When you’re in the market for a hearing aid, there are many different hearing aid comparisons to think through.
You might be surprised to find there are so many different hearing aids out there – from brands, to models, to features.
With so much information and options out there, shopping for hearing aids can certainly feel overwhelming.
Side-by-side comparisons are becoming more and more complex with technological advancements. Researching and selecting a hearing aid looks a lot different than it did in years past.
Which Hearing Aid Type Should You Choose?
With so many different styles and types of hearing aids to choose from—how do you know which hearing aid is right for you?
The most important factor to consider is what you need your hearing aid for. What type and degree of hearing loss do you have?
If you don’t already have answers to these questions, a visit to the audiologist and examining your audiogram will help determine the answer to these questions.
Comparing Hearing Aids: Mild to Moderate Hearing Loss
If you suffer from mild to moderate hearing loss, the best hearing aid styles for you are behind-the-ear (BTE) or in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids.
BTE Hearing Aid Models
The BTE model, also known as a behind-the-ear hearing aid, consists of an aid that sits behind the ear and hooks over the top. The hearing aid is connected via a small tube to a custom earmold inside the ear canal.
The BTE model is the traditional style of hearing aid but has gotten much sleeker and smaller over the years.
ITE Hearing Aid Models
The ITE hearing aid actually comes in three main styles—the Invisible In Canal (IIC), the Completely in Canal (CIC), and In the Canal (ITC).
ITE hearing aids are always one piece. This distinguishes them from other common hearing aid types which may have multiple elements connected by a tube and can fill the entirety of the outer ear, or half of the outer ear. These styles are called full shell and half shell, respectively.
Since it’s just one piece, these hearing aids can fit into the inner ear without showing in the outer ear. These hearing aids can be quite small, which is why they’re often referred to as “Invisible”. They tend to be a good option for individuals who don’t want others to see they’re wearing hearing aids.
If you want to keep your hearing aids hidden, you might consider a Completely-in-Canal (CIC) model. Many people choose this hearing aid because they prefer something discreet and hidden.
Comparing Behind The Ear (BTE) and In The Ear (ITE) Models
The BTE model is capable of picking up more amplification than the ITE model, so it may be the style to choose if that’s your priority. If you’re concerned about aesthetics, most BTE models today are actually less visible than ITE, since the outside pack is often hidden by hair and the only visible part is the clear tube. The ITE is easier to handle than most other styles and uses a very large battery, which allows you to wear it for a longer time than the BTE.
Comparing Hearing Aids: Mild to Severe Hearing Loss
If you have mild to severe hearing loss, receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids are the best option for you.
RIC Hearing Aid Models
As the names would suggest, these models are designed to fit either partly or wholly in your ear canal.
These hearing aids are a lot smaller and often the go-to choice for people who might be a little self-conscious about their hearing aids or don’t want them to be easily seen.
Comparing In The Canal (ITC), Behind The Ear (BTE), and In The Ear (ITE) Models
The ITC style can incorporate features that its smaller counterparts cannot accommodate, such as a telecoil or dual microphones. All three styles are more prone to earwax blockage as they sit deeper in the ear compared to the BTE or ITE models. However, in-canal hearing aids are highly effective in reducing wind noise due to their deeper placement in the ear.
What to Look for in Hearing Aids
The best way to determine which hearing aid is the best model for your hearing and lifestyle is to speak with your audiologist and with a knowledgeable hearing aid representative (you can send Audicus your audiogram for a free consultation).
Taking your time is important. Ideally, you will find a hearing aid that custom fits your unique needs. Working with experts who understand which questions to ask and how to weigh different hearing aid products can be helpful. The best experts are the ones who take the time to really listen to your needs before making a recommendation.
Finding the Best Hearing Aids: Comparing Product Types, Styles, and Brands Against Your Needs
The most important step is to start with yourself. Understanding your needs sets you up for success. Numerous products available in 2023 can improve your hearing. Your goal should be to find hearing aids that optimize your hearing abilities.
Hearing aid products are now manufactured for customization – whatever your needs, there’s a hearing aid type, model, and brand out there that has built their product for someone exactly like you. The best hearing aid starts with you. This is because today’s technology is designed with you in mind.
So – tell us, what is the best hearing aid on the market for you? At Audicus, we’ll start by asking you about yourself.
How severe is your hearing impairment? What kind of hearing loss do you have? What’s important to you in a hearing aid product? Do you want the basics, or are there high-tech features you think you’d like? How about costs? Do you want something mid-range, low-cost, or are you willing to spend up to get the best of the best?
The answers to these questions will lead you to the perfect product and have you hearing at your maximum potential as soon as possible.
By: Kim Smith
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the different types of hearing aids?
The main types of hearing aids are Behind-The-Ear (BTE), Receiver-In-Canal (RIC), In-The-Ear (ITE), In-The-Canal (ITC), Completely-In-Canal (CIC), and Invisible (IIC). Different styles are best suited for certain degrees of hearing loss and are most optimal for specific types of hearing loss. Getting a clinical audiogram and discussing the right hearing aid for you with a trained audiologist can be help guide you in the right direction, so you pick a hearing aid that is just right for you.
Which hearing aid brand is the best?
There is no perfect hearing aid brand. One of the best ways to shop is to compare a few brands against each other, including the pricing. You’ll also want to consider the value of the total package you’re receiving.
For some hearing aid users, customer support is just as important as hearing aid specs. If you value having a support team available to help you troubleshoot your hearing aid needs, you’ll want to incorporate that need into your search, too.
How do I choose a hearing aid?
The best way to go about selecting a hearing aid is to think about your needs and then compare the available products. For most people, price point, technology, and quality tend to be the main factors to compare between different hearing aid offerings.
Is there a tool to compare hearing aid prices and brands?
There are different resources out there designed to make comparing hearing aids easy. Third-party resources, like Consumer Advocates, can be helpful if you want an up-to-date rating on products and brands, like a “Best Hearing Aids in 2021” comprehensive list. Beyond this, looking at customer reviews and tapping into your network for recommendations can help inform your buying decision.