The Pros And Cons Of Behind-The-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids


Source: Phonak

Have you been diagnosed with hearing loss and are now looking for solutions to improve your communication ability? If you’re new to the world of hearing aids, you’ll likely – sooner or later, come across the acronym BTE, standing for hearing devices that sit comfortably behind the ear. 

But what makes BTE hearing aids so unique? You may think that they’re not the most discreet version of a modern hearing device, but many factors speak for BTE style devices. 

What are BTE Hearing Aids? 

The body of BTE hearing aids, as the name promises, sit behind the ear. 

BTE hearing aids

Source: Phonak

Like a small hook, BTE hearing aids rest just behind the outer ear. This prevents the hearing aids from shifting and moving as you go about your day.

A tube connects the outer part of the device to a custom earpiece with a soft tip. The tube sends sounds down to the earpiece and from there to the ear canal. 

Traditionally, BTEs were quite large. But with technological advancements made in the hearing aid industry over the past decade, they too have become smaller in size and a lot more discreet. 

Still, since they’re worn outside the body (as opposed to entirely in the ear canal), BTEs can usually contain a larger battery. Consequently, they may be worn for more extended periods without needing to be recharged. 

Nowadays, most BTEs also come with rechargeable batteries.  

Because they can be larger, BTE models may also house more electronic components, allowing hearing aid manufacturers to add additional features and cater to a broader range of hearing loss types. 

BTEs are one of the most comfortable hearing aids and are quite easy for both caretakers and hearing aid users to manoeuvre.

Did you know? Eligible Australian pensioners and veterans can access a wide range of fully and partially funded BTE hearing aids via the Hearing Services Program (HSP)

EarDeals is a recognised HSP provider and can assist you with fully subsidised hearing devices from various brands. Click here to apply.

BTE Hearing Aid Must-Have Features in 2021

What else is there to know about modern BTE hearing aids? 

  • Rechargeability

For many hearing aid users, convenience is a must. Hearing well in any situation is extremely important, and rechargeable batteries ensure you’re prepared for anything life throws at you. 

Rechargeable BTEs often use built-in lithium-ion battery technology and come with a charging case that serves as a drying kit and protective unit. 

The Phonak charger case for BTEs or Signia’s Motion X is the perfect example. Signia’s UV Dry&Clean hearing aid charger (see image below) also dries and cleans earpieces with UV light.

Signia UV dry and cleanSignia’s UV Dry&Clean BTE hearing aid charger Source: Signia 

  • Bluetooth

At first glance, you might not see the appeal of Bluetooth connectivity in hearing aids. But you’re likely to become a fan the first time you stream music straight from your phone or TV to your hearing aids.

Recent BTE hearing aid models can do just that: They seamlessly connect with your iOS and Android devices (and more).

  • Telecoil 

We’ve already mentioned that BTEs are often jam-packed with technology that aims to make your life easier. A telecoil, also called telephone switch, T-switch, and T-coil, is one of those technologies, albeit not a brand-new one. 

If you check Australian Hearing Services’ online page, you’ll learn that telecoil is an often underused hearing aid feature designed to pick up magnetic signals. 

Why would that be useful? 

Telecoil usually works together with hearing loops, systems designed to transmit announcements in public spaces. This ensures you’re never missing anything important, no matter how noisy your environment is. 

Telecoil and hearing loops are often used in theatres, cinemas, conference halls, train stations, and airports. 

Whilst it’s up to you whether or not you take advantage of this feature, it’s undoubtedly helpful to have! 

BTE hearing aids advantages

BTE Hearing Aids: The Advantages

So let’s cut to the chase! Here’s a summary of the most important benefits of BTE hearing aids. 

  • BTE hearing aids are incredibly versatile.

BTE hearing aids are clearly the most versatile of hearing aids. Suitable for many types of hearing loss, from mild to moderate to severe, they’re an excellent fit for anyone looking to embark on a journey to better hearing. 

  • BTEs are super comfortable to wear.

Not only are they great for many hearing losses, but BTE hearing aids are also extremely comfortable to wear.

If you’ve tested different hearing aids or even AirPods, you know just how uncomfortable or odd it can feel to have your ear canals plugged. Add to that constant worrying about the earmolds falling out in the middle of a conversation. 

Since BTEs sit just behind your ear, you’ll never have to worry about any of that. 

  • BTE hearing aids are easy to maintain. 

Since BTEs don’t come into direct contact with your ear canal, many wearers find them easier to use and clean than in-the-ear devices. 

If you prefer a hearing aid that’s simple to maintain and can be inserted and removed quickly, BTE hearing aids are your best bet. 

  • BTEs have long battery life.

Bigger bodies mean bigger batteries – as we’ve just learned. Since BTE hearing aids are larger than most other devices on the market, they can fit batteries with longer lives, so you won’t have to recharge or change batteries all that often.

  • BTE hearing aids generally cost less. 

Besides all that, BTE hearing aids are still the most affordable, budget-friendly option on the hearing aid market. Different devices, technology levels and manufacturers, of course, still come with different price tags. 

  • BTEs usually involve minimal feedback.

Feedback, a ringing noise that occurs when the receiver and microphone are placed too close together, is a known issue for many hearing aid wearers. 

The good news: It’s much less of an issue with BTE devices. Thanks to their design, internal components are far enough, making feedback less likely. 

BTE Hearing Aids: The Downsides 

  • BTEs may offer a reduced sound quality.

Compared to other hearing aids, BTE hearing aids may not offer the highest levels of sound quality. But we do expect this to change as new models are released over the next few years. 

  • BTEs are less discreet than in-the-ear hearing aids. 

If you’re concerned about people noticing your hearing aids, BTEs might not be the obvious choice –  since they sit directly outside the ear.

Hearing aid manufacturers are aware of the issue and work hard to cater to users looking for greater discreteness without compromising the listening experience.  

Current devices do come in a range of colours to match your skin tone and hair colour perfectly. 

  • BTE users may experience wind noise.

BTE devices tend to experience more trouble with wind noises in open spaces since their hearing aids are directly exposed to the elements.  

It is, of course, up to you to weigh up the pros and cons of BTE hearing aids. If you are unsure whether they’re a good fit for you or would like to test a pair of BTEs, get in touch with EarDeals hearing aid brokers

Our friendly team, many of which are hearing aid wearers themselves, will be more than happy to help you on your journey to more excellent hearing health. 

Give us a call at 1300 010 064 or visit our website to learn more! 


Previous article

What Does an Audiologist Do?

Next article

What is Workplace Hearing Loss?