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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

@TraderGary is a pianist and thrilled with the sound of the Marvels when he plays (maybe piano notes have lots of harmonics?). Seem to recall his provider made some adjustments. Maybe you should compare notes with him (Whew! Atrocious pun!).

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Thanks, Jim. I am not completely unsold on the Marvels yet. I’ll keep going back until they are right or I know they won’t be for me. A piano essentially has three strings for every note, so yeah, it’s a more complex tone vs a single steel guitar string playing on the 8th fret of the top E string (a medium high C). I look forward to hearing the Philips as well, as I’ve heard good things about them. And, there’s Widex - another brand I’ve heard good things about for musicians.

So, lots of choices. And while my trusty America Hears aids from 2010 don’t have any bells and whistles, and sometimes sing along with my high notes, they so far are the best sounding for me. Even better than later aids from America Hears. So, I am covered. And really enjoying this exploration into the newer tech. Love the phone interface. Was surprised when I walked into the living room and heard music in my aids - the TV interface is plugged into the record-out on my receiver, which we run TV and all music through. Really threw me for a loop for a second until I realized what was happening.

As Jim said, I’m a classical pianist (majored in performance on violin and piano in college) and I have the Marvel M90-R. The only time I ever experienced feedback was once when I didn’t have them solidly pushed in so that all I can feel with my finger is the tip of the speaker thing. I have domes that have a thin wing that’s in two pieces and is definitely not any kind of closed dome. I’ve never experienced the tremolo effect that people talk about here on the forums.

My audiologist used the Phonak MyPhonak app and the “Remote Support” option to set up my “Piano Program”. I placed my phone on my piano music rack and she could see and hear me and I could see and hear her. Then I would play a passage and some scales and arpeggios and tell her what I thought the problems were. She would make adjustments and we would go through the same procedure over and over. With each iteration she would write the changes to my Marvels. Now whenever I sit down to the piano this is the program I change to. I only have two extra programs set on my Marvels, 1. Music, 2. Piano. If I’m going to the symphony or listening to live music I use the Music Program. Whenever I play the piano, I use the Piano Program.

I have a 7’ 5" Kawai Concert Grand piano in a 35 x 20 room with ceramic tile floors and a 2 1/2 story tall ceiling. It’s a wonderful place to have a large grand piano. However the volume when playing fortissimo is very loud. My Piano program cuts the volume down by several steps and everything works out very well. I’m very pleased with how my Marvels are working with music.

The most pleasant surprise with my Marvels is the amazing high quality of streaming music. I’m a bit of an audiophile and have spent a good bit on high quality audio equipment. My Marvels rival my best headphones. I have a lossless CD quality subscription to Primephonic and with my Marvels I can readily hear the quality difference between MP3 on my Google Play Music subscription and lossless CD quality on my Primephonic subscription.

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Thank you for the extensive reply. Based on your comments, I think I may need a better audiologist/technician setting mine up. In Autosense 3.0 mode, I can get the tremolo/trill effect by simply whistling. A woman’s voice when it reaches a certain volume threshold causes it as well. My guess is that there is something overdone in the settings for feedback control. Settling in with them allowed me to get past the initial honeymoon phase and I am listening more carefully. There are things I love, and the bells and whistles are great too. I ended up needing what the technician referred to as the ‘power receiver’ so perhaps she set them up for the regular receiver first and then went to update for power receiver without readjusting the feedback settings.

Again, thanks for your detailed response. I am hoping I can get mine set up as well as yours are. Quick question - did you go rechargeable or battery?

Regarding Streaming audio - we could not get that dialed in very well, either. I usually listen on Sennheiser HD 580 Jubilees for headphones and a Tannoy Reveal 8 system for speakers (the sonic signature between the two is very similar). And for travel, I use Bose QC35s (love Bose’s ANR) with a FiiO 96k FLAC/AIFF file player. Comparatively, the streaming in my test Marvels sounds like a transistor radio. So, I am now more convinced than ever that they are simply not set up well. Since I plan on purchasing from another vendor, I am hoping the technician there will do a better job. It will be between these and the new Philips HearingLinks.

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I have the M90-R rechargeable.

It would be cool if you could add your Audiogram so I could see how close or different our hearing is! I wonder if that might be why some get the tremolo/trill and I don’t. The only time I can get feedback is if I pull my receiver part way out. My audiologist taught me to make sure the receiver is pushed in as far as I can get it to go so that all I can feel is the tip end of it.

