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MDHearing has been disrupting the traditional brick-and-mortar hearing aid sales channel for more than a decade. A Midwest company that assembles and distributes its equipment out of Southfield, Michigan, they sell directly to consumers. They have evolved their offering over the years from a very simple device to a sophisticated hearing aid with a well-designed online hearing test.1
For this year’s review, I took MDHearing’s online hearing test (my results are below), fitted and tested the VOLT and VOLT MAX devices, and synced the VOLT MAX devices with their smartphone app. Below, I’ll walk you through how it all works.
Overall, my takeaway is that MDHearing's prices and capabilities can provide improvement for many types of people with simple hearing loss. Read on as I provide the nitty-gritty on my experience!
FYI: Are you wondering if insurance will cover your hearing aids? MDHearing recently launched a specialized Insurance Team dedicated to helping customers find out what their insurance covers, and they'll even file claims on your behalf. This takes some stress off your plate and ensures that you don't leave any unused benefits on the table.
I found the hearing test on MDHearing’s website to be quite well done, and the results matched those I’d gotten in a traditional sound-treated booth. It’s simple to use and navigate. Of all the online tests available, I’d put it at or near the top of the list. The results are shown in both a simplified “thermometer” version and a traditional audiogram format.
You can see how the test is conducted and the results of my test below. I like how the interface and results provide information that caters to the needs and level of understanding of both first-time and more experienced users.
Quick Tip: If you're new to the world of hearing aids and hearing tests, visit our hearing aid buyer's guide. In this guide, I'll walk you through everything you need to know before purchasing hearing aids for the first time.
The top image shows how the test is conducted. You are first asked to put in headphones and set your volume to “max.” Then you'll select the softest tone that you can barely hear at on six different frequencies, one ear at a time.
In the case of my test, the “thermometer” image below shows that my test responses were comparable to those of other people who did not have hearing loss. “Normal” hearing is a range, but I’m in good shape because my scores are in the lower half of the green section.
This is also shown in the more traditional “Audiogram” image below, except in this case, the “good” scores (in green) are on the top. The red O’s are my right ear, and the blue X's are for my left ear. Each mark represents the softest level in decibels (dB) at which I heard each tone. The lower “bass” tones are on the left, and the higher treble pitches on the right, like a piano.
Like other manufacturers, MDHearing offers a few technology and price levels. This allows folks on a tight budget or those buying hearing aids for the first time to improve their hearing without breaking the bank. Speaking of the bank, MDHearing also offers financing through a third party. This kind of financing is common in hearing aid sales. Be cautious, however, as most financing options have very high-interest rates for balances carried over past the typical “no-interest” promotional period.
FYI: MDHearing launched their QuietTV Wireless Headphones on Oct. 1, perfect for TV lovers and movie buffs! These wireless TV headphones offer advanced voice clarifying technology and adjustable volume for an enhanced TV-watching experience.
MDHearing's first model is the AIR, which uses a digital amplifier and sells for $399 per device. This model comes in a mini behind-the-ear style with a slim tube and standard earmolds, all of which make them pretty discreet.
According to the website, the AIR offers four programs designed for different listening environments, so you can adjust your hearing aids in different settings, whether you're in a noisy restaurant or a quiet doctor's office. The AIR model also features manual volume control, which I find very useful for any hearing aid.
Current Deal: MDHearing is offering a sale where you can buy one aid and get another for free! You can also score a free gift with your purchase.
The VOLT is essentially the AIR with a rechargeable battery. This feature adds $200 to the price per ear, ringing in at $599.99; however, this upgrade has a few great benefits.
The hassle of changing batteries every 10 to 14 days is not overwhelming, but it’s an extra thing to worry about. Not only do you need to buy the batteries, you also have to dispose of them. All hearing aid batteries are now zinc-air and safe for disposal, but they need to be kept away from children, pets, and those with memory difficulty.2
A second reason I like rechargeable hearing aids, especially in Florida where I live, is because they’re moisture-resistant. The battery door is one of the biggest vulnerabilities in a hearing aid for moisture and dirt, and rechargeable devices eliminate this.
FYI: MDHearing is one of our top picks for hearing aid providers! Visit our list of the best hearing aids in 2022 to learn more.
Finally, as a guy with sausage fingers, I have a tough time with hearing aid batteries. Many seniors also have reduced sensitivity in their fingers (which can be due to neuropathy, Raynaud's disease, and other causes) that makes handling small batteries difficult.
The only downside with rechargeable hearing aids is that there is no backup option if the charger fails. Fortunately, rechargeable systems have improved significantly in recent years.
I found the demo units MDHearing sent me to be well built, with an easy-to-use charger that fully charged in a few hours. The ear tips are comfortable, and I was able to find one in the package that allowed me to turn up the devices about halfway without any feedback. If I had more severe hearing loss, I would need to use a different ear tip that might have been a bit on the tight side, but I was generally impressed.
MDHearing's top-of-the-line model is the VOLT MAX. This device has the same BTE style, slim tube, and standard earmold as other models, but the VOLT MAX has a slightly slimmer shape.
MDHearing claims that the digital processor is more advanced than the other models. The VOLT MAX also has a smartphone app to create custom profiles and allows for fine-tuning. It can also tune out background noise so users can focus on what they need to hear instead. This premium model currently sells for $799.99 per ear.
I downloaded the MDHearing app and found it well-designed and intuitive.
MDHearing was nice enough to send me a pair of the VOLT MAX and VOLT devices. The VOLT MAX easily connected to the app, and it even caught my mistake of not fully closing the battery door.
The personalization process took a bit under 10 minutes. Essentially, this repeats the online hearing test. The big advantage of this version of the test is that it works directly through the hearing aids in my ears. We call this “in-situ testing,” and it’s very good at compensating for ear canal acoustics. It's not quite the gold standard for hearing tests in the industry, but it’s much better than just using the audiogram.
I find apps like this very helpful for those with dexterity issues as well as others who may need assistance with their hearing aids. The app allows a relative or caregiver to adjust the devices and monitor their condition much more effectively than trying to do so on the ear.
MDHearing offers access to their audiologists via email or a toll-free number that also handles general customer service issues.
Their customer service department also handles requests for replacement accessories like batteries, replacement tubing, domes, storage cases, and cleaners.
All MDHearing’s products offer a 45-day return option and a standard 90-day “parts and labor” warranty. Additional coverage is available on the MDShield Protection Plan (which is typically one or two years).
One of the most notable limitations of both the standard and up-sell warranties is the lack of loss and damage coverage, which is standard for most traditional hearing aid manufacturers. Even though the purchase price is low, a few losses can easily push one into the price ranges of entry-level devices that do provide this coverage. Those with memory loss, in my clinical experience, require loss and damage coverage. If you’re buying for a loved one in this situation, this is something to think about.
MDHearing disrupts the standard brick-and-mortar model for purchasing hearing aids. While their technology is limited compared to other products, I have to say, they are essentially what I was selling as “high end” about 15 years ago. While technology has changed, the human ear hasn’t. If your needs are pretty simple, I can't prove that these simpler devices wouldn't provide measurable improvement to those who have hearing loss and listening needs within the fitting range of these products. Considering that most insurance plans in the U.S. do not pay for hearing aids, MDHearing offers many people access to hearing help who would otherwise be left out in the cold.
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