The MDHearingAid AIR is a behind-the-ear (BTE) device that costs just under $400, making it one of the most affordable options in our guide to the best hearing aids. The brand was founded by ear, nose and throat specialist Dr Sreekant Cherukuri, after he became concerned at the number of people who could not afford hearing aids.
According to guidelines published by the American-Speech-Language Association (ASLH), the basic features any hearing aid should have are a microphone to pick up sound, a volume adjuster, a receiver to send the louder sounds to your ear, an on/off switch, and a built-in battery. Extra features (that may cost more), include a directional mic to focus on sound from a specific direction, and a telephone switch for when you're speaking on the phone.
Dr Cherukuri then spent years researching the best tech to use in order to create the most affordable options. As a result, MDHearingAid devices have a simple design that eliminates costs (including for appointments and fittings), and focuses on delivering better hearing by cutting out background noise.
MDHearingAid offers several affordable models, but here we’re looking specifically at the AIR, not only because it is the company’s best-selling model, but also because of MDHearingAid’s claims that the AIR delivers the, ‘perfect combination of state-of-the-art features and value for the money’. It’s aimed at people who have mild to moderately severe hearing loss, and are aged over 18 years old.
Here we're looking at the MDHearingAid AIR in terms of price and value for money, its design, features, and what existing customers have to say, in order to help you decide whether it's right for you.
MDHearingAid AIR: Spec
- FDA classification: Class 1 medical device
- Design: behind-the-ear (BTE)
- Fit: Universal (left or right)
- Noise reduction: Yes, four settings
- Feedback Cancellation Technology: Yes
- Battery size: 13 (batteries included)
MDHearingAid AIR: Cost and availability
On its website, MDHearingAid promises: ‘No sneaky markups. No costly middlemen. No busy doctor’s offices. No long appointments.’ And this is a large part of how it keeps its costs down in order to deliver extremely affordable hearing aids.
The current price for the MDHearingAid AIR is $399.99 for a single hearing aid, but there’s currently a ‘buy one get one free’ offer, saving you just under $400. You can also spread the payment out over a year when buying direct, paying just $33.33 a month. The MDHearingAid AIR is also available elsewhere online, including via Amazon and Walmart, at the same affordable price of $399.98.
It’s worth bearing in mind that the cost does not include replacement tips or tubes, and you will not get the benefit of a fitting, as you would with an audiologist. However, the price does include customer support and MDHearingAid staff are on hand via email or phone to answer your questions.
Ultimately, what you’re paying for with the MDHearingAid AIR is a device that’s low on fuss and delivered straight to your door. And if you are happy to dive in without a hearing test, then it could be a good option for you.
MDHearingAid AIR: Design
The design of the behind-the-ear MDHearingAid AIR is distinctly no-frills, and there is only one color on offer, which is unlikely to suit all. At 1 x 0.25 x 0.5 inches, the hearing aid is sufficiently small, with MDHearingAid describing the AIR as ‘nearly invisible’, comparing its narrow width to that of a pencil’s. The thin clear tubing on the AIR is discreet and designed to fit neatly in the ear canal with the minimum of fuss. The AIRs also generally fit fine if you wear eyeglasses.
It’s worth saying that if you want to get the best out of any aid, no matter the price, then a good fit is crucial and this is something you are more likely to receive with a hearing care professional.
The ASLH has also shared tips on caring for your new aid, which includes checking the batteries regularly, and keeping a spare to hand. You should also clean the hearing aid according to your audiologist’s advice or the instructions stated by the manufacturer if you’re buying direct. Finally, keep your hearing aid dry, and have regular listening checks to ensure it's still working hard enough for you.
Saying that, there are many favorable reports when it comes to the comfort of the MDHearingAid AIR, with the ComfortTIPS providing a decent fit for many wearers.
Existing users also say that the simple controls are easy to access – adjust the volume and select between the four different sound settings with your finger. Also on the device is the battery compartment, which takes a size 13 battery that typically provides 21 to 26 days of power. A low-battery warning comes through as a couple of soft beeps every five to ten minutes until the battery eventually runs out.
A supply of size 13 batteries is included along with tubing, ComfortTIPs, and a cleaning tool, which comprises a wire, magnet and brush. There’s also a manual with very clear instructions on how to use the hearing aid.
MDHearingAid AIR: Features
MDHearingAid promises state-of-the-art features with the AIR, but what are these features exactly? While the brand doesn’t go into details as such, we do know that these affordable hearing aids don’t come with the features you’d typically find in more expensive aids, and only offer a few basic settings instead.
