Sometimes notable audio experiences happen when you least expect them. That’s where the lessons occur.

Take, for example, conferences. The organizers work tirelessly to create these events, carefully arranging every detail, from overall branding to location and keynote speakers to catering menus to goodie bags to the celebrity DJ chosen for the after-party. At many conferences, aesthetics play a major role in the overall design and execution. That’s how I ended up with this beautiful name badge at Adobe’s 99U Conference a few weeks ago:

It looks great, right? Modern design, they spelled my name correctly (an impressive feat, let me tell you), and all pertinent conference information is printed on the back for quick reference. However, listen to what happens when you shake it:


While the sound of one badge rattling might be mildly annoying, multiply it by a thousand. Now imagine the cacophony as hundreds of conference attendees shift in their seats, dig in their bags for a pen, or stand to let others pass by. That’s a lot of noise, and not a great audio experience.

Fortunately, the conference organizers discovered this problem after the first speaker sessions concluded. At the start of each new speaker session thereafter, the conference host asked everyone in the auditorium to rattle their conference badges as a form of applause. Then he asked us to store the badges in our bags until we needed them later. Not only did the conference organizers understand how to make the best of a potentially negative situation, they were able to turn it into a positive experience by inventing a new way to cheer. How’s that for an extraordinary audio experience?