Receiver In Canal (RIC) Hearing Aids Explained

November 1, 2022
Amy Sarow | Doctor of Audiology
Written by
Amy Sarow | Doctor of Audiology
Soundly Staff
Reviewed by
Soundly Staff
Parts of a RIC hearing aid

Receiver-in-the-Canal hearing aids (often called RIC) are hearing aids worn behind the ear with a speaker (the "receiver") that sits inside the ear canal.

RIC hearing aids are one of the most popular styles due to their wide fitting range and other popular features like Bluetooth streaming and rechargeable batteries. 

In this post, we will discuss who can benefit from RIC hearing aids, the different parts of a RIC hearing aid, how to care for them, and the pros and cons of this hearing aid.

Who Can Wear a RIC Hearing Aid? 

There is a lot of flexibility with this style of hearing aid, with options for mild to severe hearing loss. For those with high-frequency sensorineural hearing loss, using a RIC with a vent or more open earpiece can help maintain normal low-frequency hearing while providing enough volume for other frequencies with more hearing loss. A RIC with an earmold will be the best option for moderate to severe hearing loss. Read more about earmolds here.

A RIC hearing aid is also an option for those with unilateral or asymmetric hearing loss. A CROS hearing aid system typically works with a RIC hearing aid on one ear and a microphone (CROS) worn on the other ear.

People that want a truly invisible device might try a custom-molded, in-the-ear product, and those who need more sound amplification for severe hearing loss might try a BTE.  

For most people, though, RIC hearing aids strike the right balance between comfort, aesthetics, and features. 

How Receiver-In-Canal Hearing Aids Work 

There are several main parts to a RIC hearing aid:

- The body that houses the computer processor and the microphones
- The receiver (or speaker)
- The dome or earmold,
- The battery

Each part has its role in delivering the right volume to your ear. Let's take a closer look!

The RIC hearing aid body.

The body of the hearing aid houses the "brain" of the hearing aid - the computer chip and processing. Think of it like the control room. 

The microphones on the hearing aid are located at the top of the body of the hearing aid. While wearing the hearing aid, these microphones are situated at the top ear. Why are the microphones important? 

This part of the hearing aid picks up sounds, such as speech, in the environment. Captured sounds get converted to an electrical signal, and through an amplifier, the proper level of sound is delivered finally delivered to the ear. The whole process takes a few milliseconds. 

The hearing aid receiver (or speaker).

The "receiver" (another word for speaker) is the part of the hearing aid that sends the amplified sound to the ear. A receiver wire links the body of the hearing aid to the speaker attached to the dome, which sits at the opening of the ear canal. 

A dome or earmold is attached to the speaker at the end of the hearing aid wire to keep it comfortably well-placed in the ear.

When it comes to domes and earmolds, there are a range of styles that can work depending on the ear canal geometry and severity of the hearing loss. 

RIC hearing aid batteries.

The battery in a RIC hearing aid will be either a disposable or a rechargeable. 

Disposable batteries for RIC hearing aids are size 13 or 312, with 312 being the most common. 

A 312 battery will usually last between 5 to 7 days, but it can depend on the degree of hearing loss, hours of wear time, and amount of Bluetooth streaming per day. Rechargeable batteries have become very popular in RIC hearing aids in recent years. 

Rather than changing batteries, you'll place them in the charger each night. 

Add a retention wire or canal lock to prevent movement. 

Your earmold or dome tip should fit properly in the ear so that it is not moving around or sliding out. 

However, chewing or moving your jaw can cause your receiver wire to move out of the ear canal. 

Fortunately, there are some great solutions for this!

  1. Consider a retention wire with a dome tip. This little piece, sometimes called a sport lock, works like a kickstand on a bicycle. It provides extra tension to hold the dome tip in the ear.  
  2. If you have a custom earmold you can request that your audiologist remake the piece with a canal lock. A canal lock works like a retention wire to provide additional support and prevent movement. 

Caring for Your RIC Hearing Aid

It is important to clean your RIC hearing aid regularly to prevent a build-up of wax and debris. 

