A Review of the 4 Top Binaural Beats Meditation Programs

While brainwave entrainment is just beginning to grow in popularity, The Monroe Institute was the first formal full-fledged school to use this technology, founded by Robert Monroe in 1974.

Since then, other businesses and education models have been developed such as Inspire3 Zen12, Centerpointe Holosync (created by Bill Harris in the 80’s) and Mindvalley OmHarmonics, a popular product created by Vishen Lakhiani.

Now we are seeing an expansion in the number of companies offering brainwave entrainment recordings to benefit people in their meditation practice and every day lives.

Person in lotus position, meditating using earphones and audios

1. Zen12 by Inspire3 Review

zen12 reviewZen12 seems to be the ultimate hack for today’s world – it is a meditation audio program fit for the modern woman or man, that needs only the minimum time commitment to reap benefits.

It provides gains that you might typically get from an hour’s worth of use, from just twelve minutes of deep meditation.

This makes it very more convenient for the busy person who doesn’t have much time to spare. Using special brainwave sound frequencies, it “meditates for you” by shifting the mind and body into a state of relaxation so that you are naturally calm and peaceful.

Zen12 Provides All the Benefits of Meditation

Zen12 is one of the most popular audio meditation programs on the market today, and has been scientifically proven to provide tons of benefits from regular use namely:

Immediate Benefits

1. Reduces anxiety, worry, and stress
2. Improves your mood
3. Enhances relaxation
4. It improves levels of focus

Longer-term Benefits

1. Better mastery over your emotions
2. Increased brainpower, for instance, better memory and creativity
3. Higher stress threshold
4. Enhanced sense of serenity and inner tranquillity.
5. Tons of physical health benefits such as lower stress hormones.

Reasons for Poor Results from Meditation

We live in a chaotic world that has all manner of stresses and distractions such as:

1) Mental Chatter – Some people have not developed the skill of quieting their thoughts and mind, making it almost impossible to get into full meditation.

2) Restlessness – For some people, keeping still for between 45-60 minutes without itching, fidgeting and feeling restless is something they just cannot do.

3) Distracted Focus – In the modern world there are all kinds of distractions from the child asking for attention to the boss calling and asking for an update on the report. All of these distractions can make focusing difficult.

4) No Time – Some people are just too busy to dedicate 45 minutes to an hour a day to meditate

5) Slow Results – Some people expect to get results too fast and get disappointed when they do not match the results of people that have been successful with meditation.

6) Low Awareness – Most people are unaware of the many benefits that meditating on a regular basis provides.

Why Zen12 Is So Effective

Whether you do not have time to meditate or are struggling with focus, mental chatter or restlessness, there is nothing better than Zen12. Using special brainwave sounds, it primes the mind, actively stops distractions and quietens the mind allowing you to meditate. Moreover, since a session is only 12 minutes you can reap all the rewards with less than 90 minutes of meditation every week.

12 minutes of binaural beats meditation

The Science behind Zen12

The Zen12 meditation program harnesses over a century of brainwave research, which has been distilled into the development of every MP3 in the program.

Using brainwave entrainment delivered through binaural beats, it induces a deep state of relaxation that in turn influences your brainwave patterns. The Zen12 program uses these principles to “meditate for you”, as you will not have to concentrate or focus but just listen to the MP3 letting brainwave entrainment technology do all the work.

Do I need Experience?

The good thing about the program is that it is made for both the beginner and the more advanced user. It comes with 12 levels and will grow along with you. It thus allows you to move to more challenging levels when you become proficient at the lower levels.

As such, it is effective even for more advanced users who can jump in at one of the twelve levels that they find more appropriate for their needs.

The levels include the following options:

1) Relaxation Music – Zen12 provides soothing relaxation music to make you relax
2) Sounds of Nature – These could be anything from the chirp of a countryside bird or a babbling brook
3) Guided Meditation – You can choose to listen to a range of guided meditation exercises for each level
4) White Noise – You get a fuzzy sound that blocks out any distractions and background noise, which makes for a great meditation session

What You Get

The Zen12 package comes with instructional videos, individual-level MP3s and 24/7 customer support. It includes:

1) The Zen12 Library – This comes with all the levels for the 12-month program in a variety of styles that you can choose from

2) User Manual and Quick Start Guide – Learn how to get started and correctly use the Zen12 program so that you get the most out of it.

