What is a Soundfield system (also known as hearing augmentation)?
Soundfield systems are devices that are placed in classrooms, educational settings and institutions and learning spaces that improve the volume of the teacher or instructors voice.
Why are Soundfield systems so important?
There are a few reasons why soundfields are important;
- Soundfields allow students and learners to hear above the noise in the classroom without straining to listen.
- Soundfields allow students and learners to hear the softer subtle components of speech without straining to hear. This improves our ability to process what we hear.
- When students and learners are not straining to hear they have longer attention spans, better behaviour and increased ability to retain what they hear.
- Learning spaces and classrooms that have soundfields are known to be quieter spaces with more productive learning behaviours from students & learners.
- Soundfields also protect the teacher or instructor from vocal strain. This results in a more even temperament from the teacher with less stress associated with voice strain and from loud classroom and environmental noise levels.
- Classes and learning environments that have soundfields show that instructors and teachers have less sick days as a result of vocal strain and stress.
- Newer soundfields are clever! They are able to measure the noise around them and adjust to the sound around them to ensure optimal listening performance. This is known as having dynamic capability.
It is important to note that a soundfield system should NEVER sound reverberant, distorted, nor should it feedback or have an echo. If the system does sound this way it is imperative to seek the advice of a professional educational audiologist. It is well documented that reverberant and distorted systems can decrease a learner’s listening performance rather than enhance it.
Where should Soundfields be used?
- Learning spaces
- Meeting rooms
- Staff rooms
- Seminar rooms
- Educational settings
- Leisure Centres
- Control rooms
- Lecture rooms
Are soundfields only for learners' with hearing impairment?
No, soundfield systems are for everyone! Research tells us that everyone performs better when they can hear better and when the teacher or instructor’s voices are at easy levels of listening.
For this reason, soundfields can be used in any learning environment, from the classroom to the seminar room, the art class to the business meeting.
What about children or students that have hearing impairment?
Learners with hearing impairment also perform markedly better with a correctly chosen and placed soundfield system. When the listening environment is quieter and the teacher’s voice is at an easy listening level, hearing impaired listeners hear better. This however, is a complex area, for hearing impaired listeners because systems need to be placed well and free from excessive reverberation and distortion. For this reason, an Educational Audiologist should always be consulted when considering a soundfield system. When researching and selecting soundfield systems for your particular environment, it is paramount that you are aware that not all soundfields are created equally.
Not all systems are suitable for those with hearing impairment. An integrated soundfield system or solution that pairs seamlessly and directly to a learner’s hearing aids, hearing aid receivers, cochlear implants and receivers, is highly recommended.
A dynamic system provides a much clearer signal for a listener with hearing impairment as the system is able to measure the noise within the room, ensuring that the listener receives the optimal sound available. An Educational Audiologist can help you choose the correct devices and provide the correct support and placement for children or students with hearing impairment. At Hear Check, we have fully qualified Audiologists who are trained specifically to assist children and learners in this environment.
What about children with Auditory Processing difficulties, weaknesses and disorders?
Firstly, please make sure that a child suspected of an auditory processing disorder has been fully assessed by a qualified audiologist. ONLY AN AUDIOLOGIST CAN PROVIDE A DIAGNOSIS FOR AUDITORY PROCESSING DISORDERS. Testing occurs under headphones in a noise controlled environment. An auditory processing disorder CANNOT be detected by a questionnaire, screening or by any other person other than a qualified audiologist.
Auditory processing disorders are a complex area. Please have an assessment performed and consult an Audiologist for advice about this area. While children with Auditory processing disorders and difficulties will perform better with soundfield systems, there may be additional supports and adjustments required to further help the child/student in addition to the soundfield systems.
What about linking my lap top, PC, phone, ipad or android device to the soundfield?
This can be performed easily with the correct selection of devices. Soundfields can eaily link to most media. The options are smart and allow mixing of sound so that a teacher’s voice can be heard in addition to a video clip being presented. These devices also allow a learner with hearing impairment to receive the signal seamlessly.
Our soundfield systems integrate seamlessly with your existing interactive whiteboard. Just talk to us and we’ll ensure that you are able to receive the right solution.
What about team-teaching or multiple presenters?
No problem at all. Dynamic soundfield systems allow many teachers to link into one system. This is particularly useful when team teaching, at meetings, or when classes combine to a larger single classroom or learning space.
We have several learners with hearing-impairment, how do we make sure that systems do not interfere with each other?
This is not an issue. The dynamic systems are cleverly designed to ensure that an infinite number of children or learners synced into a system which will never interfere with another system close by.
I am a instructor or teacher and I have a loud voice, why do I need to use a soundfield?
Unfortunately, most teachers are unable to raise their voices consistently above the average classroom background noise levels. To be optimal for student listening the soft consonant sounds in speech need to be audible. For this reason, a soundfield is a better solution for listeners, even if you feel you are a loud speaker.
In addition, a soundfield will save an instructor’s voice from repeated strain and then feeling tired from yelling or vocal stress during the day.
We have an existing soundfield that is distorting and reverberant?
This is far from ideal and could remove the benefits of a soundfield system for learners. Reverberant and distorted sound can create an unpleasant and difficult learning environment. Please obtain advice from one of our University qualified Audiologists to see if your current system is suitable for today’s teaching and technology heavy environments, or to consider a differing system in future.
If you would like to trial a system to suit your needs, please do not hesitate to contact Hear Check to speak with one of our university qualified Audiologists to discuss your requirements for your requirements. Trials can be undertaken at no fee and are easy to arrange.
Can we trial a soundfield system?
Yes, at Hear Check we provide trial systems. Just call us on 07 5493 9001. You can trial a system from anywhere in Australia. Although we are Australian owned, managed and based in Queensland, we are very adept at technology and providing support via the medium of your choice. Hear Check will ensure that your trial gets you off to a great start, particularly given that we ONLY employ a specialised team of Masters Qualified Audiologists to perform this work.
At Hear Check, we don’t just supply a soundfield system, we offer professional support pertinent to an educational setting to ensure that instructor’s and teachers use the devices correctly and confidently. We know and understand that an investment in helping students hear, does not always translate with consistent use. So, for this reason, we provide support for instructors and teachers to ensure long-lasting, correct and optimal use. We trust that this then translates to better outcomes for students.
Architects, Builders & Electrical Contractors
Are you involved in the Build of a new school or conducting renovations, refurbishments, and extensions on existing schools, meeting rooms or offices? We are experienced providers in all levels of hearing augmentation to meet standards and requirements.
Hear Check’s expert and specialised Audiologists have consulted, installed and assisted with numerous extensions, new school developments and new office builds.
Our university qualified Audiologists can assist with the selection and optimal positioning of hearing augmentation, soundfields and assistive hearing devices on any level of construction. Our extensive experience has found that for the best outcome for the architect, builder, teacher and student is to discuss your hearing augmentation and soundfield requirements in the early stages of your construction or renovations. We are adept at looking at building and electrical plans and can ensure the best and most seamless outcomes for both large and small builds.