Sounding off saves lives and supports learning

From safety systems to the school play, audio has a vital role to play in the life of a school

Sound plays a vital role in education today, from amplification and recording to safety systems and music performance.

“In schools, ease of use and easy installation are key factors. The JBL PSB1 soundbar is a perfect example – a pro version of the domestic soundbar with straightforward connectivity and volume limiter built in. And for larger classrooms active speakers, such as the APART SDQ5 are ideal, as they’re easy to install and don’t require an amplifier.”

Alison Charters, Divisional Manager at Midwich


Emergency audio

Portable PA systems are becoming very popular buys in schools (see Backwell School case study). And security concerns have led to an increase in lockdown systems in secondary schools, which can give clear instructions to students and teachers in case of an intruder or attack. These can run alongside voice evacuation systems or be an add-on to the existing PA.

“Networkable audio has proved revolutionary in schools, as speakers are visible and controllable remotely and the install time is much reduced,” says Charters. “Brands such as Monacor and Terracom are offering great value AoIP solutions.”

In higher education, wireless microphones have proved a big hit with lecturers who like to wander at will. Feedback and interference can sometimes be an issue, but Sennheiser’s SpeechLine Digital Wireless microphone range includes automatic frequency and interference management, and doesn’t require an Ofcom license, unlike some competitors.

“Students might use recording devices to keep a record of important lectures,” says Charters. “Handheld recorders, such as the Olympus WS853 offer more than 2,000 hours of recording with 100 hours of battery life. For higher quality the Olympus LSP-4 offers better than CD reproduction audio, making it perfect for musicians to capture live sessions and video production students to capture better audio alongside their video.”

Schools and universities are required to be inclusive, and for the hearing impaired a fitted induction loop is the most discreet and successful way to achieve this. “Ampetronic offers a design service to help institutions achieve a system without bleed in even the trickiest of spaces,” says Charters.

Audio budgets will inevitably be smaller than video, but it doesn’t pay to cut corners, says Charters, “Never ask ‘what’s the cheapest speaker?’” she advises. “Instead ask for speakers that can be used in multiple places, such as portable devices, or consider installing multi-purpose systems to save money. Live safety evacuation and background music, for example, can be on the same system.”

Midwich has a large audio portfolio to satisfy all environments from the budget conscious to flagship universities. Contact the audio team at


Backwell School case study

Backwell School, a large comprehensive in Bristol, is delighted with its JBL EON ONE PRO portable PA system. “It’s so easy to use with just a couple of minutes’ training, and it’s very versatile,” says the school’s support technician, Alex Peason. “You can plug in a quartet of microphones or instruments, use it for GCSE dance exams, and the internal battery means you can take it outside for a fête or sports day.”

“Students can set up the EON ONE PRO themselves, so their independent learning can include sound engineering and sound technology as well as performance,” adds music teacher, Drew Salida.