3) Bonuses – You get “The 18 Rules of Happiness” and “The Secret Art of Self Development” in audio in addition to self-growth vouchers.

4) Lifetime Support – You get access to a special support email, where you can get customer support 24/7

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. I have a busy schedule, where will I get the time for this?
A. You only need 12 minutes for a complete session. Moreover, you get to decide how many times you use it a week depending on your meditation goals.

Q. Do I have to listen every single day?
A. It is always best to listen at least once a day but you get to choose how many times you will use the program. Since it is only twelve minutes, it can fit around most schedules though you will still get meditation benefits even if you do not listen every single day.

2. Mindvalley OmHarmonics (Vishen Lakhiani) Review

OmHarmonics MindvalleyMindvalley OmHarmonics was created by Vishen Lakhiani, technology and personal growth entrepreneur who partnered with an audio engineer named Paul Hoffman to deliver improved meditation and life experiences through Binaural Beat audio technology.

The OmHarmonics soundtracks are augmented with heartbeat synchronization and ambient sounds such as breathing and music. Selections are offered in 15 or 30-minute sessions, and each soundtrack is a fully guided journey to take you through different points in your day. The five-CD package costs $149. Tracks include:

  • The Start of Day – A calm start to a productive day
  • The Focus – Sharpened focus and concentration
  • The Spark – Generates abundant creativity and productivity at work
  • The Balance – Creates calmness and relaxation to wind down after a hectic day
  • The Deep Rest – A soothing guide to a deep restful sleep

Now that you have learned about the benefits of brainwave entrainment, audio therapy, and meditation, you are well on your way to enjoying the experience for yourself.

Today, transformation to a better life is more accessible than ever before, thanks to advancements in technology, and these new companies who are expanding the boundaries of human consciousness through sound. I think that the Omharmonics program is one of the best out there at the moment, from a cost-benefit point of view.

UPDATE: Omharmonics has been superseded by the M-Word program by Mindvalley. To quote them: 

“Think you know meditation? Go beyond a purely spiritual tool and learn to use Meditation to actually help you become a powerhouse at work and a magnet that attracts good things into your life. It starts when you understand these five specific techniques…”

3. Centerpointe Research Institute and Holosync Awakening Prologue

holosync awakening prologue

Companies such as Centerpointe Research Institute have filled the growing demand for information, resources, and soundtracks that are effective tools for entrainment. To give you an idea of the different offerings available from each of these organizations.

Holosync is a 13-level brainwave entrainment program offered by the Centerpointe Research Institute. This program was originally developed by Bill Harris, who practised and studied Buddhism. The program solely uses binaural beats as its sound technology. It costs in the region of $3000 for the full program and offers lifetime support from the creators.

However, be warned – this program is known to cause users intense emotional overwhelm and upheaval. So, the program may not be suitable for people with emotional problems or vulnerabilities.

Having said that, Holosync is said to provide great benefits even with its “brute force” design.

Centerpointe suggest it can help you “meditate as deeply as a zen monk”, eliminate stress, slow the ageing process, eliminate difficult feelings & attain inner peace and happiness…with a sales pitch like that, What’s not to like? Sign me up quick…!

Holosync was developed by Bill Harris & his friend Wes Wait in the late Eighties. Harris with a background in personal growth got the idea for Holosync after reading an article in Scientific American called “Auditory beats in the brain” which suggested that when the brain was presented with audio tones of certain frequencies, it would make the brain wave patterns resonate to certain precise frequencies. Alas, the aha moment!

The Holosync audio tracks are made up of two parts, low-frequency tones and sounds from nature. A tone of one frequency is applied to one ear and a tone of a slightly different frequency is applied to the other ear, thus causing the electrical brain patterns to resonate to the difference between the two tones. The lower the tones the more powerful the results.

This is contrasted with pleasant sounds from nature to make you feel calm and relaxed. Typically the sound of heavy rain falling on a tin roof accompanies many of the levels. The two combined will have you feeling very comfortable under your headphones.

Using brainwave entrainment audio like Holosync does for the mind what physical exercise does for the body. We push ourselves beyond our comfort zone, to get fitter & stronger. This is the same with Holosync, One step at a time, delving deeper and deeper.

