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I’ve finally got my hands on some Phonak Hearing Systems Marvel 2.0 hearing instruments. Phonak Hearing Systems Kindly sent me a pair along with a Roger direct to try out and try them out I did.
‘That’s great Steven but why do you keep saying Phonak Hearing Systems and not just say Phonak!’
I’ll explain later!
Here are my early impressions and feedback on the Marvel 2.0.
The Hearing aid itself
First things first; we as professionals will ask each other is it the best hearing aid out there? We will then get into a big drawn out argument about why one hearing aid is better than the other etc etc. If you ask me is it the best hearing aid out there? I would say its in the top 3 but whether it’s the standout best, I would say no, there are other hearing aids equal to it or maybe slightly better, but we are missing the point and the question really needs to change.
The question should be and the question we should be encouraging customers to ask is….. ‘Is it the best hearing system out there’ and I have to say the answer would be absolutely YES.
To just focus on the Phonak Hearing Systems Marvel 2.0 as a hearing aid is, I feel, completely missing the point. This is why I am calling Phonak by their full name now Phonak Hearing Systems because they have built a full hearing system and they have built a damn fine full hearing system which is going to have a lot of people scrabbling for answers.
I was worried when I knew there was a delay in launching the Phonak Marvel 2.0 Roger direct that they couldn’t make a hearing aid smart enough or small enough to ram all that technology into. The previous roger direct instruments were, shall we say, rather bulky. You needed a shoe on the end of an already rather big device to have the best quality access to the technology. So how were they going to get this rather cumbersome device down to a mass market size and not a size that is accepted mainly amongst profound wearers?
Well I don’t know but boy have they done it! It looks like a thing of beauty. Its sleek design and lovely charging system feel and click like the Swiss companies’ counterparts in the watch making industry. Think of this like a Hublot for your ears.
My only gripe with the swiss giant Phonak is that the Marvel comes in truly awful presentation boxes. This surprises me because the Swiss present their products so beautifully. To be fair this might just be me and I do have a thing about presentation of expensive equipment. I think we could do more to wow customers.
Wearing them for around 36 hrs as I write this, I have found them to be super comfortable. I have them on with an open dome and medium in size.
With the open dome I was concerned about the streaming, but I was surprised with the results.
Connecting & streaming
I am a Samsung user or Android user as we are more commonly called. I get particularly annoyed at not being able to use hearing aids without having to use some other device to connect to my phone. Of course, the Phonak marvel 2.0 have direct connectivity to any phone and not just iPhone like other manufacturers.
The connection process is very easy to both the phone and the Phonak App.
As soon as I connected the hearing aids, I went to my podcasts list and streamed a podcast to the hearing aids. I jumped!!! The streaming was immediate with no lag and the Phonak Marvel 2.0 sound quality was amazing.
I particularly loved their environmental optimiser. I could turn the podcast up and hear less from the outside world or turn the podcast down and hear more from the hearing aids.
I decided to see how efficient this would be under stress, so I went for a cycle!!
I decided to stream a spoken word podcast to my Marvel 2.0 hearing aids while riding my bike for 2 hours. I was riding off road, at night, on bonfire night. One of the limitations of riding with standard headphones is you have no sound from the outside world.
With the Phonak Marvel hearing aids I used the environmental optimiser so I could hear the outside world and also hear my podcast. It was amazing! I could hear all the fireworks, the leaves rustling under my wheels and the breeze running through the trees, but I could also hear my podcast!
Also, whilst out cycling I asked my wife to call me. I took the call and had zero problems. My wife also said it sounded great on the other side. My phone was in my pocket the whole time and I was riding my bike. This left me to play with the environmental optimiser. Again outstanding! It actually had me thinking I will wear the Phonak Marvel hearing aids while racing my bike, get my coach to phone me and receive live coaching whilst riding my bike!
The Real kicker Phonak Roger select
Okay – so far so good. As a Samsung user can this get any better? The App is great I can personalise sounds but that’s nothing new so what else Phonak does the Marvel 2.0 really do to shine?
I connected the Roger Select to the hearing aids. The Roger select is an assistive device that connects direct to Phonak Marvel hearing aids. It’s a James bond style circle with lights and buttons. It looks super cool is very light and weighs practically nothing.
It sends beams around the room and cancels out unwanted noise while allowing speech to get through. Its so versatile you can choose the beams and the directions you want to hear. To really understand it you must try it.
I turned it on in a busy café and wow! What an instant difference. I had the café owner wear it round their neck and speak to me while they turned their back and made coffee. They even went into the kitchen and I could hear them crystal clear! I could hear the real-world environment around but in no way was it disturbing.
I thought, let’s take the hearing aids out. As soon as I took Phonak Marvel hearing instruments out I couldn’t hear what was being said!! Not a thing, because the background noise was way too loud. I put them back in and I could hear everything I wanted to hear. Phonak say the Roger select will help you hear better than people with normal hearing. Sometimes you think that’s all marketing nonsense but on trial they are bang on right!
I even stuck the Roger select on the dash of my car and played with the beams and I couldn’t believe how well it made me hear!
At home I stuck the Roger select next to my Amazon Alexa. I turned Alexa up to high volume and played some 90s indie music (Shed 7 I think). I had my wife speak to me with all the noise going on and I left the Roger select on all round beam. Even with the all-round beam on it picked my wife’s voice up and transferred it to the Marvel hearing aids. I could hear her over the noise but of course it was loud because all round beam was on.
I then selected the beam to direct itself to my wife but not Alexa. Alexa stayed at the same volume and I asked my wife to whisper. I heard her clearly! Alexa’s volume dropped significantly because the beam former was dropping it from being transferred to my ears.
I switched the Roger Select off and tried to hear her with just the hearing aids in, but it was not possible.
Again, I took the aids out and lo and behold my wife and her lovely voice disappeared!!! Now that’s handy.
So, to be fair to Phonak hearing systems, this is outstanding and without doubt the best hearing accessory on the market.
The great thing about the Phonak Roger Select is that you can connect it to your TV while it charges meaning you can stream the TV to your hearing aids without relying on the speakers from the TV. I didn’t find this to be brilliant but that is not what it was designed for.
SWORD TV Box
Because I didn’t like the TV streaming from the Roger select, I tried the Phonak TV streamer which uses their fancy propriety SWORD chip. Problem was solved instantly. Sound was crisp and clear; in fact, it was so good I dropped using my headset for the PlayStation and played Call of Duty with my hearing aids on.
We have still to review Phonak’s full Marvel package. There is so much more to explore, and we will add as we go. Things like my hearing diary and Remote care, not to mention the online user portal that the end user can access.
I know a lot of independents will be worried about how the big box partners position themselves but I think there is opportunity namely because to get the most out of marvel, you are going to need multiple visits and have a grasp of the hearing diary and remote care. I’m not sure the big box retailers will cope with that level of detail, but we will see.
All in all, an outstanding hearing system from Phonak and exciting times for us as a profession. More importantly The Phonak Marvel 2.0 are my youngest Son Archie’s favourite hearing aids because he thinks Captain America and Spider man wear them and he may be right!
Steven Ross (MSHAA, RHAD)
58 Cadzow Street,