Category Archives: How To

Troubleshooting Tips for your USB Headset

As we head into winter, it’s beginning to look like we won’t be heading back to school or the office anytime soon. With COVID-19 cases skyrocketing as the weather turns cold, many companies and school districts have made the decision to remain online only, with no in-person contact for at least the next several months. If you’re feeling stir-crazy and missing your office space or classroom, trust us- you’re not alone!

However, working or attending classes remotely doesn’t have to mean discomfort or distraction. Even if you’re sharing cramped quarters with a spouse and kids all working and attending school from home, you can still get into the zone with your own work or school commitments thanks to a USB headset that is compatible with your computer. Purchasing a USB headset is a great way to optimize your remote working or learning environment as we continue to adapt to our ‘new normal.’

But what if your new USB headset is having a hard time connecting over Bluetooth, or if you can hear the participants in your online meeting but they can’t hear you (or vice versa)? Like any technology, USB headsets are prone to occasional issues that can cause frustration in an already frustrating situation. Here are some handy tips for you to keep nearby next time your USB headset is giving you a headache. See if these work for you!

Problem: Your Wireless USB Headset Won’t Connect Over Bluetooth
Solution: This is a pretty common problem among wireless USB headsets that use a USB dongle to connect via Bluetooth to your computer or mobile device. Fortunately, there’s a relatively simple fix to re-establish connectivity. Simply “forget” the USB headset and then re-pair it to your device.

You can do this by clicking the Bluetooth symbol, normally located in the top bar menu of your laptop, or going into your System Settings menu and selecting Bluetooth. This will present a menu of Bluetooth-connected devices, including your wireless USB headset, that can be disconnected by clicking on them. In some cases, simply disconnecting and reconnecting will work just fine, but other times it may be necessary to forget the device and pair it once again as a new Bluetooth headset to have your computer recognize it properly.

Problem: You Can Hear Your Fellow Meeting Participants, but They Can’t Hear You
Solution: Whether your USB headset is wired or wireless, occasionally there may be an issue with sound output. If you can hear everything with your USB headset but your fellow meeting or class attendees have indicated that they can’t hear you, try these three quick steps:

  • Check to make sure you are not on mute over Zoom, Google Meet, or whichever videoconferencing platform your organization uses. It may be as simple as a click of a button!
  • Make sure your microphone volume is turned up. Many USB headset models have separate volume controls for headphones and microphone, and it’s possible that one is turned up and the other is turned way down!
  • Check to ensure that either the USB cord for a wired headset or the USB dongle for a wireless headset is plugged into your computer’s USB port and that the fit is secure. It is possible that the USB headset is not connected all the way- or at all!- to your device.

Problem: You are unable to hear anything through your headphones but your mic seems to work just fine.
Solution: Like the troubleshooting tips for a malfunctioning microphone, the solution to this one may be easier than you think! Try these things first:

  • Make sure your headphones are connected securely to your USB port, either with the USB cord of your wired headset or with the wireless USB dongle.
  • Check the volume control for the headphones- is it turned all the way down? Adjust until you can hear sound coming out.
  • Look at the sound settings on your laptop- it’s possible that your USB headset is not selected as the preferred audio output device.

If you’ve gone through these troubleshooting tips and are still experiencing issues, there’s a possibility that you may be having a more serious problem with your hardware. Try using a spare set of headphones to make sure the problem isn’t stemming from the laptop itself, and contact the help desk at your computer’s manufacturer to correct any issues.

It’s also possible that your USB headset may simply be worn out from excessive use and normal wear and tear, or that it may have been exposed to water damage or other injuries. If this is the case, contact the manufacturer for warranty and repair information.

People who have tried a USB headset for remote work, online learning, gaming, and more enjoy the enhanced ability to concentrate in a distraction-free environment, no matter where they are! Once you have purchased a USB headset, it can be quite difficult if not impossible to imagine life without it, which is why any malfunction or issue can be especially disheartening. Because of this, it’s important to take good care of your USB headset to keep it looking and working like new. Here are some safety and storage tips to help you make the most of your USB headset purchase for years to come.

