What Are Binaural Beats
If you caught our recent post about sound work in general, you know we glossed over some popular ways to use sound in mindfulness practices. Because some aspects of that introduction need a little more attention, we’re diving in. Today, we’re delving further into what binaural beats are and how you can use them.
We’ll steer clear of pseudoscience as much as possible because this is much more about helping you discover tools that work for you than it is making claims.
The supplies you’ll need for this journey are an open mind, a pair of headphones, and somewhere you can get away. Let’s begin.
What Are Binaural Beats: Brain Entrainment Or Spirituality
From our layperson perspective, there are basically two camps obsessed with binaural beats and other sound therapy: the brain entrainment folks and the spiritual seekers. There is definitely overlap between these two factions.
However, many people using sound work for brain entrainment are attempting to achieve something more specific and less metaphysical. They may seek pain relief, improved focus, or anxiety reduction, through their use of these tools.
By the way, we aren’t endorsing the website the following quotation comes from in any way. We just like their synopsis of the term brain entrainment. Use critical thinking if you follow the link.
Brainwave entrainment is a method to stimulate the brain into entering a specific state by using a pulsing sound, light, or electromagnetic field. The pulses elicit the brain’s ‘frequency following’ response, encouraging the brainwaves to align to the frequency of a given beat. – Brainworks Neurotherapy
Of course, other people seek binaural beats and sound work in order to access elusive parts of their mind, create meditative states, to experience lucid dreaming, or to attempt to activate physical/spiritual processes like ascension or evolution.
Technically, both uses are ‘brain entrainment,’ but the spiritual seekers generally don’t use the term as often as people who turn binaural beats on while they study.
What Are Binaural Beats?
The ‘beats’ part of binaural beats has nothing to do with sick hip hop tracks or rhythm at all. In this context, beat references an acoustic phenomenon caused when two different tones are presented to a listener.
To get technical about it:
When two sound waves of different frequency approach your ear, the alternating constructive and destructive interference causes the sound to be alternatively soft and loud – a phenomenon which is called “beating” or producing beats. The beat frequency is equal to the absolute value of the difference in frequency of the two waves. – hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu
It’s like an auditory illusion which creates the impression of a third tone in addition to the undulating nature described in the quote above. You’ll perceive the sounds as changing in volume and you ‘hear’ a third tone. This phantom tone is the frequency difference between the two audible tons storming your years.
Binaural Or Monaural
Binaural Beats are part of a larger concept called Auditory Steady-State Responses or ASSR. This encompasses both binaural beats which require each tone to sound directly into different ears via headphones, and monaural beats which don’t require headphones. Let’s defer to the experts again for a detailed description:
Monaural beats are physical beats, which are objectively heard when the combination of two sine waves at neighboring frequencies (e.g., 400 and 440 Hz) are summated and presented to each ear at the same time resulting in an amplitude modulated (AM) signal. The beat corresponds to the difference between the two frequencies (in this case 40 Hz). Binaural beats are generated when the sine waves within a close range are presented to each ear separately. For example, when the 400 Hz tone is presented to the left ear and the 440 Hz tone to the right, a beat of 40 Hz is perceived, which appears subjectively to be located “inside” the head. This is the binaural beat percept. – Auditory Beat Stimulation and its Effects on Cognition and Mood States
Binaural beats are often referenced by hertz, a frequency denomination. The hertz listed on any binaural beat recordings represent the phantom tone, or the difference between the two sounds you actually hear in the recording.
You may hear about isochronic tones as well, as these are used on binaural beat recordings occasionally. These tones are stand-alone sounds used to enhance the frequency ‘therapy’ happening to the listener.
What Are Binaural Beats: What Are The Hertz About?
In turn, these hertz correspond to scientifically recognized categories of brainwaves –
- Gamma: (focus, between 25-140 Hz)
- Beta: (waking state, active mind, between 12.5-30 Hz)
- Alpha: (calm relaxation, 8–12 Hz)
- Theta: (creativity, daydreaming, 3.5-7.5 Hz)
- Delta: (deep sleep or dreaming, 1-4 Hz)
Additionally, you’ll sometimes see references to Solfeggio frequencies in the mix. These frequencies were ‘discovered’ by Dr. Joseph Puleo in the 1970s, although he believed that human understanding of them is actually ancient.
Dr. Puleo identified six healing tones through mathematical reduction. The tones are often referred to in spiritual and metaphysical circles. This is not exactly acceptable science, however.
What Are Binaural Beats:: Using All These Tones
If you are intrigued about trying some of these sound-based therapies, here’s what you can expect.
Slap on some headphones, dial-up a video on YouTube that corresponds to the flavor you want to try. Binaural beats and all the other tones are out there in abundance.
You can try using some gamma tones before studying or delta tones to fall to sleep. There are selections focused on meditation, third-eye activation, DNA repair and evolution, lucid dreaming, connecting with the Earth… it’s endless.
Some include other tonal aspects like monaural or isochronic for an even more immersive experience.
We aren’t saying all of these will work for you. But we do feel they’re worth exploring. We find them helpful for achieving trance-like states, relaxing, and even for acute issues like anxiety and pain.
Hopefully this article is a good home base for you to spring off from as you dive further into your head.