A Guide to BTE (Behind the Ear) Hearing Aids

Behind the Ear Hearing Aids or BTE feature a plastic case and an ear mold connected to each other via a clear tube.  When worn, only the ear mold goes inside the ear, the rest of the components are worn behind the ear.

Despite being the oldest hearing aid style and the most visible due to its large size, BTEs are still widely used today due to their durability. Since most of the major components are worn outside the ear, they typically last longer as they are not exposed to ear moisture and ear wax.

How it Works

The plastic case that is worn externally contains all the major components of the hearing aids including the battery, microphone, microchip/digital chip, the amplifier, and the controls. In digital BTEs, the microphone receives the sound and converts it to electrical signals to be sent to the amplifier. The sound is delivered via the clear plastic tube to the ear mold, which sends the sound to the ear. The ear mold is custom made to suit the ears of the wearer.

Behind the Ear Hearing aids are the most widely used because they can accommodate mild to profound hearing loss. They are also recommended for kids because they are easier to clean and maintain.

Benefits of BTEs

While BTEs are the most visible type of hearing aids, they offer many benefits over other hearing aid styles.

  • Durability

They are generally more durable because they have larger components and they are not worn inside the ear limiting the possibility of moisture damage. It is also much easier to replace the batteries in BTEs compared to other hearing aids.

  • Better Sound Quality

BTEs also provide the least feedback since the components are located farther apart from each other (i.e. the microphone and receiver are located far from each other).

  • Suitable for all degrees of hearing loss (mild to profound)
  • Ideal for All Ages

BTEs are the only style that is recommended for kids (especially very young children). Since the ear mold can be replaced, it can accommodate the growing ears of kids without having to replace the entire hearing aid.  BTEs are also a lot safer for kids since most of the components are located externally.


Compared to other styles of hearing aids, BTEs have the least disadvantages when it comes to listening experience and quality. The only major disadvantage of BTEs is that they are often large and bulky.

Modern varieties, however, are becoming much smaller and less visible. There is also a wider range of styles and designs of BTEs available today, giving consumers more options. Modern BTEs are barely visible especially when covered with one’s hair.

BTEs that come with ear molds also pose a bit of a disadvantage compared to those with ear buds. Ear molds may require periodic replacement and retubing to ensure optimum performance and to help maintain their acoustic seal.

Mini BTEs (Open-Fit)

There is a new type of behind the ear hearing aids that features a finer clear tube and a silicone dome (ear bud) replacing the traditional ear mold. This type of BTE is less visible than the traditional BTE as they are smaller. Mini BTEs offer increased comfort for the wearer since the tube is narrower and leaves the ear canal open. They are suitable for people who have frequent problems with earwax buildup. Many people also prefer open-fit BTEs because they reduce the sensation of being “plugged up” especially when they hear the sound of their own voice.

Since Mini BTEs offer listening and aesthetic advantages, many adults prefer them to the traditional ones.

Behind the Ear hearing aids are suitable for people of any age and degree of hearing loss. Prices of advanced BTEs can range from $1300 to $2700 or higher, depending on their available features.

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