  • If you have a wired USB headset model, make sure to bundle your cord when it is not in use. This will prevent your USB headset from cord damage that can affect its performance. We recommend a loose, figure-8 cord bundle secured with a twist-tie or zip-tie when you are not using your USB headset.
  • For wireless Bluetooth USB headsets that you plan to use on several devices, be sure to disconnect a device before connecting to a new one. Too many devices connected via Bluetooth can cause connectivity issues, especially if all the devices are within a 500-foot range of one another.
  • Be sure not to clean your USB headset with anything other than cleaning products that have been optimized for use with electronics. Alternatively, we find that a damp hand towel or dishcloth with a very small amount of mild dish soap is effective and safe for the exterior of your USB headset. Never submerge the cord or dongle to your USB headset in the water!

By following these tips, we hope your USB headset will continue to make your remote working or online learning experience as pleasant and productive as possible.

What To Incorporate in an Education Technology Recovery Plan

As more schools and districts evolve their classrooms with digital and wired technology–and as standards in education seek to incorporate technological tools and resources–it’s important to prepare your digital assets for the future. This would include any type of physical, internal, or security risk. A disaster recovery plan is a much-needed strategy for budding IT offices that will be in charge of multiple devices, networks, and systems. But with our 4-step guide to disaster recovery, we can help you make sure that all your devices and equipment are prepared for any dangers they might face.

encore data products technology recovery planStep 1: Identify the risks in order to take preventative measures.

It’s important to know what your technology will face, in order to prepare for them. For example, they could be physical, external risks: students carrying and bringing home their Chromebooks or iPads are prone to damaging them through drops and typical accidents. Or, they might be internal, such as viruses or compromises to data security. It’s helpful to start understanding your current risks, in order to address them with appropriate solutions, such as tablet cases, new virus blocking software, or security controls that require administrative permissions for downloading material. By developing a list of risks, you can begin to design a plan that will help protect your devices and data, and resolve problems more quickly.

There are some things you cannot predict, however, such as a new virus that could override your current blockers or a bug that critically damages saved files on a device. However, creating a list of risks will help you stay on top of security, data, or physical threats to your equipment, and help maintain your devices for longer.

Step 2: Inventory all assets, and monitor their software or hardware upgrade needs.

You need to know what devices you have, in order to know which ones are the most important to recover and maintain first. For example, you are more likely to afford the repair and downtime for an iPad that is infrequently used or can be replaced by a second iPad in stock, but there would be greater urgency and need for an entire set of classroom Chromebooks that have been damaged by an old syncing cart.

In addition, you will want to indicate which systems need security checks; software or hardware updates, or even predicted end-of-life timelines in order to phase out old models and bring in new ones when possible. This will help you keep your assets in-line and prepared for any type of disaster or emergency.

Step 3: Realize your recovery objectives.

In the event that your devices fail–maybe from a problem syncing data to the cloud, accidental data loss from a storm, or from upgrades that cause problems or malfunctions with your current software–you want to have recovery objectives in mind. The two most important recovery objectives to have is recovery time and recovery point. Recovery time objectives set your goal for how long your devices or services can be down before it becomes a costly issue, and what you need to have in advance to reduce downtime. Recovery point objectives, on the other hand, help you decide how much data you can lose, and what needs to be recovered first to maintain the most important programs, data, and more.

Step 4: Develop your disaster recovery guide and implement training.

With your objectives set, it is now time to develop your step-by-step guides for your disaster scenarios, how you divide tasks and responsibilities among your team and record any new changes to your assets list. You will also want to schedule tests of your plan to make sure that you can recover your devices within a certain time frame.

By developing a disaster recovery plan, you’ll be able to maintain your educational technology devices and prepare for their ever-changing field. To learn more about devices that can help you maintain all your devices, contact us.

How to Set Up Your Educational Testing Site

Whether you need it for school assessments, standardized state exams, or national assessments like Advanced Placement or the GRE, having a well-equipped testing facility is important for maintaining the security of the tests according to their instructions, and for the comfort of the students. Here are a few things to  keep in mind when setting up your testing site.

