Hearing Aid Types Explained

Hearing loss affects nearly half of all people over age 65 and most people lose some ability to hear after age 70. 

Hearing aids can restore your quality of life by giving you increased sound perception in noisy environments, allowing you to once again enjoy music, conversations, and other sounds you had to struggle to hear before.

With so many hearing aid options available, choosing the right one can be difficult. 

Read on to learn more about the three major types of hearing aids, behind-the-ear, in-the-ear, and completely-in-canal, and learn how they differ from one another.

Behind-The-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids

BTE hearing aids are what most people think of when they consider the word “hearing aid”. These devices have two parts, a speaker that inserts into the ear canal and a pieces that wraps behind the ear to keep it in place. 

These models have microphones, one front-facing, the other located behind the ear. With this bi-directional design, BTE hearing aids are able to pick up which direction the sound seems to be coming from by paying attention to which microphone picks up the sound first. For instance, if the sound hits the front microphone, the hearing aid amplifies that source, much like how our own natural hearing works.

Due to the larger device size compared to ITE and CIC models, BTE hearing aids are usually more powerful and cover a wider range of hearing loss, from mild to profound.

In-the-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids

ITE hearing aids are considered more “modern” than their behind-the-ear counterparts. Thanks to improvements in technology, these devices can be made so small that even those closest to you won't notice them. No parts of the device are out of the ear, so nothing will interfere with your glasses, mobile phone, or lifestyle. Just easy, invisible, better hearing.

Our Vibe Air is an ITE hearing aid that is self-fitting and adjustable without the need to visit an audiologist. Plus, with our One Microphone Beam Technology™ has made it possible to have features that were once only possible with BTE hearing aids. That means crystal clear, prescription quality sound in a tiny, nearly invisible package. 

ITE hearing aids are usually best suited for those with mild to moderate hearing loss.

Completely-In-Canal (CIC) Hearing Aids

CIC hearing aids are designed to fit entirely inside the ear canal. They are usually made with a small microphone and speaker that sits behind the eardrum. Because of their location, they are able to capitalize on the features of the ear that we normally take for granted, namely, the ear’s ability to block wind or funnel sounds into the canal.

While this type of hearing aid provides the highest level of sound quality, they are also less powerful with extremely small batteries that can be difficult to change for those with dexterity issues. Another drawback of this type of hearing aid is that they often offer fewer features than BTE or ITE models because of their size.

Like ITE models, CIC hearing aids are best suited for those with mild to moderate hearing loss.

ITE vs BTE vs CIC Hearing Aids

Now that we’ve covered each of the major categories of hearing aids, let's talk about the pros and cons of each device type.


Better hearing

All three types of hearing aids provide amplification, allowing people who use them to hear better than they would without them. 

Higher quality of life

No matter which kind of hearing device you choose, you’ll get a higher quality of life thanks to being able to participate actively in your social life, enjoy conversations, and spend less effort on trying to understand what you’re hearing.


Sound quality

While all three models will offer better amplification and hearing than without, each type of hearing aid has strengths and weaknesses depending on the environment.


ITE and CIC models are both nearly invisible while BTE hearing aids are by definition, more noticeable because part of the device wraps around the ear.


All three types of hearing aids vary wildly in price. Each category has more affordable options that may be available over the counter as well as more advanced models that can be pricier.

Figuring out which hearing aid type is best for you

In the end, the type of hearing aid that works for you comes down to personal preference. 

The best way to choose is to get your hearing tested and talk to a hearing care professional about which option fits your level of hearing loss and lifestyle best.

Schedule an appointment today with one of our Vibe-Certified audiologists and start your hearing care journey today!


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