How to choose a portable sound system

The right sound system can critically affect student performance in your classroom.

Classroom sound systems include any sound reinforcement system that amplifies a teacher’s voice to reach every corner of the classroom, overcoming background noise and improving student concentration.

A portable classroom sound system offers an affordable solution for teachers looking for a simple-to-use system that’s easy to take from one location to another.

But before you choose a portable sound system for your classroom, ask yourself these 6 questions:

1. How portable should your classroom sound system be?

If you want to use your sound system in different classrooms around the school, but don’t need a lot of power, consider a mini PA system.

These highly portable PAs are ideal for teachers who want a personal sound system they can take from class to class.

However, this solution is only practical for smaller rooms. Larger halls and rooms will require more power and therefore a larger sound system.

If this is your preference, look for a portable PA system designed to cover rooms of 100 students or more. These systems should not only be easy to move, but also easy to assemble and repack.

For the ultimate in portability, consider purchasing a battery-powered sound system. Remember to consider how long you’ll need the battery to last (and how long it takes to charge). These battery-powered sound systems are suitable for use on field trips or other on-the-go activities.

2. What type of microphone should you use for your portable classroom sound system?

Most portable classroom sound systems are compatible with a variety of microphones.

Some of the less expensive PA systems have built-in microphones suitable for recording or projecting sound in small areas.

Corded handheld microphones are the most common and are usually the default in any public address system you buy off the shelf.

Wireless microphone systems, especially hands-free wireless microphone systems such as lapel (or lapel) microphones, eliminate cumbersome cables and allow greater freedom of movement for the teacher. Hands-free microphones are also available as neck microphones and microphones that mount on headbands or headsets.

When choosing a wireless microphone for your classroom sound system, an important consideration is interference, especially radio interference, since most portable systems use FM UHF or VHF wireless technology.

As an example, multiple FM wireless systems in the same school may compete with each other. In these situations, you may need a wireless FM system with switchable frequencies so that teachers can select channels without interference.

Podium Amplivox

3. How much power do you need for your classroom sound system?

It’s important to measure your power requirements correctly because sound systems get heavier as they increase in power.

One of the key principles of PA system selection is that the larger the classroom, the more watts you will need.

A mini PA system with 5 watts of power, for example, may be suitable for a small classroom. However, for a classroom of 50 to 75 students, you may want to consider a portable sound system with up to 50 watts of power.

For large classrooms and auditoriums, a large-area portable sound reinforcement system is available, but in many cases, it is better to opt for a system installed in these locations.

4. Will you use the sound system in your classroom for speech or music?

Music requires more fidelity than speech and therefore requires more power.

If you don’t use your portable sound system to play music and your classroom is small, a mini PA should be adequate.

However, most cheap mini PA systems are not built to reproduce the high and low frequencies that are intrinsic to the music experience, even in a relatively small classroom.

Many mid-sized portable sound systems feature speakers and amplifiers designed to provide the frequency response necessary for quality music playback.

5. Will the classroom be used for formal and/or prestigious presentations?

A demonstration that involves frequent trips to the whiteboard may be well served by a small portable speaker placed on a desk, but formal lectures require a system that complements the prestige of the presenter.

Portable lectern PA systems add authority by providing a platform for notes and readings. These powered speakers include built-in speakers and amplifiers. Many also offer optional remote speakers.

In general, choosing a tabletop lectern to suit your needs involves many of the same factors, such as portability and power, as choosing any sound system for your classroom.

The lecterns have a variety of features. Some have inputs for additional microphones, some include wireless microphone systems, and others include audio inputs to connect existing media players in the classroom, such as cassette players and recorders or media booboxes.

Megaphone Califone

6. What other features do you need to run your class?

Consider the needs of your teaching style and what your lesson requires.

For example, if your curriculum includes pre-recorded audio, such as music or narrated text, you may want a sound system with a built-in cassette or CD player. If you already have a media player, consider a sound system with additional inputs to accommodate audio from external sources.

When shopping for features, remember that as you add more features, you add to the price tag. Find out which options you can’t live without and which ones you can sacrifice to save money, to get the system that does what you want at a good price.

Still have questions? Expert advice from AudioLink staff is just a phone call away (407-757-3326) or by email!

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