What are brain entrainment technologies? If you are looking to accelerate your neural capacities and optimize your meditation, then you’ve no doubt encountered one of the many brain entrainment technologies that have hit the market over the past couple of decades. Things like isochronic tones, binaural beats, and minaural beats, just to name a few, are opening up new avenues for people to sync their brain waves to a more meditative, relaxed, focused, or high performance state. These tools are providing opportunities for people to experience a variety of different brainwave states, and purportedly with more ease and swiftness than with just a regular sitting meditation practice. Perhaps this assisted approach to meditation is just what westerners need to access meditative states, something that can seem elusive and out of reach for a lot of people in our modern world.
It’s not just meditative states that brain entrainment technologies help induce, they can also increase concentration for studying, or help people to effortlessly enter deep sleep and dreaming. Whether you’re living in a fast paced city, or surfing the web from a quiet hub in nature, the chronic “Beta” level mentality that pervades our times (and our technology) is greatly in need of balancing. These brain entrainment tools are a much welcomed reprieve for many. But which technology is the most effective, and what is the difference between them? In this article we will focus on two of the most popular technologies: binaural beats and isochronic tones.
Binaural beats and isochronic tones: Which one is better?
Binaural beats have been around since 1839, when they were discovered by Heinrich Willhelm Dove, but have only gained wider popularity in recent decades. As a field of study, binaural beats have more research backing their effectiveness than isochronic tones, which is a relatively new technology. A binaural beat is something that your brain creates when your ear is presented with two different audio stimuli of varying Hz. Your brain detects the phase difference between the two frequencies and creates a third frequency out of the difference between the two. In this way, you can train your brain to enter different Hz levels, or brainwave frequencies, allowing you to control and alter your state at will. Because binaural beats require that you have two different sounds in each ear, you need headphones for the technology to be effective. While this isn’t a problem for most, it may present a limitation for some. Isochronic tones on the other hand, do not require headphones and can be played on a stereo, perhaps enabling more movement. Binaural beats are research backed, accessible, and affordable.
Isochronic tones only surfaced as an idea around 1999, so it has a lot less wind backing it’s sails in terms of research and feedback. The feedback so far, however, has been extremely positive. People tend to agree that isochronic tones work, and some people prefer them simply for the way they sound and the ease of being able to play them on speakers. Isochronic tones only use one tone, whereas binaural beats uses two. The singular tone is spaced and turns on and off in a pattern. Some find the time intervals between tones to be a little bit jolting, while others feel it is this element that makes isochronic tones to be the fast-acting and effective technology that it is.
As for the actual effectiveness of the technology, there is no conclusive evidence stating that one is more effective than the other. However, numerous case studies have shown that many people prefer isochronic tones for enhancing IQ and concentration, which is created by stimulating the higher brainwave frequencies such as beta and gamma, while more people tend to prefer binaural beats for meditation and relaxation, or the lower frequencies such as alpha, theta, and delta. Some find the isochronic tones to be a little bit sharper and more condusive to alert states, while binaural beats are more soothing. This is just speculative at the moment, many people simply prefer one technique over the other for personal reasons. Both technologies have proven to be effective at creating a hypnotic state within the whole spectrum of brainwave states. The only way to determine which one is better is to try them out and see which one works best for you.