Tangle-Free AVS V3

My V2 tangle-free configuration demanded attention the other day when the headphone cable became intermittent in one channel near the plug. Not a bad life for the cheapy Philips headphones, considering how much use the setup got.

I’ve been using closed headphones a lot more lately. I don’t know how much the quality of headphones matters, but the design certainly makes a difference. Sit-on are nice, because you can almost forget they’re there. In-ear give some great sound, and can also do a good job of blocking extraneous noise, but it can be hard to find really comfortable ones, and they’re a hygiene nightmare for sharing. Noise cancelling is a complete no-no. Any form of passive noise blocking or damping is fine, but active cancelling will damage wave structures important to AVS effectiveness.

The best pair of phones I currently own is a pair of AKG K518 DJ. Not particularly flash or expensive, but, if I’m honest, anything better exceeds my ability to discern. That said, other headphones sound different, and leaving aside specifications and technical opinions, it is possible to find a pair of headphones that sounds “just right” for you. Noise blocking was a prime consideration in picking the AKGs – they were the best sounding and most comfortable phone in my price range that delivered the sort of ambient noise attenuation I was wanting.

I’ve kept the AKGs for client sessions, but as I’m doing a lot of session development, it made sense to re-assign them to where I do most of my listening. That means they’re now plugged into the Procyon and usually used with glasses.

I’ve toyed with quite a few makes of glasses, and a few DIY configurations, and I have my preferences, but there’s not a lot that differs in any way that really makes you go “WOW!”. Open-eye with the likes of the Laxman is way up there for wow-factor, but what I’m about to describe goes one better.

On a number of occasions I’ve mentioned “forgetting your ears” as part of session induction. I’ve described a few ways of listening to sessions with speakers, so that there is no sensation to remind you that you have ears. This extends to all sensations. The less there are and the better managed any unavoidable ones are, the better. I’ve arrived at the conclusion that the primary function of an asana is to keep still. There’s all manner of physiological implications to various positions – straightening of the back, ensuring blood flow where required, and so on, but assuming the physiological requirements are met, there should be no significant advantage to any position over any other. The thing is, you have to commit to remaining in your chosen position just as if you were in a complex asana, one designed to alert you, by pain or imbalance, to any motion. In the first few minutes of a session (and to be honest, I think sessions of less than 30 minutes are of dubious value for personal exploration purposes) it’s worthwhile acknowledging everything that is likely to annoy you in the next 30 minutes – any misplaced hairs going to tickle? any cables brushing against skin that may annoy? hands and feet arranged so that they won’t get cramp or numbness? With a preflight check such as this it becomes possible for almost anyone to keep completely still for the duration of a 30 minute session.

Having the audio delivered without reminders of the source of the sound and the channel by which it is made available to consciousness is extremely valuable. Having the photic stimulation delivered by zero-contact glasses is an even greater leap in efficacy and WOW!

The picture below shows a pair of standard MindPlace Procyon tricolor glasses attached to the AKG phones by means of black nylon cable ties. I worked out where to join the glasses to the phones by holding it all together on my head and then removing them, while holding it all together.  You will note that the twin-entry cables for the headphones (the one huge con for the AKGs – I vastly prefer single entry headphones!) has been routed, along with the glasses cable, to the top middle of the headphone band, where they are tied into a single bundle for tangle free continuation to the Procyon. Be careful with the direction of the cable ties – you don’t want any of the scratchy bits sticking inwards.

A couple of considerations…

The K518 DJ phones are superbly suited to this hack because they have an unusual swivelly bit right by the earpads. This swivelly bit lies in the same plane as the arms of the glasses, and swivels in the axis required to open and close the glasses – couldn’t be better if it were designed for the purpose. Other headphones may not be as co-operative.

This arrangement puts an unusual outward stress on the glasses’ frame. The MP glasses I’ve used seem to cope just fine with the K518 DJ phones. Wider headphones, or weaker glasses may lead to damage, and, of course, I may have the only pair of MP glasses that can have this done without damage – i.e. your care if you decide to try this yourself. The MP glasses also have a rubber skin on the arms of the glasses where the connection is made – this provides just the right amount of friction-limited movement to optimise the position of the glasses once the phones are on.

The AKG phones clamp quite firmly, and have exquisitely comfortable pads. The glasses are supported unnoticeably, and providing the cable ties have been correctly placed and tensioned, can be positioned for zero contact with the head or face. LED brightness is barely diminished, as the glass placement is only millimetres from the usual.

Having the light delivered without the constant reminder of its source adds a whole new dimension to the experience – something else for your mind to try to figure out as it looks for solutions to the other-worldly sights and sounds arriving via the audio-visual sensory system. Herein we have another tool for causing dissociative states – the more perception can be distanced from the familiar, the more likely it is that the mind will be left no option but to slip into unusual modes.

An obvious ask is, “Would it be even better if the lights were brighter and further away?” For my purposes (psychoactivity), no. It is not better to illuminate a white area at a greater distance, used open- or closed-eye. It is not better to point brighter lights towards the eyes from a greater distance. It is not improved by the use of glasses other than the MP ones (which means that other machines with their glasses are not better than the Procyon with its glasses).  The configuration in my photograph is the current apex of my sound-light delivery designs. Any improvement, for my purposes, will require a truly radical new configuration.


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