Everybody uses headphones. They’re easy to use – just put them on and listen right? Using them should be and usually is that simple, but not always. While their use is probably more common than any other piece of audio equipment, there are subtleties behind the design of many features found on headphones and headsets which can help determine what’s “best” for your expected needs. While some features may not be readily apparent, they can have an effect on day-to-day classroom uses, so make sure the most appropriate model is selected for the job at hand. Think of it as choosing the most right tool for the job. You wouldn’t normally choose to use a high-performance race car to go off roading or wear sandals to go hiking in the snow just as you wouldn’t select expensive active noise-canceling headphones for story time in a pre-k listening center.
This series of articles explores some of the knowns and not so well known aspects to help you make a more informed decision about your next set of headphones or headsets. (A headset is simply a headphone with a boom microphone. Or in describing the biggest difference between a headphone and a headset, a headphone is used only for listening while you can listen with a headset, but you can also speak into it.)
- Choosing the Right Headphone; Determining what’s “best” means defining your needs and balancing that with your budget.
- Slotted Earcup Baffles; Adding safety and durability.
- Breaking Down Headphone Specs; Understanding lesser known terms can help the decision making process.
- Headphone & Headset cords; Coiled or straight, thick or thin?
- Headphones & Headset plugs; Why so many choices?
- Is It Stereo or Mono?; Avoiding some common mistakes when connecting a headphone can save you time and money.
- Does Earcup Size Matter? How much external ambient noise is blocked can make a significant difference in student learning and staying on task.
- Ensuring Your Headset Works; Making sure all of the computer connections have been made.
- USB or 3.5mm Headset Plugs; Which to choose?
- Volume Controls on Headphones; On the earcups, in-line, or elsewhere
- Empower Students with In-Line Controls; Offered on USB headsets
If reading this series of articles was useful to you, read another series of articles about Portable PA gear and how to operate them.