Updated onJun. 06, 2022

In-The-Ear Hearing Aids Review: Technology, Comfort, And Cost

Studies show that hearing aids don’t just amplify sound—they can also improve the cognition of people with hearing loss. And yet, fewer than three percent of those with hearing loss use hearing aids. The in-ear hearing aid is a small, discreet style that fits completely inside the bowl of the outer ear. Commonly known as in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids, these devices can improve listening for people with mild to severe hearing loss.

Technology has come a long way, and buyers have to consider a lot more than just price and aesthetics when in the market for a hearing aid. Many of today’s ITE hearing aid options offer high-tech features like Bluetooth connectivity, noise cancellation, and tinnitus balancers.

The Five Best In-the-Ear Hearing Aids

Why Trust Our Expert Review?

Our experts independently research and recommend products we believe provide value in the lives of our readers. We’ve spent collectively more than 5,000 hours conducting in-depth research on hearing aids. Throughout this process, we did the following:

  • Engaged in ongoing independent research
  • Consulted with independent audiologists
  • Consulted with geriatric care experts
  • Mystery shopped the brands
  • Surveyed hundreds of hearing aid users
  • Tested various models of hearing aids
  • Interviewed experts in the field
  • Read thousands of verified customer reviews from trusted third parties such as Better Business Bureau and Consumer Reports aids

Pros and Cons of ITE Hearing Aids

Pros
  • ITE hearing aids are more discreet than most behind-the-ear or receiver-in-canal models.

  • Many in-the-ear hearing aids use rechargeable batteries.

  • Bluetooth models can stream to IOS and Android devices for phone use, as well TV audio.

  • Models with water-resistant coating allow hearing aids to be worn during showers or workouts.

  • In-ear style is easy to wear with masks, glasses, hats, and helmets without the items getting caught in hearing aid.

  • For some with dexterity issues, ITEs can be easier to handle than receiver-in-canal or behind-the-ear models.

  • Many brands offer 30- to 60-day trials to ensure comfort and fit.

  • Hearing aids equipped with therapy sounds can balance out or reduce tinnitus sounds.

Cons
  • May pick up more wind noise than in-the-canal devices.

  • Susceptible to earwax clogging.

  • Some small completely-in-canal aids are too small to offer manual controls.

  • Some ITE models use small batteries, which have a shorter battery life.

  • Hearing aids are not covered by Medicare Parts A or B. Some Part C plans and individual providers may offer coverage.

Why we chose the Starkey Picasso:

  • Cost: $1,400-$2,300 per pair (varies with provider)
  • Type of Hearing Loss: Mild to severe
  • Bluetooth Capabilities: Yes
  • Battery: Rechargeable or replaceable battery
  • Telecoil: Yes
  • Warranty/trial period: One-year. 30-day money-back guarantee.
  • Financing: Varies with provider

Starkey has designed numerous customizable features for its Picasso model, giving shoppers the ability to tailor their hearing aid to their lifestyle. First, users can choose the right fit, whether it’s the classic in-the-ear model or the even more discreet in-the-canal style. The shells come in color choices users can match to their skin tone—or they can choose a sleek, stark black.

Picasso users can stream from their IOS or Android device for better listening to TV, music, and phone calls. Starkey’s advanced hearing technology works to deliver both distortion-free sound at higher volumes and clarity with quieter sounds.

See our full Starkey Hearing Aids Review.

Why we chose the Phonak Virto Marvel:

  • Cost: $1,400-$2,250 per aid (varies with provider)
  • Type of Hearing Loss: Mild to severe or mild to profound, depending on model
  • Bluetooth Capabilities: Yes
  • Battery: Rechargeable or replaceable battery
  • Telecoil: Yes
  • Warranty/trial period: One-year. 60-day money-back guarantee.
  • Financing: Varies with provider

Phonak is one of the leading hearing aid brands, having manufactured hearing devices for over 70 years. Years of hearing research come together in the Virto Marvel, one of their most popular models, offered in a variety of sizes and styles. But the Virto B-Titanium is its smallest in-the-ear model to date.

Because the metal used in the Titanium-B model is much stronger than the typical acrylic used in hearing devices, designers were able to minimize bulk without compromising strength. The Virto Marvel Titanium-B is 26 percent smaller than its comparable acrylic aid, making it inconspicuous as well as durable.

See our full Phonak Hearing Aids Review.

