Phonak Marvel Hearing Aid Review – Super hearing technology fit for a superhero

 

In December 2018, Sounds of Life released the new Phonak Marvel hearing aid.  It is rare that we get to review such a complete hearing aid that is truly a Blockbuster with industry-leading technology.  Before we talk about the Phonak Marvel, lets have a look at recent hearing aid technology development.

Over the last three to four years, hearing aid manufacturers have focused on three major technology areas:

 

1/ Bluetooth connectivity, particularly supporting direct audio-streaming from smartphones*

2/ Audiological performance, particularly in challenging situations (e.g. noisy environments)

3/ Rechargeability, particularly integrated lithium-ion battery rechargeable technology

(*without extra accessories)

 

 

While historically specific manufacturers were leaders in a single area (for example, for the last five years, Resound has been the industry leader in Bluetooth audio streaming support), no manufacturer has provided industry leadership in all three areas.  That is until now!

Phonak hearing aids are well known for offering outstanding audiological performance and sound quality, however it is fair to say they have lagged the competition with regards to Bluetooth connectivity.  In fact, they have been the only manufacturer without a Made-For-iPhone* hearing aid.  That has all changed with the release of the new Phonak Marvel hearing aid range.  The new range delivers industry-leading performance (with some noteworthy industry-firsts) in all three areas.  Lets take a closer look.

*Made-For-iPhone hearing aids provide direct Bluetooth wireless audio-streaming from Apple devices e.g. iPhone. iPads (with an intermediary device)

Bluetooth Connectivity

Phonak Marvel hearing aids can wirelessly stream audio (to both hearing aids) to and from any device capable of streaming audio via Bluetooth. This includes any of the following:

  • iPhone and iPad
  • Android, Windows, Blackberry, and other Bluetooth-enabled phones and tablets
  • Mac, Windows, Linux, and other Bluetooth-enabled computers
  • Any other device with Bluetooth audio streaming

 

 

Phonak Marvel is the only hearing aid to allow direct audio streaming (without an intermediary accessory) to and from all modern Bluetooth devices.  Direct streaming in other hearing aids is currently limited to Apple devices (Made-For-iPhone technology) with the one exception of ReSound (who has promised their recently released Resound Quattro hearing aids will support direct streaming from Android devices in the future).  In addition the Phonak Marvel offers true hands-free calling.  The wearer’s voice is picked up by the hearing aids’ microphones and sent through the smartphone (other hearing aids require the phone to be held up and the voice picked up by the microphone on the smartphone).

For television watching, wearers can experience high quality audio wirelessly streamed directly from Bluetooth-enabled TVs into their Phonak Marvel hearing aids, transforming them into wireless headphones.   For non-Bluetooth TVs, an optional Phonak TV Connector accessory can be purchased and connected to the television.

 

 

Audiological Performance

Phonak Marvel uses an upgraded sound processing technology Phonak calls AutoSense OS 3.0.  This technology identifies and automatically adapts to the various situations (and varying acoustic environments) wearers experience in their everyday life.  Phonak hearing aids have a great reputation for delivering excellent speech clarity particularly in challenging situations with background noise.  The Phonak Marvel uses the very latest high performance directional microphone and noise reduction technology, Phonak calls Binaural Voice Stream Technology.  This unique Phonak technology was developed based on the fact that two ears hear better than one.  The technology streams the full audio bandwidth in real time and bidirectionally, tackling challenging listening situations by simulating what the brain does with sounds from both ears.  The benefits of this technology is that it delivers outstanding speech clarity in challenging situations with background noise.

 

Rechargeability

Phonak offers a lithium-ion rechargeable model option called the Audeo M-R.  The Phonak Audeo M-R  offers wearers the convenience of not having to regularly change batteries.  At the end of the day, wearers simply need to put their hearing aids in the charger case and over night they will be fully recharged (a full charging cycle takes approximately five hours).  After charging, when the hearing aids are removed from the charger case they conveniently turn on automatically.

Phonak offers two charging case versions:

  • The Phonak Mini Charger Case (pictured) which is a compact charger
  • The Phonak Charger Case Combi which is a charger, drying kit and protective hard case, all in one.  A Phonak power pack can be attached to the Charger Case Combi enabling recharging on the go (no need for a power connection).

In terms of battery life, with no Bluetooth streaming, wearers can expect the Audéo M-R to last 24 hours on a single charge. With Bluetooth streaming (4 hours of TV streaming plus 4 hours of Bluetooth streaming), wearers can expect 16 hours of total use time.  The rechargeable battery is expected to last around 6 years before it will need to be replaced.

 

Models

Phonak Marvel is currently available in both a standard and a rechargeable receiver-in-canal (RIC) model: Phonak Audeo M-312 and Phonak Audeo M-R (rechargeable).  It is expected that additional models (including models with t-coil) will be released by Phonak in early 2019.  The Phonak Marvel RIC hearing aids are available in four performance levels (M90/M70/M50/M30) from Sounds of Life and are priced from $1390 each.

Non-Rechargeable

Premium – Phonak Audeo RIC M90 $3899
High-end – Phonak Audeo RIC M70 $2990
Mid-Range – Phonak Audeo RIC M50 $2190
Entry-Level – Phonak Audeo RIC M30 $1390

 

 

 

Rechargeable

Premium – Phonak Audeo RIC M90-R $3999
High-end – Phonak Audeo RIC M70-R $3150 
Mid-Range – Phonak Audeo RIC M50-R $2390
Entry-Level – Phonak Audeo RIC M30-R  $1590

 

 

 

Our Conclusion

Phonak has always been at the forefront of sound processing technology and they have a good reputation of delivering excellent all-round performance particularly in challenging situations with background noise.  The new Phonak Marvel builds on this reputation and delivers industry leading performance in the key areas of audiological performance, Bluetooth connectivity and rechargeability.  Since launch we have had the opportunity to fit a number of Phonak Marvel hearing aids to our clients.  So far the feedback has been excellent particularly around the benefits of Bluetooth connectivity (especially Android phone users).

 

About Sounds of Life

Sounds of Life audiology is a member of Audiology Australia and Independent Audiologist Australia. We adhere strictly to Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics.   We pride ourselves on:

  • Being fully independent – We are not owned or operated by a hearing aid manufacturer or large chain.
  • Ethical Practices – We are focused on providing the highest level of care and do not pay commissions.

We also follow the Australian Government Hearing Services’ protocol for hearing services.

 

If you feel hearing loss is impacting your life contact Sounds of Life.

Contact us today on 1300 744 432 or via our contact form below:

 

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