Hearing Aid Styles

At Austin Hearing Services, we work individually with each patient to help determine which hearing aids will work best for them. The decision should be based on a combination of the type of hearing loss you have and your individual lifestyle. Everyone experiences hearing loss differently, so there really is no “one size fits all” solution.

Discreet Hearing Aids

Smaller hearing aids can be very comfortable, and nearly invisible. There is a trade-off in terms of features, though many wearers may not require the full feature set that larger hearing aids can offer. Most discreet hearing aids—like larger styles—incorporate Bluetooth wireless connectivity, allowing them to be controlled by smartphone apps at the same time as they stream phone calls, media, and other audio content. They are appropriate for mild to moderate hearing loss. As a bonus, discreet hearing aids tend to have fewer issues in windy situations, as the outer ear acts as a natural shield.

How To Choose Between Hearing Aid Styles

The process starts with an intake questionnaire, a conversation with your audiologist, and a hearing test. Once we’ve gotten to know more about you and your hearing issues, we can recommend the hearing aid options that will be most likely to suit your needs.

It is worth noting that, in general, smaller hearing aids will cost more than larger ones. The miniaturization of technology required to fit in such a small package increases manufacturing costs.

Below are some details about the different styles of hearing aids available. By coming to your hearing test with some knowledge about the types of hearing aids that are available, you’ll be better prepared to make the best decision.

Styles of Hearing Aids


BTE (Behind-the-Ear)

BTE hearing aids sit behind your ears. A plastic tube focuses the sound from the speaker into the earpiece, which is inserted in your ear canal. Since all of the sensitive elements sit in a case behind your ear, BTE hearing aids tend to have the most potential to treat the most different kinds of hearing loss, from mild to profound. And because there is more room in the case, they can be full-featured, including options like rechargeable batteries, dual processors, and more.

RIC (Receiver-In-Canal)

Similar to BTE hearing aids, but the speaker actually sits in the earpiece. The tube that reaches back to the case carries a wire that powers the speaker. This tends to provide a more realistic sound quality than BTEs and is also less visible since the tube can be narrower than the ones on BTEs. RICs also tend to employ a “vented” earpiece, meaning that natural sound can pass through the earpiece. This provides a more natural experience of hearing your own voice, and is an especially great option for those with mild to moderate hearing loss.

ITE (In-the-Ear)

ITE hearing aids house all of their components in a custom-molded housing that occupies the bowl-shaped part of your outer ear and extends into your ear canal. They are still large enough to accommodate many of the same features as BTE and RIC designs. At present, there are not very many ITE hearing aids with a rechargeable option, though their disposable batteries are larger and longer-lasting than smaller designs. They are the smallest hearing aids that still allow for a manual volume/program control to be placed on the housing. (Smaller types require smartphone apps or dedicated remote controls.)

ITC (In-the-Canal)

ITC hearing aids are held in place by a custom-molded earpiece that sits in the ear canal. The face of the unit is just barely visible at the opening of the ear canal. Most people who you interact with face-to-face will not notice that you are wearing hearing aids.

CIC (Completely-In-the-Canal)

IIC hearing aids sit completely inside your ear canal. They sit deep enough in the canal that an attached silicone string is used to remove them. They are generally darker in color, allowing the natural shadows created by the outer ear to make them completely invisible.

While some models require a custom-fit earmold, Signia’s SilkXTM hearing aids use soft, silicone “Click Sleeves” to fit comfortably in most ear canals without requiring custom earmolds.


IIC (Invisible-In-the-Canal)

IIC hearing aids are so small that you can still wear a set of regular earbuds when you have them in! Their position in the ear helps them deliver good clarity with a minimum of interference. Their small size means their batteries will not last as long as larger designs, and they are not appropriate for greater than moderate hearing loss.
If you have questions about the hearing aid options on the market, your audiologist will be able to help you navigate your options once they have an understanding of your hearing loss and lifestyle.