Why we chose the Signia Insio Charge&Go AX:

  • Cost: $2,600 or more per pair (varies with provider)
  • Type of Hearing Loss: Mild to severe
  • Bluetooth Capabilities: Yes
  • Battery: Rechargeable
  • Telecoil: Yes
  • Warranty/trial period: One-year. 45-day money-back guarantee.
  • Financing: Varies with provider

Signia hearing aids are known for producing natural sound quality with high-end hearing technology. The Insio Charge&Go AX is the brand’s latest ITE, a rechargeable aid that sits discreetly within the ear. This model comes with a contactless charger that allows your hearing devices to run 24 hours after a single charge. The Insio is equipped with Bluetooth so you can watch TV or listen to videos or phone calls at a comfortable volume, without disturbing those around you.

The app’s easy-to-use interface allows users to control their hearing aid settings. But what makes this app truly unique is the Signia Assistant, a system that remembers preferences and tailors adjustments to the wearer’s changing environment. Further, Signia customers can also use the app to get real-time tech support for their device. Customers can access a chat room with questions about their ITE, or even consult their audiologist through video calls.

See our full Signia Hearing Aid Review.

Why we chose the Widex Moment:

  • Cost: $1,500-$3,000 per device (varies with provider)
  • Type of Hearing Loss: Mild to severe
  • Bluetooth Capabilities: Yes
  • Battery: Rechargeable battery
  • Telecoil: Yes
  • Warranty/trial period: One-year. 45-day money-back guarantee.
  • Financing: Varies with provider

The Widex Moment features Bluetooth technology so that you can stream calls, video, and music directly from your hearing device. The aids connect to IOS and Android systems to simplify communication and entertainment. Outside of audio-streaming capabilities, this hearing aid uses technology to deliver pure, natural sound.

The Moment is sold in three behind-the-ear styles and three in-the-ear styles. Their rechargeable models sustain a full day of battery life after four hours of charging.

See our full Widex Hearing Aid Review.

Why we chose the Resound Key:

  • Cost: $1,249-$1,399 per device (varies with provider)
  • Type of Hearing Loss: Mild to moderate
  • Bluetooth Capabilities: Yes
  • Battery: Rechargeable or replaceable battery
  • Telecoil: Yes
  • Warranty/trial period: One-year. 30-day money back guarantee.
  • Financing: Varies with provider

The Resound Key is a digital hearing aid with lots of accessory options. It’s Resound’s most affordable model, but still features Bluetooth streaming, options for rechargeable batteries, and an app to adjust your hearing aid remotely. Users can order the Key in completely-in-the-canal, in-the-canal, and in-the-ear models, as well as receiver-in-ear and behind-the-ear styles.

Resound products pair with a range of high-tech accessories, like the MultiMic, which helps the user hear in more challenging, noisy sound environments. The TV Streamer 2 allows the wearer to adjust volume controls to their hearing device without affecting the volume for those around them.

See our full ReSound Hearing Aids Review.

How Do ITE Hearing Aids Work?

In-the-ear hearing aids sit in the bowl shape of the outer ear where they collect sounds from the outside world through a tiny microphone. The device then duplicates those sounds as a digital signal. In real time, an amplifier converts the code into sound waves and delivers the sound to your ear through speakers.

What You Need to Know Before Buying an ITE Hearing Aid

Type Of Hearing Loss

Not all in-the-ear hearing aids are made alike. ITE devices can accommodate users with mild, moderate, or severe hearing loss, depending on the brand and levels of technology. Likewise, users should consider whether they need hearing aids in one or both ears, as hearing from both sides delivers more natural sound signals to the brain. Check with a hearing specialist to be sure that your choice supports your particular hearing needs.

Bluetooth Streaming

This isn’t just for the high-tech user. Bluetooth connectivity is a very practical feature for those with hearing loss. Consider the convenience of being able to take a phone call directly from your device. A user can watch TV with family while the perfect volume plays in their ears alone. If you regularly take calls, listen to music, or watch videos, you may opt for Bluetooth technology. Be aware that some devices require an intermediary device, while others stream directly to your aid.

Size

The size of your ITE device doesn’t just speak to physical comfort—it can also impact features like battery life and sound quality. A large, full shell in-ear aid can accommodate larger microphones to discern speech from background noise. The capacity for larger batteries can translate to a longer battery life. The slighter, half shell ITE may have smaller microphones and batteries, but are also less likely to pick up wind noise than their larger counterparts.

How Much Do In-ear Hearing Aids Cost?

