The core of any language lab for more than 50 years has been the ability to speak and to listen to your own voice. To accomplish this, a high quality headset is necessary.
1) To fully utilize the language laboratory, extraneous sounds should be removed, thus there is a real need to cover the ears completely! A good headset which covers the ear completely allows the student to enjoy good sound quality without hearing nearby student(s). The headset must fit the student well enough to allow for little disturbance from the rest of the class and allow total focus on the lesson.
2) A good headset must have a directional microphone. Students want to record their own voices and not those of surrounding students; it is therefore essential that only the sound produced from the students’ mouths is recorded directly into the microphone. By utilizing a high quality directional microphone, the students will hear, during playback, only their own voices.

3) Headsets must fit the head as snugly as possible, thus there is a need for them to be flexible. Not only the ears should be completely covered but the microphone needs to be placed directly in front of students’ mouths. Students are thus able to speak softly and yet able to make a high quality recording without disturbing other students. When they go into playback mode, they are able to listen to their own voices (recorded in a crystal clear sound) and then compare their responses to those of the master track.

4) Having a volume control on the student microphone can have a decidedly negative impact. To assure that a teacher can actually talk to a student via the headset, it is important for the teacher to be able to set and control teacher and student volumes. Having a volume control on student headsets can be problematic as students then have the ability to make changes that can adversely affect recordings and the teacher’s ability to communicate with them.

5) Having a microphone on/off switch on the student microphone can have a decidedly negative impact as well. Students may be nervous when taking oral exams. They may fidget and if there are switches to change, they may well play with them. In order to avoid recording issues, any professional educational headset should not include the ability to turn on or off the microphone.

6) The proper length of a headset cable is very important. Students should not be constrained by a cable that is too short. If, for example, students need to stand up suddenly, the cable should be long enough to allow for this without having the cable become unplugged.

7) Headsets must be reliable. To instill confidence in language lab teachers, it is essential that headsets always be in good working order. Less expensive headsets that consistently malfunction will cause everyone frustration, will delay or undo classroom progress, and cause a serious waste of educational time. Given the amount of time a teacher has with students, this loss of time is not acceptable. Professional headsets are a must and a way of avoiding this loss of instructional time.

8) Students must be able to hear their own voices when recording. Hearing themselves reassures students and also serves as a means of allowing them to know if their volume of speaking is too high or too low. Getting this direct feedback allows many students to work in one lab and not disturb each other.

9) USB headsets are an all “pro” no “con” situation. Unbeknownst to most is the fact that today’s computers do not provide what is considered to be a “state of the art” sound recording quality. They often have less than great sound cards. To counteract this, one can simply use a USB headset. The USB soundcard will atone for any lack in professional sound quality of the computer and thus assure CD quality recordings and playbacks.

Here are some points that you might not know about USB headsets:

10) Using a professional USB headset has these extra advantages:

USB Headset