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Binaural Beats Versus Isochronic Tones

Audio therapy quite often uses various forms of beats or pulsing audio tones. There are several ways to create these tones. Two popular ways to produce the audio pulse are via Binaural Beats or Isochronic Tones. Let’s describe the differences between these tow.

Binaural Beats

Binaural Beats are a perceived audio beat or pulse, created due to the inability of the brain to correctly process the minimal frequency difference between two different sine or square waves in each ear. That’s a mouthful. But it is important to note that a key difference with Ishchronic Tones is that binaural beats have no breaks of silence. Each tone is continuously playing in each ear. Because the tones are playing, exclusively, in each ear and have a very small difference in frequency, the brain cannot properly mix the two signals and instead creates the perception that there is actually a beat playing. Additionally, the illusion of Binaural Beats is only created when listening to the tones with stereo headphones. When listening to them over speakers, the brain can properly mix the signals and thus no beat perception is realized.

Here is a view of a right and left ear stereo wave showing that there is no gaps in a Binaural Beats audio sample. The two individual channels have minimally different sine waves and this difference in frequency, and the fact that they are listened to over headphones, is what causes the brain to perceive a beating noise.

binaural-beats-sine-wave-sample

Isochronic Tones

Isochronic Tones, on the other hand, are created by specifically interleaving gaps of audio and silence. By doing this, Isochronic Tone pulses can be experienced over speakers (single or multi-channel) and headphones. This is likely the primary reason why Isochronic Tones are a more popular way to explore the meditative effects of audio therapy with audio pulses. The gaps of silence are positioned at specific frequencies. Like the various frequencies of Binaural Beats, these frequencies often correspond to brainwave activity at various levels of engagement (sleep through focus, for example).isochronic-tone-sine-sample

Here is a view of an Isochronic Tone wave. Notice the interleaving of silence throughout the sine wave.

Regardless of which audio pulse you prefer or use, there is really no clear indication that audio therapy can actually help synchronize the brainwaves. However there is no consensus otherwise. Substantial anecdotal evidence suggests that both Binaural Beats and Isochronic Tones can have a meditative effect and assist in relaxation when combined with relaxing background noise such as whitenoise or tranquil audio loops. Research also exists that correlates the use of Binaural Beats with increased relaxation and focus.

Check out the free Binaural Beats available on this site.