1. Establish the space for the test site. 

Many standardized tests requires certain components for a testing site to be deemed appropriate for the test. The room for testing should be comfortable, but also lack distractions and follow the particular needs of the test.

For example, a test’s specifications might require that students be separated by at least 2 feet on each side to prevent cheating, or that at least 1 proctor be present for every 10 students in a large room. Students may be taking their exam on computers. Therefore, the normal computer lab might need to be re-oriented so it’s impossible for students to peer at other screens. Or, because you need more space, you might need to move the testing center into a bigger room than the normal computer lab.

Finding the right room, therefore, is an important part to establishing the right testing site. Having flexible furniture, especially for tech-assisted or tech-required exams, can help you prepare your examination room.

2. Have a logistics plan for the entire campus.

It’s a good idea to think about the test site within its broader context. This is especially important when only particular classes or grades are being tested, while the rest of the school undergoes normal operations. For example, are only 9th graders tested, while the rest of the school follows the regular class schedule? What can students and teachers do to minimize distraction when students move between classes, especially if other classrooms are in testing mode? Will the school bell be turned off, or will periods for particular classes grow longer while the testing is in effect?

Having a strategic plan in mind for those situations is important. Whether it’s assigning a new period schedule to keep students in class, or ensuring that quiet and respectful movement is done in the hallways to minimize noise, having a plan administered to teachers and staff will help reduce any stress or anxiety for students and teachers come testing day.

3. Make sure your equipment is compatible for the test.

Whether you need a tape player and recorder to administer and record individual student test responses, or must have the updated hardware and software on school computers with headphones for administrating online exams, make sure that your technology is up to speed come testing day.

The same goes for testing rooms, where exams might need a projector or large speaker system for students to listen to their questions. Make sure that your projector, visual presenter, or document camera can be used for your exam, and what other components need to be in the room. Test all components before exam day to ensure that nothing with go amiss or waste time during the testing.

In addition, it’s important to note what devices are prohibited while testing. For example, while you might use a wireless headphone system for in-school exams, it’s possible that your wireless headphone system is prohibited during a national exam. Or, personal headphones might be prohibited, while classroom-provided headphones are required in order for students to complete certain sections of the exam. Again, check the requirements and prohibited lists given by the test administrators, or call their support line. If some items are questionable, it’s better to err towards prohibiting them yourself in order to avoid invalidating the students’ exams.

Establishing ease and control of the assessment site is an important part for maintaining the integrity of the site and test results, which can help by providing quality sound and listening devices. For help picking out listening equipment, contact us. We can help you customize your options for your test specifications.

Steps for Setting Up a 1-to-1 iPad Program in Your School or District

Setting up a 1:1 iPad program at your school can expand the educational programs that your school provides, but involves a lot of preparation. From ordering the iPads and accessories, to establishing the a network that can support peak usage, to ensuring responsible usage, schools and districts have to consider a lot of factors before deployment day. Here’s our checklist for how to set up a 1-to-1 iPad program in your school or district for the smoothest deployment come distribution day.

Planning and Preparing for a 1:1 iPad Program

1.Make sure your networks are capable of handling the number of connected devices. Be prepared to order enough bandwidth for devices, especially during the first days of deployment. Those days are crucial, since students, educators, and administrators will be utilizing their iPad for various tasks. One of the biggest mistakes that districts make include not having enough bandwidth for all their devices connected at peak times, which leads to downtime and frustration. And for many schools that must request funding before changes are made to their bandwidth plans, requesting more money initially to cover a higher gig bandwidth plan is better than finding out later that you need more bandwidth and having to get additional budget approval. In addition, consider the expansion of WiFi coverage, and the ease of use and responsiveness of your WiFi provider.

2. Purchase protective cases. When considering what other accessories your iPad will need, protective cases and screen covers are a must. This is especially important for 1:1 iPad programs that allow students to take their devices home. By buying cases and installing them before deployment or the day of deployment, you’ll drastically reduce your need for repairs or replacements when placed in students’ hands. Lengthening the life of the devices will save your budget in the long term.