Here are some simple tips to properly clean your hearing aid: 

  1.  Replace the wax guard regularly. On average, once per month is recommended. Timing can also depend on your ear and how much wax you produce. If the sound seems muffled, go ahead and replace the wax guard. 
  2. When removing the hearing aid at night, wipe the earpiece off with a tissue or non-alcohol-based wipe. (Alcohol can be abrasive for the pieces and parts of the hearing aid.)
  3. Use a brush to remove any debris from the microphone ports. 
  4. Consider using a dehumidifier, especially for humid climates or those who tend to sweat. Moving from indoors to outdoors throughout the day can also cause moisture build-up. Unfortunately, moisture and electronics don't mix well and can lead to corrosion in the battery compartment of the hearing aid or intermittent sound from the hearing aid. A hearing aid dryer, such as a Zephyr, will help keep moisture build-up in check. 

Another option: take those desiccant bead packets (from buying a new purse or shoes, for example) and place them in your hearing aid charger. 

Pros and Cons of RIC Hearing Aids

RIC hearing aids have many advantages. They are comfortable and discreet and offer options for a wide range of hearing loss. They also provide good sound quality and are easy to use. 

However, there are some factors that are important to consider with RIC hearing aids as well.

RIC Hearing Aid Pros:

Latest technology is almost always first introduced as a RIC

The majority of hearing aid users wear a RIC. For this reason, the newest technology tends to come out as a RIC first. If you're interested in hearing aids, consider a RIC, especially if you're interested in the latest technology. 

Both rechargeable and disposable battery options

These hearing aids offer something for everyone. While rechargeable options are the most popular, there are also disposable battery options available. 

Excellent sound quality 

This style of hearing aid has the receiver directly in the ear, funneling sound right to the ear. Modern feedback control has also advanced in recent years with this technology. What does that mean? Far fewer concerns with whistling or squealing sounds in the ear.

RIC Hearing Aid Cons:

Not the most dexterity-friendly option.

Dexterity concerns can pose a problem grasping both the piece that sits behind the ear and guiding the earpiece into the ear canal. Other options, such as an ITE, may be easier to pick up and manipulate.

Not suitable for those with more severe hearing losses.

Individuals with severe or profound hearing loss will do best with a BTE to provide more amplification.

Receiver directly in the ear.

Proper care and maintenance are necessary to keep the receiver from being plugged up and not functioning correctly. Do you produce a lot of earwax or have drainage from the ear? There may be better options than a RIC due to the possibility of blockage or damage to the speaker in the ear. 

6 of our favorite receiver-in-canal hearing aids available right now. 👇

Jabra Enhance Select Hearing Aids
Jabra Enhance Select
Best Overall Value

Jabra Enhance Select

Jabra Enhance Select

$1,190 - $1,995
Affordable
Affordable
Behind the Ear
Behind the Ear
Bluetooth
Bluetooth
Rechargeable
Rechargeable
PROFESSIONAL FITTING
PROFESSIONAL FITTING

Jabra Enhance Select hearing aids are built by the world's 4th largest hearing aid manufacturer (ReSound). Jabra Enhance (originally called Lively) made a name for itself by recreating the full-service audiology service online.

Instead of requiring you to come into their office, Jabra reduces the cost by programming remotely and shipping to your home.

All Jabra products come with a 100-day return policy and 3 years of unlimited remote care. You can find the same product for sale at a local clinic for around $4,500.

Overall notes: If you have mild to moderate hearing loss, are on a budget, and want a hearing professional to program your hearing aids to match your hearing loss, this is one of the most compelling products on the market.

Price: $1,195 for a pair of battery-powered - $1,595 for a pair of rechargeable, $1,995 for enhanced sound quality

Features: Rechargeable, Bluetooth (not hands-free), Behind The Ear Style

What audiologists say: “Their audiologists can personalize and program Jabra hearing aids in real-time; highlighting the benefits of telehealth and competent professionals.” - Garrett Thompson, AuD

Pros

One of the most affordable and convenient ways to purchase online while maintaining professional care

Comes with a 100 day free-return period

Offers rechargeable batteries and Bluetooth streaming

Cons

Remote care requires users to be somewhat tech savvy

Jabra only offers styles that sit behind the ear

Compare Jabra Enhance Products or Take a Free Hearing Test
Get Started
Woman wearing ReSound OMNIA hearing aids
ReSound OMNIA
Best For Focus in Background Noise

ReSound OMNIA

ReSound OMNIA

4,598
Behind the Ear
Behind the Ear
Bluetooth
Bluetooth
PROFESSIONAL FITTING
PROFESSIONAL FITTING
Rechargeable
Rechargeable

ReSound unveiled the OMNIA in August 2022 with a clear focus on improving listening in the most challenging background situations. OMNIA replaces the popular ReSound ONE launched in 2020.

