What are Binaural Beats?

By: Carrie Spry

If you were to introduce two tones of different frequency into each ear, you could create binaural beats. For example, playing a tone with a frequency of 100Hz in one ear and playing a tone with a frequency of 114Hz in the other ear, will force the brain to determine the phase difference between the two wavelengths of each tone. We naturally do this to determine directional information.
The signals integrate and become a third frequency or what we call a ?binaural beat?. The resultant beat of 14Hz is produced within your brain. The tone will sound like a wave or beat depending on the frequency. If the generated beat is 4Hz, then it will sound more like a wave, however if the beat is at 20Hz, it will sound more like a beat.
Stereo headphones must be used in order to make use of this technology. If you were to use speakers, the tones would mix in the air and not give you the desired effect. It can produce a monoraul beat, which can be used for brain wave entrainment (bwe). However, if the track was created for binaural beats, it should be used as such.
When first listening to these binaurals, you may initially hear a warbling sound until your brain adjusts. If you have a hearing loss in one ear, it does not reduce the effect of binaural beats. It's not how loud they are, in fact you could actually used them just below what we can naturally hear, and they would still be effective. Commonly, binaurals are masked with noise or music of some kind.
Using binaural beats as a means for bwe is debatable. Binaurals can be used to produce beats from 0.235Hz up to 26.25Hz, after which the wavelength are too long. Dr. Gerald Oster did a lot of research when it comes to binaural beats. He concluded that they would be insufficient for bwe since the depth of each beat is slightly above a whisper.
The Monroe Institute (Hemi-Sync products), I-Doser, and Centerpointe (Holosync products) all use binaural beats for their personal growth and development products. The beats are often mixed with noise, music, ambiance or guided instructions. The advantage the binaural beat has over most other methods is its ability to entrain the brain to frequencies less than 4Hz.
There are alternative audio methods that are more efficient that binaural beats, such as monaural beats, isochronic tones, cross-feed modulation, low-pass filter modulation, pitch modulation and auto-pan modulation. Each method has its own place and limitations. We use a combination of methods to get the best out of each session.

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