Optimising Visuals

I’ve had numerous silly conversations trying to compare visuals. I’d really like to know whether the visual experience of AVS is the same for everyone. Suppose I hook up to my favourite session, using all the same gear and settings. All I know at the end is that your retinas are being illuminated the same as mine, give or take any minor physiological differences. What I can’t properly know is just what your brain/mind is making of it.

I’ve looked at a lot of drawings and paintings inspired by dreams, fantasies hallucinations and visions. While I often see elements that I recognise, I have never seen one that I could have painted from my own experience.

There seems to be something about the inner experience that is incommunicable.

With that recognition of the personal nature of the AVS experience, I’d like to share a few things I have found useful in getting the most out of an AudioStrobe or mind machine session.

Ambient lighting… The darker the location, the higher contrast the visuals. Brightness can also be reduced without diminishing the effects.

Brightness… There’s nothing quite like a full-on dazzler, but for maximum effect it’s worth backing the brightness off a bit. You’ll notice that when the brightness is way up, there will be a ‘burned-out’ region at the brightest part of the image (even the most even of the glasses I’ve tried have ‘hot-spots’). By backing off the brightness until there is no residual image, the intensity will be such that the eyes’ whole dynamic range is used, giving the best resolution of the flash waveform.

Colors… There’s psychological associations and there’s the general principle that red is energizing and green/blue are relaxing. I haven’t seen anything that convinces me that any color has any intrinsic virtue over any other. I’ve noticed that imagery seems to be formed from points of light in the colors of the glasses plus any ambient light. Tricolor glasses in a dark room can lead to some extraordinary color detail. I find the red/green bicolor combo great for light relaxation and uplifting sessions. Red/blue in a dark room is great for visuals. I’ve had my Procyon set to blue/green for a while and I’ve found that to be superb for delta ‘meditation’. The effect is very peaceful and easy on the eyes. I wonder if the effect of blue on serotonin/melatonin conversion makes it useful for discouraging sleep? I seem to get through 60 minute delta sessions without nodding off with blue/green easier than with my usual red combos. For monocolor I’m a total white convert, although there is a surprising difference between white glasses, with the Photosonix True Whites delivering a standout performance.

Eyes… An interesting exercise is to try to work out where your eyelids want to be if you just let them close. The moment I give conscious thought to my eyelids, I find I’m either trying to close them tighter or trying to relax them. Neither is necessary – my eyelids manage to stay closed all night without any conscious help from me, I’m sure I can trust them to stay closed through an AVS session. Best visuals occur when the eyelids are closed but not clenched. Opening the eyes just the finest sliver, especially if they’re nice and moist, can give some wonderful sparkle and rainbow effects. Of course, that’s pure eye candy. I find an almost overwhelming urge to ‘look closer’ at elements of the imagery. That, of course is ridiculous – the imagery is all formed after the focusable optical system. What you see is what you’ve got – any impression of focusing or ‘zooming in’ is an illusion, the result of directing attention to a particular region. Best visuals for me are when my eyes are focused as if I were looking at a distant mountain range, relaxed infinite focus. I try to expand my field of awareness to include what would usually be my peripheral vision.

All of this has very little to do with entrainment, or any other frequency dependent aspect of AVS. The requirements for ‘effective’ AVS are much simpler than for ‘exciting’ AVS. An often asked question is, “What should I be thinking about?” Well, unless you’ve got something better to do with the time, marvelling at the sights and sounds is good. Not being critical or analytical, but appreciating that so much of the experience is emergent and quite possibly unique to you. I spend a lot of time trying to correlate my audiovisual experience with what I’m learning about the brain’s structure and known mechanisms, but I rarely struggle when I’m drawn off into revery, immersed in the wonders of pure sense.


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  • avspro  On September 12, 2009 at 3:26 am

    Hello Craig,
    One experience that I really liked is the following combination:
    Procyon with Laxan Google plus Deva Premal (The Essence) and session 45 = Very beautiful inner journey
    Eyes open or closed gives an excellent result!

    • craigtavs  On September 12, 2009 at 9:03 am

      Thanks for the great music tip – I was listening to a couple of her samples when my wife walked in and said, “I know that music, that’s who they play at yoga classes, who is it?” So now we know. I love creative visualisation sessions – the idea of dipping into theta to find ‘new stuff’ and gently lifting it back into alpha and beta so that it can be recalled works so well for me.
      Take care of the Laxman goggles – mine, after much use and many users, have developed an intermittent connection to the left hand frame (replacement is on the way).

  • avspro  On September 20, 2009 at 1:59 am

    Hello Craig,
    Just a quick question about the setting of Procyon AudioStrobe:
    What is the default setting for “Analog Noise Floor”

    Thank you

  • craigtavs  On September 20, 2009 at 9:41 am


    I don’t have an untweaked machine at hand, so I’m not sure what the default is. I vaguely recall that it’s about 4.
    Anyway, you set by hooking the Procyon up to the audio source (laptop, MP3 player, etc.), select AS mode, and Anl submode. With nothing playing, observe any flickering of the LEDs. Adjust noise floor to the minimum setting that eliminates flickering. If you’re having to set it very high (above, say, 15), you may have a noise problem with the audio device – one laptop I’ve had was completely useless for analog AS. The most common cause of noise problems (apart from device quality) is ground loops – to check this run everything off batteries, and have only the audio cable connected to the Procyon (ensure USB is disconnected). The Procyon frequently has noise problems if the audio and USB are simultaneously connected to the same device.
    My Procyon, with an Acer laptop, is currently set to 8.

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