Hearing Aid Styles

Behind the Ear (BTE)

Behind-the-Ear (BTE) models sit behind or on top of the outer ear, with tubing that routes sounds down into the ear that connects to an ear tip, dome, or earmold to secure them in the ear canal. BTEs come in colors to blend with the hair or skin tones as well clearfix as fashion colors to suit your personality. Different BTE sizes accommodate different features, controls, battery types, and degrees of power (larger BTEs generally have more power than smaller ones).

Mini BTE with slim tube and tip


Mini BTEs are designed to hide behind the outer ear, and have ultra-thin tubing to discreetly route sound into the ear. The tubing connects to a soft tip that sits in the ear canal, but doesn’t occlude it. This results in a natural, open feeling as airflow and sound enter the ear naturally around the tip, while amplified sound enters through the tip. This is know as “open fitting” and is recommended for mild to moderate high frequency losses.

Receiver in the Canal (RIC) or Receiver in the Ear (RITE)


RIC/RITE models are mini BTEs that have the speaker of the instrument incorporated in the dome or ear tips, instead of the main body of the instrument. RIC/RITE instruments fit mild to severe hearing losses. This hearing aid style looks similar to the Mini BTE when worn on the ear.

BTE with earmold


BTEs with earmolds fit mild through profound hearing losses. Their longer shape follows the contour behind the outer ear and can house many features such as a program button and volume control.

In the Ear (ITE)

In-the-Ear (ITE) models are hearing aids worn in the ear that are usually custom-fit, based on a cast or impression of the ear. They’re available in different skin tones to camouflage with the outer ear. There are several styles (each is listed below) ranging from smallest to largest.

Completely In-the-Canal


The smallest custom style, CIC instruments fit deeply and entirely within the ear canal. They fit mild to moderate hearing losses and offer high cosmetic appeal as they’re nearly invisible when worn.



ITC instruments sit in the lower portion of the outer ear bowl, making them comfortable and easy to use. Because they’re slightly larger than CIC models, they have a longer battery life, and can host additional features such as directional microphones for better understanding in noisy environments, and controls such as volume controls. They fit mild to moderate hearing losses.

Half Shell In-the-Ear


Half shell models fill half the bowl of the outer ear. Like ITC models, their size enables the addition of features such as directional microphones, volume controls and push buttons to activate special settings for different listening environments. Because of their size, they may be easier than smaller models to handle for some people and yet are still often disguised by hairstyles or sideburns. This hearing aid style looks similar to the ITC hearing aid when worn on the ear, but is slightly larger.

Full Shell In-the-Ear


Full shell models sit flush within the outer ear bowl. Their size allows for maximum number of additional controls and features such as directional microphones, which require space on the outer portion of the instrument. They use a larger battery size than the smaller styles, and can fit a larger receiver with enough power for even some severe hearing losses. Because of their flexibility, they’re widely recommended for mild to severe hearing loss.