RIC vs. BTE Hearing Aids: Determining the Right Fit for You

When selecting a hearing aid, sound quality, comfort, and cosmetic appearance may all be priorities. There is a wide range of hearing aids available today, so choosing the right option for your needs can be difficult. For your convenience, we are offering a comparative analysis of RIC vs. BTE hearing aids.

Receiver-in-Canal (RIC) Hearing Aids

A RIC hearing aid is a small and lightweight device. It consists of the following:

  • A case, which sits behind the ear and contains the microphone, amplifier, and processor
  • A receiver, which contains the speaker and fits into the ear canal. The two components are connected by a thin, barely visible wire.


  • Designed for high-frequency hearing loss, which is the most common type
  • Produces natural sound
  • Comfortable and discreet
  • Avoids occlusion (blockage) of the ear canal


  • Receiver exposed to ear wax, moisture, and sweat
  • Not generally suitable for severe or low-frequency hearing loss
  • Can be more difficult to insert, especially with vision or dexterity issues

Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids

A BTE hearing aid is similar to a RIC in that there is a case behind the ear, containing the electronics. The key difference is that rather than connecting to a speaker via a slim wire, the BTE speaker is inside the case, and the amplified sound is conducted through a relatively large, hollow tube into a solid, custom-molded earpiece.


  • Suitable for all types of hearing loss, including profound hearing loss
  • Powerful sound amplification
  • Relatively easy to insert and maintain
  • Less prone to damage by moisture or wax


  • Larger and less discrete
  • Higher occlusion (blockage)
  • Less natural sound quality, in some cases

RIC vs. BTE Hearing Aids: Key Differences

The RIC and BTE hearing aids differ in several aspects, such as:

  • Visibility

    The BTE case is bigger and more visible as it contains all the components, whereas in RIC devices the receiver is fitted inside the ear canal, allowing for a smaller case. Also, the RIC wire is thinner and less noticeable than the BTE tube.

  • Amplification

    The larger case and battery of the BTE, combined with the custom earpiece, allows the BTE to provide much more volume compared with RIC devices. The RIC, though, will usually provide a more natural sound quality for people with mild to moderate hearing loss.

  • Location of the Speaker

    While the speaker in the BTE hearing device is located inside the case along with the other components, in the RIC hearing aids the speaker is encased inside a flexible ear dome placed inside the ear. For most people, the RIC will be more comfortable and provide better sound quality, but the speaker is more susceptible to damage from ear wax and moisture.

Hearing Aid RIC vs. BTE: Important Factors to Consider While Selecting the Better Option for You

When you select a hearing aid, consider the following factors:

  • Sound amplification and clarity
  • Ease of use
  • Maintenance cost

Other Significant Factors That Must Determine Your Choice

Some other important factors that you must consider include:

  • Degree and type of hearing loss
  • Lifestyle
  • Cosmetic appearance

Restore Your Hearing with the Best Hearing Device at Hoffmann Audiology

If you have hearing loss, you should consult an audiologist. They specialize in evaluating your hearing and hearing aid needs in order to provide devices best suited to your unique situation. At Hoffmann Audiology we are equipped to offer our patients the most advanced and customized hearing aid devices that positively impact their quality of life. If you are looking for hearing aids in Irvine, CA, contact our hearing aid dispenser today!



Chris Lin Hoffmann

Dr. Chris Hoffmann is an audiologist who has been involved in hearing sciences for over 20 years. Her passion for helping people with their hearing led her to establish Hoffmann Audiology hearing clinic. Dr. Hoffmann has more than 14 years of clinical knowledge in hearing testing, hearing aid fittings, and aural rehabilitation.

Comments are closed