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Types and Models of Hearing Aids

calendar-icon Last Updated on 6 November 2020 clock-icon 11 Min Read
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Looking for the right hearing device? There are several models and types of hearing aids to choose from which are suited to different levels of hearing loss, preferred aesthetics, budget, lifestyle requirements, etc. As your hearing is a major priority, it is important that you choose the best one to suit your needs.

We have put together a guide to give you an idea of what all these devices are, how they work, as well as outline their best uses. Clear hearing makes a major difference in your life, so we hope this will help your decision.

The Three Types of Hearing Aids

There may be many different hearing aids out there, but they all fall under three main categories. Let’s take a look at these different categories, and what the advantages of each are.

BTE Hearing Aids

BTE, or behind the ear, hearing aids are worn with the device on top of and behind the ear. A small case sits behind your ear where all of the components can be found. A sound tube connects this to your ear canal with a soft tip, dome, or custom mould.

This kind of hearing device can be suitable for a wide range of hearing problems. They can come either as an open-fit device or as an occluding device for those with a higher level of hearing loss.

ITE Hearing Aids

ITE stands for in the ear, and these types of hearing aids are a little more advanced. ITE devices sit inside your ear through a custom made fit. No part of the device can be found outside your ear.

This type of hearing aid offers superior sound quality, as well as a completely discreet look. They can also be very comfortable.

RIC RITE Hearing Aids

Receiver in canal, or receiver in the ear (RIC/RITE) hearing aids are very similar to BTE models. However, these models place the receiver inside your ear instead of in the casing behind it.

These devices offer excellent sound quality, comfort, and discretion in comparison to the BTE models.

Different Hearing Aid Models

Now that we can distinguish between the three different types of hearing aids, there are a number of models available within these categories.

IIC (Invisible In Canal)

Invisible in canal hearing aids fall under the ITE category. These devices place the microphone deep in the ear canal, offering an optimal sound experience. IIC devices are custom-fitted, and provide you with a completely discreet look. They are a popular choice based on their aesthetic and comfort appeal.

CIC (Completely In Canal)

Completely in canal hearing aids are also part of the ITE category, sitting deep inside your ear canal. These models also provide excellent sound quality and comfort. They are suited to those with mild to moderately severe hearing loss.

As the device sits inside your ear, they are still very discreet. The difference between these and IIC devices is that CIC models will have the small removal handle showing outside your ear.

MIC (Mini In Canal)

Mini in canal hearing aids are similar to the CIC models, just slightly larger. They do not sit as deep inside your ear, and so are not quite as discreet as CIC’s. These devices offer a good balance between sound quality and aesthetics.

MIH (Microphone In Helix)

These types of hearings aids place the microphone outside of the hearing aid shell. It sits discreetly inside the top fold of your ear. These ITE hearing aids are extremely powerful custom devices that help to preserve the natural sound very well.

While MIH models provide excellent sound quality, they require more maintenance and could get damaged more easily than other ITE devices. They are also not as discreet as IIC, CIC, and MIC models.

ITE Half Shell

ITE half shell hearing aids are versatile and easy to use. These models are suitable for those with mild to severe hearing loss. The half-shell is comfortable to wear inside your ear, but it is also easy to adjust and put into the right place.

Half shell devices offer a good balance between power and ease of use, as well as still being fairly discreet. These are also very comfortable to wear.

ITE Full Shell

Full shell hearing aids are the largest kinds of ITE devices. Being bigger, they can carry more powerful amplifiers, processors, and extra directional microphones. This makes them good choices for those with more severe hearing loss.

Of all the types of hearing aids, full shell models are possibly the easiest to insert, maintain, and adjust. While these are comfortable and highly effective, their larger size often turns people towards smaller, more discreet variations.

Mini, Standard, or Power BTE

BTE models come in three different models. These can either be mini, standard, or power. BTE hearing aids are the most commonly used style, suitable for a wide range of hearing problems.

Power models are better suited to more severe hearing loss, while standard models can be used from mild to severe damage. Mini BTE hearing aids provide a smaller device with a more appealing aesthetic. However, mini models do not necessarily have the same kind of audio quality and strength as power or standard models.


RIC, also know as RITE models, are some of the most discreet you can find. The receiver fits into the ear canal and is connected to the main body of the device which goes behind your ear by a thin wire. This means they easily fit different ear shapes and sizes, and are suitable for cases of mild through to severe hearing loss.

Another big drawcard to this device is the fact that the receiver is easily interchangeable. If the device fails, it is simply a case of collecting a new receiver instead of sending it away for repairs.

Final Thoughts

There are many different types of hearing aids to choose from, each with their own specific pros and cons. When finding the right one for you, discretion, sound quality, durability, comfort, and ease of use are some of the most important factors to consider.

Of course, the hearing aid that you get will also depend greatly on your level of hearing loss and lifestyle requirements. Consult with a specialist to get the best recommendations.


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