Hearing Aid Styles

There are two main considerations when buying a hearing aid: technology level and style.

The technology level is based on the power of the computer chip that the hearing aid runs on. The more powerful the computer in the hearing aid, the better that hearing aid will do in a noisy situation (generally). You can put any level of computer chip into almost any style of hearing aid. How do you choose what style and technology level hearing aid to buy? There are a few considerations, including:

  • Cosmetics
  • Degree of Hearing Loss
  • Budget
  • Lifestyle (How Often Are You in Noisy Environments?)
  • Battery life
  • Dexterity
  • Ear anatomy and Medical Considerations
  • Past hearing aid experience

Choosing the right hearing aids requires a hearing care expert you can trust. A Doctor of Audiology is the most qualified hearing specialist. Your Doctor of Audiology will recommend technology that is both appropriate and within your means. The styles of hearing aids that we will help you choose from are pictured below:

A wide range of technology and a host of features are available in each hearing aid style. The cost of hearing aids generally depends on the technology and the number of features the instrument has and not necessarily on the style selected. Today's digital hearing aids are typically offered in various levels, such as basic, entry, advanced or premium level. Within each level, different technology and features are available.

Styles of Hearing Aids

Hearing aids are available in many different sizes and styles thanks to advancements in digital technology and miniaturization of the internal components. Many of today's hearing aids are considered sleek, compact and innovative – offering solutions to a wide range of hearing aid wearers.

In-the-Ear Styles

Hearing aids worn in the ear are usually custom-fit, based on a cast or impression of the ear. They're available in different skin tones to match the skin tone of the outer ear. The styles are listed below, from smallest to largest.


Invisible In The Canal (IIC)

Rest deep in the ear canal and are completely invisible. Most discreet style available. Custom-made and can be used in most ear canal sizes. They can fit up to a moderately severe hearing loss.


Completely in the Canal (CIC)

Small, virtually undetectable device. Custom made for the ear canal for excellent fit and comfort. Good sound quality, can fit at almost any technology level. Up to 5 day battery life. Appropriate for up to a moderately severe hearing loss.


In the Canal (ITC)

Slightly larger design. Has a longer battery life (7-9 days), and is easier to manipulate than smaller devices. Custom-molded to the ear for comfortable and secure fit. No whistling and can be made in any technology level. Because they are larger they may be able to include extra features such as a program button or volume control. Appropriate for mild to severe hearing losses.

Full Shell ITE

Full Shell or In the Ear (ITE)

Full shell models fill the entire outer ear bowl. Good design for those with poor dexterity. The larger battery size allows for extended battery life (up to 10 days).  Because of their flexibility and size they can fit a larger speaker, or receiver, and they're recommended for anything from a mild to severe hearing hearing loss.

Behind-the-Ear Styles

Behind-the-Ear (BTE) models are designed for power and performance. They sit on top of the ear and tubing or wiring that carries sound into the ear canal via a small plastic or a custom earpiece that rests inside the ear. These styles are good for those who have dexterity difficulties or that want manual controls. The outer portion of the hearing aid comes in a variety of colors to match the skin or hair tone. There are a range of BTE styles and sizes that are able to accommodate a range of degrees of power, and these hearing aids can fit up to a profound hearing loss.

Mini BTE

Mini BTE with slim tube and tip

Mini BTEs use a thin and discreet tube to carry sound into the ear canal. Depending on your hearing loss, the tubing will route sound through a soft plastic tip that may be open or more closed (occluded). For individuals with normal or near normal hearing in the low pitches, an open ear piece allows for more natural airflow and allows them to use their good low-frequency hearing while the hearing aid boosts the high pitches. This "open" fitting produces the most natural sound quality.

Receiver in the ear (RITE)

Receiver in ear (RIC)

RIC models look similar to slim tube BTEs, but rather than a slim tube these hearing aids use a wire to transmit sound to a speaker that rests inside of the ear canal. Because the speaker is close to the eardrum, this style is able to produce a very clear and natural sound, while still allowing for an open fit for people with mild to moderate hearing losses. With an occluded tip or custom earmold, RIC devices are able to fit from moderate to severe hearing losses.


BTE with Earmold

BTEs with earmolds are able to fit most any hearing loss due to their maximum available power. They are able to house a variety of features including volume controls, power buttons, and telecoil options. Because of their larger size and custom fit, these are ideal for patients with dexterity problems as well as those with more severe loss.