3. Prepare usage policies and tutorials for day of deployment. Many districts require that students and parents sign-off on user agreements and disclaimers. Have your teachers and staff ask these questions in order to develop these policies: What is considered inappropriate use of the device? What limits do students have when downloading online material or installing their own apps and customization? What security features should devices have? How much administrative control can teachers have? Having these policies in place, and their documents ready for the day of deployment, is important to clarifying the use and care of the devices.

In addition, it can be helpful to have instructional tutorials about using the iPad or particular programs that are downloaded on them for the students. Work with teachers and your IT team on organizing tutorials to teach students about their iPads and other necessary equipment. You should also consider providing information and training for the parents so that they can set up parental controls and learn how to monitor their child’s iPad use and school coursework progress.

4. Have a labeling system in mind. Identification will be important for keeping your iPads accounted for and organized. Some schools might benefit from utilizing barcodes, while others might find that removable labels placed on cases are more helpful for the classroom’s needs. Whatever you decide, make sure that you’ve detailed this process so that all your iPads will be accounted for under the same standards.

Day of Deployment and Onwards

When it comes to the day of assigning iPads, having a set timeline and area for deployment will allow for smooth assignment of the iPads. Create a game plan with teachers and iPad administrators to organize times and places for the iPads to be distributed.

If you did not pre-install and label iPads before deployment, the day of deployment is a good time to teach students and teachers how to put on a protective case and label them. An iPad safety and care tutorial would be a welcome time for case assignment to happen.

After each student and teacher has his or her iPad, the upcoming days are a an important time to monitor bandwidth usage, and also get feedback on the connectivity of your network. This can help you understand and anticipate for when you consider growth down the road.

Deploying a 1:1 iPad program at a school or district invovles a lot of planning and effort, but the trade off in educational and technological expansion pays off in the long run. To get a hold of supplemental materials for your iPad program, contact us. We can help you prepare and support your iPad program, no matter its size.

Reasons Why Headphones Are Better Than Earbuds

Picking between headphones and earbuds will always depend on the quality and model of either type, but there are a few ways that headphones in general comes out on top as providing a better listening experience. While earbuds tend to be cheaper and more convenient in situations like travel, they might not provide the technical advantages that headphones can in the classroom. Here are a few reasons why headphones are better than earbuds, depending on their use.

For one, headphones are more durable in classroom settings: headphones like the Califone 3068-AV, are made with rugged ABS plastic, making them sturdy for even the busiest, chaotic classrooms with young children. In contrast, earbuds are more likely to tangle together, get trampled on, and easily damaged. If you have a limited budget, spending money on durable headphones will prove to save you money over time. For a quality, long-lasting listening experience, you’ll want something durable.

Headphones can also provide better noise-canceling effects, since they are built with more electronics to process sound. Earbuds, due to their size constraints, aren’t as capable at noise-canceling than their larger brothers. Many over-ear headphones are also made with noise-reducing earcaps (such as the Califone 3068-AV), which help reduce the interference of environmental noises, and allow listeners to hear their audio recordings without distraction. Ill-fitting earbuds, on the other hand, tend to not block out environmental noises as well on their own. This could be distracting to users, and therefore might not provide a much-needed immersive listening experience. Therefore, while headphones are physically bigger than earbuds, the build of headphones lends well to creating a better listening experience.

When it comes to comfort, picking between the two largely depends on personal preference. However, many people find that they do not like the feel of the earbud sitting against their ear canal, or cannot fit them comfortably. Over-ear headphones like the Hamilton SC-7V with its leatherette ear cushions can provide a better fit, especially if one uses them for a long period of time. Most people are able to use on-ear or over-ear headphones without feeling uncomfortable, so you should consider them an option over earbuds if you want to serve a diverse group of people.

Next, when taking sanitary measures, headphones are overall easier to clean and maintain. To ensure clean earbuds, users would need to buy and frequently switch out disposable foam covers, which can be inconvenient. Headphones with cushioned earpads, however, can easily be wiped down after use, and switched out once they begin to show wear after heavy use. Even the life of these ENC-CCV budget headphones can be extended with a sanitizing wipe or spray after use. For classrooms worried about the spread of lice, our set of Hamilton SC-7V also comes with a bag that kills lice within 24-48 hours when headphones are sealed inside.

