Behind-the-Ear Device

The Behind-the-Ear (BTE) hearing aid first emerged in the late 1990s, and it signaled the resurgence of BTE hearing aids in comparison to their ITE counterparts. It has the cosmetic advantage of the CIC in that it is not easily visible to others; yet it has sufficient “real estate” to provide more features and power of the ITC and ITE hearing aid styles. This style of hearing aid has surpassed the full-shell ITE (which fills the entire outer bowl of the ear), sitting behind the outer ear, with tubing that routes the sound into the ear canal.

A Man Wearing Behind the Ear Hearing Aid
Hearing Aid Testing

Sound Notes

Sound Amplifications and Venting

As with the in-the-ear hearing aid styles, the BTE has a tiny microphone(s) that pick up the sound, the amplifier amplifies it, and a speaker sends this sound through the thin tube which ends in a rubber bud or “dome” inside the ear canal. The vents of the ITE styles were built into the body of the hearing aids themselves. The dome of the thin tube BTE that sits inside the ear canal has vent holes to allow air into the ear canal, this “open fitting” results in a natural open feeling for the wearer.

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Sound waves around ear illustration


Which Hearing Device Is Right for You?

BTE: Behind the Ear

Versatile for almost every level of hearing loss, BTE hearing aids offer superior amplification and directional microphones.
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CIC: Completely in

CIC hearing aids are small, barely visible when worn and less likely to pick up wind noise.
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Extended Wear

Revolutionary Lyric hearing aids can be worn 24/7 for months, installed professionally by your NexGen Hearing clinic team.
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IIC: Invisible in Canal

Comfortable and discreet, IIC hearing aids are virtually unseen when worn and are ideal for mild to medium hearing loss.
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Custom built hearing aid style suitable for moderate to severe hearing loss, only slightly larger than the CIC design.
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ITC: In the Canal

ITC hearing aids are custom-molded and popular with many people who have mild to moderate hearing loss.
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RIC: Receiver in Canal

RIC hearing aids are a two-piece device that has directional microphones, natural sound and manual control features.
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Determining Whether BTE Hearing Aids Are Right for You

The BTE hearing aids are suitable to most ranges of hearing loss and are suitable for children. The relative positions of the speaker and microphone in this style helps with the issue of feedback that happens when the amplified sound produced by the hearing aid speaker is picked up by the hearing aid microphone.

As the speaker sits above the ear far from where wax is produced inside the canal this style hearing aid is easier to clean and maintain than those in the ear or canal. BTE wearers may detect wind noise with this style. It’s important to discuss all the options with your hearing health practitioner to ensure you find the hearing aid that will work best for your unique preferences.

Close-up shot of a behind the ear hearing aid
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Options to Consider When Selecting a Hearing Aid

The BTE can accommodate larger-sized batteries and is available in rechargeable solutions. Modern Bluetooth connectivity to other devices including smartphones, TVs, computers, music players, and remote microphone accessories is possible in most BTE models. Digital hearing aids have advanced processors that provide better sound quality and speech understanding in background noise.


Frequently Asked Questions

The listening device in a behind the ear hearing aid should sit behind the outer ear. A tube attaches the listening device to an ear mold that fits in the ear, or a soft dome which sits in the opening of the ear. The type of dome a behind the ear hearing aid uses will depend on the make and model of the device.

Yes, every behind the ear hearing device allows for volume control. To change the volume on a behind the ear hearing aid, quickly press the buttons on the listening device on your outer ear to adjust the volume up or down. You will hear a high-pitched beep which will indicate that you have increased or decreased the volume.

Most hearing aids, not just behind the ear devices, are made to be moisture resistant but not waterproof. A few raindrops, or sweat won’t damage the device, but excessive exposure to water can cause damage. We recommend removing the hearing aid before showering or going swimming.

The design of a behind the ear hearing aid allows it to be larger than other types of hearing devices. This means it can house a more powerful battery, a more powerful microphone, more powerful sound amplification, and additional features that aren’t possible in some smaller devices. One important thing to note is that while this style of hearing aid can be larger than others, it is still quite discreet and can be matched to skin tones and hair colour to appear more naturally when worn.

A behind the ear hearing aid can be a suitable option for any due to its versatility and additional features. Having a more powerful battery than other types of hearing aid means more powerful sound amplification which makes them a great option for people with moderate to severe cases of hearing loss. The additional features on some models of behind the ear devices, such as Bluetooth connectivity also make them great options for younger people as well as anyone who is technologically savvy and would like to control their hearing aid through their mobile device.