When you listen to Holosync, you train your brain to restructure electrical patterns between the left and right hemisphere of the brain. “Whole Brain Functioning” occurs when there is a balance or synchronization between the two hemispheres, Thus leading to a higher level of functioning with the benefits of enhanced emotional health and enhanced mental functioning.

Users are recommended to listen to Holosync with headphones every day usually for 1 hour at a time, the programme has many levels that bring you deeper and deeper.. over a long period of time. When you begin your Holosync journey you start with the Awakening Prologue which you listen to for 2 weeks & only for a half-hour at a time, When I started with Holosync it knocked me for six I would wake hours later with headphones tied uncomfortably around my head, Later I was better able to deal with its low frequencies.

One of the first benefits I noticed with Holosync was the quality of sleep I was getting was better, I would awake before my alarm thinking.. Have I slept in..?  I felt refreshed and better able to cope with my busy routine.

The second benefit I found was my focus. At work, I could have easily been distracted by the latest cat video on YouTube. But with Holosync I did feel like I had more control seeing only the task at hand, doing one job at a time strategically and efficiently.

After a couple of weeks on the program, I started to experience some emotional upheaval, I remember calling my friend who had suggested Holosync to me and wondering what the hell was going on… I hoped I hadn’t done some damage that was irreversible, but of course, what I was experiencing was normal and par for the course… Emotionally I felt vulnerable and weak, A dull headache persisted until I decided to give it a break for a while.

But as the old saying goes “it has to get worse before it gets better” I realised that what was causing the discomfort was my own inability to let go of unresolved emotional issues that were hovering below the surface. However this is actually the moment where your brain makes a leap, But in order for this to happen, you have to drop some of the baggage the unconscious mind clings on to like fear, anxiety and sadness. Easier said than done.

Holosync has multiple further levels (16 I think) each one bringing you deeper with lower carrier frequencies

Conveniently, a support system does exist within Holosync for users who do experience upheaval or any such problem. This help is available through the follow-up support letters which you receive at different stages throughout the program via email, you can also telephone their support team during business hours for a chat. It’s not for the faint-hearted but I think it has good points.

4. The Monroe Institute and Hemi-Sync (+Gateway Experience)

hemi sync

The Monroe Institute offers a variety of programs that incorporate a specially designed audio-guidance system called Hemi-Sync. Their online courses are quite expensive and do not include the cost of CD’s, which range from $19-$25 each.

The Gateway Experience Online Program: $1,595 — Audio-guidance to massage your mind in your own home, offered online through an experienced TMI trainer, who will take you through a waking state into deep relaxation, and then into unexplored dimensions of consciousness. This program takes you through six progressive levels called Waves, designed to take you through profound levels of awareness. Each Wave program can also be purchased separately for $295, which is a total of $1,770 for all six if purchased separately. CD’s must be purchased separately.

The Monroe Institute also offers free one-day mini-programs at their residential treatment facility in Virginia. They have Outreach Workshops as well, which are conducted by certified trainers in your area. These workshops take place over a one or two day period and feature transformative techniques guided by Hemi-Sync audio-technology. For an extended stay at The Monroe Institute in Virginia, you can attend one of their 5 day/6 night residential programs, which includes training, tuition, lodging, and meals for $2,195.

The Hemi Sync Products Reviewed

Hemi Sync is a unique form of technology discovered by Dr Robert Monroe. In the 1950s, Robert Monroe had a unique experience in which he managed to become separated from his body. This out-of-body experience enabled him to explore a whole new level of peace and happiness and transform his mind like never before. As a result, he created the Monroe Institute to further investigate and explore the out-of-body experiences people can have.

Hemi Sync represents the pinnacle of his studies and researches. The hemi-sync.com site hosts the largest collection of digital content that you can use to improve your focus, relax like never before and leverage the benefits of meditation. The Hemi Sync meditation programs are specially created to help people worldwide to improve their lives and gain true peace and fulfilment.

Hemi Sync RemembranceWhat Actually is Hemi Sync?

Hemi Sync is a vast collection of resources which allows you to leverage the Hemi-sync technology, also known as binaural beats. Hemi Sync is short of hemispheric synchronization, which is meditation taken to a whole new level.

Basically, on the site, you can choose a program to help you develop and grow a certain key area in your life. For example, if you want to be more creative, you can go to the Creativity page and buy an audio track download that helps you boost your creativity. The beautiful melodic compositions are not just amazingly pleasant to the ear, but they also use the power of binaural beats to help you dive deep into your consciousness and boost your brain activity.

