Trial of Marvel HA not satisfactory

#1

I’ve just began a trial of Marvel M90 Rs and I’m finding them unusable. My current aids are Phonak Audeo S, about five years old. Those are far from perfect and old enough that I’d like a replacement/ backup.

The trial aids came with closed domes. I’m told I would need to purchase the aids and have molds made to try something different. I have only two weeks for the free trial period.

The fitting seemed very thorough to me — basic audiogram, bone conduction, first fit, speech mapping with adjustments at three sound levels, etc.

I do notice the occlusion with the closed domes, but try to ignore that to evaluate speech recognition. My impression (after two days) is that it is close to my old aids in soft speech, but is much worse with a noisy background.

But the real killer is when I sing with an A_Capella group. Neither my voice nor the voices of other singers sound real, to the point where matching pitches is difficult. There comes a point as the music dynamic is increased where the sound just “shatters.” Other words to describe this might be overload or distortion. The result in any case is a loud, non-musical cacophony of sound that is impossible to sing against.

I’ve read the discussions that talk about 16 bit A/D converters that fail to capture the full dynamic range. The statement is that if the ADCs can’t handle the input, nothing you do downstream can correct it. While I have the general concept, I don’t know how or if modern aids cope with this (or if that is even the problem.) At any rate, this shattering with increasing volume seems like what you would expect if this were true.

At this point, I’m not sure what to do. Even if I knew the cause, I’m not sure that adjustments would help.

My next project is to upload an audiogram. But in the meantime, my loss curve is relatively flat at about 55 db up to about 1,500 Hz. It then slopes off to about 72 dB at 6 kHz. Both ears are close to identical over that range.

Thoughts appreciated!

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#2

It’s unlikely to be the input level causing the issue, it’s way more likely being the feedback manager and phase inverter kicking in because (given it’s acapella) the aid has failed to recognise it as ‘Music’ and thinks the harmonies are feedback.

The answer should be fairly straightforward; getting a dedicated music program and switching into that.

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#3

If you have an opportunity you may want to trial a pair of the Costco Kirkland Signature 8.0 HA’s, or their name brand equivalents; Rexton Emerald 80 8C or Signia 7Nx. They have a couple of features that might help (or hurt!). One is Own Voice Processing. The HA’s are trained to distinguish your voice from that of others, and suppress it so it sounds better to you. It is trained using speech, not singing, so not sure how that would work out. These HA’s also have the choice of three music programs; Live Music, Recorded Music, and Playing an instrument in a band. Again not sure how they would help or hurt when singing. Only a trial of them would tell you for sure. You can set these programs up as separate choices so it would be easy to try each to see which works best…

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#4

Thanks for the suggestions Um_bongo, I’ll see about getting a separate music program implemented. I’d be interested in knowing how hearing aid logic recognises a variety of music styles and instruments, but rejects the human voice. It’s probably proprietary with each manufacturer though.

One additional bit of info: our Director uses the piano sometimes to help us work out complex harmonies. If we are singing at a moderate level, the overload effect does not occur. But the instant that piano is added, the overload begins and remains until the piano stops!

Also, as a separate issue, I don’t understand why the Marvels perform no better (and sometimes worse) at speech recognition than my old aids. I realize that my level of hearing loss may limit understanding in really noisy environments. But I assumed that hearing would improve in less demanding situations.

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#5

Thanks Sierra,

Obviously, I want to maximize the Marvels during my trial, but I’ll keep your thoughts in mind.

I would note that BOTH my voice and that of others does not sound good in normal conversation (or in singing.) Relative to my old aids, the new Marvels are inferior in many situations and perhaps equal at best. It seems that many members like the Marvels, even though they may like another aid more. But I didn’t expect them to be less satisfactory than five year old aids!

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#6

You will definitely need a music setting…

most manufacturers now have a music setting which is a completely different processing algorithm, static feedback cancellation, and all self adjusting features disabled. We fit mostly starkey, and I gotta say their music processing is amazing. I am a musician myself, and they really do sound almost natural when processing music.

As far as your noise complaint, it is my observation that Phonak over does it with compression in their initial fitting. Too much compression bottom up tends to increase the loudness of low frequency sounds to the point where they are masking the softer sounds needed for clear speech understanding.

I don’t know how technical your specialist is, but if they understand compression, they can probably make some adjustments that will have a meaningful impact on your comfort in noise.

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#7

Here is a link to the Signia promo video on the music programs. As Eric says, they turn most of the processing tricks off. It also sounds to me like they have changed the equalization too. However, I’m listening to it with hearing aids. Seems kind of like showing colour samples to someone who is blind…

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#8

I’ve heard good things about Widex Evoke and music. You might want to give those a try.

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#9

That sounds like it may be distortion (your ears, not the hearing aid). New hearing aid, set up with current amounts of gain needed also fits the distortion scenario.

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#10

I certainly wouldn’t rule out that there is distortion in my ears. But I note that with my old aids, I was able to listen and sing over a much wider dynamic range. Even at moderate levels with no piano, my old aids gave me clearer sound. And with the old aids, even at high levels and with piano, there was nothing like the distortion I’m describing.

At the same time I got the trial aids, the old aids were boosted to meet my current prescription, although adjustments to things like speech mapping were not.

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#11

I am a church choir singer and am also trialing the Marvels. I have some of the same issues:

First: you need WAY more than 2 weeks to trial the new aids. I have “45” and I am sure that will be extendable if need be. Second: as Um_bongo says, you need a seperate music program with all unnatural processing, frequency mapping, compression OFF.

