Best Behind-the-ear Hearing Aids and Prices

When it comes to the best behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids and prices, there is a myriad of options. That may seem overwhelming at first, but the good news is that no matter the severity of your hearing loss, there are very likely hearing aids available that are very well-suited to your needs. In this article, our goal will be to help you begin your journey toward finding the right ones. Topics we’ll cover include:

  • What are behind-the-ear hearing aids?
  • Cost of behind-the-ear hearing aids
  • Best behind-the-ear hearing aids
  • Behind-the-ear hearing aid brands and models
  • Pros and Cons of behind-the-ear hearing aids

One thing to keep in mind is that the purpose of this article is to serve as an introduction to your process of finding the best behind-the-ear hearing aids at the most affordable prices. It is always wise to consult with an audiologist to ensure that the hearing aids you choose are best suited for your needs. Once you find an audiologist, they can recommend hearing aids that are comfortable and provide excellent voice recognition, and have the features you want, such as Bluetooth connectivity.

What are behind-the-ear hearing aids?

In a nutshell, behind-the-ear hearing aids are devices that amplify and process sound so you can enjoy better voice recognition and a higher quality of life. You have likely seen them or seen somebody wearing them, as behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids are the choice of about 80% of the people who wear hearing aids in the U.S.

Behind-the-ear hearing aids have three main parts – the case behind your ear, a mold that fits inside your ear canal, and a tube that connects them. The parts of a behind-the-ear hearing aid include:

Hearing aid case

The unit that rests behind your ear does the heavy lifting and is known as the hearing aid case. It stays in place by hooking over the top of your ear. This part of your hearing aid has directional microphones that collect sound, both wanted and unwanted. Once the sound enters a BTE hearing aid, electronics filter the unwanted sounds (noise) and amplify the sounds you want (signal). This part of your hearing aid also houses the speaker and a rechargeable or disposable battery.

Tuned by an audiologist, a hearing aid adjusts the incoming sounds to your personal needs. Today’s hearing aids are truly modern marvels and can perform over 400 million operations per second. This means much more of things like your grandchildren’s voices (signals) and much less traffic, wind, and other noise.

Hearing aid tubes

Hearing aid tubes carry the sound from the unit that rests behind your ear to your earmold or amplifier. Tubes are quite simple, but they are crucial to the proper functioning of your hearing aid. Without them, your hearing aid wouldn’t be able to supply you with the sounds and voices that make your life a happy one.

Like most things, tubes require attention from time to time. They can become brittle or even blocked with earwax or other substances. This is generally a slow and gradual process that you probably won’t notice. It is not unlike hearing loss. That’s why it is a good idea to replace your hearing aid tubes regularly, whether they are blocked or not.

Most audiologists recommend replacing your hearing aid tubes every 3-9 months. They will let you know how often you should replace yours when you are fitted for your hearing aid.

Replacing the tubes in your hearing aid is a good routine to get into because it means you receive optimal voice recognition and the best quality sound possible. Many people are shocked at how good their hearing aid sounds after they replace their tubes, as it often sounds as good as it did when it was new.

Hearing aid molds

The part of your hearing that rests in your ear is called the hearing aid mold. When you choose to purchase your hearing aid through an audiologist, they will take precise measurements of your ear. Your information is then used to custom fabricate a mold specifically for your ear. This gives the most comfortable fit and the highest sound quality possible. Having an audiologist make your mold versus buying a hearing aid over the counter is a bit like having a suit tailor-made versus buying one off the rack.

Cost of behind-the-ear hearing aids

The average cost of a hearing aid is around $2,000 per ear, and most people who suffer from hearing loss will need a hearing aid for each ear. Depending on the model and features you choose, a pair of hearing aids can easily cost between $4,000 and $6,000. Prices can vary from audiologist to audiologist, as they generally purchase hearing aids wholesale and then set the retail price. Once your audiologist understands your hearing and financial situation, they can likely share information about hearing aid financing programs that might be right for you.

Overall, hearing aids cost anywhere from $1,500 to $4,900 per ear. Behind-the-ear hearing aids are near the upper end of that spectrum, averaging about $3,200 per ear. Here’s a breakdown by hearing aid type per ear:

  • Behind-the-ear (BTE) $2,700 – $3,250
  • In-the-ear (ITE) about $3,200
  • Receiver-in-canal (RIC) $2,500
  • In-the-canal (ITC) $2,500 – $4,900
  • Completely-in-canal (CIC) $1,500 – $4,000
  • Invisible-in-canal (IIC) $1,500 – $3,100

Best behind-the-ear hearing aids

The best behind-the-ear hearing aids are a very subjective topic. The best hearing aid for you is the one that offers the best sound quality, features, and speech recognition. More importantly, though, the best hearing aids for you are the ones you will wear! After all, you can easily spend $6,000 for a pair of behind-the-ear hearing aids.

Rechargeable hearing aids are popular, but if you don’t mind changing batteries regularly, rechargeable hearing aids aren’t the best for you. Likewise, if features such as Bluetooth connectivity and wellness monitoring are must-haves, then the model with those features will be best for you. Also, some hearing aids are the most discreet, the best for tinnitus, and so on. It is always best to check with an audiologist. They can help determine your hearing aid needs and recommend the best hearing aids for you.

