Why good headphones are needed for brainwave entrainment

At the core of brainwave entrainment technology is the use of what is known as Binaural Beats. The methodology behind binaural beats is to input different frequencies into Left and Right ears. Upon hearing these two separate sounds, the hemispheres of the brain try to reconcile what sound is being heard. Let’s say the Right hemisphere registers a 500 Hz input, while the Left hears 510 Hz input. As the two try to reconcile this difference, the signals combine over the corpus collosum that connects the two hemispheres, producing a third 10 Hz difference signal or “beat” inside the brain. This process elicits a synchronization between the two hemispheres, leading to a more whole-brain state. Thus the only way binaural beats can be generated is by listening with good stereo headphones, where right and left ear inputs are distinct.

In addition to binaural beats, many of our guided meditation albums for accessing expanded states of awareness also are designed with monaural, isochronic, and special tuning scales, such as solfeggio tuning. These designer sound scapes can be enjoyed more fully with a pair of headphones that deliver good sound quality across a broad range of frequencies.

Here below are a couple of specifications to keep in mind when purchasing headphones that best support brainwave entrainment:


Specification #1 – True Sound

The first thing to look for is headphones that allow you to hear all elements of the music as they are originally designed and intended to sound, without alteration. The reason for this is that our binaural beats are engineered with a specific frequency blueprint designed to entrain your brain for a specific purpose. So, the less this is interfered with the better.

Unfortunately, many headphones these days include built-in sound enhancement that manipulate frequencies. Examples include bass boost, noise canceling (different from noise isolation) or smoothing of frequency response that cuts out certain frequencies.

For best true-sound experience we recommend studio quality headphones that deliver the sound to you the way it was originally designed and intended. The majority of medium-high quality headphones produce good results when playing back our meditations.


Specification #2 – Comfort

When meditating, relaxing, or holding extended focus the last thing we want is to be distracted by discomfort. Investing in a pair of headphones that are comfortably padded or that fit your ears well, will go a long way to enhancing your meditative experiences during brainwave entrainment sessions.


Specification #3 – Outside Noise Isolation

In addition to not wanting to be distracted by physical discomfort, we also want to minimize distracting noises from our environment. This is the purpose of “noise isolating” features designed into good quality headphones, providing better concentration without intrusion of ambient noise distractions.

Noise isolation is best accomplished through “closed-back” headphones that block off or isolate your ears from environmental noise up to 10-15 dB. There are two types of closed-back headphones: full-size (circumaural), or on-ear/earpad (supra-aural). Circumaural is bigger and more suited to indoors, while Supra-aural is smaller and perhaps better-suited for being on the go.

Specification #4 – Frequency Response

The frequency response is a specific measure of the output range of the headphones. Good headphones will go as low as 20 Hz, the lowest limit of our hearing, and up to 20,000 Hz, the upper limit of human hearing range. For brainwave entrainment frequencies, there is no need to have headphones with lower or higher frequencies beyond this 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz range. Since most human ears cannot detect beyond this range, the only reason to have a broader frequency response would be if you are trying to train your sensory range of hearing perception ;-).

Recommended Studio Quality Headphones

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones

  • Critically acclaimed sonic performance praised by top audio engineers and pro audio reviewers
  • True Sound with exceptional clarity
  • Comfortable closed-back, circumaural design for good sound isolation
  • Frequency Response is 15 Hz – 28,000 Hz

Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone

  • Clear, high quality sound reproduction
  • Comfortable closed-back, circumaural design for good sound isolation
  • Frequency Response is 10 Hz – 20,000 Hz



How About Earbuds?

Standard earbuds that come with the new iPhone 6 or 7 are descent for basic listening on the go. They have a frequency response in the range of 20 Hz to 24 kHz, so they may be used with binaural beats without loss. That said, the issue with most earbuds is that they don’t rest well in the ear and most of them do not provide sufficient noise isolation from outside. For a better experience with earbuds, treat yourself to either of these brands that have more features:

Shure SE315-CL Sound Isolating Earphones

  • Evolved from personal monitor technology that’s been road-tested by pro musicians
  • Full-range sound and optimized low-end performance
  • Comfortable fit onstage or on-the-go. Sound Isolating sleeves in multiple sizes provide up to 37 dB of isolation and a customized fit
  • Frequency Response is 22Hz – 18,500 Hz

Brainwavz S0 In-Ear Earbuds Noise Isolating Earphones

  • Earbuds with balanced audio signature with overall smooth sound. These earphones have been designed to produce high fidelity audio with noise isolation to block outside noise.
  • The best premium foam ear tips that can be found, provides for perfect seals.
  • Frequency Response is 18 Hz – 18,000 Hz



How About Sleep Headphones?

Some users like a more comfortable headband style headphones that allow you to lie on your side without squashing your face and ears with the cup. Their sound quality will not be as good as any of the more professional quality headphones listed above, but if being able to listen all night to brainwave entrainment tracks for sleep is important to you, then you might also consider getting a pair of these:

CozyPhones Sleep Headphones – NEW Contour Series with Cool Mesh Lining & Ultra Thin Earphones – Perfect for Air Travel, Meditation, & Insomnia

  • Lightweight, comfortable and washable sleep headband contour shape dips down over your ears to provide the perfect fit. Cool mesh lining help speakers to stay in place even when you toss and turn.
  • Embedded speakers in a softheadband are completely adjustable for the perfect fit.
  • Frequency Response is 20 Hz – 20,000Hz