MDHearingAid 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 and 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 MDHearingAid's online hearing test (you'll see my results below), fitted and tested MDHearingAid's CORE and VOLT+ devices, and synced the CORE with their smartphone app. I'll show you how it all works below.
Overall, my takeaway is that MDHearingAid'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? MDHearingAid 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.
As I went through the hearing test on MDHearingAid’s site, I found it to be quite well done and the results match the ones I’ve gotten in a traditional sound-treated booth. It’s very easy to use and navigate. Of all the online tests out there I’d put it at or very near the top of the pack. The results are presented in both a simplified “thermometer” version as well as a traditional audiogram.
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're 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 six different frequencies, one ear at a time.
In the case of my test, the “thermometer” image below shows that my test responses were similar to other people without hearing loss. “Normal” hearing is a range, but since my marks are on the lower half of the green section, I'm in good shape.
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 Xs my left. Each mark shows the softest level in approximate deciBels (dB) I heard each tone. Like a piano, the lower “bass” tones are on the left and the higher treble pitches on the right.
Like other manufacturers, MDHearingAid 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, MDHearingAid 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: MDHearingAid 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.
MDHearingAid'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 discrete.
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.
The VOLT+ is essentially the AIR with a rechargeable battery. This feature adds two hundred dollars to the price per ear, ringing in at $599.99, but there are a few great benefits to this upgrade.
One, 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, but you 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 moisture resistance. The battery door is one of the biggest vulnerabilities in a hearing aid for moisture and dirt, and rechargeable devices eliminate this.
FYI: FYI: MDHearingAid 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 (neuropathy, Raynaud's Syndrome, etc.) that make handling small batteries difficult.
The only downside I see with rechargeable hearing aids is that if the charger fails, there is no back-up option. Fortunately, rechargeable systems have improved significantly in recent years.
I found the demo units MDHearingAid 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 which might have been a bit on the tight side, but in general, I was impressed.
MDHearingAid's top-of-the-line model is the CORE. This device has the same BTE style, slim tube, and standard earmold as other models, but the CORE has a slightly slimmer shape.
MDHearingAid claims that the digital processor is more advanced than the other models. The CORE also has a smartphone app to create custom profiles and allow for fine-tuning. This premium model currently sells for $799 per ear.
I downloaded the MDHearingAid app and found it well-designed and intuitive.
MDHearingAid was nice enough to send me a pair of the CORE and VOLT+ devices. The CORE 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 ten 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 and those who need assistance with their hearing aids. The app lets a relative or caregiver adjust the devices and see their condition much better than trying to do it on the ear.
MDHearingAid 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, and domes, as well as storage cases and cleaners.
All MDHearingAid’s products offer a 45-day return option and a standard 90-day “parts and labor” warranty. Additional coverage is available in the form of the MD Shield Protection Plan (one or two years).
One of the notable limitations of both the standard and up-sell warranty is the lack of loss and damage coverage, which is standard from most traditional hearing aid manufacturers, Even though the purchase price is low, a few losses can easily get one into the price points of entry-level devices that do offer this coverage. In my clinical experience, the folks that need loss and damage coverage are those with memory loss. If purchasing for a loved one in this situation, this may be a consideration.
MDHearingAid 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 say, and more importantly couldn’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 in the U.S. most insurance plans do not pay for hearing aids, MDHearingAid offers many people access to hearing help who would otherwise be left out in the cold.