Which works best for iPhone users, Phonak Marvel or Made For iPhone hearing aids like Oticon Opn?

Sara Nagel, AuD

Audiologist in Pearland

10 February 2019 - 554 Views

Currently, the Phonak Marvel Hearing aids are the only ones that allow the user to answer a call by pressing a button on the hearing aid.  The hearing aid picks up the user’s voice, so the iPhone can stay in a pocket or purse.  All the others require the user to answer the call on the iPhone itself and keep it out for the duration of the call.  Other differences such as speech-in-noise performance, wind noise reduction, app controls, and subjective sound quality preference  can play into the final decision of what is best for a particular user.  Your audiologist can help narrow down the choices for you based on the configuration of your hearing loss, needs (and wants) assessment, speech-in-noise performance, and your comfort level with technology.  Note: I fit Oticon, Phonak, Widex, and Resound Made-For-iPhone hearing aids.  

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Luke Wassermann, AuD
Luke Wassermann, AuD 14 March 2019

Sara, Do you know what happens when the Marvels intercept the microphone to pick up the hearing aid user's voice? Can the user still hear ambient sound around them through the hearing aid mics while on the call?

Sara  N
Sara N 14 March 2019 Replied to Luke Wassermann, AuD
Yes, while on a call the HA mics are still active for ambient sound; however, the user can adjust balance of streamed call vs. ambient sound volume by pressing the volume button of the HA up or down while on the call.  Pressing the up button increases volume of streamed call while simultaneously reducing ambient noise, and vice versa when pressing the down button.  

Christopher S. Frink, AuD

Audiologist in Salem

11 February 2019 - 486 Views

Both the Oticon OPN and the Phonak Marvel product lines work very well for iPhone users.  The primary advantage the Marvel product has over the OPN product is that if you don't have an iPhone, Marvel can still work with your phone utilizing direct connectivity whereas the OPN products cannot.  But if you have an iPhone, either product works great.  Some providers may have different views on this depending on which company they prefer to work with, but there is no clinical proof that one works better than the other in regards to iPhones.This being said, there are other considerations which may influence your choice that are more related to how the hearing aids perform irrespective of iPhone use.  As an example, Oticon has more physical designs available in the OPN product platform (both in-the-ear and behind the ear), whereas Phonak only has two small miniature behind-the-ear products at this time (although this is likely to change in the future).  There are also other feature considerations as to how the hearing aids work, such as performance in background noise, sound quality of music, battery drain, etc.

In summary, if you have an iPhone, either product will work great when it comes to direct connectivity, but there are many more questions you should ask your provider as to the hearing aids' performance in other life situations.

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Olga Lis, MS

Audiologist in Brooklyn

11 February 2019 - 461 Views

At this time, both OPN and Marvel hearing aids have great connectivity to the iPhone. Marvel is the newer product, hence direct connectivity is only available in the RIC (receiver-in-the-canal) style at this time. OPN line has direct connectivity for some of its custom instruments, as small as the in-the-canal custom hearing aids. Marvel, on the other hand, offers a completely hands-free phone experience as you can answer the phone call and hang up by pushing a button on the hearing aid. Ultimately, in terms of sound quality, it's a matter of personal preference. I suggest trialing both devices and making a decision together with your audiologist, based on testing outcomes in quiet and in noise, sound quality, and physical comfort/ fit. 
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Chris Wahl, AuD

Audiologist in Tucson

10 February 2019 - 545 Views

The Phonak Marvels are nice because they work as hands free devices for the iPhone. Where the Marvel falls short of other Made For iPhone Hearing aids is in the app. The other apps like Widex Evoke allow you to create custom programs, use directional focus, and find a lost hearing aid using the gps in the app. Geo-tagging programs and machine learning are other features you may like. The streaming is pretty good with the Widex Evoke but you do have to hold the iPhone to talk. In the end the best hearing aids are the ones that help you hear your best even in noise!
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Sheri Gostomelsky, AuD

Doctor of Audiology in Deerfield

10 February 2019 - 554 Views

Both devices you describe work perfectly with Apple products.  The big difference is that Oticon's system requires the phone to be in close proximity when you are having a telephone conversation.  Phonak's product allows you to answer the phone and have a conversation even with the phone at a distance.  All of the big six manufacters offer great solutions.

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Jeffrey Cline

Board Certified Hearing Instrument Specialist in Hickory

11 February 2019 - 498 Views

In my experience patients have enjoyed the Oticon Opn very much so. The app for the iPhone has been extremely easy to use and also has provided the best hearing among the two. We have fit both products and both have done a good job but my preference is to work the Opn hearing instrument by Oticon. 
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Nikki D
Nikki D 10 February 2019

In my opinion, the brands you mentioned as well as other direct to Iphone hearing aids such as Widex, SIgnia, and Resound all have similar results when streaming from an IPhone.   I would look more at the app features as some allow the user much more control than others.  You can load the app and play with it in demo mode before you decide. 

Another important factor is simply the general sound quality of each brand.  However, it is hard to be able to know about sound quality unless you listen to each brand, which isn't something most people can do.  At my clinic, where we actively fit every brand, the Audiologist decides on the best brand and sound processing based on your hearing loss, your auditory processing, your previous hearing aid experience, your personality and your lifestyle.  

Hope this helps!!

Denis M
Denis M 11 February 2019

You have selected two excellent instruments. Both manufacturers are top notch. It really comes down to customer/user preferences. Oticon has the edge for flexibility and customization of the app.  The Phonak Marvel has easier connectivity to the iPhone.

We have had excellent results with both companies.  It's really a discussion you should have with your hearing professional.  They can lay out in detail the pros and cons of each instrument and help you tailor which is the best instrument for your hearing loss and lifestyle.

Robert H
Robert H 23 February 2019

One perhaps should consider additional hearing instrument Apple interfaces besides iPhone. For example, Apple Watch, Home Pod, (Apple) TV, Apple CarPlay, iPad, etc. 

My current knowledge tends to favor Resound instruments, notwithstanding that the OP did not mention that as an option. My reason for suggesting this is because of GN Resound’s longstanding technology and bidirectional radio communication work with Apple. 

FWIW. RR Hale, Claremont, CA USA.

Kristen K
Kristen K 02 April 2019
The BT technology Phonak is using has more battery drain.  The app from Phonak is also very basic.  The streaming feature to iphone has been available longer and I feel more of the "bugs" have been worked out.  That being said both are great options and a big deciding factor would be if you desire hands free for phone calls then Phonak is a great choice. 
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