When considering classroom audio systems you may be pondering the above question. What are the benefits of having one over the other?
Typically classroom audio systems needs to do two things well.
First, they need to amplify a voice that is instructing the students. This voice may be live or prerecorded. Either way it needs to be heard clearly. This is known as speech intelligibility and it is not affected much by the difference of a mono or stereo setup. For instance, if you have two speakers in your classroom and they are wired in a stereo configuration while amplifying the voice of a single instructor, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between a stereo configuration versus a mono one. So for strictly voice-lift applications, it makes almost no difference. This brings us to the next scenario.
Second, classroom audio systems need to amplify what we are going to refer to here as non-vocal program material. Let’s say we have an amplifier in a classroom that’s being used to instruct racing car drivers. While showing the program material you want the classroom to hear the engine noises and squealing tires come in from the left and fade out to the right as the car travels across the projection screen showing the corresponding images. This is where stereo shines. Is it an integral part to educating students? No, but it’s cool, and never underestimate the impact of cool. Part of educational effectiveness is making a lasting impression on students. Having an impressive sound system certainly doesn’t hurt.
All of this being considered, if it is voice-lift only, then mono makes sense. If you show the occasional program material, stereo can add to the realism and the price typically isn’t much different.