What can you Get on Hemi Sync?

You can choose tens of thousands of unique songs and music played at various instruments in order to improve your creativity, well-being, learning & memory, spirituality and concentration. You can also find resources to help you sleep better, reduce stress levels, enjoy better spa sessions, get into shamanic yoga, keep your weight under control or even transition with ease from physical life into the afterlife.

You can filter your search by language and by genre. You can also choose a select resource called “The Gateway Experience”. Let’s explore it below.

Hemi Sync Gateway Experience DiscoveryThe Gateway Experience

The Gateway Experience is a powerful program whose aim is to awaken your mind and to help you get increased awareness. This intensive immersive program is a standalone practice that takes place a few times a year at the Monroe Institute. The sessions are recorded on CDs, so you can get to enjoy them from the comfort of your home.

At the Gateway Experience Retreat, which is based on a remote location in the US, the outreach instructors get to use the power of the Hemi sync technology to help attendees expand their active consciousness, increase their personal growth and enhance their intuitive development. The same exercises can be found on the CDs, so you can enjoy the same benefits of the attendees even if you are staying comfortable on your sofa at home.

Each part of the Gateway Experience opens up your eyes and mind to a whole new level of knowledge. You can order seven albums, each of them focusing on a certain aspect of mind awareness. You can use these albums to better discover your own self so that you can live a more fulfilling life.

Understanding Binaural Beats

All the music tracks and resources available on the Hemi-Sync website are based on numerous years of research on binaural beats. The way this concept works is that a sound played in your left ear when combined with another sound played in your right ear, form a powerful vibrato. This vibration is the binaural beating.

Using brain scans, the scientists from Monroe Institute have managed to discover an improvement of brain activity at users listening to binaural beats. Using multi-layered sound frequencies, the songs available on these tracks can improve certain areas of your brain and can boost their activity. Thus, you get to enjoy a coherent brain-wave pattern that can dramatically enhance your brain potential.

Using the resources on Hemi-Sync that all leverage the power of binaural beats, you can experience enhanced physical, mental and emotional states. This is all triggered by the four types of waves in the brain, that work together to improve certain aspects of your brain. We’re talking about Alpha, Beta, Theta and Delta waves.

The researchers from Monroe Institute have studied brainwave entrainment. They have managed to combine the waves of the brain to create an advanced brainwave entrainment method which enables the brain to naturally synchronize with the beats and to create stronger connections.

Why Should you Buy Audio Tracks or CDs from Hemi Sync?

The Hemi-Sync products could be extremely useful for every single one of us. All the products they have are based on advanced studies performed over the years in the field of brainwave entrainment, brain waves and binaural beats. The creator of this site, Dr Robert Monroe, has done extensive research on lucid dreaming and brainwave entrainment, and he managed to experience all the benefits of these techniques on his own skin.

Thus, he created this platform, which is an extension of his research institute, to help people from all over the globe to explore their consciousness and take control of their lives.

The main reason to purchase tracks and CDs on this site is that they can literally help you become a better person in every single aspect of your life. Binaural beats are just marvellous and work to boost your creativity, increase your innovation, help you relax and also enable you to get better sleep. You can use the music to achieve peak levels of performance in your career, find the love of your life, defeat bad habits in your life and produce positive changes that you never thought were possible to achieve.

The unique audio technology on Hemi Sync can help you reach profound meditative states, calm your mind, improve the quality of your sleep and improve your memory and focus. You can also use these resources to reach your full potential as a creator and live a better and more fulfilling life.

This platform has been helping people for years, while the Monroe Institute has been innovating in the binaural beats field for over 50 years. You can rest assured that the CDs on this site are perfect for you and have the potential to help you achieve your goals in life.

fMRI Scan of Brain Before and After using Theta Wave Meditation
fMRI Scan of Brain Before and After using Theta Wave Meditation

Our bodies are essentially made up of vibrating fields of energy, generating a vast symphony of vibration that creates matter. Everything vibrates at a certain resonance. When we tap into the resonance of who we want to be, miracles can happen.