I can post my audiogram tomorrow when I am at my computer. Right now I am on an iPad and can’t seem to copy and paste a photo. Essentially I am ok up to 2K and then get a steep drop in both ears - about 60dB down.

I don’t get ANY feedback from these aids in Autosense mode - what I am saying is that the aids interpret anything approaching a pure tone as feedback and then I can hear them working to eliminate the sound. And because it isn’t feedback, they can’t eliminate it. So the audible effect is the oscillation or trill around the note, or voice, or beep.

I have a manual program called Music that removes the feedback rejection algorithm, and that stops the trilling. Though, there’s the potential for feedback when my hands get near the aids. I also had the technician set the mic for Omnidirectional which provides a better sound for playing my instrument. However, I have to remember to switch back to Autosense, as it is pretty not-nice for regular, everyday wear.

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You don’t need to post a photo of your audiogram. If you click on my avatar you will see my audiogram. You enter your audiogram by just clicking on a chart in your profile settings for the forum.

I recently got the Marvel M70-R’s and I also notice that trill with electronic beeps. Nice to know what it is.

Regarding the Phonak Marvels and the ‘trill’ or ‘tremolo’ effect, here is my attempt to capture the problem.
There are links to nine audio clips. All were recorded using a Neumann TLM-184 microphone through a Focusrite Scarlett USB Audio Interface, into my Macintosh running Logic X Pro Audio recording software.

There are two basic things here:

First are single notes, particularly a C sharp, recorded through the aids with the mic as isolated as possible from the room, so you are only getting the sound of the aids. I did this with the AUTOSENSE 3.0 program and the MUSIC program that’s manually in my aids (without Whistle Stop, using the OMNI mic). Then I recorded single notes in the room as captured by the mic without the aids.
I have samples here of just the aids, the aids mixed with the room (to illustrate the sound one would have wearing aids in real life), and then just the room.

There’s also one single note melody with just the sound of the aids set to AUTOSENSE to give an idea of musical context.

1: Single notes recorded by the microphone in the room, no hearing aids:

  1. Single notes recorded by the microphone through aids MUSIC program with room mixed in:

  1. Single notes recorded by the microphone through aids MUSIC program without the room mixed in:

  1. Single notes recorded by the microphone through aids AUTOSENSE 3.0 program with the room mixed in:

  1. Single notes recorded by the microphone through aids AUTOSENSE 3.0 program without the room mixed in:

  1. A single note and two-notes at once melody recorded by the microphone through aids AUTOSENSE 3.0 program without the room mixed in:

Then I basically did the same thing with a chord melody - Just the AUTOSENSE with the aids, just the MUSIC program with the aids, and then just the room through the Neumann Mic.

  1. Chord Melody and single notes recorded by the microphone in the room, no aids:

  1. Chord Melody and single notes recorded by the microphone through aids MUSIC program without the room mixed in:

  1. Chord Melody and single notes recorded by the microphone through aids AUTOSENSE 3.0 program without the room mixed in:

For me, the single notes show the trill/tremolo effect in the most obvious manner.

For the chord melodies, it presents more as distortion than ‘trill’.

All input levels were kept below 0dB so there was no distortion coming in or going out.

For the guitar people, it’s an electric guitar built by Joe Yanuziello straight into a Quilter MicroPro Mach 2 8" amp.

As far as real-world issues, voices that get slightly higher pitched and louder produce the same trilling, as do beeps and such from computers, appliances, etc.

Anyway, I hope this helps illustrate and define the issue.

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It seems there’s no way with the current interface to enter one’s audiogram anymore. I’ve been through the whole account and preferences area but haven’t found anything. What I have found is that it looks like they changed it in mid 2018 or so, from some posts I was able to dig up.

Hey Jo58,
After the Widex Evoke 2-week trial I looked forward to testing the Phonak Audeo Marvel’s and also because Phonak does such great advertising campaign, LOL
3 days into my examination I too noticed a distorted effect above mid-high gain on certain sounds not unlike the tremolo you described, I told my Audi it should be called the Tambourine Effect.
I did not have the Tambourine Effect in my three other tryouts; Oticon OPN’s, Signia Stilletto’s and of course the Widex Evoke (which are the HA’s that I have just ordered)

I spent a good bit of time trying to find a way to make a change to my audiogram. I couldn’t find a way to do it. I certainly hope this gets fixed soon.