Even if you are on a budget, there are many headphone models that are suitable for a smaller budget without compromising sound quality. While many assume that earbuds are the only cheap option when they need to serve a large body of audio users, there are many types of on-ear and over-ear headphones that match the price tag of earbuds. Models like the ENC-CCV Stereo Budget Headphones include leatherette earpads that help reduce outside noise and are easy to clean. Other kinds of bulk heapdphones may also be the perfect choice.

Overall, headphones are the way to go for when seeking a quality, immersive, audio experience. While earbuds are can be more convenient, especially for commuters, headphones do tend to provide a better listening experience. To learn more about our headphones, contact us.

When Is Volume Control Necessary for Headphones?

If you are like most of the world, using headphones has become a daily occurrence in your classroom and a habit for commuters. Often there are so many features when choosing headphones, you may be asking questions like, “When is volume control necessary for headphones?” You can drive yourself crazy digging through reviews – but understanding the need for volume control can help you determine whether or not it’s an appropriate addition to your headphones.

Built-in volume control makes it easier to hear important sounds. While whatever media player you’re using, from a portable player to a computer, will probably have built-in sound control, being able to adjust the volume on your headphones can be the difference between missing a vital portion of the program or presentation and hearing exactly what you need to hear. When students need to quickly decrease the volume to listen to teacher instructions, it is essential to have access to volume control. In addition, background noise can create problems when listening to content in a noisy classroom or on the bus, but being able to turn up the volume quickly and efficiently will prevent you from missing vital information.

Built-in volume control enables fast adjustments. Are you listening to something that changes quickly in volume? Imagine a television program that is soft when the program itself is on, but loud enough to wake up sleeping children in the next room when it’s time for the commercials to play. If you’re watching television late at night, you want to be able to change the volume quickly! When you’re listening to something on your headphones, its even more critical that you be able to change the volume quickly as to not damage the speakers in the headphones and your personal eardrums as well.

Volume control helps prevent damage to your hearing. This is especially true for students, who are unlikely to look up from the task at hand to focus on turning down content that’s suddenly playing too loud. Making volume control easier to access means that you and your students will be more likely to turn down the sound of your device before it becomes loud enough to cause hearing damage.

If you want to be able to mute your headphones quickly, volume control in your headphones is the way to go. Sometimes, you’re in a situation where the extra seconds to turn down the volume on your device cause you to miss vital information. If you’ve ever fussed at a teenager for failing to hear you because they have headphones in, you understand just how vital this function can be! While you can always pull out your headphones, many continue to play at a volume that is distracting while you’re trying to listen to something else. With volume control right there on your headphones, however, you can quickly mute the sound coming through them to focus on what’s happening in front of you.

If you or a loved one is using a device that is unfamiliar, volume control in the headphones might be the way to go. Quick: how do you change the volume on your Chromebook? What about your tablet or iPad? If you don’t instantly know the answer to these questions, your students probably don’t either, and volume control in the headphones can make it much easier to change the volume. The simple, often intuitive headphone volume control options aren’t difficult to understand, nor do they require you to know everything about how to operate the device in your hand. In many cases, this streamlines the process and makes it easier for everyone, even children, to keep their volume at a comfortable level.

If you’re looking for headphones with built-in volume control or have other headphone needs, contact us. We have a variety of headphone options to fit every need, whether you need inexpensive disposable headphones or a more complicated set that allow you to use external volume control.

Picking The Right Headphones for Education

When it comes to purchasing education headphones, there are a lot of things to consider. To help you order your headphones for any classroom, we answer the top questions for headphones using our own collection, which will help you decide between various headphone types and models.

Stereo or Mono?

The first question to ask yourself when purchasing headphones is to consider what type of audio they will be used for. The listening content is a key clue to picking between stereo or mono. When it comes to simple, single-source audio recordings such as audio books, language repetition tapes, or single-origin audio, monoaural headphones will allow students to listen to the recordings fully. Stereo, or surround sound, usually involves recordings that bridge together many audio components–songs, music, television or film, video games–that create a full-sound environment. For educational situations that involve multimedia, stereo headphones are best.

