hearing noise in classroom

Why Kids Need Boom Mics

I have recently returned from a workshop I did for the staff at Lincoln Public Schools in Lincoln Nebraska. The room was packed with teachers of the deaf, speech-language pathologists, audiologists and school administrators. There was no question but that we needed a remote microphone system to allow everyone to hear. As usual, I was given an FM with a clip on microphone. So, was that sufficient?

There can be no argument that every child with a hearing loss or other auditory disorder needs to use a remote microphone system. They are in a classroom that will be noisy just because it has children in it and they will always be at a distance from the teacher. So, using an FM or other remote microphone system is a given. Now let’s discuss microphones.


Different microphones

There is no doubt that a clip on mic provides good access but only when it is placed in the right place – within 6 inches of the mouth. How can I be sure that it is always within six inches of my mouth? There are very high end mics that will pick up as you turn your head but not the ones we use in schools. I often do a demo when I give a talk in which I move the mic around to show how the sound quality and volume change. This, of course, assumes, that the mic is clipped 6 inches from the speakers mouth.

When I do a school visit I frequently see the mic clipped at the waist, or sometimes upside down (usually not intentionally but it just got twisted). Or sometimes, it gets moved under clothing or tangled with jewelry. The problem is, the person who is wearing the clip on mic does not recognize that there is a problem because she is not listening through a receiver and the child with hearing loss who is listening doesn’t know to report a problem.


Head worn boom mic’s

If you go to listen to music performance (from opera to rock) you will see that the singers are wearing head worn boom mics. Why? Because they are ALWAYS in the right place – right next to the speaker’s mouth. No matter what you do, how you turn around, how you bend up and down the mic is in the right place. For our purposes, it means that the child will be hearing everything that is said in a clear, non distorting way.

I have heard teachers complain that a boom mic it is uncomfortable, interferes with glasses etc. It doesn’t. I wear glasses and hearing aids and I have absolutely no problem wearing a boom mic. And when I am wearing one I do not ever have to worry about where the mic is and whether the signal is a good one. It won’t get turned around, get tied in with jewelry and get into clothing. It may feel a little strange when you first wear it but after a couple of hours you won’t know it is there – and the value for the child is significant.

I have heard teachers express concern that a boom mic with interfere with lipreading. The answer to that one is simple. If it is one of those very thin mics then it will not interfere. It if is one of the larger mics then just move it down an inch and it will not be in the way.


What’s the goal?

The goal is that the child hear what is being said in the classroom without difficulty. If we agree that we need to assure that the child hear, we need to know that the kind of mic the teacher uses matters.

PLEASE let’s be sure that we have a mic which does the job. Go for a boom.

About Jane Madell

Jane Madell has a consulting practice in pediatric audiology. She is an audiologist, speech-language pathologist, and LSLS auditory verbal therapist, with a BA from Emerson College and an MA and PhD from the University of Wisconsin. Her 45+ years experience ranges from Deaf Nursery programs to positions at the League for the Hard of Hearing (Director), Long Island College Hospital, Downstate Medical Center, Beth Israel Medical Center/New York Eye and Ear Infirmary as director of the Hearing and Learning Center and Cochlear Implant Center. Jane has taught at the University of Tennessee, Columbia University, Downstate Medical School, and Albert Einstein Medical School, published 7 books, and written numerous books chapters and journal articles, and is a well known international lecturer.


  1. Thanks for your article. Couple of questions. I am also a teacher. When I am at the discussion table with four or more people, I cannot hear the 4-way conversation clearly, the background noise muddies the sound. Other than the Roger’s Pen, is there any other system out there that would work.

    Second, you mention boom mics. When I am in the audience for a speech, and the speaker is not using a mic system to allow me to hear, other than giving the speaker a mic telelooped to my hearing aids, is there another alternative?

    1. Actually, the new Roger Select mic is awesome for conferences. What’s more, it’s an -03 Adult, meaning both adult and -02 pediatric receivers will pick it up.

  2. So does the kid get a gaffer with a mic on a boom, a boom mic. of not particular sort to peek at an area of interest isolation-mounted on a tiny hat or in hair or whatever goes, the courtesy of boom mic. signal of some sort as if it would otherwise go to a showroom mixing board, or the teacher wears a mic ported to a cartridge on a little tube boom so that aperture’s nearly in front of their mouth, foam baffle annoyance or no, and whatever center speakers or signal feed they can use?

  3. Great article! I just want to know what you would recommend for my almost 7 year old unilaterally implanted with a CI a Roger pen or a Roger touch screen? We have to purchase one for her school.

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