Do binaural beats really work?

You probably came across that term of “binaural beats” when scrolling Youtube while you’ve been procrastinating. Or if you were searching for meditative music. However, the term is often misused. Find out what binaural beats really are, and how I biohack my brain to be productive with the brain.fm app.

Important note: At the end of this article I have a referral link where you get one month of brain.fm for free! Or you click here Mr. Impatient.

What are binaural beats?

Neuroscience figured out that the brain works on different levels of waves. Different states of what you are doing with your brain are done in different wavelengths. As with everything this was named after the greek alphabet. Alpha, beta, gamma. I’ll get to that in a second.

I first learned about this while reading the book “Mind to matter” which I would highly recommend to anyone. It does seem like pseudo-science sometimes in there, but it really isn’t. The author is just very… excited about the findings. Anyway, it’s mostly about meditation and positive assumption, positive reinforcement, and shaping reality with your thoughts. I know it sounds woo-woo, but as someone who managed it himself, it truly isn’t.

The 5 states of brainwaves

That said, science found that there are five basic brainwave lengths we use for certain activities. It is divided like this:

These waves set your brain up to do these certain tasks like focus, meditation, etc. easier. It doesn’t necessarily mean you are automatically ultra focused when your brain operates on these waves, it just sets the environment. More on that later. For now, let’s get over the different frequencies.

Delta (0.1 – 4 Hz) – Deep sleep

The Delta frequency is the one your brain operates on when you are in deep sleep. This phase of your sleep usually happens before your REM phase. Your breathing, body temperature, and brain waves are at their lowest in deep sleep. Your muscles are extremely relaxed. This is the “healing phase” of your body. Everything is pretty much turned off, or reduced to the minimum, so your body can heal.

Theta (4 – 8 Hz) – REM sleep / meditation

The REM phase is when you are most likely to dream. The Rapid Eye Movement phase happens in 90-minute cycles, your heart rate, and blood pressure rise to near-awake levels again. This is also the easy meditative state. You are awake, but you sort of day-dream by letting your brain do what it wants. Which is pretty much what meditating is.

Alpha (8 – 16 Hz) – Relaxed focus

This is the state where you work best. It is also called the flow state. When you are deeply ingrained in whatever tasks you’re doing, and you just work without issue. This is probably the most desired state of why people do binaural beats. It is also the one I use the most on brain.fm to which I get later. This one also reduces stress and makes you more positive.

Beta (14 – 30 Hz) – High focus

The beta frequency is when you are really concentrating on something or you are really awake. This is the state where most humans operate in the most. It is different from the flow state since this is somewhat more stressful on the brain. It is done for highly analytical thinking and problem-solving. This is probably the most action-based state of your brain. Hence why it is the one you work from the most. We’re all fucking betas.

Gamma (30 – 100 Hz) – Transcendal states

This is what most people try to achieve when meditating, but is also the toughest to get. If your brain operates on Gamma waves, you are most likely to have out-of-body experiences while being awake. I had that ONCE while meditating. I guess I was truly operating on Gamma then. Never managed it ever since. Sadly. It is also the state of cognitive enhancement, and peak awareness. Maybe also the gate to another dimension. Who knows?

How does it work? What to be aware of?

What it does, is send two different frequencies to each ear. Say, 510 Hz to your left ear, and 520 Hz to your right ear. That way, your brain will be the medium in the middle and resonate at 10 Hz, which would be Alpha waves and increase focus.

This is also where an important part comes in. You need headphones or earphones. It doesn’t work with speakers. Your brain needs to be the medium in the middle. Also, sometimes it works immediately, sometimes it takes up to 10 minutes before you notice a difference.

Binaural beats don’t work for me. What to do?

Some people have reported that it doesn’t really work for them. What I’ve noticed is, that you need a certain chill state before that. In other words, if you are totally fired up right now, anxious and whatnot and you try to focus with Alpha waves, this just might not work. I would recommend getting your energy out with exercising first.

Also, some people reported they feel a bit uneasy when listening to those brainwaves. Well, in the beginning, I had a similar feeling for about thirty seconds. Power through for at least a few minutes. It should go away. If it doesn’t, try the next day. Each brain is somewhat different. Doesn’t work the same for all of us. You need to find your own rhythm. There is no “right” way to do this.

Maybe this image helps you why you should stick around.

What brainwave synchronization does to the brain.
A lot of benefits if you get your brain in line.

My review of binaural beats

Let’s talk about this in general first. I always liked listening to “focus music” on Youtube when I was working on stuff. Although this wasn’t anything scientific, it got me in the right mood. Maybe you are already aware that the music you are listening to has a big effect on how you feel. Sad music makes you sad, aggressive music elevates heart rate, etc.

Binaural beats put even more emphasis on this and it DOES work. Boy, does it work! I was listening to focus music on brain.fm for 10 minutes and I was fucking flying! Not even exaggerating. I wrote thousands of words in the first session. Didn’t even notice an hour was gone.

The same with the meditation function in the brain.fm app. Since I use it, I dive into a deep meditative state in no time. I literally leave my current position on this earth and am totally gone in the universe. Sometimes more, sometimes less. If you ever meditated before, you know what I mean. Use binaural beats, it makes it even stronger.

