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OSWeb audio not working for some participants


I made an experiment on OpenSesame that has a lot of audio files, but for many of our participants the audio doesn't come through. There's no error given and I've tested the experiment countless times on chrome and safari, both with ad blockers (in case that's relevant), but I haven't had the same problem. I'm trying the different back-ends (e.g. legacy, psycho), but has anyone encountered this or know how to fix it?




  • Hi Zach,

    This is very hard to pin down. You would need rather detailed information of your participants' systems and their settings when running the experiment. The fact that the experiment works under several settings for you is already a good sign, so I don't think there is a programming bug on your end. Of course you can never know for sure whether there isn't something wrong with OSweb or some other aspect that can be controlled by you/us, but I would guess that the problem has to do with local (audio) settings of your participants. Without getting information from them this is quite difficult to test. Maybe you can try different computers you have access to and see whether you can reproduce the error there. You could also ask your participants to open the console of their browser and check there for bugs during the experiment.


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  • Hi Eduard,

    The audio doesn't work for one of my coworkers, so we tried adjusting the settings. For some reason the audio doesn't work on Safari, but it consistently works on chrome. Here are some screenshots of the error messages from Safari. Thanks for your help!


  • Hi Zach,

    That certainly isn't good, but wouldn't it be an option to instruct participant with which software they should start the experiment?

    Other than that, @sebastiaan @Daniel is it a known thing that sound seems to be buggy on safari?


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  • edited January 2021


    This is a known issue with safari and is due to safaris security policies which cannot be circumvented. Best thing to do here is to advice people not to use safari but a different browser.

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  • Hi @Daniel,

    Great, thank you! We got it to work on chrome and firefox.


  • Hi @zach_researcher and @Daniel: I am also about to set out a studio with audio, using prolific. I can not restricts signups based on which browser someone has so it would be great if I could mention in the instructions which browsers a participant can or can not use: Does anyone have a complete list?

  • Hi @MarkNieuwenstein. This is very difficult to tell. Osweb basically supports every modern browser from Internet Explorer 11 and upwards, but things like not being able to play audio in Safari are due to Apple's ever changing security and privacy policies. Any automated compatibility checks that we have won't expose this.

    In any case, it should be safe to use Chrome, Firefox and Microsoft Edge (which also uses the Chrome engine nowadays). Safari as you can see is a gamble.

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  • Hi @zach_researcher ,

    Your initial question has been answered already, but here's a suggestion in case it's helpful. In addition to instructing your participants to use one the browsers @Daniel recommended, you could also adapt your task to detect which browser your participant is using. Then you could do display a message advising participants using Safari to reopen the experiment's URL in Chrome, Firefox or Edge.

    You could also add a little test at the onset of your experiment to check whether they can hear your stimuli. For example, you can present a sequence of auditory digits and ask participants to type them in. You could program the task to run some debugging procedure with participants who fail to pass that test: asking them to check that their sound level is loud enough and re-do the test, etc., all the way to asking them to re-open the URL in a different browser if nothing else has worked.

    I attach a task detecting the browser using javascript. Note that this code will only work when executed on a server, so it won't work on your computer if you launch it in your browser from OS. You'll need to upload it to your JATOS server to try it out.

    Incidentally, the code can also be useful if you'd like to gather some information about the browsers used by your participants.



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  • Thank you very much for your contributions @Fab !

    Did you like my answer? Feel free to Buy Me A Coffee :)

  • edited March 2021

    @Fab: Thanks so much for the great suggestion about the digit-task as well as browser detector script, that's exactly what I was looking for!

    As for my own experiment, I ran into a curious issue which probably relates more to my audio files than to OS web, but might be useful to some who run into this as well:

    I had a colleague make recordings of a male and female voice actor who spoke the sentence "My name is .. [name]". I tested the experiment, running it from JATOS using Edge, Firefox, Chrome (mac and PC), Safari, Opera, and Brave. As it turns out, only Firefox plays the soundclips properly. Safari does not play them at all (as already indicated above), and for Brave, Opera, Edge, and Chrome the curious thing is that only for some of the male fragments, there is a nasty computer sound like "screetch-nnggg" at the end of the clip. This happens consistently for some of the clips, but not at all for others, even though the clips were all recorded the same way.

    Since we do need to start collecting the data soon, I will now make use of your excellent suggestions to ensure that only prolific participants with Firefox will do the experiment / be used for data analysis.

  • Update: I just tried it again, with the bit rate reduced to 16 bits instead of 24, and the audio files now work fine on all of the following browsers: Brave, Chrome, Opera, Firefox (still need to try Edge, but expect it to work there as well).

  • edited March 2021

    Update 2: Edge works fine as well with the 16-bit files.

  • HI @MarkNieuwenstein,

    Thanks for the updates! Glad you got it to work. Good to know that sounds need to be 16 bit to work on all browsers 👍️

    Good luck with your project!


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