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Over The Ear Vs ITE Hearing Aids

Over the ear hearing aids versus inside the ear hearing aids – which should you consider?

Over the Ear vs In the Ear Hearing Aids

All hearing aids are designed with one common aim - to restore as much of your natural hearing as possible. The sound is amplified from your local environment, often with clever features to help eradicate background noise or feedback, so you can access a conversation or listen to music. With so much choice it can be difficult to know where to begin when choosing a hearing aid. There are differences in price, amplification, ways in which hearing aids are worn and size to consider. To help clarify things, we’ve done a comparison between two popular types of hearing device – over the ear (OTE) hearing aids versus the in the ear (ITE) models.

Over the Ear Hearing Aids

Over the ear hearing aids include Behind the Ear (BTE) and Receiver in the Ear (RITE) devices. RITE hearing aids are also called Receiver in the Canal (RIC) hearing aids. The BTE, as its name suggests, is worn behind the ear, but is connected by a piece of tubing to an earmold that sits within the ear canal. They can also be fitted using thin tubing that ends in a small silicone dome. This style of BTE is often referred to as an open fit hearing aid. RIC and RITE models work in a similar way, the difference being that the receiver is worn within the canal or the ear. It is then connected via a wire rather than tubing to the rest of the aid worn over the ear, which tends to be smaller and more streamlined.


  • Behind the ear hearing aids are normally suitable for all age groups, catering for almost all types of hearing loss.
  • As a general rule, an OTE hearing aid will offer greater amplification than most ITE models.
  • They have the capacity for large hearing aid battery sizes, so they can last longer.
  • Although usually known for their generous size and power, mini BTE versions are now on the market, offering a small and discreet alternative for those seeking the ‘barely visible’ look.
  • Often an over the ear hearing aid will work out a cheaper solution than a custom-made ITE.
  • Due to the positioning of the microphone, the BTE hearing aids can be prone to picking up wind noise.
  • The RITE / RIC versions are often susceptible to blockages caused by earwax. It is important to carry out regular cleaning.

Inside the Ear Hearing Aids

ITE hearing aids are usually custom-made for a particular ear and are designed to sit within your ear as opposed to outside of it. That said it is also possible to purchase a standard ‘one size fits all’ shell, which can render it a more affordable proposition. Suitable for those with a mild to severe hearing loss, there are different sizes to choose from:
  • The full shell - designed to sit snug within your outer ear.
  • The half shell - which sits firmly within the lower part of your ear.
  • In the canal (ITC) – which sits within the canal portion of the ear but can still be visible when viewed from the side.
  • Completely in the canal (CIC) – seated deep within the ear, it is completely invisible when viewed from the side.
  • The majority of models are very small and therefore highly discreet to wear.
  • Usually these hearing aids are easy to insert.
  • These hearing aids are less susceptible to picking up wind noise.
  • Custom made ITE’s as you can imagine, tend to be more expensive than an off the shelf OTE.
  • Due to their size and where they are worn, ITE’s tend not to be as powerful. They’re often eclipsed by the sheer choice of OTE hearing aids that offer excellent amplification. There are however a number of very powerful custom-made ITE hearing aids now on the market.
  • Due to the nature of the product and where it is worn, ITE’s will almost certainly require more maintenance and repairs compared to a comparable OTE product. They are prone to blockages caused by earwax so will need regular cleaning.
  • Smaller batteries can mean shorter operating times and more fiddly changes required.

Hearing Aids from Hearing Direct

Our online store is home to BTE, ITE, and RIC devices. At, you find a collection of affordable hearing aids in different shapes, designs, and models.
HD 211 Digital hearing aid HD 211 BTE Digital Hearing Aid

The most basic device found on our website is the HD 91. It is also our cheapest hearing aid. Designed to please those who value simplicity, it does so without compromising on sound quality. The beauty of this hearing aid is you can put it in and then completely forget about it, leaving you free to get on with life.

Also available are a number of mid-range models such as the HDR 200 Rechargeable Hearing Aid , and the HD 211 BTE hearing aid. For higher-spec devices, the HDR 400 is our top rechargeable hearing aid packed with some of the most up to date hearing aid technology on the market. Alternatively, for some added discretion, an invisible hearing aid may be more suitable.

If you want to learn more about this subject or would like to find out how HearingDirect can help you, feel free to contact us for more useful tips and guidance.

About Hearing Direct

We are one of the world's leading hearing aid specialists. Hearing Direct offers a wide range of affordable products, as well as information resources to help improve the quality of life for the hard of hearing. We sell:

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