The OMNIA looks identical to the previous generation of products but comes with a few notable improvements. The first is a more powerful Ultra Focus mode. Users can switch their hearing aids into Ultra Focus to listen directly to the person in front of them at a restaurant or meeting. Previous ReSound products had this feature, but OMNIA supercharges its capabilities with a 150% improvement in speech clarity in the loudest environments.

OMNIA also adds new algorithms to reduce the volume of your own voice inside your hearing aids. Many new users find their voice distracting, and this feature should help them transition more smoothly.

Overall notes: ReSound OMNIA is an all around excellent product with an innovative approach to microphones, dining situations and design. If you can swing the price, it doesn't get much better.

Price: Starting at $3,198 for a pair through Zip Hearing (walk-in prices $5K-$8K)

Features: Rechargeable, Bluetooth streaming, behind the ear style

What audiologists say: “ReSound has been a leader in innovation for many years, and they've done it again." Jen Anfinson, AuD

Pros

Innovative M&RIE microphone

Bluetooth streaming from Android and Apple devices

Offered with both rechargeable and disposable batteries

Cons

Ultra Focus requires a change using your app

ReSound OMNIA hearing aids start at $3,198 and can cost as much as $7,000 with walk in care

Not available online. ReSound hearing aids require a visit to an in person audiologist

Access pre-negotiated pricing from Zip Hearing and save 25%-40%
Find a Professional
Signia Charge&Go
Smallest Size and Longest Battery Life

Signia Charge&Go

Signia Charge&Go

$4,598
Behind the Ear
Behind the Ear
Bluetooth
Bluetooth
PROFESSIONAL FITTING
PROFESSIONAL FITTING
Rechargeable
Rechargeable

Signia Pure Charge&Go AX hearing aids are the smallest behind-the-ear devices on the market in 2022 and amazingly hold the longest-lasting battery at nearly 40 hours per charge. Signia is known for limiting background noise by using motion detection to gather information about your surroundings as you move from one space to the next. The hearing aids automatically sense when you start walking or sit down and make intelligent decisions about where to focus.

Overall notes: Signia Charge&Go AX is a hearing aid for someone on the go. It's the smallest, has the most extended battery life, and offers best-in-class motion-based adjustments.

Price: Starting at $2,798 per pair through Zip Hearing (walk-in pricing is typically between $5K-$8K)

Features: Rechargeable, Bluetooth, Behind The Ear Style

What audiologists say: “The AX offers hands-free streaming (for iOS) and connectivity with their app. It is a solid device with impressive specs and design." - Garrett Thompson, AuD

Pros

Smallest body size on the market

Longest lasting battery with 40 hours per charge

Fully customizable with premium sound processing

Cons

Only sold through local clinics at $3,198 - $7,000 a pair

Requires a separate accessory to allow remote programming

Access pre-negotiated pricing from Zip Hearing and save 25%-40%
Find a Professional
Phonak Audeo Lumity
Best Bluetooth Connection

Phonak Audeo Lumity

Phonak Audeo Lumity

$4,598
Behind the Ear
Behind the Ear
PROFESSIONAL FITTING
PROFESSIONAL FITTING
Bluetooth
Bluetooth
Rechargeable
Rechargeable

Audeo Lumity is the brand new offering from the world’s most popular hearing aid brand. The device is made by the world's #1 manufacturer Sonova and is widely seen as the most connected Bluetooth hearing aid on the market.

The new Lumity operating system offers several improvements from the older Phonak Paradise hearing aid most notably, an enhanced ability to hear in background noise. 

Phonak hearing aids offer all of the modern features you might expect including the most stable Bluetooth streaming connection in the industry, rechargeable batteries (or disposable for those who prefer them) and a waterproof option.

