The MDHearingAid AIR is the best-selling model for MDHearingAid, with half a million hearing aids sold. This company follows a familiar pattern in the growing direct-to-consumer hearing aids market. These hearing aids provide a few-sizes-fit-many solution that allow you to skip a visit to the audiologist and get great hearing aids for a sharp price.
While MDHearingAid may follow a familiar pattern (that we also see with the likes of Otofonix and Neosonic), the company has been around for a while. According to the company website, they’ve been around for over a decade. Their origins are in the American Midwest, although the current team seems to be a worldwide collaboration.
The MDHearingAid AIR is the company’s base model, aside from the fancier VOLT+ and Core. To better know the AIR, we’ll dive into the details and pros and cons below. As always, I’ve summarized my findings in a 30-second visual review that you can find at the bottom of this post.
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Key features of the MDHearingAid AIR
Quite honestly, the best feature about the MDHearingAid AIR is its price – if you buy a pair. The AIR is a base model to its core, offering a solid device without any bells and whistles. The company reputation, US-based company and customer service are also pluses. Other than that, I don’t think there are any key features. Still, there’s plenty to say about the AIR hearing aid.
Who is this hearing amplifier for?
With a 50 dB peak gain, the MDHearingAid AIR is designed to combat moderate to severe hearing loss – making it one of the more powerful hearing aids on this website. It’s also a great device for people shopping for the first time; the extensive customer care can help make a decision.
How well does the MDHearingAid AIR work?
The MDHearingAid AIR works with size 13 batteries. It’s hard to estimate the true battery life. According to the company website, you can count on 21-26 days. Feedback from customers varies wildly, giving a wide range with a low of three days, but most people get considerably more time out of a pair of batteries.
The volume dial lets you pick a precise volume, while the four different modes (quiet, social, noisy, restaurant) allow you to adjust your experience to your environment. The AIR has a default mode (quiet) and resets every time the device is shut off. Your experience is enhanced with the standard feedback cancellation and noise reduction features.
As far as the company goes, I like that it’s a real company. They’ve been in business for a while, they introduce themselves and they’ve got a lot of things in place. Each model comes with a 45-day risk-free warranty, while the warranty is double that time.
What’s not to like about the MDHearingAid AIR?
The MDHearingAid AIR feels a bit old. I remember reviewing my first devices, and the AIR would have been a great model back then. Now, it’s still good, and it sure beats paying the price of a decent used car. But where the rest of the industry has evolved with leaps and bounds, I can’t say the same for the AIR. It doesn’t have any real features. That’s not uncommon, but in its price range, it’s odd.
I miss the dual microphones, and it’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a $400 hearing aid with old-fashioned batteries. Rechargeable batteries, dual microphones (and a hearing mode memory, for that matter) are now standard features on direct-to-consumer hearing aids, but not on this one. It’s a base model, but it lacks in comparison to its competition.
The AIR started selling in 2012, and it must have been revolutionary and amazing at the time. Right now, they feel like hearing aids from 2012, which means they’ve missed out on a lot of progress. Also, a 90-day warranty doesn’t compare to the one-year warranty that has become the standard.
Hearing aids that are good alternatives
Actually, looking at similar base models from comparable companies brings up several alternatives for the MDHearingAid AIR. And I’ll be honest, it’s a lot of the usual suspects.
The first and best alternative is the MDHearing VOLT MAX, a wonderful all-round model that really offers everything the AIR is missing.
Although the Otofonix Helix isn’t really their base model, it offers the same sort of experience, but offers the extras I miss in the AIRs: rechargeable hearing aids with dual microphones. At the time of writing, the Helix is $455 (against $400 for the AIR). That’s $55 well worth the difference. The Neosonic MX, the Helix’ big competitor, has a slightly higher price, but prices change all the time.
If budget is an issue and the MDHearingAid AIR is a model pushing your spending limit, consider the Neosonic B10. The B10 is what I think of when I say others have moved along: it has no fancy features, but feels up-to-date with rechargeable hearing aids and a charging case. Compared to the AIR, the B10 hearing aids are a bit bigger.
Should you buy the AIR hearing aids?
You can, but I can’t wholeheartedly recommend them. If I were to buy them, I’d have the gnawing feeling that there are better alternatives for the MDHearingAid AIR (see above). That doesn’t mean it’s a bad hearing aid. The AIR has plenty to offer, a solid reputation, and comes from a US company. In a swing vote, these things matter. However, when it comes to raw performance, this base model is too basic for me.
The AIR is regularly offered as a buy-one-get-one, in which case you get a pair for $399. Prices often change, so the quickest way to find the current price is by checking the company website.
You can buy your AIR hearing aids in installments using the Affirm program (I cover different installment programs in a different article). The terms and conditions will differ for everyone, but prices start at $33 a month.
MDHearingAid sells a box of 40 batteries for less than $30, Amazon has its own battery brand, but my personal recommendation is Hearoclub – you get a coupon for a month free when you sign up for my emails below.