Singing with my current Oticon OPN is pretty good. With the Marvel, my voice masked others so I couldn’t hear them. My audi found the OPNs had the base gain almost non existent. Turning it way down on the Marvels (in the music program) has lowered the apparent loudness of my voice so I can hear the others in my group.

I also have distortion at load levels. It has been there for 5-6 years through 3 different aids. The piano can sound like a poor amplifier driven too loud (think cheap boom box). I believe it is my hearing loss that is causing this.

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#12

Thanks arbywon,

I don’t sing with a church choir, but at the request of a friend, sang a Requiem with a church choir for Palm Sunday. What with perhaps 30+ singers, a small orchestra and sometimes organ, I suspect the volume level was the most I’d need to deal with. While I could quibble with quality of sound, my five year old aids came through for me just fine!

I agree that two weeks is way too short for an evaluation — not sure why there is that limitation. The audiologist said they had to buy the aids and these would be the ones I would receive if I decided to buy?

If the distortion is in my ears rather than the aids, I’m not sure why the old aids don’t have the same effect or how they are processing the sound to avoid it. It would also seem that playing loud sounds in a sound booth could easily identify this problem and indicate how to adjust aids to avoid it

The trial Marvels do have a music program, it’s just that it isn’t accessible as a stand-alone program without an adjustment. I’m told that all the tweaks in the speech program are turned off. I contacted the audiology service after the first reply here, but they have not gotten back to me yet.

Thanks for your input. I’ll stay the course for the next week, but then move on if I have to.

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#13

The trial Marvels do have a music program, it’s just that it isn’t accessible as a stand-alone program without an adjustment.

Yes, that’s true. You need more time for these adjustments. I’ve seen my audi 5 times in the 4 weeks that I’ve had the trial Marvels. I think I am getting close to a decision but it will probably take a few more tweaks.

You might need to return your trial aids and then find another audiologist that is more reasonable with trials, familiar with fiting musicians, especially singers and hopefully more technically adept.

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#14

One additional thought with the Costco aids is the 180 trial period.

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#15

I am aware of the Costco policy and may give them a try at some point. I agree with everyone that two weeks is not adequate. On the other hand if it takes me six months to decide, we’re probably wasting both my time and that of the audiologist!

I turn in my Marvel aids next week, so I’ll at least wait to hear what my audi says. But it may be time to move on. I’m certainly not going to purchase something that is worse than what I have.

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#16

Hoping you find something that works. I wish you well.

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#17

Well, my trial period is up and I’ve returned the Marvels. My conclusion was that they were no better than my five year old aids and in more difficult situations, a good deal worse. So, I’m taking a break in my search to rethink where I’m going.

I was told by my audi that my level of hearing requires a custom mold with a fairly small vent size. My trial was with a totally occluded double dome. So I have two questions: What can a trial tell you if you don’t have a custom mold made with the correct vent size? And second, if you need to trial several HAs to find a good match, does that mean purchasing custom molds for each? The Phonaks I trialed apparently have a unique receiver such that other molds won’t fit. Does the same situation apply to other brands as well?

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#18

It seems a trial without going “all in” is a common
problem. No doubt you could use a custom mould and vent. Your low frequency loss requires one I think. I read about lots of people unable to match their current aids because I believe a lot of tweaking and effort went into them. Good luck with your search. I may be in the same situation soon.

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#19

I can really appreciate what you guys are going through. I got my first HA’s on Dec 26th and when I walked out of the audiologists office and spent the first week with them I was ready to throw them against the wall but I was determined to make them work. It has taken more than a dozen trips back to the audiologist with a complete REM session, including remote sessions while sitting at my piano to get to the point where I now really like my M90-R’s. I’ve recently sat in the sound proof booth and retested while wearing my HA’s and am satisfied that I’m as close as I’ll be able to get to normal hearing. If you look at my audiogram you will see that I have a typical ski-slope loss.

My audiologist has a doctorate degree and works in a well respected medical ENT practice, so I think she is well qualified. There is no doubt in my mind that finding a good audiologist is key.

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#20

Depends how HA’s are working day one. Many HA users know within days if their new HA is worth tweaking/fine tuning or needs to be shipped back to the manufacturer. If you’ve worn HA’s before you test your “new” HA’s the first things that pops into your brain is "am I hearing better with this new aid/or aids versus my current (older) hearing aid I’m trying to replace. If the answer is “No”, then in all likelihood you’re probably spinning your wheels going through a 45 day to 2 month trial test. Who wants to spend multiple trips to an audi getting HA adjusted, if day one, or week one you’re hearing worse when compared to your older existing hearing aids. Not me.

Now I’m talking more standard HA mode, autosense mode, basis day to day hearing setting. If someone is not happy or not hearing better with today’s latest HA, it’s time to say sayonara. But trialing for several weeks doesn’t really hurt anything, unless you’re constantly asking people to repeat things and/or not hearing as clearly as you used to.

But I’m all in for testing aids for six week to two months if you’re into fine tuning “supporting programs” like music, TV, background noise adjustments, etc. That’s where a good audi can be godsend, if he or she listen to your complaints/hearing level concerns and then makes adjustments to improve HA performance. Bottom line - a lot comes down to how close your HA vendor is because multiple trips can add up. If additional trips get good results - great but if your way behind the “hearing” game day one with new aids or one week after new aids - you probably need to hit the “reject” button.

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