Headphones are essential audio components that allow private playback of speech or music at personally comfortable volume levels.
In the classroom, headphones attach to media players or listening centers so students can interact with audio programs at their own pace without disturbing others.
While ordinary consumer headphones are ideal for playing tunes during a quick jog or a long bus ride, they may not stand up to bending, poking, chewing, or other abuse from young students.
Classroom headphones offer a wide range of features to adapt to the varying (and sometimes harsh) realities of student use. This makes them an indispensable tool in today’s classroom AV arsenal.
In schools with varying media players and computers, students of all ages and abilities, and a wide range of interactive applications, choosing the right features is critical.
Here are 6 questions to help you find the ideal headphones for your classroom!
1. Will these headphones stand up to rugged classroom use?
The number one feature that distinguishes classroom headphones from their consumer counterparts is their added durability.
Any teacher knows the punishment that students — especially young children — can dish out to classroom AV equipment. Consumer headphones simply aren’t built to withstand everyday classroom use.
Classroom headphones include custom features to increase durability such as baffled grills to protect delicate speaker drivers from probing fingers and pencils, and thick coiled cords to resist stretching or chewing.
Check to see if the headphone cords are replaceable. This is a key feature to insure long life for your headphones, as cords are frequently the first component to break down.
2. Are these headphones compatible with mono or stereo equipment?
Classroom headphones generally offer either mono or stereo sound, although some models switch between both modes. It’s important to make sure that you’re using mono compatible headphones with mono players (or jackboxes), and stereo with stereo.
Mono classroom headphones work well with older media players such as cassette tape players. Mono headphones split a single audio track between both speakers so that the sound from each speaker is exactly the same.
Stereo classroom headphones improve the sound of music and allow reproduction of lessons with different instructions that come from different speakers, such as in language learning applications.
When picking mono or stereo headphones, you should also check the size of the headphones’ input plugs.
Media players have built-in jacks that accept either 1/4 inch or 1/8 inch (3.5mm) plugs, so be sure you have the right plug for your player, or an adapter to convert it to a compatible size.
3. Do my students need individual volume controls?
Headphones with built-in volume controls allow each student to set a comfortable volume level. Since students have differing needs as to how much volume is too much (or not enough), this can be a handy feature.
If your media player or jackbox already has volume controls, you may be able to save money by purchasing cost-effective classroom headphones without volume controls.
Headphones with individual volume controls include them in either the earcups of the headphones or on the headphone cord.
To promote hearing health, most manufacturers of classroom headphones also limit the volume output of the speakers, even when kids turn the volume all the way up.
4. Will students need a microphone for interactive lessons?
Choose a classroom headset with a built-in or attachable microphone if you will use them for interactive applications such as language teaching or speech therapy lessons.
A headset with a built-in mic allows students to give spoken responses. It features earcups that can cover one or both ears.
Headsets attach to computers or interactive card readers to allow students to record their responses to audio prompts, or to communicate in real time with other computer users.
Before you purchase a headset for your computer or card reader, make sure your computer or player has the correct microphone input or USB slot.
If you’re using a headset with a computer, also make sure that it’s compatible with your computer and operating system.
5. Do these headphones promote proper hygiene?
Your headphones are likely to be used by many different students throughout the school day. With this in mind, it’s important to ensure that your headphones remain sanitary.
Classroom headphones feature replaceable and washable earcup cushions that are easy to clean with alcohol or soap and water. Many headphones also include individual sanitary bags to reduce the spread of lice or other vermin.
6. Does the warranty cover classroom use?
Many manufacturers of consumer-grade headphones offer product warranties.
But these warranties usually cover general use. Classroom or library use may void manufacturer warranties.
Classroom headphone manufacturers provide warranties to cover classroom use. Make sure to read the fine print of any warranty before you buy equipment for your classroom.
Need Help Choosing Classroom Headphones?
The above 6 questions will help you choose the ideal headphones for your media player or classroom listening center.
In today’s world of evolving formats and interactive technology, you may need help choosing classroom headphones that are compatible with your needs and your school’s budget.
If you need assistance choosing the ideal headphones for your classroom, email our trained staff or call 1-800-263-0112 for live customer support!