Style Spotlight: Receiver-in-the-Canal Hearing Aids

The receiver-in-the-canal hearing aid style is similar to a behind-the-ear hearing aid – but with a twist.

Try to think of the receiver-in-the-canal hearing aid style as a behind-the-ear hearing aid – with a twist.

Like the behind-the-ear (BTE) aid, the receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) aid features a small plastic case that houses most of the hearing aid’s electronic parts, which rests behind the wearer’s ear. However, the difference between the two types of hearing aids lies in one unique element: the location of the speaker.

In the BTE aid, the speaker, which is also known as a receiver, is contained with all the other parts inside a plastic case. An ear-mold, which is connected to the case by thin plastic tubing, is used to carry sound from the speaker over the ear. However, in the RIC aid, the speaker is placed directly inside the ear canal. Instead of the plastic tubing found in a BTE aid, thin electrical wires connect the RIC aid’s speaker to the plastic case behind the ear, which is a little lighter and sleeker than a BTE case, as it contains one less element.

Due to the simple difference in the location of the speaker, the RIC aid preserves the major advantages of the BTE aid, specifically the fact that it can be used by people with all levels of hearing loss, ranging from mild to severe, while also offering some of its own special benefits. Since the speaker is located directly in the ear canal, sound has a much shorter distance to travel from the speaker to the eardrum. Thus, RIC aids are usually able to provide sound that is more clear and intact.

In addition, the RIC aid offers better sound quality because the microphone and speaker are farther apart from one another, which helps to eliminate feedback.

Finally, the absence of a BTE-style earmold can make a cosmetic difference in the appearance of an RIC aid, while also making the aid more comfortable for those who do not like the feel of having a device in their ears.