The devices have lots of intelligent listening tech onboard, including a motion sensor that focuses your field of sound when you are sitting and opens it back up when you are walking around. 

Pros

Top of the line customization, Bluetooth connection and rechargeable batteries

Enhanced background noise reduction

Waterproof option available for active lifestyles

Cons

Audeo Lumity is a premium product with an average price of $3,198 - $7,000 per pair

Phonak manages sound quality in a way that can lead to a "closed off" feeling compared to Oticon or ReSound's more open sound quality

Access pre-negotiated pricing from Zip Hearing and save 25%-40%
Find a Professional
Woman wearing ReSound OMNIA hearing aids
Oticon More
Best for Natural Sound

Oticon More

Oticon More

4,598
Behind the Ear
Behind the Ear
Bluetooth
Bluetooth
PROFESSIONAL FITTING
PROFESSIONAL FITTING
Rechargeable
Rechargeable

Oticon More was released in January 2021 and has since become one of the most popular hearing aids in the world. This hearing aid is rechargeable offers hands-free calling via iPhone and audio streaming via Android.

What makes the Oticon special is the way the hearing aids handle sound. While most hearing aids suppress background noises and prioritize only voice, Oticon More gives the brain a more natural, full sound landscape.

Oticon used a 360 spherical microphone to capture sounds from 12 million real-life situations to achieve this new approach. They used that sound to train the computer inside their hearing aids.

Overall notes: Oticon More is an undisputed leader among top-tier hearing aids. If you are attracted to the idea of hearing more of the sounds around you vs. solely focusing on voices, this product is a great choice.

Price: Starting at $3,198 through Zip Hearing (walk-in prices $5K-$8K)

Features: Rechargeable, Bluetooth (not hands-free), Behind The Ear Style

What audiologists say: “Oticon More is among the best. If you are looking for all-around, top-of-the-line technology, this is an excellent choice.” - Ramsay Poindexter, AuD


Pros

Open sound quality that many users prefer

Bluetooth streaming from Android and Apple devices

Offered with both rechargeable and disposable batteries

Cons

Oticon More hearing aids start at $3,198 and can cost as much as $7,000 with walk in care

Oticon More hearing aids require a visit to an in person audiologist and are not sold online

Access pre-negotiated pricing from Zip Hearing and save 25%-40%
Find a Professional
Lexie B1 Powered By Bose
Best Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids

Lexie B1 Powered By Bose

Lexie B1 Powered By Bose

$899
Affordable
Affordable
Behind the Ear
Behind the Ear
Self-Tuned
Self-Tuned

After years (or decades) of customer requests, Bose finally released a hearing aid. The iconic brand has a proven track record for quality audio products, and these Bose hearing aids are no exception.

This product sells for just $899 per pair (compared to the national average of $4,500).

To achieve this lower price, Bose did two things: 

  1. Bose created a clinically-proven method for hearing aid wearers to program their own devices using a smartphone app. The process cuts out the middle man and saves (quite literally) thousands. 
  2. Bose formed a partnership with Lexie Hearing. Lexie backs up the Bose name with unlimited, lifetime hearing-specialist support. 

If you are looking for an affordable hearing aid with a proven brand track record and quality care, Lexie B1 Powered By Bose is among the best. 

Overall notes: If you have mild to moderate hearing loss, are comfortable with smartphone tech, and are on a budget, Lexie is one of the most compelling products on the market.

Price: $899 per pair with 45-day risk-free returns

Features: Self-fit, simple to get started, affordable

What audiologists say: “It you're not interested in streaming phone calls and don't mind changing hearing aid batteries, Bose is a budget-friendly option with easy to use app and customer support.” - Jen Anfinson, AuD, AuD

Pros

Affordable

Self-tuned

Discreet and modern appearance

Cons

No Bluetooth streaming

Disposable batteries

Less background noise suppression

Check for the latest Lexie holiday prices here
Get Started

Conclusion:

RIC hearing aids are popular for many people with mild to severe hearing loss. They come in a range of styles from a wide selection of brands.

If you are looking for the latest technology and all available features, you'll want to consider RIC hearing aids first. 

If you are set on invisible hearing aids or need more power through a BTE, you might enjoy our guides on those options. 

–The Soundly team