The two main brainwave entrainment technologies on the market are isochronic tones and binaural beats.
But how do they work and which is better? Moreover, how can you know which technology is best suited to you?
Okay, well, don't lose your head just yet. Because as always I can help.
In this post I'll also reveal the distinctions between the two technologies, which in turn will help you decide which suits your ears best.
Isochronic Tones vs Binaural Beats
1. Binaural Beats – The People's Favorite
The original and still most popular, binaural beats have had a near strangle-hold on the brainwave entrainment market for years.
Affordable, reliable and proven to work in numerous binaural Beats studies, binaural beats are typically the first port of call for a BWE adventurer to stumble upon.
Binaural beats work by sending a different frequency to each ear. When hearing the two tones simultaneously, the brain interprets the tones sent to the left and right ears as one tone and entrains the brain to that frequency.
For example, if a 310 Hz sound frequency is sent to the left ear, and a 315 Hz to the right ear, the brain will process and interpret the two sounds as one 5 Hz frequency.
The brain then follows along at the new frequency (5 Hz), producing brainwaves at the same rate of Hertz (Hz). The technical term for this process is ‘frequency following response’. (Source: Binauralbeatsmeditation.com)
- Proven to work in numerous studies
- Technology has been around for dozens of years
- Massively accessible – hundreds of choices
- Affordable – online prices driven down to around $9.99-15
- Powerful – guaranteed results (in most cases)
- The sound of the binaural beats frequencies playing under the track can be distracting, depending on the design of the recording and production quality.
- Requires headphones for the full effects
- Lots of poor quality around from amateur producers – be careful what you buy!
3) Isochronic Tones – The New Kid on the Block
Isochronic tones is a newer form of brain wave entrainment.
Whereas binaural beats utilize two tones (one played into each ear), isochronic tones use just one tone. This one tone repeatedly turns on and off in a pattern (more like pulsating), with the speed depending on the frequency(s) used.
This may seem like a minor distinction, but it means that you don't need headphones.
For some this is an exciting development, but are tones better?
There really isn't any scientific evidence to back this up, but many enthusiasts like them because they don't need headphones.
Personally, I dig them, but don't find them any more or less effective. I think the initial entrainment is stronger – like there's a wow effect when you first dive in – but the post-listening effect isn't any stronger.
one issue for me is that I find that you need to be near the speakers, otherwise the effects are nowhere near as pronounced. I'll be honest, I end up using my headphones a lot of the time.
Also consider that if you're at work, or at home with a noisy family, you want to block out the sound when doing brainwave entrainment anyway.
- The isochronic frequencies usually sound gentler on the ear, and depending on the recording the noise of the isochronic tones is almost imperceptible at times.
- Don't need headphones, which is a plus point when using recordings designed for sleep.
- Slightly more expensive: a 30-minute download is approximately $20, whereas an equivalent binaural beats MP3 would be $10-15
- Some users prefer to hear the brainwave entrainment working under the track – in which case binaural beats would be better, as you often can't hear the sound of the isochronic tones over the sound of the relaxing music.
So Which is Better – Isochronic Tones or Binaural Beats?
For me, I tend to stick with binaural beats because I use this type of music mostly for focus, meditation and stress relief, and for that I like to be in my own head space, with headphones on.
I also feel that entrainment is much stronger in headphones. I mean, it makes sense, right? The concentration of frequencies straight to ears is more likely to have a greater effect that an inconsistent tone coming to your ears from a distance.
That said, if you have your isochronic tones playing out of speakers right in front of you, they can be as effective.
Brainwave entrainment is about experimentation and you may come across some recordings that don't work well for you, and others that you couldn't live without. So work out what's best for you and build a catalogue based on that premise, not solely what type of technology was used to create the music.
Isochronic tones are a new technology too. So you should work with the assumption that they will improve over time as studio professionals enhance recordings through experimentation.
If you have a partner who wants to join in then tones are cool because you can share out loud. Whenever you need a pick-up, you can listen to your isochronics – and your friends can too.
There's a growing collection of isochronic tones available: You can already get them for meditating, visualizing, remote viewing, tuning chakras, improving memory, etc., so I highly recommend giving them a try.
If you're new to all this, you may find binaural beats to be more effective and a better entry point. It's kind of psychological in that tones you just play out loud and say; “Errr, now what”, whereas with the right binaural beats music you usually get an instant jolt of “Wow, cool”.
Perhaps I do have a bias, after all this site is called Binaural Beats Freak, but really, if you go with a site like BinauralBeatsMeditation.com, you aren't likely to look back.
The great thing; however, is that the low cost of entry for both is pretty low – less that a meal out. So you can experiment and build your own catalogue.