A quick look at the DAVID Pal 36 with CES

DavidPal36CES-LR

The DAVID is the only machine I’ve used that is marketed with the clear intent that it be used for therapeutic purposes. Its creator and found of MindAlive, Dave Siever, is a pioneer in the field and has made significant contributions in the area of ADD/ADHD.

David-Glasses-Front-LR

The most distinctive feature of the DAVID is the TruVu Omniscreen TM glasses, the only bihemispheric stimulation glasses I have tried. A number of protocols, notably ADD/ADHD and depression, are built around the premise that one or other brain hemisphere is deficient or overactive in particular bands and that independent stimulus allows these imbalances to be normalised. In order to achieve this, each eye has to be independently half-illuminated, as each eye has a left and right visual field. The TruVu Omniscreens are a warm white and, used open-eye, do a respectable job of providing distinct left/right visual field stimulation. The effect is quite strange, not wholly pleasant to me, but, if the theories are correct, it will be effective. A 2.5mm stereo plug/socket is used for the glasses, so you won’t be plugging any of the spare glasses you’ve got lying around from other machines.

David-Glasses-Back-LR

The medical bent continues when you read the manual. Session descriptions include very clear therapeutic indications, and I am confident that Dave has used the best information available in designing them.

The user interface is, well, dated. Sessions are stored in two banks of three sets of six sessions. The banks are selected with a small slide switch, which also serves as the on/off switch. With unit on and bank selected, pressing the Sel button starts two rows of LEDs, 1 2 3 4 5 6 / A B C, illuminating in sequence until you press Sel again to stop on the desired session. The session then gradually ramps up and away you go. The machine has 36 default sessions with 6 slots available for user sessions. I won’t go through all the functions in detail. This is one machine you’ll need the manual for.

Four of the standard sessions are “Sound Sync”, designed to be used in conjunction with external audio, such as hypnosis or NLP CDS, targeted at 6.5, 7.8, 14 or 18Hz. This is the only concession to external audio – no Audiostrobe support.

The DAVID Pal sessions feel therapeutic. They feel courteous and efficient. The alpha sessions I ran past the EEG did just what I would expect of a perfectly fine alpha session. If you turn the brightness up, the open-eye visuals come up quite nicely, but any bihemispheric effect is lost. Eyes-closed at full brightness is similar to any white-glasses experience. The audio is plain but effective.

David-Editor

The DAVID session editor is an optional extra. Although written for a fairly early Windows, it is well presented and easy to use, making some of the more esoteric features of the DAVID readily accessible. Your choices for audio are pulse, binaural or a sound called “chime”, with a pitch set on a 0-15 scale (120-270Hz). Beats can be set in the range 0-25.5Hz. The light pulses are independently set for left and right fields, again in the 0-25.5Hz range. Pulses can be classic (semi-square), sine, triangle or square (which comes up with a warning of increased seizure risk). A heartbeat sound can also be used at rates between 10 and 80 beats per minute. Apart from that, there’s a focus/expand mode and a random/single/dual feature that automatically offsets the beat rate by +/- 1Hz throughout the session. Overall, the editor does a fine job handling the diverse and unusual DAVID functions.

Once a session is prepared in the Editor, it is it can either be passed on to WaveMaker to convert the session file into a short WAV file or the “Send to Soundcard” option can be selected from the editor. The DAVID uses the PC’s soundcard and the DAVID’s audio input to transfer data. The WAV file can also be “played” to load the session. While this may sound a little archaic, it has the huge advantage of requiring no drivers other than the soundcard, and also allows sessions to be stored on audio media and loaded without a PC.

David-CESCable-LR

The CES function applies a low current between the earlobes, to which a pair of clips are attached. The pulses are at the session rate, and a slider control adjusts intensity from completely imperceptible to an uncomfortable tickling/burning/sting, with just perceptible being the ideal setting. When using CES with a sound and light session I have been able to perceive nothing interesting. Used by itself, and I’ve done this a few times while working, I do have the impression that I’ve had effects similar to AV. I really don’t know. There’s a good body of trials suggesting CES is a good thing, and it is classified by the FDA as a medical device (MindAlive is in Canada). [Update: I have finally concluded that CES works well when used on its own in a quiet, dark room, but that AVS completely swamps the CES stimulus.]

David-Headphones-LR

The DAVID comes with a photocopied, comb-bound manual which does an adequate job of explaining the operation – it’s a case of having to have the manual and the machine in front of you. The supplied headphones, custom padprinted “DAVID”, are well padded, comfortable and well up to the task. The whole lot fits in a very tidy black zip-up nylon case with shoulder strap.

David-Case-LR

All of the other machines I’ve used are marketed as personal development and relaxation machines. In most cases this means dazzling visual displays and engaging audio. The DAVID is a good, solid machine, with an excellent compliment of well designed sessions. It isn’t as much fun as some of the others, but if there is a mind-machine that is going to just plain work, this is probably it.

