Mon-Fri: 8am-7pm 1-888-608-7462

Explore Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aids: Benefits and Considerations

This hearing aid is traditionally the most powerful and rests on the back of the outer ear.


The most familiar hearing aid style, Behind-The-Ear (BTE) aids, are housed in a durable case that rests on the back of the outer ear. These aids are suitable for the widest range of hearing loss, including profound hearing loss. While the larger size BTEs allow for more power and features, the smallest ones, mini BTEs, are practically invisible when worn.

Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids are versatile devices suitable for a wide range of hearing loss, and are available in various sizes. The smaller BTE options are virtually “invisible” as they disappear behind the ear.

With the BTE models, sound is transmitted into the ear through a very discreet tube, which leads into a customized earmold. Because they are larger, BTE models have more space for electronic components than other types of hearing aids, giving them more room to house additional features and deliver advanced performance for a wider range of hearing loss types. Additionally, BTEs are comfortable, easy to mold, and easy for caretakers to assist with and maneuver.

Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aids

Phonak Naida Marvel
Compare models
  • Easy to handle, insert and adjust
  • Suitable for all levels of hearing loss
  • Can fit many features
  • Larger batteries for longer battery life
  • More visible than smaller models
  • More sensitive to wind

Types of Behind-the Ear Hearing Aids

Closed fit: These hearing aids use a fitted ear mold that fills the outer ear. Although they are larger than open fit hearing aids, closed fit BTEs are easier to handle because they seal the auditory canal, which minimizes the whistling sometimes experienced by hearing aid wearers.
Open fit: These contain a thin plastic micro tube that extends over the outer ear and into the ear canal. In addition to being small and cosmetically appealing, the open fit tube avoids the "stopped up" feeling of in-the-ear hearing aids. 

Structure of a BTE Hearing Aid

All hearing aids feature the same main components. A behind-the-ear hearing aid, for example, has the following functions:
  • Microphone – Picks up sounds and converts them into electrical signals
  • Amplifier – Increases the volume of the microphone signals and filters out irrelevant sounds
  • "Loudspeaker" – Converts electrical signals into acoustic signals
  • Speech processor – Adjusts signals to the wearer's individual hearing needs
  • Volume regulator – Lets the wearer control the volume
  • Ear hook – Connects the hearing aid and the sound tube
  • Audio input – Picks up signals from other external devices
  • Disposable or rechargeable battery for the power supply – While disposable batteries can be changed several times, rechargeable batteries last for up to 24 hours with just one charge
The hearing aid is connected to the ear via a sound tube, which ends in a fixing piece, or earpiece/ear shell (earmold). A variation on the classic BTE hearing aid is the external receiver model (receiver-in-canal, or RIC), in which the loudspeaker sits inside the ear, thus transmitting sound directly to the eardrum.

Other Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids

External receiver model (receiver-in-canal, or RIC)
The smallest behind-the-ear models are equipped with external receivers and usually also offer wireless functions.

Micro-behind-the-ear models
These hearing aids are smaller than normal BTE models and suitable for people with mild to severe hearing loss. They can be worn comfortably behind the ear and come in a wide range of colors, shapes, and styles.

Hearing Loss v. Lifestyle

BTE Hearing Aids are suitable for those with mild to profound hearing loss. The discreet housing rests behind the ear and is recommended for people who are doing light to moderate activity. Because components are housed in an externally worn compartment, in general, BTEs are the more powerful hearing aids available.