This is the most common type of hearing aid. The portion of the hearing aid that sits on top of the ear contains the microphones, wireless technology and processing chip. The receiver (speaker) sits in the ear with either a flexible non-custom tip or a custom acrylic tip. The hearing aid can be customized and programmed to many different hearing losses ranging from mild to moderately severe. The tips that go into the ear are not custom (although they can be) and can easily be interchanged with various tip styles depending on the size of the ear canal and severity of loss. The tips that go into the ear are called domes. These flexible domes fit most ears and can be switched out if they are damaged at no cost to the patient. The domes fit onto the receiver, or speaker, which then goes directly into the ear. If a receiver gets damaged, if the wire breaks, or gets wax damage, the receiver can be replaced in office without having to send it out for repair. This is often a desirable option for most people, since hearing aids with all components contained within the hearing aid as one unit will need to be sent out back to the manufacturer for repair to replace the receiver.
The microphones of the hearing aid sit on top of the ear and there are usually 2 microphones on each hearing aid. The hearing aid analyzes the sounds coming into the microphones and in wireless hearing aids they communicate with each other to determine the direction of sound. When the hearing aid knows what direction the sound came from, it can decide which sounds are coming from the front vs the back. This helps to reduce background noise and amplify the sounds coming from the front. The further the distance between the microphones, the better the directionality. Often we find that a RIC hearing aid with two microphones and wireless communication with its pair can manage background noise better than a tiny custom hearing aid with one microphone and no wireless communication with the other aid.