CHALLENGE: Design a demonstration to iilustrate the audio "placebo" effect.
davecfraser
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#1
23rd April 2012
Old 23rd April 2012
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CHALLENGE: Design a demonstration to iilustrate the audio "placebo" effect.

Hi Folks,

I'm in the middle of planning a presentation for some non-sound-geek type people about how our pre-conceptions and our eyes play a huge part in what we hear. I'm trying to design something I could demonstrate for an audience of a few dozen and illustrate how when you're fiddling with a knob it makes you think you're improving things sonically when you may or may not have made any change. I've done this hundreds of time in the studio, messed with some EQ or effect and said to myself "Yep, that's better" only to realize the effect was on a muted track that wasn't even playing.

I need something like "Can I get a volunteer to help me" then have him fiddle with some knobs then quiz everyone "which was better?"

We'll have a small range PA with a few mics, an ipod and a small digital mixer with EQ, reverb and compression available.

Let me know what you come up with. Best answer gets 100 points.

THANKS!
#2
23rd April 2012
Old 23rd April 2012
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That ids an easy one. Move a knob not in the audio chain. as you move it, ask, "pay attention, this is a subtle change. Do you like the sound better -here-...... or -here-..."
#3
23rd April 2012
Old 23rd April 2012
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It depends on how good of a liar you are.

Probably the simplest way to get a false positive, is to present the same audio path at two slightly different SPL.. the listeners will generally hear the subtle difference, and if primed or misdirected to expect two different audio paths will perceive sonic differences other than loudness. Maybe ask them to describe the differences that they hear, if you really want to embarrass them.

Once the people learn that you are trying to trick them, they will not enjoy your presentation any more, so this might make a good introductory gambit, not a whole presentation.

You may want to look at some of the work Ethan Winer has done. He even did an AES session on the general subject.

JR
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23rd April 2012
Old 23rd April 2012
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davecfraser
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23rd April 2012
Old 23rd April 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frans View Post
That IS amazing. I'm going to buy 2 of these, should help my mixes out a TON.


John,

Do you have any links to Ethan's stuff? He's a great guy, very knowledgeable. I'll message him privately. Thanks for the suggestion!
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23rd April 2012
Old 23rd April 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davecfraser View Post
That IS amazing. I'm going to buy 2 of these, should help my mixes out a TON.


John,

Do you have any links to Ethan's stuff? He's a great guy, very knowledgeable. I'll message him privately. Thanks for the suggestion!
I have the complete Funk Logic blank panel collection, including the limited edition coca bola Valvecaster 1960 Dual Valve Teleknobic Preampulator. Cool stuff, and the Valvecaster has a mic and lit meter to pick up and display ambient room noise.

try ethanwiner dot com.
PRH
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23rd April 2012
Old 23rd April 2012
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PRH
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davecfraser View Post
Do you have any links to Ethan's stuff? He's a great guy, very knowledgeable. I'll message him privately. Thanks for the suggestion!
Ethan's AES Audio Myths workshop is here:

Audio Myths Workshop - YouTube

Paul
#8
24th April 2012
Old 24th April 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davecfraser View Post
That IS amazing. I'm going to buy 2 of these, should help my mixes out a TON.


John,

Do you have any links to Ethan's stuff? He's a great guy, very knowledgeable. I'll message him privately. Thanks for the suggestion!
Ethan has a website and actually has a brand new book

Ethan Winer - Home Page

The Audio Expert

and he always has an opinion...

JR
#9
24th April 2012
Old 24th April 2012
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Not necessarily a placebo effect test, but more so perception bias perhaps?
I remember this test at a science fair, you'd be asked to listen to and identify sounds in a recording. First clip with thunder and rain, second clip was cooking bacon, third clip was the same as the first, but this time you realize that the sound of rain was actually cooking bacon... Fun and doesn't hurt anyone's ego.
#10
24th April 2012
Old 24th April 2012
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Use volume. Get some sort of maximizer or ridiculous loudness plugin. ask for opinions.

then level match them..
jrp
#11
24th April 2012
Old 24th April 2012
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jrp
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put a cheap chip amp into a big chrome block with thick cables and all. Tell them it´s 6900$. Per channel.
Let them compare it to the same amp sitting in it´s original housing: A car stereo.
This test has been done at a hifi show (read it in some german books about audio design).
Everyone was excited of the highs clear like a mountain river... That curtain being lifted when finally the fake highend amp was switched in.
jrp
#12
24th April 2012
Old 24th April 2012
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jrp
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or buy a gaincard if you want the real thing
#13
25th April 2012
Old 25th April 2012
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On your digital mixer, I would say take 1 channel and bring up the EQ view, without switching the EQ "ON" in the circuit, allow the user to change the EQ settings at random, without the knowledge that said EQ is actually not patched in....... I know some Digital mixers will actually give you a visual graph of the EQ setting regardless of whether the EQ is On or Off in the circuit. This may be better exemplified in the Hi or Hi Mid range (above say the 10K range) of the EQ (assuming Parametric or Semi)..... Truthfully some folks are so taken in by the idea that they see a visual representation that they convince themselves they hear a difference. Some will say they hear a difference because someone before them said the same thing and eventually some others will say "you idiot" you forgot to patch the EQ in...... It is somewhat funny to see how long it takes for someone to catch on. Of course, this may be more effective, if the test subjects are not entirely familiar with the particular brand of console. And yet again, some people do not have the most accurate hearing in the ranges above 10k......
Shawn
davecfraser
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#14
30th April 2012
Old 30th April 2012
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That Ethan Wiener video is amazing, thanks for sending it, very well done I love the demonstrations at the start.
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