University of Edinburgh

Classroom Acoustics

Part six

How does soundfield benefit your hearing impaired child in the classroom? Ultimately that's where you're coming from and that's what it's all about. So the first thing is personal FM systems, hearing aids; brilliant, let's get them out there. But one crucial thing about them is they increase all noise. They don't select speech. So whatever the background noise is, that's going to be amplified as well. What does the soundfield system do? It's weird. If you haven't experienced it in a classroom. A soundfield system is an audio system with a microphone that bizarrely makes the classroom quieter. It's the complete opposite of what you would expect. The reason is that a soundfield system isn't meant to be like a PA that blasts your voice across the room. It's actually just meant to give a nice, even distribution of sound. And because of that, the teacher can speak more calmly. They don't need to shout or project. So what happens is that the children are a lot calmer in class. They're less restless, they're not moving about so much. So the overall background noise comes down.