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Listening Centers Buying Guide

A great listening center can accommodate students of different skill levels while letting kids work independently. Keep the following things in mind as you search for an audio center for your learning lab, library or ESL classroom.

Format

Some audio centers play cassette tapes only. Cassette recorders are relatively inexpensive and are great for younger students since they're so easy to operate. However, most listening centers feature a CD/cassette combo. They cost only a little more and are so versatile that it's usually well worth it.

Mono vs. Stereo

Mono audio centers are best for use in language labs or for reading activities, because they transmit only one signal. This helps students focus on a single sound.

Stereo listening centers transmit two signals that surround the listener in sound, so they're great for use in music classes.

Switchable listening centers come with adaptable headphones that go back and forth between mono and stereo, so these are the best choice if you often change applications.

Jackbox & Headphones

Your media player should have at least one output to connect to a jackbox. You'll find that most jackboxes have hookups for six or eight headphones. Allow enough personal space for each student; you don't want to crowd too many around one audio player.

If you're adding to your existing media player with a jackbox or have multiple listening centers that you'd like to mix-and-match, you'll need to make sure all your equipment is compatible. Check the plug and output size—either 1/4" or 3.5mm—and whether you have mono or stereo connections. Using mono headphones with a stereo player, or stereo headphones with a mono player, can damage your equipment. Some manufacturers make listening centers that connect up to six headphones directly to the audio player, so a jackbox isn't necessary.

Storage

Most listening centers feature a storage option to protect valuable equipment. Some come with a rack that holds headphones and keeps cords untangled. Others include a padded plastic case that's easy to carry from room to room.

Features

All media players have standard features like basic playback controls, volume control, and speakers. However, some offer neat extras like remote controls and microphones. Many also include S-video and RCA video outputs for TV and computer compatibility.

Take a look at all of our Listening Centers if you're ready to shop online. If you're still not sure which one will work best in your classroom, give us a call at 1-800-260-2776. Our friendly sales team is happy to answer your questions or take orders by phone.

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