If you need headphones that will be used in diverse settings (a language lab one day, but a studio the next, for example), you can have both at once. For classrooms, libraries, or audio labs that need mono and stereo applications, buying models like the AVID Education AE-808 Over Ear Headphones have a mono/stereo switch to allow for different media formats to be listened to without switching headphones.

Over-Ear, On-Ear, or Earbuds?

Considering over-ear, on-ear, or earbud models matter when you think about listening time and environment. Each style has its own advantages, especially when you consider noise cancellation, portability, and comfort. For instance, not all will find earbuds comfortable due to the fact that they sit in the ear canal, but over-ear headphones worn over time can feel sweaty and uncomfortable. In addition, over-ear headphone units can feel heavier than on-ear or earbuds, which can make students less intent to stay focused. All designs however (depending on the quality of the headphones), have the ability to isolate noise and allow for an immersive listening experience. Over-ear models tend to be better at naturally blocking out sounds from the outside environment, which could be a selling point for exams or busy settings.

Disposable or Not?

In addition, consider longevity and listening time. Audio labs or classes that involve extensive and long listening times would want to allocate their budgets towards high-end listening headphones to ensure quality and a longer lifespan. For one, they can be more comfortable for students, and in addition, better quality headphones are made to withstand extended use over time. In the long run, spending your budget on quality headphones will have you money over time.

For classrooms that use headphones less frequently and in less stressful situations, disposable headphones can be worth your budget. They provide great sound quality, and are great for reducing the spread of germs.


Age groups also matter when factoring in what types of headphones you will want, especially when considering the lifespan of the headphones you want, or when considering any safety features.

For example, with younger students and their hectic nature, disposable headphones can be key to maintaining a worry-free classroom, especially if headphones get tangled or break. Teachers who have larger classes might appreciate disposable headphones that can be easily replaced. However, smaller children will also benefit from headphones that have a limited volume threshold to protect their hearing, such as the largely indestructible Hamilton Buhl Flex Phones. The Hamilton Flex Phones are also great for a small age group that grows quickly over time, due to the snap-on extension fit. Your budget, time, and classroom environment will be the biggest consideration when picking between a more long-lasting model or a disposable, simpler model.

Overall, by pinpointing what your headphones will need to accomplish, finding the right pair should be easier. For any help or advice, contact us–our team can help you find the right pair of headphones for your education setting.

Four Steps to Make Your Earbuds Sound Better

Earbuds can be tricky when it comes to sound, especially since many are made to be disposable or for easy listening. However, there are various things you can do to improve their sound, using objects that are most likely already in your classroom, office or home. Here are 5 steps to making to make your earbuds sound better – even if they are bulk disposable earbuds.

1. Place them in your ears correctly. It’s very basic tip, but many people find that the sound quality of their earbuds are due to the way they fit in your ears, not the earbud quality itself. The earbuds should make a seal that helps direct sound waves to the ear canal, so placement is key to getting the best sound. The easiest way to insure that your earbuds are in place is to try the earlobe tug test: simply tug on your earlobe a little bit before inserting the earbud, place it inside your ear as you normally would, then release your ear lobe. Depending on the angle you’ve tugged your ear lobe, the earbud should fit better. Definitely test out different ways to find the best fit. If you feel like your earbuds just don’t fit properly, it might be time to look for a different model, or add foam pads to help it stay in place comfortably. Also note that your ears might have slight differences, so if the ear tug does not work as well for one ear as it does for the other, it could just be a difference in the ears.

2. Clean your earbuds regularly. When you wear your earbuds, they slowly become coated with earwax and natural oils from your ears. Over time, that build-up can change the quality of the sound. Giving them a regular cleaning with a slightly damp microfiber cloth and some soap will remove the wax and oils from the earbuds. For very dirty earbuds, you might also want to use a toothbrush to clean them. If you use foam covers, you should also gently wash these regularly by soaking them in soapy water and air drying them completely before use. Not only will the cleaning help with keeping your earbuds hygienic, but they can go a long way to improve sound.