Managing our busy lives which are full of distractions, and operating in a harmonious state can be challenging. This is the reason meditation has become such a popular part of our modern culture. The benefits of meditation are manifold, including an increased ability to focus with clarity, a calm and pleasant demeanour, and self-mastery in many fields. Scientific evidence has clearly proven the benefits of meditation on the mind and body.

The brain activity of skilled meditators has been studied via EEG (electroencephalograph), which measures brain activity as tiny electric pulses on a monitor. Repeatedly studies have proven that the brain is more harmonious while in a meditative state, and ideal attributes such as calmness and heightened awareness are clearly indicated.

These ideal states are reflected as certain brainwave frequencies. Each frequency relates to a specific level of consciousness from deep sleep to wakefulness, and reflects our potential for creativity, intuition, clarity, relaxation, and focus.

If you are having trouble meditating, as most people do, there is a way to enter the meditative state through sound. This is called Brainwave Entrainment. Brainwave entrainment can be achieved through listening to certain tones that affect correlation to that frequency in the brain.

A Quick Primer on the Brainwaves of Meditation

There are seven brain wave frequency ranges, each reflecting a certain state of wakefulness and mind activity. Effective meditators predominantly register in the theta, alpha, or gamma range.

Brainwave Entrainment (Meditation) States and Frequencies
Brainwave Entrainment (Meditation) States and Frequencies

The frequency of each range is as follows*:
Epsilon: 0-.5 hertz
Delta: .5–3.5 hertz
Theta: 3.5-8 hertz
Alpha: 8-12 hertz
Beta: 12-38 hertz
Gamma: 38-42 hertz
Lambda: 100-200+ hertz

* Please keep in mind, there is often variance in research as to the exact frequency range of each state. As the mind transitions from one state to another, there is integration between the two states, it is not an abrupt change. Therefore some variance in the frequency of each range is present.

Following is an outline of the benefits and drawbacks of each brainwave frequency. Afterwards, we will review different techniques available to achieve brainwave entrainment.

Epsilon: 0-0.5 hertz*

These hard to discern brainwaves are often present in the most advanced yogis, who can slow their heart rate to a point where it is undetectable. Close to a nonphysical state, those who monitor such slow brainwaves indicate feelings of euphoria and sometimes have an out-of-body experience.
BALANCE: Ecstatic states of consciousness, suspended animation, spiritual insight.
IMBALANCE: Lack of body awareness and activity
* limited research available.

Delta: 0.5-3.5 hertz

When the body is resting in a deep dreamless sleep, it is in a Delta state. Here the natural powers of recuperation occur. The intuitive mind is able to do its work, and healing takes place. Many people who engage in healing or therapeutic work display these brainwave states even while awake. Delta waves are most prominent in infants and children in the awakened state.
BALANCE: Restorative and healing, deep relaxation, deep sleep, rejuvenation.
IMBALANCE: Lack of conscious awareness, learning disabilities, disconnected from the outer world.

Theta: 3-8 hertz

Theta is a semi-hypnotic state indicated when the mind is deeply meditating, or in dream sleep (REM). Intuitive and receptive, the focus is inward. The subconscious is accessed in this state, allowing for deeper insight and resolution of problems that are rooted in the hard to reach subconscious. Creativity is also present, along with the feeling of spiritual connection.
BALANCE: Intuitive, relaxed, spiritual, emotionally connected, creative and insightful, mystical, access to the subconscious.
IMBALANCE: Depression, inactivity, unable to concentrate, ADHD

Alpha: 8-12 hertz

Alpha is the bridge between the conscious and the subconscious mind. Here you are aware of both the inner and outer worlds. An awakened state, Alpha indicates a relaxed and calm mind. Imaginative play is engaged, including daydreaming and creative visualization. Creative insight and acceptance allow for peak performance in many areas. The calm focus while in an Alpha state is often present in musicians, great athletes, and artists.
BALANCE: Calm and relaxed, non-linear thinking, creativity, imagination, bridges the subconscious and conscious realms, enhanced perception and intuition.
IMBALANCE: Lack of focus and attention, inability to take action, lack of time sensitivity.

Beta: 12-38 hertz

This is the “normal” waking state of most humans who are actively engaged. When the mind is discerning and analytical, beta brainwaves are prominent. The mind is able to focus in and concentrate on the task at hand. The higher Beta frequencies reflect fear, anxiety, being stressed-out and feelings of restlessness and nervousness.
BALANCE: Linear thinking, socializing, stimulating, reading and writing, logical analysis, focus and attention.
IMBALANCE: Insomnia, stress, anxiety, hyper-critical, paranoid.