If you don’t believe me, there is a ton of science behind it. And the good thing about brain.fm is that they have a whole section to learn about it. How they use it, how they put a ton of effort into doing it right and so on. So, before I fancy even more about that company, let’s get to the review of brain.fm.

The misconception

Now that I’ve talked so much about binaural beats let’s ruin that right again. Binaural beats are a somewhat pop-science term. Even though Dr. Gerald Oster populated the term with his research, he later stated that they don’t have any healing effect. It was just the basis for more research in that direction which brought us to audio modulation to reach certain states we have today.

However, technically, those aren’t binaural beats, and especially brain.fm states on their website that they are NOT using binaural beats.

brain.fm stating that they dont actually use binaural beats. It is audio modulation which is much better
It’s really just a term issue. Binaural beats is technically incorrect, but everyone knows what it’s about.

Don’t be discouraged. It’s a pop-science term, and it’s where you find the most info, even if it technically wrong. Doesn’t matter in the end, I thought I’d share it. Brain.fm actually goes WAY further with their science, hence why they created such a great method of getting your brain in certain states. For the sake of ease, I am still gonna use the term “binaural beats.”

My review of brain.fm

You can start with brain.fm for free with five free sessions. But one session is enough and you’re hooked, trust me. Also, it’s actually very cheap, so you’ll buy it anyway. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

What I like most about brain.fm is that it is actual music. Sure, nobody is singing. But it isn’t just binaural tones, it’s different kinds of music, where the binaural beats are underlying.

Brain.fm has a browser application and an app on the phone. While I started out with the browser app, I would recommend the phone app, because it is a bit more detailed. Let’s look at it.

brain.fm homescreen in the browser app
The brain.fm homescreen in the browser

The app is stupid simple. Choose what you want to do, and it immediately starts. It also gives you tips on how to go about it. Which basically just say, use headphones or earphones, and just start working while you listen to the music. As you can see above, there you can learn more about the science, choose a different kind of music, and refer to others. Simple. Clean.

Also, I highly recommend you use proper headphones for this. It makes the experience even better and stronger. I use the Audiotechnica ATH-M50. However, they are somewhat expensive, so here is a cheaper solution.

the brain.fm mobile app homescreen
The brain.fm app on the phone. I recommend using it on the phone.

The App is set up similar, except “Relax” and “Meditate” are separated here for example. Honestly, I don’t know why. Either way, I would recommend using the mobile app, because of things like this. It’s a bit more granular. More direct on what you want. For example, if you choose focus, you also get to choose what exactly you want to focus on whereas, on the PC, you just choose “focus.”

the brain.fm mobile app focus section screen
The app allows you to choose more detailed what you want.

You can also set up the time for how long you want to listen from 15 minutes up to infinite, so it runs until you stop it manually. Once you chose you will be on another screen where you see how much time is left, you can pause, skip the “song” or style of music and fave this song to hear it more often.

the brain.fm active focus session screen

Also, if you want to be even more precise about the kind of music you listen to, you can go into “Explore” which is the “Library” on the browser app, and choose directly what kind of music you want to which kind of activity.

the brain.fm mobile app explore screen
Under explore you can be very precise what kind of music you want.

Drawbacks of brain.fm

Honestly, there aren’t many. In the end, it is “just” playing music for a certain amount of time. However, what I found is that some activities lack a bit of content. For example, the meditation music gets repetitive pretty quickly if you meditate every day as I do.

However, they do constantly add new music and songs, so this problem resolves itself over time.

And, well, it’s not free, if you call this a drawback. But honestly, it’s very cheap. Other meditation apps cost way more, and with this one, you can also focus properly, which is the activity I use it mostly for.

Why is brain.fm better than the others?

If you go to their science page here you can see a ton of detail on why they are better than regular “brainwave companies.” They actually have a whitepaper, a pilot study, tons of experiments if it really works, a special setup to make the music, and thorough scientific experience in getting it right. I haven’t found a competitor who goes this far with their science to get it right. Especially not for that price!

the science behind brain.fm
The brain.fm music is heavily scientifically created. Lots of info on their webpage.
the brain.fm white paper
A screenshot from their whitepaper on how they set up the music.

Let’s sum it up:

  • Actual music instead of just binaural tones
  • Tons of science and scientific evidence behind it
  • Very easy to use app
  • Lots of content for focus and relaxation (meditation could use more)
  • Very cheap for what you get

Pricing

At the writing of this article, you can start with five free sessions on their webpage, or you use this link to get one month for free via my blog. After that, brain.fm uses a subscription model. In other words, a monthly payment. While I write this, the price is $6.99 if you pay monthly, or $49.99 if you pay annually plus VAT. If you choose the annual payment method, you have a 60-day moneyback guarantee.

So really no hidden costs.

Remember, with this link you get one month for free. Or click the image below. Just try, you can quit for free at the end of the trial. You’re not losing anything if you try it.

Brain.fm: Music to improve focus, meditation & sleep
Click the image to get one month brain.fm for free!

It changed my life incredibly for the better. Focusing on tasks is stupid easy now, just fire up the app and get shit done.

I love biohacking. And with brain.fm it’s just very simple.

Any similar experiences? Let me know in the comments!

Alexander Reich

Alexander Reich is an author, gym-nut, and entrepreneur. Now he is passionately seeking mastery of the mind and his marriage. He shares his secrets with other men, so they can learn from his mistakes.