Lieutenant Schmidt's audio chime: the deafening beating of "pure" sound and another nail in the coffin of binaural divorce

This time I got to binaural recordings, in particular, rhythms or so-called. beat (as the most prone to mythologization). The topic is the most interesting, relatively well studied in psychoacoustics and neurophysiology, and at the same time it has become the basis of numerous pseudoscientific speculations.

Some 4-5 years ago, the Russian Internet was saved from a pandemic of audio drugs, which were misleading pseudo pushers for trusting audiophiles through numerous landings. Before that, at the beginning of the 2000s, people who read Castaneda and Osho, in tons bought magic CDs with spiritualized and mind-altering chants. Today the situation is not too different. Gurus, prophets and other great Sensei from the withering new age of the community are posting the same magic recordings on YouTube channels, promising to listen for simultaneous healing of everything while listening. In all these cases, the distributors of the audio of happiness as the main “magical”, “effective” and “active” ingredient called the presence of binaural beats.

I have an interest in this myth due to the fact that its basis is a real-life phenomenon, and accordingly, the reasoning of the myth makers is plausible and especially dangerous. Under the cut, the traditional for this cycle is the separation of flies from cutlets, psychoacoustic research from pseudoscience, frank substitution of concepts from real-life phenomena.

The Legend of Binaural Beats

Traditionally, we start by saying that some irresponsible citizens write and talk about the “magic” of binaural rhythms. It is argued that the ancient shamans and other cult servants long ago from divine revelations learned that the use of certain frequency combinations to create music can influence human physiology.

This ancient secret knowledge, supported by the achievements of modern neurobiology and psychoacoustics, can effectively cure cancer, hemorrhoids, the common cold, gonorrhea, prostatitis, diabetes and systemic lupus erythematosus, increase the productivity of dreams, increase dream awareness and add +100 to universal karma. I think everyone remembers the already mentioned epic with audio drugs, which also owed their “effects” to binaural rhythms. Today, in the promotion of light truths about binoural rhythms, various technomages are especially zealous, this is well demonstrated, for example , this resource .

As evidence of unusual effects, references to the work of prominent neuroscientists, psychologists, physicists, shamans, and other authoritative sorcerers are usually given. The object of suggestion, which substituted the ears for noodles, checks references to sources and, finding there scientific authorities and some correspondences, begins to think that truth is being broadcast to it (or at least something that has a rational grain).


The reaction is different. In the case of audio marijuana, it all ended quickly after narcologists put pressure on the authority and the chorus with their patients began to say that no sound files can cause euphoria (everything was explained by a thirst for profit and a placebo effect).

But for potentially believers in the stories of the next YouTube guru and seriously somatic patients who have hopes for methods of any degree of alternativeness, drug treatment specialists are not a significant authority. Therefore, among adherents of esoteric teachings and alternative medicine, the products of mythologization of binaural audio effects remain in demand.

“Flies” and “cutlets”

I will begin, probably, with “flies”. So, using the term “binaural rhythms”, tuftologists broadcast historical examples of the use of these by shamans and priests from about a hundred and twelve years BC. In this case, the example is the interference of sound waves with the advent of the so-called. phantom tone. So with simultaneous reproduction of two close, but unequal in frequency sounds, a third one appears.

Anthropologists and ethnographers note that in some indigenous cults of Central and South America, Africa, and Australia, such long-term exposure is used in rituals as a factor that allows them to enter altered states of consciousness. And everything seems to be in order and the myth-maker seems to be right, but only as if ... Actually, it is a question of quite a monaural effect that even a deaf person in one ear can hear. In addition, the use of an unusual sound in a ritual does not mean at all that it is this sound that allows you to get a trance state. So, the ancients used one of the types of interference, namely the so-called. monaural beats (or objective combination tones). Its effects can be heard both in two and in one ear. These effects are also difficult to call significant changes in the state of consciousness.

But there are also binaural effects, described first by Tartini and Sorg in the 18th century, and later in 1839 by G.V. Dove (Heinrich Wilhelm Dove). By the way, the latter had a lot of problems with experimental evidence base due to the lack of stereo headphones in his time. Later Helmholtz, describing combinational tones, noticed this phenomenon. Psychoacoustic studies of the 20th century confirmed hypotheses about subjective combinational tones, and the concept of binaural beats was formed.

Tartini was one of the first to discover the appearance of a combination tone.

This phenomenon occurs when sound signals with different frequencies come to the brain from different ears at the same time. As a result of their simultaneous exposure at high intensity in the hearing aid, the 3rd so-called is perceived. phantom or subjective combination tone. I want to emphasize that there will not be this tone outside the ear, and in cases where the listener uses one ear to perceive the tone, the phantom tone will not appear. As follows from the definition, binaural rhythms (subjective combination tones) are an artifact of the brain.

There is evidence of the neurophysiological influence of such phantom tones, as well as the fact that such an effect was experimentally confirmed in 2 works by Oster G. "Auditory beats in the brain" (1973) and Hutchison, Michael M. Megabrain: new tools and techniques for brain growth and mind expansion. - New York: W. Morrow, (1986). However, recent publications on this topic are hard to find. As part of the hypothesis of the influence of binaural rhythms, it is suggested that they are able to synchronize the work of the left and right hemispheres at the frequency of the phantom tone.

Thus, depending on the correspondence of this frequency to the frequencies determining various states of consciousness (alpha, beta, theta and gamma rhythms), one can get these or other effects. For example, at a frequency of 7-13 Hz, corresponding to the alpha rhythm, the listener will be easier to relax, and stimulation with a frequency of 13-40 Hz (beta rhythm) will contribute to active work.

At the same time, in the works of respected authors, nothing is mentioned about the states of a profound change in consciousness or a direct effect on organs, but there are quite adequate arguments about the prospects for applying the principle for correcting sleep disorders, anxiety states and depression.

To be fair, it should be noted that the resonance from a real source (meaning objective monaural tones) can affect the cellular and molecular levels, but the frequencies at which human organs resonate are infrasound, by the way, we cannot hear them (even very experienced audiophiles 50th level and experts CES). I have never met either home or studio equipment designed to reproduce infrasound. Such resonance phenomena are not related to binaural rhythms, since the latter are an artifact of the brain, and not of the heart, kidneys, or some spleen.

Volume without magic and charlatans

Binaural effects are very useful not only in experimental neurophysiology and frank divorce. It is safe to say that the so-called. Binaural soundtrack has the exact location of the apparent sound sources, especially when listening to it in headphones. For such a recording, a special arrangement of two microphones is used at a distance approximately equal to the distance between the ears of an adult. A barrier imitating a head is mounted between microphones.

Sometimes even use a special stand, made in the form of a head with casts of auricles.

These tricks are necessary in order to record a realistic surround sound and create a so-called. presence effect like here .

There are also numerous binaural music recordings. People accustomed to standard stereo are often impressed by the realism of such a sound.


That's all I wanted to write about binaural beats and recordings. If you first encountered these phonograms, I would be interested to hear about your impressions. I also believe that many people will be interested in the experience of people who have tried to experiment with beats and have noticed the effect.

All the coming 2018, I hope it will be less pseudoscience, but more useful research and inventions!

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