Technology and Meditation Part 2 – Isochronic Tones

Photo by Zach Dischner

So in the first part of this article series I gave a run down on binaural beats and how they work – and my personal view on them.

To reiterate, I have found most binaural beat tracks irritating to say in the least, however I totally rave about the OmLife Collection, a series that uses binaural beats in the most beautiful way that I have ever heard.  Ever.

The reason why I was exploring binaural beats was because after a long period of not meditating, returning to meditation was actually quite challenging, and I finally decided to give this technology a shot.

In trying out different binaural beat tracks, I came across a technology called isochronic tones, which just like binaural beats, help you to enter rapidly into the meditative state.

Again, I had a level of scepticism but I very quickly got of my sceptical soap box and decided to find out more about this technology.

Information on ischronic tones is not as easily available as the information on it’s cousin, binaural beats; so I’ve spent a fair bit of time in researching and wanting to get a clear picture of what this is and how it works and how it is different to to binaural beats.

The differences that made it significantly different are in the formation of the wave:

There Can Be Only One

There is only one frequency that is played in isochronic tones, unlike binaural beats, where there are two frequencies played.

The short, pulse that you would hear in an isochronic tone is in every way, name shape and form – a short pulse.

It’s one frequency, and what you see is what you get.  The pulses are spaced with silence in what I believe is a 1:1 ratio – the length of silence is equal to the length of the pulse.

No Illusions

What is played and what the brain hears, is the same thing – unlike in binaural beats, where the two frequencies are played externally, but create a third frequency inside the ear, isochronic tones are made up of a single frequency.

This is cool, because you don’t need to then listen to isochronic tones on stereo headphones, and according to Socrates Chouridris in his article on Isochronic Tones, and I quote:

This pattern cannot be missed from the brain as this can happen in some cases with binaural beats. The imprint that isochronics leave to the brain is very clear and strong.

This technology can alter your brainwaves very fast, faster than binaural beats. Isochronic brainwave entrainment is suggested as a fast way to change your mind’s operation.

When charted, an isochronic tone looks like this:

Sourced from Wikipedia

From the diagram, we can see that it’s a very clean and regular wave form, with a visible, distinct start an finish of each pulse.

It Looks Good – But How Does It Sound?

In it’s raw form, isochronic tones have the rhythmic effect of a jackhammer, but without the jarring sound.  They’re not that pleasing to the ear, in fact after a few moments it’s quite a boring sound.

Compared to binaural beats, the sound didn’t leave me begging for mercy, they were a little easier to tolerate.  The research I did explained that isochronic tones are more effective than binaural beats.  In fact, for those who have trouble with binaural beats, they should consider using isochronic tones and they will not miss out on the experience.

In simple terms, binaural beats if done well, have a pulsating humming sound, and isochronic tones have the stop-start pulse rhythms.

Personally, I think these raw sounds, while scientifically fascinating, are physically annoying.

Finding decent isochronic tones proved to be quite a challenge.  There were samples up on YouTube, but nothing that was mind blowing.

There are isochronic tones available at The Unexplainable Store (my affiliate link) which were a fair bit better than just listening to the raw beat.  The price is a little higher in most cases than binaural beat tracks.  The average track costs about USD$14, compared to $10 for the binaural beat version.  My thoughts are, that if it is a superior product, it’s worth forking out the money, and to be honest, it’s not a significant amount more.

For best value for money, I’ve found that Entrainment Earth (my affiliate link) has some of the most brilliant meditations in both binaural beats and isochronic tones.  The natural earthy sounds, help disguise the sound of the tones and beats, and make them more pleasant to listen to.  For just USD$9.95 you get 11 tracks totalling almost 8 hours of listening, and a PDF user guide, telling you how to get the best out of the product.  That’s pretty much less than $1 a track, so it is obviously good value for money.  This one comes with a strong recommendation because of it’s good value, but also it’s a good quality product that sounds nicer to the ear than some of the other tracks I’ve downloaded.

The claims of isochronic tones, like binaural beats, is that they can be used therapeutically.  Interestingly, isochronic tones stimulate the thalamus – the part of the brain responsible for sensory perception; this stimulation causes the replication of the frequency and hence sends the mind rapidly into a meditative state.

Overall, my experience with isochronic tones is definitely a positive one, and one that I find is more enjoyable than binaural beats.

The fact that stereo headphones are optional, but not necessary makes it that much more appealing – I prefer to not be tied down by these things, but like the option of using headphones if I feel I want to.

The effect of isochronic tones are for me, more noticeable than they are for binaural beats.  Does that mean I’m ready to strike binaural beats off the list?  No, I don’t think I am – despite my obvious preference for isochronic tones, I still think that binaural beats are a powerful technology.  Now despite my lack of pleasure in listening to the raw tones and beats, the disguised beats and tones make them more enjoyable to listen to.

Am I a convert into using this technology on a regular basis?  Well, I think I am convinced it works, I’m more receptive to it, but I personally feel that it’s not something I want to be reliant on.  I’ll use it as much as a tool to assist me get into a routine, and most likely I’ll ween myself off it.

Do I recommend it?  I believe that I can recommend these technologies to those, like me, who are needing some help in getting into the swing of meditation.


  1. says

    I totally agree with you. I think isochronictones tones are a grat way to help with people learning how to relax when meditating. I don’t think that it is something that you should totally rely on long term. I use them on a regular basis, but don’t always use them for my time of meditation. This is a great and informative article. I had never heard of meditation earth before. I am going to have to check them out!

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