3. Amplify them with everyday objects. There are also DIY tutorials online that will broaden your earbud’s abilities, and therefore sound quality. If you want to evolve your earbuds into speakers, there are a few ways to amplify their sounds. One great hack involves the use of paper cups: you essentially poke the ear buds into a paper cup, which help direct sound waves versus dispersing them too much. In contrast, if you want to create your own noise-isolating earbuds (using plug-on-a-post earbud models), you can repurpose foam ear plugs. The foam ear plugs help reduce the noises and sounds coming from your surrounding environment, while retaining the audio from your listening device. By blocking out other sounds, you should really be able to hear what you are listening to better, without other sounds distracting or muffling the targeted audio.

4. Utilize EQ settings on your listening devices. Depending on the quality of the headphones, utilizing the EQ console on your listening device can give you better quality sound through your earbuds. While many audio- and headphone-enthusiasts decry the use of EQ, they might actually be the best last resort for cheap earbuds. Remember that each person hears audio differently or have different sensibilities to things like bass, so small adjustments to the EQ can be best for you and your listening needs.

Overall, with proper care and use of your school classroom earbuds, in addition to some small tweaks, you can hack them into giving you better sound quality. For more earbud options and advice, contact us.

Making Life Easier: How to Make Earbuds Stay in Your Ear

Have you ever been jogging when your earbud pops out and conveniently gets wrapped around the grip on your treadmill? Then you lose your focus or fall flat on your face because you’re distracted. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but non-compliant earbuds are a pain. So how can you make earbuds stay in your ear? It sounds like an impossible feat, but it’s not.

Wrap them around the top of your ears. Gravity is your friend, it keeps you, and the things you love, on the ground. Unfortunately, gravity is one of the biggest culprits of earbud annoyances. You move the wrong way and gravity grabs your earbud by the wire and it topples out of your ear. Fortunately, there’s a trick to help defy gravity! Instead of having your buds hanging straight down, bring the wire up over the back of your ear before inserting your phones. This takes some of the weight off the wires and decreases their likelihood of being grabbed by gravity.

Make sure they’re properly seated. You can’t just jam them into your ears like so many people do. No wonder they fall out. They have to be properly seated. Here’s how to do it right: Push both earbuds in a little bit of the way, one at a time. Now reach with your left hand to pull down your right ear lobe, to expand your canal a little. Then, using your right hand, push the earbud in further until you feel it seal. You may have to jiggle it ever so slightly. Repeat on the opposite side, using your right hand to pull your left lobe.

Make sure they’re in the right ear. This sounds like a no-brainer, but that’s exactly why it can be a huge downfall. You’re in a rush and you just pop your earbuds into your ears without looking to see which goes where. Do yourself a favor, take the extra two seconds to identify the correct earbud for the correct ear.

Wear a sweatband or a beanie when you run. Maybe you just have ears that will not cooperate with earbuds. This is most likely to be the case if you’re a runner. Sweat and movement can cause issues for even some of the best brands, especially if your ears aren’t otherwise inclined to use earbuds.  If all else fails, resort to stationary support for your earbuds. In the winter you can wear a beanie and in the summer you can wear a sweatband. This will support your earbuds, keep them snugger and less likely to fall out while you’re running. It will also amplify sound, if you can’t get your earbuds to seal properly.

For more information about earbuds, please contact us. We’d love to make your life a little easier.

How to Choose the Right Headphones for School Testing and Beyond

Schools are working to stay up-to-date on technology, both to prepare students for the real world and to meet state and federal education standards. For many curricula and assessments, one of the requirements is that every student have access to a computer – and each student needs school headphones.

Of course, headphones are an expense that school districts will have to grapple with and many are scrambling to find durable headphones that will protect children’s hearing. On a school or district level, budget and longevity decisions will have to be made. Will you need durable headphones that will last through testing and year-long use? Or will you need disposable headphones for testing only and with a smaller price tag? You can spend over fifty dollars a piece for a headphone with mic and lifetime cord. Or you can spend under a dollar a piece for a disposable headphone. Also, make sure to know whether your assessments will require headphones without a microphone or headsets with an integrated microphone.

