The binaural beat phenomenon

Binaural Beats – What they are and what they are not

The binaural beat phenomenon has gotten a lot of press in recent years. It’s becoming a “buzz word” and promises everything from instant meditation to improved athletic performance. As usual, there is some truth behind the claims. Understanding what binaural beats are, and what they are not, is important when understanding the way they are used in compositions at

The best way to describe the binaural beat phenomenon is not with words, but with sound! Let your own ears hear the difference and experience the phenomenon. Listen to the following demonstration while wearing headphones or earbuds:

What they are:

  • An auditory phenomenon produced when you listen to a tone in one ear and a slightly detuned tone in the other.  This only occurs when using headphones.
  • A neural-acoustic phenomenon that has a direct effect on your brainwave patterns. The exact nature of that effect is not yet adequately understood, although experiential and anecdotal evidence would suggest a left-brain/right-brain hemispherical balancing effect is at play.
  • A means to facilitating relaxation and states of calm and focus or, conversely, states of excitation, stimulation, and/or agitation.

What they are not:

  • A short-cut to a particular brainwave pattern or state. While binaural beats do have a direct impact on your neurological brainwave patterns as measured by an electroencephalogram, it does not mean that we can “dial up” a particular pattern. There are many claims that the hertz/frequency differential of a particular binaural beat will create a specific neurological brainwave state. Many studies, as well as my own explorations using an EEG machine, indicate that such a correlation does not exist.  A 5Hz binaural beat will not necessarily produce a corresponding amplitude increase of 5Hz in your brainwaves.
  • A replacement for a mature meditation or mindfulness practice. The binaural beat compositions on will greatly enhance and facilitate your meditation practice, indeed they may open up states of mindfulness that have not been otherwise experienced by you. But they are not instagrams to enlightenment or a bypass to years of meditational study – those types of changes take continual immersion in your meditation practice.

However, there are many studies that demonstrate that there is positive, dynamic change in mental and mood states based on the use of binaural beats. (See our resources page for many examples.) I can personally attest to their transformative power. Much of the misinformation concerning the binaural beat phenomenon is simply because we do not have a comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms involved and that our understanding is continuing to evolve.

The key is applying and using the binaural beat phenomenon correctly. We do this at by embedding this phenomenon in compositions that use pitches identified in your own voice.