Headphones in Schools

We have many sets of headphones, one for every machine infact, that’s over 120 sets of headphones. Every day they cop a lot of abuse, from kids chewing the cables to the fluffy bits on the ears being destroyed.

When you’re looking for headphones to use in a school environment, there’s a lot of things you need to take into consideration, see below to find out what I’ve discovered from my investigations into headphones.

1. Cost

The headphones have to be cheap, you might think “Well, it’s only $15”, but when you’re buying 100 of them, that’s $1500 in just headphones.

2. Style

Ear Buds: We avoided getting any of the Ear Bud style headphones due to hygiene concerns, as they go in the child’s ear, which could cause the spread of ear infections etc.

Plain Basic Headphones: We opted for the Plain Basic headphones, however these weren’t without problems. The fluffy bits over the ears would either fall off or get destroyed and the cables would get chewed and pulled apart.

The cables seemed to get pulled hard enough to yank the wires out from inside the headphones, we also had a few cases a year of the earpiece snapping clean off (and requiring a good tape/glue job to get it back in place). The biggest problem was the 2 wire cable, with the two separate cables stuck together. Kids would pull at these until they split and that would cause them to get tangled up in everything. A little bit of tape wrapped around it every 4-5cm seems to neaten it up, but it’s not an ideal solution. From our School Suppliers, these headphones cost around $10 each.

Big Fancy Headphones: We found a near perfect set of headphones, call the TDK ST-200 Street Headphones, they were strong enough to withstand the children beating on them, they had a thicker, single cable that couldn’t split and would withstand a bit more chewing and were also really cheap (about $15 a pair).

The sound quality was pretty good (I heard a kid say it was the best pair he’d ever heard, but he hasn’t heard a good pair I guess), they also looked nice and blocked out a good amount of outside noise, though it’s debatable as to whether this is a good thing or not. After a long conversation with a teacher about it, we decided that this was a better thing, even though the kids are likely to miss instructions from the teacher, they were also less likely to be distracted by their peers.

One small issue with them is that the cable is quite long, and it feels weird if you wear it with a big head, it fits very snugly on a kids head though.

The TDK-ST150 headphones are still being made, are being sold at the same price and are almost as good (just a little smaller and flimsier).

If you had more money: The headphones I use at home that are more expensive but offer fantastic sound quality (it’s the style that Triple J uses in their studio) are the Sennheiser HD202’s, though they are $54 each. If you’re after something for doing video/sound work in a school, these would be the ones I’d go for (not to fill a whole classroom though (unless of course you’re a crazy rich private school with a money tree in the back yard)).

Things I’ve learned about Headphones working at a School

  1. Kids chew headphone cables. You can tell them not to chew the cable, but 10 seconds later they’ll be doing it again. (If anyone knows of a way to stop them from doing it, perhaps a way to make it taste terrible, then please leave a comment).
  2. Cheapest isn’t always the best. I estimate the TDK headphones will last 2-3 times longer than the cheap basic ones, and only cost an extra $5 a pair.
  3. The headphones with the fluffy bits over the ears suck. The fluffy bits will fall to pieces and/or come off within a couple months of use.
  4. If they give you a 3.5mm to 6.3mm headphone adaptor with them (big oldstyle plug to small headphone plug), keep it, if you know someone who’s a DJ, give them a hand full and they’ll thank you.
  5. Kids will walk away and not realise they’re still on their head. Not a lot you can do about it, but the headphones should have a strong cable that won’t rip out (the cheaper ones won’t be so stuck in and thus break easier).

1 comment

In the college I went to we had multiple computer labs but the school decided not to even bother with headphones, they opted for speakers which you aren’t allowed to use.

What I did notice, when we got new computers during High School, was that kids would just steal whatever was smaller than the monitor. Mice, keyboards and especially headphones would also go missing.

The fluffy covers were the worst though. Once they came off, having your ears against the hard plastic felt horrible so no one ended up using them.

I think schools have to balance cost and longevity. They know that the kids will break, steal and ruin pairs of headphones so they would most likely opt for cheaper pairs. The only problem is these headphones break too easily regardless.

I think the best pair, that isn’t too costly, are the flexible wrap around headphones. They’re about $10 each, can’t break but they do have the fluffy covers.