Comparing Completely-In Canal and Behind the Ear Hearing Aids

People who have been diagnosed by a Doctor of Audiology with a hearing problem will sooner or later, be fitted for a hearing aid. But, as hearing aids and professional services will vary significantly in cost and quality, savvy patients will want to be sure they choose the right provider and hearing aid for themselves.

In the ear canal and behind the ear hearing aids

There are essentially two styles of modern hearing aid, the first is a hearing aid that fits inside the ear canal itself. The second, behind-the-ear hearing aid, in which the control unit sits behind the ear and is connected to a small, discreet wire which fits into the ear.

How does a hearing aid work?

A hearing aid collect sounds from the environment via a microphone. Some sophisticated hearing aids use multiple microphones. Using a miniature computer chip, sounds are converted into digital code, and the computer chip analyzes and adjusts the sound based on your hearing loss, listening needs and the level of the sounds around you. The hearing aid then converts the digital sounds back into sound waves and delivered to your ears through tiny speakers.

So what are the fundamental differences between the two hearing aid types?

Naturally, consult your Doctor of Audiology, but besides personal preference, there are some distinct differences.

In-canal hearing aids can be discreet so people who have short hair, in particular, may prefer them. If you are a doctor that uses a stethoscope, an in-canal hearing aid might be more comfortable.

In-canal hearing aids can be smaller than a behind the ear hearing aid, but the advantages and disadvantages are an open mix. For those with dexterity problems, in-canal hearing aids might be easier to put on than a behind the ear type. However, due to the size, in-the-canal hearing aids can be limited in terms of the level of technology they offer.

Also, the batteries of the in-canal hearing aids can be much smaller, so again, those with limited dexterity will have an easier time changing the batteries on their behind the ear hearing aid.

The biggest difference, however, that in-canal hearing aids can sound a little like your ears are slightly plugged. Most people get used to this “plugged” effect, but it can be quite bothersome to others.

Is in-canal hearing aid right for everyone?

Owing to their discreteness, in-canal hearing aids might seem like the right choice, but behind the ear hearing aids offer a wider range of hearing amplification, are usually more flexible, and offer many more choices to hear better in noise, connect to your smartphone, or stream the sound from your television directly to your ears. So depending on your diagnosed hearing loss, your Doctor of Audiology will suggest options that are appropriate for your loss, your lifestyle, and your technology requirements.

Top Hearing Doctors in New York

In New York, the Doctors of Audiology at NYHD| Institute for Hearing and Balance offer complete pediatric as well as adult hearing assessment, and if necessary, complete hearing aid fittings and care.

The Doctors of Audiology at their New York clinic note that hearing aids are not just a “put it on and forget it” device.” Those who are fitted for a hearing aid require expert care, an adjustment time, and follow-up appointments to be sure the devices are working at their maximum level.

You can contact them via their website at or via telephone at (212) 774-1971.