possibility, if you have a very open fit, is getting some sort of interference pattern between the sound generated in your ears by your receivers and the sound that bypasses your receiver fittings and goes directly from the environment to your ear drums - that potential is supposed to vary a lot from individual to individual depending on the shape and volume of one’s ear canals, the placement of the receivers in the ear canals, etc. (I see now that @Sierra made the same point in the post just previous).



I’ve noticed the behavior you describe on my M90’s when say a text message comes in. I think it has to do with a setting on the HA that reduces the impact of loud noises. It’s called SoundRelax in the fitting software.



I hear an effect which sounds similar to that of the OP. I have a quartet and we use electronic pitch pipes to get our starting pitch. Both I and another member of the quartet each have one. Mine gives me steady tones, but the one my friend has yields this “tremelo effect.” At least in my case, I don’t believe this is a beat tone effect. I have used beat tones to tune strings on a guitar. The beats are relatively slow and quite percussive. This is more like the effect a violinist produces by very slight movement of the finger holding the string down.

Further, I am the only one in the group that hears this tremelo. I only use the music program with this singing group, so I’ve never tried to see what other programs might do. And I’ve never heard this same effect with other electronic beeps, say my dishwasher end-of-cycle.



I get that effect with my OPN 1 aids. It also happens on the high notes of a piano (but not low notes). I wonder if it might be the aids’ anti-feedback system.

I have learned to live with it.



Good call, @stevepriceloco - this definitely may be whistleblocker, or whatever phonak calls it.

OP - try turning down the volume on some of the things that cause this, if possible. Obviously you can’t change the microwave, but what about notifications from a phone, if they are causing it? I found that turning down the alerts for text messages on my iPhone has gotten rid of this effect. I like them loud though, as sometimes i put my phone down and walk away - so I’ve learned to live with it and have adjusted



I’ve been testing a pair of Marvel 90s (rechargeable). My main complaint with them is that they recognize every pure tone as possible feedback and go into quick oscillation mode to squash it. This is what is creating the tremolo effect. I play guitar, and on the high, single notes, it’s impossible to listen to.

I had Connect Hearing (Phonak’s retail stores) tweak them to remove the “whistle reduction” from the program and set the mic to OMNI for when I play guitar. Shutting off the ‘whistle reduction’ (the feedback squashing algorithm) is what gets rid of the tremolo - but of course, then you are subject to a lot of feedback. I had her save this as a manual program, as the aids don’t recognize tones like these as music. It did the same thing with solo trumpet and anything that gets anywhere near a pure tone.

Under normal “Audiosense 3.0” operation, though, since the aids don’t recognize solo notes as music, they never shift into the music mode and as such, trill when those notes come along. As stated, the sound of the microwave, high pitched voices, certain bird noises, etc, create this tremolo/trill effect as you hear the aid trying to deal with feedback.

There is so much else to love about these aids, but if normal listening is so interrupted by their feedback reduction technology, I am afraid these aids won’t be something I can use. I am going to check out the Kirkland 9.0 aids at Costco - they are essentially the Marvel 90s without a rechargeable or telecoil option, and without the tinnitus management program. And, get this, they are $1499 a PAIR (vs Connect Hearing’s $6900 a pair)…I’ll see if a different technician can make them work better. If not, I’ve heard good things about Costco’s new Philips aids. Apparently, they’ve got the best feedback-reduction circuit on the market.

I will keep you posted.