The different styles of hearing aids: what hearing aid is right for you?

Author thumbnail Sam Jones  |  Published 24 April 2023  | Updated 16 May 2024  | 6 mins read

Woman with Oticon Real hearing aids in hand and carrying case.

For many of us, when a hearing loss is first noticed, it can be difficult to come to terms with. Often the idea of wearing hearing aids can be quite daunting. However, you need not be worried. Gone are the days of the big, bulky beige devices that we associate with hearing aids – these days hearing aids are a lot more high-tech!

So let us guide you through all the different hearing aid styles available.


Behind-the-ear hearing aids

Behind-the-ear hearing aids are one of the most popular fitting styles of hearing aids, especially for those with moderate to severe hearing loss. Whilst slightly larger than other styles, behind-the-ear hearing aids make up for it in the fantastic technology they are packed with; this can include Bluetooth connectivity, streaming capabilities and rechargeable batteries.

There are two main types of behind-the-ear hearing aids, the classic behind-the-ear (BTE) style and the receiver in canal (RIC). But how do they differ?

Behind-the-ear hearing aid.

Behind-the-ear (BTE):

Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids are designed to sit comfortably with the main body of the aid behind your ear. This connects to an ear mould that sits in the outer ear canal via some narrow tubing. Due to their slightly larger size, these aids are great for those with dexterity issues and are more powerful than their smaller counterparts.

Receiver-in-canal hearing aid.

Receiver in canal (RIC or RITE):

The RIC is very similar to the BTE, but much smaller, meaning it is more discreet. Just like the behind-the-ear style, the receiver-in-canal hearing aid sits comfortably behind the ear and has a thin wire which leads to a receiver. This sits in the ear canal, near the eardrum to transport the best quality sound. 

Receiver-in-canal hearing aids are often the most technologically advanced out of all the hearing aid styles on the market, with a majority of the new releases first available as a RIC. What makes the RIC even better is the range of colours these hearing aids are available in. Many receiver-in-canal hearing aids also sport Bluetooth connectivity and rechargeable batteries.

In-ear hearing aids

In-ear hearing aids are the perfect middle ground for individuals who want the power of behind-the-ear hearing aids with some of the discretion of our smaller styles. These hearing aids can provide high levels of amplification so are another great option for individuals with higher levels of hearing loss. They are also a good choice for those with dexterity issues or who do not want to deal with fiddly parts. The two main styles of in-ear hearing aids are in-the-ear (ITE) and in-the-canal (ITC).

In-the-ear hearing aid.

In the ear (ITE):

The larger of the two styles, and the largest custom product, In-the-ear hearing aids deliver both comfort and discretion for the wearer. ITE aids are custom-moulded to sit within the ear; half of the aid sits in the ear canal, whilst the other half is in the bowl of the ear. For those who spend a lot of time outdoors these hearing aids are a great choice as they are less likely to pick up wind noise compared with those aids that sit outside the ear. Another great feature of the ITE that other in-ear hearing aids don’t have is rechargeability, meaning you do not have to manually change the batteries, just simply place them in a charging dock.

In-the-canal hearing aid.

In the canal (ITC):

In-the-canal hearing aids are a smaller alternative to the ITE, and share a lot of the same key features such as their comfort and discretion, but are positioned slightly differently in the ear, sitting in the lower part of the ear canal.

Invisible hearing aids

Whilst technically still in-ear hearing aids, these are much, much smaller, you could say they are almost invisible. Invisible hearing aids are custom-fitted to sit comfortably within the ear canal, making them very hard to spot, especially from afar. One of the biggest considerations with invisible hearing aids is that they lack certain functions that bigger hearing aids have, and are not recommended for higher levels of hearing loss. There are two main types of invisible hearing aids, which are invisible-in-canal (IIC) and completely-in-canal hearing aids (CIC).


Invisible-in-canal hearing aid.

Invisible in canal (IIC):

One of the world’s most compact hearing aids, invisible-in-canal hearing aids fit deep inside the ear canal so you can wear them for hours on end without you or anyone else noticing. These aids are powered by a single battery, transporting sound received from the microphone towards the eardrum. These hearing aids are ideal for those with mild to moderate hearing loss who do not want to show off their hearing aids.

Completely-in-canal hearing aid.

Completely in canal (CIC):

Completely-in-canal hearing aids are very similar to the IIC style and sit at the entrance to the ear canal. Much like the IIC, CIC hearing aids are custom-moulded to fit comfortably and securely within the ear. 

How do I know which hearing aid is right for me?

When it comes to choosing the right hearing aid for you, it can be a tricky decision without the right help – that’s where The Hearing Care Partnership comes in. Our audiologists work alongside you to help choose the right hearing aids for your needs, budget and level of hearing loss. 

Hearing aids are medical devices that need to do the job of improving your hearing, so we take great care and consideration when helping find the right aid for you. We take into account comfort and cosmetics as well as your dexterity and visual ability. Hearing aids are designed to be long-term devices so we need to make sure they are also adaptable enough for potential future changes to hearing.

10-month payment plan banner saying 'interest-free repayments'.

How The Hearing Care Partnership can help

At The Hearing Care Partnership, your care doesn’t just stop after you have purchased your hearing aids. In fact, from the moment you walk in the door, our teams are ready to look after you. All of our hearing aids are available as part of a Complete Care Package, which entitles you to unlimited aftercare appointments, servicing every six months, complimentary ear wax removal and much more! 

And for that extra bit of help, we also offer payment plans so you can spread the cost of your new hearing aids interest-free, over 10 months with just a 30% deposit.

Book today

If you would like to find out more about our hearing aids, see (or rather hear) them in action or see an audiologist for a FREE hearing assessment please get in touch! 

You can call our Dedicated Patient Support team on 0800 52 00 546 or book an appointment online.