Gamma: 38-100 hertz

These brainwaves are harder to detect visually as their amplitude is low on the graph. In the Gamma state you begin to synthesize data and enter a realm of higher understanding with bursts of great insight. These brainwaves sweep across the brain, creating the big picture out of your fragmented thoughts. Elevated concentration is present, with the ability to ascend into the mystical and transcendental realms. These waves are prevalent in Tibetan monks.
BALANCE: Integration, emotional stability, energy, lovingkindness, happiness and confidence, higher awareness, enhanced learning and greater retention.
IMBALANCE: High state of arousal, restlessness, lack of sleep, hallucinations, schizophrenia.

Lambda: 100-200+ hertz

At the highest end of the spectrum, lambda brainwaves begin to move one beyond matter and into altered states of consciousness. They have Epsilon brainwaves embedded in them, and vice versa, indicating a circular relationship between the highest and lowest brain frequencies. Epsilon and Lambda seem to be entry and exit points into the circle of human consciousness.
BALANCE: Heightened awareness, extraordinary states of consciousness, out-of-body experiences
IMBALANCE: Unusual state of consciousness that is lacking in research.

Epsilon and HyperGamma/Lambda Brainwaves

Normal human brainwave states are calculated between 0.5 and 30 hertz, anything above or below that is considered extraordinary. Epsilon and HyperGamma or Lambda brainwaves are extreme states of consciousness at the beginning and end of the spectrum. They are rarely present in normal waking humans and are difficult to detect on an EEG.

While brainwaves were first monitored in the 1920s, research regarding Epsilon, Gamma, and Lambda brainwaves began in earnest in the 1980s and 1990s, and there is still a lot to learn about the brain in these states, and what they indicate.

Epsilon and Lambda waves have been found in subjects who are in extreme states of meditation. They are connected with a feeling of complete bliss and compassion. Those who indicate Epsilon and Lambda brainwave states often describe euphoric experiences with great spiritual and personal insight, as well as spontaneous out-of-body experiences. It will be interesting to further explore these realms of consciousness and their positive and negative effects.

Modes of Delivery For Brainwave Entrainment — Binaural Beats, Monaural Beats, and Isochronic Tones

There are several means of receiving brainwave entrainment through sound, these include Binaural Beats, Monaural Beats, and Isochronic Tones. All three are found to be effective, but each has a slight variance in their appeal to the listener, and in their mode of delivery.

Binaural Beats

Binaural Beats occur when the brain synchronizes two different sounds delivered through headphones. What actually happens is that the brain processes one frequency delivered to the right ear, and a different frequency delivered to the left ear, then generates a brainwave that is equal to the difference between the two sounds. This auditory response occurs in the brain itself.
So for example: If you put on headphones and in your right ear is a tone that generates a sound of 114 hertz (hertz is the rate of sound measured in cycles per second), and in your left ear is a tone operating at 124 hertz, your brain will then create a tone that is equal to the difference between the two, which in this case is 10 hertz.

how binaural beats work
How binaural beats work

According to Gerald Oster in his legendary paper on binaural beats in Scientific American in 1973 “Auditory Beats In The Brain”, Binaural Beats are an effective tool for brainwave entrainment. He also states that some people are not able to hear Binaural Beats.

The optimal range to deliver Binaural Beats is around 440 hertz, after that, they can be hard to discern, and disappear altogether at around 1000 hertz. Both men and women lose the ability to hear Binaural Beats above 1000 hertz, but he found women lose the ability to hear them in the lower ranges as well, which may be linked to estrogen levels in the body.

Isochronic Tones

Unlike Binaural Beats, Isochronic Tones are generated from a single tone, not two. These tones are created by a sound engineer, therefore headphones are not needed for the entrainment effect.

The pattern of the tone is more distinguished than Monaural and Binaural Beats because of the quick intermittent pauses in sound. Each wave in the frequency has a distinct beginning and endpoint. The sound created by an Isochronic Tone is very prominent, which may be irritating to some, but engaging to others. They are found to be an effective tool for brainwave entrainment.

binaural beats versus isochronic tones
Binaural Beats versus Isochronic Tones

You may prefer to listen to Isochronic Tones accompanied by background music, making them more pleasant to listen to. A study by Doherty Cormac in 2014 determined that the entrainment effect was just as effective using Isochronic Tones with music, as without.