Cheers,
Craig

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Comments

  • Jean  On August 7, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    I just received my David PAL 36 with CES today on the recommendation of my doctor. I am however confused by the sound selection instructions. I have yet to get the heart beat sound or the chimes. It seems that I am stuck with the binaural beats for now until I find more specific instructions. I am hoping that with my online registration and request for help this will be addressed.

    • craigtavs  On August 7, 2009 at 1:16 pm

      Hi Jean,

      Excellent – I hope you enjoy your new toy 🙂

      The heartbeat should be on with most of the standard sessions, with the option of turning it off by pressing SEL while playing. As you may have deduced from the way I referred to it in my post, the ‘chimes’ are a bit of a mystery to me. There is a sound which is neither beat nor heartbeat that’s turned on and off with the SEL button, but I certainly wouldn’t have called it ‘chimes’ myself.

      Cheers,
      Craig

  • Brian  On January 19, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    Hi Craig, been debating about getting the David PAL 36 with CES since it seems the best for hypnosis therapy but have also pondered whether I should get a Procyon or Proteus instead due to their programming flexibility and color spectrum. Mainly looking at therapeutic uses for product I am pursuing. Any information you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    Brian

    • CraigT  On January 19, 2010 at 6:53 pm

      Hi Brian,
      Thanks for stopping by.
      Procyon/Proteus vs David Pal 36 is a tough one. I don’t know that I can offer much more to help with the decision than I have written here and in the other “Quick looks”. It’s up to you to do the balancing act between your anticipated applications. “Up to you” also applies to CES – there is such debate as to its usefulness that it would be due diligence to read up and decide what you’re willing to believe.
      Sorry to have been not much help.
      Cheers,
      Craig

  • E Mackey  On March 16, 2010 at 7:09 am

    Hi Craig,
    I have used the David-Pal 36 for a couple years and find it a sound unit.
    What are your thoughts/feelings about, the Nova pro 100 from Photosonix?
    E

    • CraigT  On March 16, 2010 at 7:33 am

      Hi,
      I haven’t met a Nova Pro in person, but their Innerpulse does a nice job and has some interesting features. They seem to know how to make a good Audiostrobe decoder.
      Cheers,
      Craig

  • Jill  On March 19, 2010 at 2:46 am

    Hi,

    Thanks for writing about the David Pal 36. Have you found that relaxation is achieved without the CES? I’m looking for it to help me relax and help with insomnia (in addition to meditation, etc) and I’m not sure whether I need the unit with CES. Is it good for pain?

    Thanks!
    Jill

    • CraigT  On March 19, 2010 at 6:48 am

      Hi Jill,
      I haven’t used the CES enough to have a firm opinion on it. My impression is that it is more subtle than the sound and light, and that it is better used seperately. I would expect you to get good results for the things you’re after with the standard PAL 36, however the range of individual response suggests that if the price is not an issue, then CES may well be just the thing for you. Both my wife and I have found AVS effective for general aches and pains, and chronic pains such as rheumatism, but not useful for acute pain, although there are many accounts of trials where AVS has substantially reduced the necessity for pain relief during minor surgeries, particularly dental.
      Cheers,
      Craig

  • Heather  On September 28, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    Decisions, Decisions…! I am researching buying my first AVS, & I’m torn between the David PAL36, & the Nova Pro 100. Thanks for showing me the inside view of the Photosonix glasses, your blog is the only site I could find that offered a good look at them.

    Here’s where I’m at… I like the pragmatic, clinically oriented stuff in the David – & think there may be practical, as well as fun stuff in the Nova. How practical & clinically useful would you say the sessions in the Nova are? I plan to use these to help with depression, anxiety, fatigue, & insomnia…but I’d also like to hear some enjoyable audio too.

    I like the glasses on the David (I’ve tried these a few times), & the ability to use them open eyed. I wonder if I’ll like Nova’s closed eyed TruView White as well as I like those.

    Should I let the familiarity of the David glasses I tried a few times sway me from the Photosonix? Or should I go after the enticing array of Nova Pro sessions, & take a chance on liking the more tightly clustered, unshielded, LEDs… When using the David I get much better visuals with my eyes open than closed, & am concerned the Nova glasses won’t work as well for me. It’s a pity David glasses can’t be used with Nova machines.

    I’d take a chance buying the less expensive InnerPulse, but it does too much stuff I don’t want (ie. controlled breathing, argh), & I like the session & storage flexibility of the Nova Pro. Even if I liked the IP, I’m afraid I’d end up eBaying it in 6 months, & getting something else anyways. o_O

    Interested in your thoughts! Many thanks…

    -Heather 🙂

    • CraigT  On September 29, 2010 at 6:32 am

      Hi Heather,
      Of the machines you’re considering, the InnerPulse would be my choice. Overall, the Procyon remains my favourite.
      The David is a good machine, but for recreational use it is by far the least interesting.
      All the best on the hunt!
      Cheers,
      Craig

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