Behind-the-ear hearing aid brands and models

The hearing aid market is control by a half dozen manufacturers that are collectively known as “The Big Six”. They have a combined market share of 98%, so the chances of your hearing aid being from one of them is extremely high. Each of them has their pros and cons, so it is best to check with an audiologist to make sure you find the hearing aid that is right for you. The Big Six with their brands and market share include:

  • Sonova(brands: Phonak), market share 24%
    Phonak has several models of behind the ear hearing aids designed for mild to severe hearing loss. Most have cutting edge features such as Bluetooth connectivity. The Phonak Audéo™ Fit can even track your health habits and monitory your heart rate. For more in-depth information about Phonak hearing aids see our Phonak Hearing Aids article.
  • William Demant(Oticon, Bernafon) 23%
    Oticon’s More hearing aids have won CES Innovation Awards in 2021 and 2022. They have Deep Neural Network (DNN) that can recognize 12 million real-life sounds to give a more natural sound and better speech recognition.bernafon offers five different versions of their Viron hearing aid with varying levels of sound quality, speech recognition, comfort, features, and individualization. They all offer good to excellent ability to focus on speech recognition in different situations and can be configured to meet your personal hearing needs.
  • Sivantos (Signia): 17%
    Signia hearing aids offer Bluetooth streaming, the ability to charge on-the-go, automatic situation detection, and a built-in AI digital assistant. As a rechargeable hearing aid, they offer up to 61 hours of operation on a single charge. Signia hearing aids can also be adjusted via your smartphone and are available in about 10 colors.
  • GN Store Nord (ReSound): 16%
    ReSound’s fully digital hearing aids incorporate microphones that cover 360° of the environment you are in for a natural sound. They also cancel out annoying noise such as whistling and wind noise. You can stream your phone and TV with ReSound’s behind the ear hearing aids.
  • Starkey Technologies (Starkey) 9%
    Starkey offers Evolve AI and livio models of behind the ear hearing aids. Their Evolve AI models feature benefits such as health monitoring, wellness trackers, and fall alerts. They can also recognize when voices are those of a person wearing a mask and adjust the sound for better speech recognition. Their TeleHear feature also allows an audiologist to make adjusts to your hearing aid remotely when required.
  • Widex (Widex) 9%
    Widex behind-the-ear hearing aids are designed for mild to moderately severe hearing loss. They offer streaming, discrete recharging, and enhanced water-resistance engineering. Their ZeroDelay sound processing is virtually immediate and are known for excellent spatial awareness.

Pros and Cons of behind-the-ear hearing aids

Most people who wear hearing aids choose behind-the-ear models because they have many pros and few cons. One of their main selling points is that they need fewer repairs than other types of hearing aids. They also offer a wide range of features such as wellness monitoring, fall detection, and Bluetooth streaming. Here are some of their pros and cons:

Pros of behind-the-ear hearing aids

  • They are resistant to damage and need fewer repairs
    Since components such as microphones, electronics, and amplifiers reside in the case that sits behind your ear, behind-the-ear hearing aids are sturdier than other types of hearing aids. That also makes them better able to resist moisture and wax. As a result, they are less susceptible to damage. Maintaining behind-the-ear hearing aids is relatively easy, and the tubes can be cleaned with little effort or replaced.
  • They are suitable for people with severe hearing loss
    Behind-the-ear hearing aids also offer the most sound amplification of any style of hearing aids, so they are particularly well suited for people with severe hearing loss, especially at the upper end of the audio spectrum.
  • They offer the most features
    The very nature of behind-the-ear headphones allows them to offer more benefits than other types of hearing aids. That’s because there is room in the case that rests behind your ear to contain more electronics and chips.
  • They offer both battery and rechargeable options
  • Buttons allow quick adjustments and functionality
    Behind-the-ear hearing aids typically have buttons on their case, which can adjust volume, turn Bluetooth streaming on or off, answer your phone, or play, pause, and stop your music.

Cons of behind-the-ear hearing aids

  • Their behind-the-ear case makes them less discreet than other types of hearing aids. However, their larger size can be a pro, allowing for easier handling for people who have seen their manual dexterity
  • They are more expensive than most other types of hearing aids. However, since they need fewer repairs and are available in rechargeable options, the total cost of ownership may actually be lower. Again, check with an audiologist for a more definitive answer.

FAQs

What are behind-the-ear hearing aids?

Behind-the-ear hearing aids are devices that allow you to enjoy better speech recognition and hear sounds more clearly. They are comprised of a case that rests behind your ear and contains the electronics, a mold that rests in your ear, and a tube that connects them.

Behind-the-ear hearing aids offer an enormous variety of features such as Bluetooth connectivity, wellness tracking, and fall detection. They are worn by 80% of those who wear hearing aids. 

How much are behind-the-ear hearing aids?

The price of behind-the-ear hearing aids varies widely depending on the make, model, features, and which audiologist you choose. They typically cost $2,700 – $3,250 per ear. 

What are the best behind-the-ear hearing aids?

The best behind-the-ear hearing aids are the ones that offer you the best speech recognition, you find comfortable, and ones that you will wear. Finding the right hearing aids is a big investment of time and money, so be sure to involve an audiologist when choosing your behind-the-ear hearing aids.

Are there many behind-the-ear hearing aid brands and models?

The hearing aid market is dominated by “The Big Six” companies who control 98% of the global market. Some of their brands are Phonak, Oticon, Bernafon, Signia, ReSound, Starkey, and Widex. Each model has several sub-models, with features and prices varying accordingly. Your audiologist can help you determine which brand and model is right for your hearing needs.

What are the Pros and Cons of behind-the-ear hearing aids?

Since behind-the-ear hearing aids have most of their electronics encased in their case, they are less prone to damage and need fewer repairs. This can save you money and time, and mean fewer interruptions to your improved hearing and speech recognition.

They are available in rechargeable and battery-powered configurations, offer the most features and are suitable for people with severe hearing loss. They are also easily adjustable via buttons on their case or via an app.

As far as cons go, the very nature of behind-the-ear hearing aids means that they are less discreet than other types of hearing aids. However, some people find their size to be a pro, as it allows people with reduced use of their hands to adjust and clean them. Behind-the-ear hearing aids are also at the higher end of the price spectrum for hearing aids in general.