The aim of the AIR is to provide clear focused sound without background noise and, on its website, MDHearingAid claims the AIR has improved noise reduction over its entry-level PRO model.
The company also promises that because of the feedback cancellation technology, the AIR will not whistle. While we cannot guarantee this will always be the case, as ever, a proper fit will minimize the chances of feedback.
The MDHearingAid AIR is pre-programmed, so it can’t be customized to suit particular needs. There are four programs to choose from and each are indicated with a corresponding number of beeps:
- 1 is ‘Quiet’ for watching television and general conversations within the home.
- 2 is ‘Social’ and is suitable for small group meetings.
- 3 is ‘Noisy’ and can be selected for large crowds, traffic, nature sounds or high octave music.
- 4 is the ‘Restaurant’ setting, which aims to reduce background noise in any loud environment.
The AIR has digital sound processing (DSP) that aims to separate speech from other noise, and also comes with noise reduction and feedback reduction as mentioned. There is also a telecoil so that your hearing aid can pick up on audio from looped systems.
And that’s it. There’s no auto-adjust for different environments, no directional microphone to hear from different angles, and no Bluetooth – but the existing features could be all you need. If you do want more in the way of features, check out the water-resistant MDHearingAid VOLT+ ($599 a pair), which comes with a rechargeable battery, and dual-directional microphones.
MDHearingAid AIR: User reviews
MDHearingAid has more than 1,700 reviews on its website, with an average star rating of 4.5 out of 5. Many reviews mention the affordability and performance of the MDHearingAid AIR, comparing it to more expensive hearing aids. Feedback includes: “Great hearing aids – comparable to ones I previously had that cost almost five times as much. I have worn hearing aids for over 15 years – different types – but these MDs are excellent.”
Less favorable reviews on the MDHearingAid website were mainly concerned with the fit, with comments such as: “Did not fit in my ears regardless of how far I pushed them in.” There were also remarks upon the amount of feedback. The reviews, however, mainly fall on the positive side.
There are also a handful of user reviews on Walmart’s website, and the majority are positive, with comments such as: “These hearing aids are just what I needed for my type of hearing loss. They're so slim, comfortable, and I barely know they're in.”
The MDHearingAid AIR is also sold on Amazon, and has attracted over 20 reviews with one user review explaining how, “I read about the MDHearingAid Air and ordered one. I have worn it for several years. I can turn it up or down as I need to. I have never had to have it repaired.”
Meanwhile, a less satisfied customer shared, “If you are watching TV, it lets you watch it at a low setting, [but when] someone comes in the room or the doorbell rings, it is really loud – I had to adjust for different environments.”
MDHearingAid AIR: What other websites say
The MDHearingAid AIR features elsewhere online too, with generally positive reviews including from Innerbody, who reported back that, “the feedback and noise reduction capabilities were very good” on the hearing aids. They also added that while the MDHearingAid AIR is not custom-made, your hearing will still be “very high quality as MDHearingAid delivers high value and great convenience”.
Retirement Living looked at all of MDHearingAID devices including the AIR, giving them a general seal of approval too. They did however point out there was a lack of choice for anyone experiencing severe to profound hearing loss.
MDHearingAid AIR: Customer service, shipping, refunds
Included in the cost of your MDHearingAid Air is the company’s US-based customer service, which you can contact via phone or email. This service gives customers plenty of support and receives plenty of positive feedback across many online reviews.
The hearing aids also come with a 45-day risk-free trial with a 100% money-back guarantee. If, after a minimum 21-day use, you decide the hearing aids are not for you, simply send them back for a full refund.
The devices are protected by a 90-day warranty, which covers against defects in materials and workmanship from the time you receive your order. MD Hearing Aids will repair or replace the devices for free if it determines the unit failed to work due to parts, materials or workmanship. The MDHearingAid AIRs are also shipped free of charge on the next business day.
Should you buy the MDHearingAid AIR?
If you have mild to moderate hearing loss and are confident buying your own aids without a test, the MDHearingAid AIR is a good option. It’s small enough and comfortable enough to suit most ears, although if you are particularly style-conscious or want more color variety, look elsewhere.
There is sufficient tech here to create a hearing aid that is of decent quality and able to make a significant improvement to your hearing. But it’s the price that really makes the MDHearingAid AIRs the most attractive proposition, and is ideal if you are after a straightforward device without so many bells and (literal) whistles.
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