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In-the-Ear vs. In-the-Canal Hearing Aids

calendar-icon Last Updated on 18 December 2020 clock-icon 11 Min Read
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There are a ton of hearing aid options out there, and it can be difficult to find the right version for you.

Let’s take a look at in-the-canal and in-the-ear hearing aids to help you decide whether or not they fit your hearing needs.

Key Points
  • ITE – ITCl hearing aids are barely noticeable but feature the directional microphones that smaller hearing aids don’t.
  • The battery life is also longer than smaller versions, yet a bit shorter than behind-the-ear hearing aids.
  • These hearing aids are designed for mild to moderate hearing loss.

In-the-Ear vs. In-the-Canal

In-the-canal (ITC) and in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids both sit between full behind-the-ear hearing aids and smaller completely-in-canal hearing aids.

In-the-ear hearing aids sacrifice a bit of power in the name of size. They’re smaller than the in-the-canal version, but they also aren’t as powerful.

Apart from that distinction, many of the same characteristics apply to both types. The two are very similar, and it comes down to whether you want a bit more power or want to be a bit more discreet.

Pros and Cons of ITE – ITC Hearing Aids

The Benefits of ITC – ITE Hearing Aids

In-the-canal and in-the-ear hearing aids are a middle ground between completely-in-canal hearing aids and receiver-in-ear or behind-the-ear hearing aids. They have benefits of both smaller and larger types.

Barely Noticeable

One of the primary benefits of ITE – ITC hearing aids is that they’re very difficult to notice for people who aren’t looking for them. These hearing aids aren’t the smallest on the market, but they provide a combination of benefits of both small and large models.

ITE – ITC hearing aids are small enough to hide from the outside world yet large enough to include some of the most sought after features in a hearing aid.

People who can’t use or don’t like completely-in-canal hearing aids will find that the ITE – ITC options are a nice step up in terms of comfort and quality. Still, these hearing aids provide the smaller size that some hearing aid users look for.


One of the major drawbacks of completely-in-the-canal hearing aids is that they don’t provide directional microphones. Directionality is hugely important when it comes to providing a natural sound. Otherwise, it just sounds like the noises are coming from the same direction.

The smallest hearing aids on the market don’t have directional microphones, but in-the-canal and some in-the-ear hearing aids are just large enough to contain them.

For this reason, some people prefer to use ITE – ITC hearing aids over invisible or CIC hearing aids. They are still small and difficult to notice but large enough to have more features.

Battery Life

The battery life of hearing aids is tied to size. The larger the model, the larger the battery it can contain. Big batteries last longer and are more reliable.

The battery life of ITE – ITC hearing aids sit somewhere in the middle. It isn’t as long as BTE hearing aids, but it will last longer than CIC hearing aid batteries.


Some users find ITC hearing aids in particular more comfortable than some of the other models. They sit deep into the ear canal, as the name suggests, so they don’t cause the “plugged up” feeling that other models can cause.

Of course, comfort is largely subjective. You may or may not find this model of hearing aid more comfortable than others, but one common positive is that they don’t cause the plugged-up feeling.

The Drawbacks of ITE – ITC Hearing Aids

Of course, there are a few disadvantages to choosing ITE-ITC hearing aids. Here are some things to consider before making a choice.

Susceptible to Damage

All of the in-the-ear hearing aids suffer from the same drawback: susceptibility to damage. Since the ITE – ITC hearing aids sit deep into the ear canal, they are more susceptible to moisture and ear wax.

Over time, buildup can damage the hearing aid and lower the quality of the sound. If you don’t take proper precautions, the hearing aids may even break over time.

Difficult to Adjust

The problem of being difficult to adjust is an issue that applies to all small hearing aids. The size means you’ll have to take it out of your ear to easily access the control options on the hearing aid.

Thankfully, modern technology has neutralised this problem to a degree. Most hearing aid manufacturers now include companion apps that link to your hearing aids. You can then adjust your volume and settings directly from your phone, which makes things easier.

Aren’t Enough Power for Some

People with severe or profound hearing loss won’t have the same number of options as those with mild hearing loss. For these people, behind-the-ear or receiver-in-canal hearing aids are the optimal options.

Although ITE hearing aids are larger and more versatile than the ITC options, they aren’t always powerful enough. Both of these hearing aid types are designed for those with mild to moderate hearing loss.


The price of ITE – ITC hearing aids depends on the manufacturer you choose and the level of technology involved.

Some cheaper models of ITE hearing aids, for instance, don’t contain directional microphones. If you spend a bit more, you can get this feature and more in your hearing aids.

You can expect to spend anywhere between $1,600 and $3,000 for your ITE – ITC hearing aids, which puts them in the upper-middle price range for hearing aids.

Popular Brands

Here are some of the world’s most popular hearing aid brands that offer ITE – ITC hearing aids.


Starkey makes custom in-the-ear hearing aids that are sure to fit your ear. This makes them more comfortable and natural-feeling than some of the other products in their line of hearing aids.

You can also access Picasso, Muse, and Z series technology with your Starkey in-the-canal or in-the-ear hearing aids, which is at the top of the industry.


Widex is another well-reviewed company that sells ITE – ITC hearing aids. Their most innovative technology isn’t available with this model, but they still offer technology that allows you to adjust them on the fly and connect your hearing aids to your devices.


ReSound offers the Enzo and the LiNX 3D technologies in their ITE – ITC hearing aids, which are both very popular and well reviewed.

The in-the-canal hearing aids from ReSound are some of the most powerful and durable on the market, and those who have purchased them seem to be overwhelmingly pleased with their experiences.


There is a wide range of available accessories for ITE – ITC hearing aids. New Bluetooth technology has opened the door to additional features like microphones, devices that sync with your TV, and phone connectivity.

Most manufacturers make devices that interface with all hearing aid types, including ITC and ITE hearing aids. Their small size does not limit them in this category.

Should You Choose ITE – ITC Hearing Aids?

In-the-ear and in-the-canal hearing aids are a popular option because they serve as a middle ground between the smallest and most powerful hearing aids. They’re small and inconspicuous, but can include features like directional microphones that the smallest models cannot.

That said, those with mild hearing loss might be more comfortable with invisible hearing aids, and those with profound hearing loss may want the added power that comes with BTE models.

Hearing Aid Finder can connect you with an audiologist in your area who can recommend types of hearing aids and help arrange a trial of your choice. Click here to organise your free hearing screen today!

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