Hearing aid costs vary widely based on the brand, technology, and type of service. The distribution model will also influence price; are you buying directly from the company or through a third party? Purchasing a hearing aid is an investment in a complex medical device, and prospective buyers should expect to pay from about $1,000 to $5,000 for a pair.

How Can I Save Money on In-ear Hearing Aids?

Many hearing aid companies offer promotions and special offers. A budget shopper will find cheaper options with a company that sells directly to consumers rather than through a distributor, as pricing through a third-party hearing center can be highly variable and hard to predict.

Alternatively, a discount network like Zip Hearing can offer savings on leading brands of hearing devices, sometimes at 30 percent off the regular pricing.

The biggest savings on hearing aids come from insurance coverage. We recommend inquiring with your insurance company to see if they offer even partial coverage on hearing devices. Unfortunately, Medicare Parts A and B do not cover hearing aids, but there are some Part C (Advantage) plans and private insurance providers that do.

Buying In-ear Hearing Aids In-person Versus Online

While there is a seemingly endless supply of online hearing aid providers meeting every style and budget—online shopping for hearing support isn’t for everyone. For customers with moderate to severe hearing loss, an in-person appointment at a hearing center can help whittle out devices that won’t make the cut. These consultations are also important for accurate hearing screenings and custom fittings, along with follow-up services with an audiologist to help you adjust to life with your new technology.

If you already have a functional hearing aid but are shopping around for something better, you may have the latitude to consider online options. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association advises that it’s important to have a backup hearing aid in case your new hearing aid needs to be sent back. The best customers for online hearing aids are tech-savvy problem solvers who are comfortable setting up their new device without in-person professional support

How to Find the Best Fitting In-ear Hearing Aid

Every patient should start their hearing aid search by consulting their audiologist. Hearing professionals can help narrow the field based on your specific type of hearing loss and lifestyle.

Users will have to choose between two main styles of in-the-ear hearing aids: the full and half shell. A full shell ITE fills most of the bowl-shaped area of your outer ear while the half fits in just the lower part. Both sit flush within the ear, as opposed to the hook-and-tube style of BTE and RIC aids. You may need to head to an in-person hearing center to try multiple sizes and designs before landing on a comfortable match. There’s no sure-fire way to know how a hearing aid will fit other than to test multiple options and find a device that feels tailored to your ear.

Other Important Factors to Consider

Trial

Many hearing aid companies offer a 30- to 60-day money-back trial before you commit to the device. This leeway is especially helpful when it comes to online shopping for hearing aids, where trying before you buy isn’t possible. Risk-free trials allow you to choose a device because it suits you, without worrying about losing your investment.

Cost

A hearing device is a complex piece of equipment that can greatly improve your quality of life. While it makes sense that such advanced technology would be expensive, it shouldn’t be a burden. Compare prices, especially between companies that sell directly to consumers versus those that sell through other providers, where pricing can fluctuate.

Customer Support

Hearing aids are intricate devices that sometimes need repairs, maintenance, and adjustments. Take a look at third-party reviews before going all-in on a brand. How do companies respond when problems arise? Some companies integrate customer support right into the technology, like those who offer customer service and telehealth appointments within the app.

How We Made Our Picks

We determined our top picks based on the following criteria:

  • Price
  • Audiologist care
  • Warranty
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Customer service
  • Features such as Bluetooth capability and rechargeable batteries
  • Comfort and fit
  • Reliability

Bottom Line

In-ear hearing aids—also known as in-the-ear (ITE) devices—are a subtle, cosmetically appealing alternative to the larger behind-the-ear and receiver-in-canal models. This style is small enough to be inconspicuous, but large enough to accommodate technology like directional microphones, telecoils, and tinnitus balancing devices.

If you want the best customer support in the industry, your choice should be the Signia Insio. The app is a mind-reader, and we mean that literally; the Signia Assistant remembers your adjustments in order to tailor your hearing aids’ performance to changing sound situations. Also, you can make adjustments, chat with customer support, or even video chat with a hearing specialist from the Signia app on your phone. For a hardy little ITE aid, go with the Phonak Virto Marvel. The B-Titanium model isn’t just sleek—using titanium allowed Phonak designers to go smaller without compromising integrity. Finally, for those who want an easy, set-and-forget Bluetooth experience, we recommend the Widex Moment, which doesn’t require any extra accessories to connect the device in your ear.

Frequently Asked Questions

There is no one-size-fits-all device. The best in-ear hearing aid depends on your type of hearing loss, which makes certain styles of devices and featured technology essential for some and superfluous for others.

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