Hearing Aid Styles

Finding the right hearing aid is only a small portion of the purchase decision. Beltone Hearing Care Centre helps patients find the right style to match their hearing needs and wants. Getting the right set of options matters, and your choice is just as impactful as the treatment.

Why Styles Matter

Hearing aids come in different shapes and sizes. The features on each device are sometimes locked behind the available style types. An invisible-in-canal (IIC) hearing device is more likely to offer privacy and natural sound experiences, but may not be ideal for those with dexterity issues. While a behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid will favour powerful features and ease of handling.

Styles matter since they are connected to the shape, size and available features of each hearing aid. Although brands will have all styles available, their flagship hearing aid models will have a range of options. This has to do with certain features being tied to the type of style it’s available in.

Style Types

There is no superior style when it comes to hearing aids. They all have their own sets of pros and cons, so the benefits they offer are up to personal taste. With the help of a RHIP, you’ll have a better understanding of how it affects your treatment plan.

In the ear (ITE)

ITE offers a great middle ground between BTE and canal-worn devices. They fit completely inside the outer ear canal and have the capability for the same advanced features as BTE. Since the casing uses a custom fit, ITE is a better option for adults than it is for growing children.


Invisible in canal (IIC)

The smallest custom style, IIC instruments, sit invisibly in or past the second bend of the ear canal. IIC devices are specifically designed for mild-to-moderate hearing loss.


Completely in canal (CIC)

This has become one of the most popular choices when getting new hearing aids. It is unnoticeable when worn, and the sub-option known as invisible in canal (IIC) is even harder to detect. Canal-type hearing aids are perfect for users that want privacy while using their device. It’s less powerful than the other types, but introduces streamlined smart features that pair well with Bluetooth-enabled devices.


In the canal (ITC)

ITC instruments sit in the lower portion of the outer ear concha bowl, making them comfortable and easy to use. Because they are slightly larger than CIC models, they have a longer battery life, and can host additional features such as directional microphones for better understanding in noisy environments.They fit mild and moderate hearing losses.

Full Shell ITE

Full shell in the ear (ITE)

Full shell models sit flush within the entire ear bowl. Their size allows the maximum number of additional controls and features such as directional microphones, which require space on the outer portion of the instrument. They use a larger battery size than the smaller styles and can fit a larger receiver with enough power for even some severe hearing losses. Because of their flexibility, they are widely recommended for mild-to-severe hearing loss.

Behind the ear

This is the most visible hearing aid available. To reduce visibility, there is a sub-option called mini BTE. The benefits of BTE types are power, replaceable batteries and the choice to change settings directly from the device. It’s beneficial for users that want a choice between operating it by hand or using a compatible smartphone app.

Mini BTE

Mini BTE with slim tube and tip

Mini BTEs are designed to hide behind the outer ear and have ultra-thin tubing/wiring to discreetly route sound into the ear. The tubing/wiring connects to a soft tip that sits in the ear canal but doesn’t occlude it. The result is a natural, open feeling as airflow and sound enter the ear naturally around the tip, while amplified sound enters through the tip. This is known as “open fitting” and is recommended for mild-to-moderate high frequency losses.

Receiver in the ear (RITE)

Receiver in ear (RIE)

RIE models are mini BTEs that have the speaker of the instrument incorporated in the ear tip, instead of in the main body of the instrument. RIE instruments fit mild-to-severe hearing losses. This hearing aid style looks similar to the Mini BTE when worn on the ear.


BTE with Earmold

BTEs with earmolds fit mild through severe hearing losses. Their longer shape follows the contour behind the outer ear and can house many features, including a program button and volume control. The earmold color and style, as well as the wearer’s hairstyle, determine exactly how they’ll look on each person.