Hearing Aid Styles

Styles of hearing aids are predominantly driven by two opposing factors:

1. Laws of physics (and personal experience of most amateur pub bands) in respect to speakers and microphones which dictate they should be kept some distance apart to avoid whistling and feedback screech.

2. Social dynamics and stigma which dictates that hearing aids should be as small and invisible as possible, requiring these two items be placed as close together as possible.

As a consequence, the battle over the need for invisibility and the need for distance to control feedback results in a number of clever solutions; either through sound processing or physical design.

The 2 Main Hearing Aid Styles

Two main approaches to hearing aid style or design exist today. These are either 'In The Ear' hearing aids or 'Behind The Ear' hearing aids. Each style has its own further sub-categories but essentially the first choice to make when looking at style is which of these to go for. As one might expect, neither one is perfect; only one style would survive the constant development cycle by hearing aid manufacturers were this the case.

Advantages and disadvantages of the two styles can be seen below:

Behind The Ear Hearing Aids


  • Physical separation of speaker output and microphone input
  • Physical comfort and fitting
  • Battery life
  • 'Actual' cosmetic appearance


  • 'Perceived' cosmetic appearance
  • Wind and microphone noise

In The Ear Hearing Aids


  • 'Perceived' cosmetic appearance
  • Useful if you also need to wear glasses as well


  • Reliability/breakdown
  • 'Actual' cosmetic appearance
  • Occlusion (sense of being 'blocked' up)
  • Battery life is a lot less due to small batteries

On balance, there can be no question that the benefits of using a Behind The Ear hearing aid significantly outweigh those of the In The Ear style. The overpowering reason that In The Ear hearing aids are chosen is 'perceived' cosmetics.

"Surely something that goes inside my ear will be less obvious to those around me."

Apart from the fact that, in reality, many of the modern Behind The Ear styles mean that they are often less conspicuous than their In Ear counterparts, the issue is one of hearing help rather than visibility to others.

One could argue that it might be more conspicuous that you need a hearing aid than it is when one is using one. Many of our customers come to us having paid large sums of money for In Ear hearing aids only to discover reliability and comfort issues and to try a Behind The Ear style - very few then go back to In The Ear styles.

Clearly, the decision on which hearing aid style to go for is a very personal one but when my time comes to need one, I know which option I shall be taking! For more advice on style and choice of hearing aids, feel free to contact us and speak with one of our audiologists.

About Hearing Direct

We are one of the world's leading hearing aid specialists. HearingDirect 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:

Don't forget to like our Facebook Page

Author: Gary Hill

Gary Hill

Gary comes from 16 years’ experience in the hearing aid industry in both manufacturing and retail. Before co-founding HearingDirect, Gary was Marketing Director for a leading global hearing aid brand; GN ReSound where he worked for the UK sales division and latterly in their global headquarters in Copenhagen. He was responsible for developing and launching major global hearing aid models, conducting extensive research into the needs of the hearing impaired community and their performance demands of hearing aids and other devices.