With these variables in mind, here’s a brief guide to finding the best headphones for school testing.

Focus on Budget

If your school or district is motivated to reign in spending and probably won’t need a large number of headphones for future use but needs to provide headphones for testing, there are many disposable options available. Disposable headphone quality has come a long way in recent years. While you shouldn’t expect the high quality sound that comes from a high end headphone, the disposables are sure to get the job done. Some schools also prefer disposable headphones because there is no hygiene issue if the headphone will only be used by one student.

If budget (and short term use) is your top priority, look for disposable headphones. While we don’t generally recommend earbuds for student use, they can be a very economical solution for schools with tight budgets.

Look for Durability

School budgets aren’t getting any bigger, so it’s a challenge to find room for new equipment needs like headphones. That’s why you’ll want to make sure that, when you do make a large purchase, your headphones come with a manufacturer warranty and will last.

When looking for headphones for your school, make sure that the ones you purchase can stand up to the kind of wear and tear that young students are likely to subject them to. A thin band of plastic might not be enough to save them from even normal use and you’re likely better off paying a little extra up front in exchange for a longer life span. Other features to consider include ear pad stitching, thickness of the cord, steel shaft and flexibility.

If durability is your top priority, we suggest this headphone or this headphone.

Comfort is Key

Learning and testing requires focus and concentration. And testing is stressful enough without students having to constantly fiddle with their headphones. If you can find a model that’s comfortable for the students, it will help them stay focused and at ease during classroom activities and testing – which will translate to higher achievement.

Over-the-ear models usually offer the most comfortable fit and are best at blocking out noise. They’re also easier to keep clean than earbuds, making them a great choice for most school districts. Also, keep in mind that the more comfortable the headphones fit, the less likely students will be to abuse them. This could significantly increase their life span. Other features to consider include ear pad padding, leather/leatherette ear pads, adjustable fit, and lightweight material.

If you seek the most comfortable headphones for your students, we like this headphone and this headphone.

The Headphone Compromise

Could go either way?  Inexpensive headphones like this headphone with leatherette earpads, this classroom headphone, or this headset are more durable than some of the super low cost options. These headphones may be a good middle ground in your headphone buying decision process.

Plan Ahead

Remember, beginning with the 2016-17 school year, students will need headsets with microphones to record oral responses to test questions. Some headphones feature an inline mic and some have a boom mic. Additionally, some devices function with a single jack for input and output (like an iPad) and others require separate input and output accessories (like a PC). To avoid a re-order in a year or two, it’s best to anticipate the needs of your school and order accordingly. If you are at a growing school, make sure to account for the additional numbers of headsets you will need for future students.

Our top picks for headsets include this headset and this headset.

Look Beyond Standardized Testing

While headphones may be a requirement for Common Core and other standardized tests, it’s also becoming increasingly common for all sorts of media to enter the classroom. If you have (or are considering purchasing) laptops, tablets, or other devices, you’ll want to have headphones that allow you to get the most out of your technology. Be sure that the device and protective case that you use is compatible with your headphones. If it’s a concern, you can find headphones and earbuds with a slim, straight plug. To modify your existing or ideal headphones, you can also use a slim, straight plug adapter. Learning tools with audio can be distracting to other students, so it’s best to keep the sound contained to the one student using the technology. In addition, you may want to provide noise-canceling headphones so that the listener isn’t distracted by outside noise. Some students require special accommodations, such as text-to-speech. Having headphones available for them is a must. You will also want to consider your students hygiene. If you choose a sturdy, long-term headphone, will you provide covers or cleaning stations and disinfecting wipes?  

Set Your Students Up for Success

It’s becoming increasingly clear that education must embrace technology. This includes having access to media and schools have to be equipped to handle these needs. Whether you’re trying to meet standardized test regulations or you’re bringing more technology into the classroom, you’ll need to have headphones at school.

If you’re ready to purchase a bulk order of headphones for your school district, contact us today. We’ll help you figure out which headphones best meet your needs and budget, so that your students stay ahead – without you falling behind financially.