Monaural Beats

Monaural beats are created by a sound engineer. They do not require headphones, so they can be advantageous in settings where headphones are not ideal to use. Essentially Monaural beats can be heard in a single ear like Isochronic Tones, whereas Binaural Beats require two ears, each ear receiving different frequencies to create a third frequency in the brain.

Monaural Beats and Binaural Beats appear to be processed in different parts of the brain. The beats are similar in sound, but perception and preference for sound can vary greatly depending on each individual.

Research done by David Seiver from Comptronic states that Monaural and Isochronic Tones may produce a stronger brainwave entrainment effect than Binaural Beats. The large majority of the research, however, has been based on the effectiveness of Binaural Beats.

Trying out different techniques and soundtrack compositions will help you to determine your preference, and which tool is most effective for you. All three modes are found to be effective. Essentially the best approach is the one that works best for you.

Scientific Research

There have been numerous scientific studies on brainwave entrainment over the years, from extensive research on Binaural Beats in the 1970s to more recent studies on the effects of Monaural and Isochronic Tones.

The tracking of brainwaves began in 1924 with the creation of the electroencephalogram, or EEG, by German psychiatrist Hans Berger. Berger was looking for proof of psychic energy in the brain.

By the 1970s research on brainwave entrainment began in earnest with significant contributions made by Gerald Oster and Robert Monroe, using the EEG to display its effectiveness.

According to Dr Gerald Oster of Mt. Sinai Medical Center, Binaural Beats are created in the brain using two slightly different tones in each ear, forming a brainwave pattern that is equal to the difference between the two tones. Using this method, the brain can be stimulated to achieve certain states of consciousness that provide optimal functioning of the brain.

Around this time Robert Monroe was also investigating brainwave entrainment. A radio and television expert, his studies on audio and video influences on the mind eventually led him to have an out-of-body experience through sound.

Monroe became fascinated with the ability to control his state of consciousness through audio-guidance technology. He created audio tapes called Hemi-Sync to generate hemispheric synchronization in the brain, as evidenced on an EEG.

This led to the creation of The Monroe Institute in 1974, where Monroe was joined by a group of fellow researchers in using his Hemi-Sync techniques for brainwave entrainment, allowing the listener to achieve beneficial results. The Monroe Institute provides seminars teaching others how to use audio therapy to improve concentration, meditation, reduce pain, and enhance their overall mental, physical, and emotional well-being.

Actual brain waves after meditating for 15 minutes
Actual brain waves after meditating for 15 minutes

According to Michael Hutchison in his book Megabrain Power, peak mental states found in meditators, athletes, and artists can be replicated by brainwave entrainment, which can produce positive neurochemical compositions in the brain, such as improved levels of DHEA and melatonin, and create hemispheric symmetry.

Dr Robert Cosgrove Jr., a professional in the biomedical and pharmaceutical industries, found that brainwave stimulation can be an excellent neuro-pathway exerciser, providing the potential for improvements in cerebral performance.

The list of researchers who advocate brainwave entrainment through sound is quite impressive and includes Jim Lagopoulos of Sydney University, Australia, Dr Suzanne Evans Morris, Ph.D., Dr Lester Fehmi, director of the Princeton Behavioral Medicine and Biofeedback Clinic, Dr Arthur Hastings, Ph.D., Dr Joe Kaniya, Director of the Psychophysiology of Consciousness Laboratory, Dr Bill D. Schul, Dr Jeffrey D. Thompson, and Drs. Tina L. Huang and Christine Sheraton, among many others.

These doctors and researchers found that even a single session of brainwave entrainment could have therapeutic effects. Brainwave entrainment can even assist in treating alcohol and drug addiction.

In one study, two groups of alcoholics were sent through different treatment patterns as an experiment. One group went through the 12-step program provided by Alcoholics Anonymous. The other group simply received fifteen 20-minute sessions of Alpha-Beta Binaural Beat treatment sessions. The AA group who received the 12-step program relapsed after 13 months at a rate of 80%, with no change in levels of depression. The Binaural Beat group had a significant decrease in relapsing at a rate of only 20%, with a 30% decrease in incidents of depression.