The Headphone and Loudspeaker Test: Suggestions for the Controlled use of Playback Devices in Internet Experiments

Yves Wycisk, Reinhard Kopiez, Jakob Bergner, Kilian Sander, Stephan Preihs, Jürgen Peissig, Friedrich Platz


In internet experiments on auditory perception, playback devices may be a confounding variable reducing internal validity. A test procedure to remotely control multiple characteristics of playback devices does not currently exist. Thus, the main goals of this study were to (a) develop and (b) validate a comprehensive, efficient and easy-to-handle test procedure for the reliable identification of playback equipment and its acoustical features in online experiments. Based on a counting task paradigm and psychoacoustic effects, the Headphone and Loudspeaker Test (HALT) was developed with which researchers can standardize loudness adjustments, detect stereo/mono as well as headphone/loudspeaker playback, and assess lower frequency limits. In a first laboratory study (N = 40), HALT was evaluated with four different playback devices (circumaural and intra-aural headphones; external and laptop loudspeakers). Beforehand, the acoustical properties of all playback devices had been measured (e.g., sound pressure level, frequency response). In a final step, the procedure was validated by an internet-based study (N = 211). HALT is assumed to be a reliable, comprehensive, and efficient procedure to remotely control playback devices and listening conditions. In the conclusion, we offer suggestions for an ideal routine for researchers to adapt.




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