If you search the Internet for "binaural beats" you'll quickly find there's a whole industry built on the idea that listening to binaural beats can produce all kinds of desired effects in your brain. It can alter your mood, help you follow a diet or stop smoking, get you pumped up for a competition, calm you down, put you to sleep, enhance your memory, act as an aphrodisiac, cure headaches, and even balance your chakra. Binaural-Beats.com offers a $30 CD that they call the world's first "digital drug". They claim it can get you drunk without the side effects. I-Doser.com offers a range of music tracks that they say simulates a variety of actual pharmaceuticals, such as Demerol, Oxycontin, and Vicodin. Suffice it to say that no matter what superpower you're looking for, someone on the Internet sells a binaural beat audio file claimed to provide it.
As a relatively new technology, fMRI has only recently been used to assess brain state changes during meditation. Recent studies have shown heightened activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, frontal cortex, and prefrontal cortex, specifically in the dorsal medial prefrontal area during Vipassana meditation.[7] Similarly, the cingulate cortex and frontal cortex areas were shown to have increased activity during Zen meditation.[8] Both studies comment on the possibility that these findings could indicate some state of heightened voluntary control over attention during mindfulness meditation. Review works by Cahn and Chiesa state that these results indicate consistency in meditation’s effect on these regions of the brain, citing a multitude of other studies spanning other meditative disciplines, but mention the need for further investigation with better controls.[4][6]

Beating can also be heard between notes that are near to, but not exactly, a harmonic interval, due to some harmonic of the first note beating with a harmonic of the second note. For example, in the case of perfect fifth, the third harmonic (i.e. second overtone) of the bass note beats with the second harmonic (first overtone) of the other note. As well as with out-of tune notes, this can also happen with some correctly tuned equal temperament intervals, because of the differences between them and the corresponding just intonation intervals: see Harmonic series (music)#Harmonics and tuning.
All you need to experiment with binaural beats is a binaural beat audio and a pair of headphones or earbuds. You can easily find audio files of binaural beats online, such as on YouTube, or you can purchase CDs or download audio files directly to your mp3 player or other device. As mentioned earlier, for a binaural beat to work, the two tones have to have frequencies of less than 1000 Hz, and the difference between the two tones can’t be more than 30 Hz.

My name is [name removed] and I purchased the full Equisync set about 2 years ago and I’m very happy with this product. I still feel and notice euphoric and life changing effects to this day and I’m so grateful for this fact. I continue to follow the research on this subject and know that as science and technology advances a more quality product can be produced.

But the question is: Does it have a special effect on the brain? A lot of people think so. The basic claim being made for binaural beats is "resonant entrainment". Entrainment, in physics, is when two systems which oscillate at different frequencies independently are brought together, they synchronize with one another, at whatever the combined system's resonant frequency is. Examples of entrainment occur in animals in nature; for example the chirping of crickets or the croaking of frogs. Synchronization of menstrual cycles in women is another example. Even people coming together and dancing with one another is a type of entrainment. The basic claim for binaural beats is that the perceived low-frequency beat will entrain your brain wave pattern, thus forcing your brain into some desired state.
You’ve heard me talk before about how sound can make a difference to sleep. Patients often tell me that they fall asleep to relaxing music, they seem to find it really helps them let go of active thoughts and quiet their mind—which, like yours probably does, tends to race from one thing to the next all day long (aka I can’t turn off my brain syndrome).

Many psychologists, doctors, teachers, and other professionals have endorsed the technology while personally taking advantage of the limitless benefits that accompany EquiSync's precisely designed brainwave synchronization/ entrainment technology. It is such a profound field of study that many of the metaphysical benefits, those beyond our current scientific measure and technological & philosophical understanding, have yet to be discovered.
Now for the good part: depending on the frequency, binaural beats can be used to manipulate what kinds of waves your brain is sending out to promote sleep, deep thinking, etc. The lowest frequencies, from 0.1-4 Hz, are the best for deep sleep, pain relief, and reduction of stress hormones like cortisol. Additionally, these frequencies aid in the release of DHEA and melatonin, two of the sleep hormones. The next lowest, from 4-8 Hz, promotes REM sleep (when vivid dreaming and memory development occurs), deep relaxation, and is great for meditation. The higher frequencies, from 14 up to 100 Hz, have benefits like increasing focus, awareness and cognitive functioning for activities like information processing and problem-solving.

Pure tones played together interfere with each other when they are close in pitch but not identical. When each tone is sent to a different ear, there will not be any physical interaction between the waves, yet your brain still creates an interference inside your head: the so-called binaural beat. In order to create a binaural beat, each ear must receive its dedicated signal. Therefore, binaural beats only work through headphones.

Entrainment is a term originally derived from complex systems theory, and denotes the way that two or more independent, autonomous oscillators with differing rhythms or frequencies, when situated in a context and at a proximity where they can interact for long enough, influence each other mutually, to a degree dependent on coupling force, such that they adjust until both oscillate with the same frequency. Examples include the mechanical entrainment or cyclic synchronization of two electric clothes dryers placed in close proximity, and the biological entrainment evident in the synchronized illumination of fireflies.[13]
Hi Rona, thanks for your compliments on my videos and the music I use, I’m pleased you’ve found them helpful. Regarding the pulse-like sound you’ve been hearing, I’ve never had anyone report something similar to that before. I also haven’t heard anyone on brainwave entrainment forums mention it. That is very unusual and because I’ve never come across it before, I’m afraid I don’t know what would cause that.
“A quite different phenomenon results when stereophonic earphones are used and the signals are applied separately to each ear. Under the right circumstances beats can be perceived, but they are of an entirely different character. They are called binaural beats. . . . Binaural beats require the combined action of both ears. They exist as a consequence of the interaction of perceptions within the brain.”
The Neuro Programmer website, as is typical, is full of testimonials and vague references to research. I tried to track down the research they referenced, but could not find anything published or peer-reviewed by the authors named or on the subjects indicated. For example, they cite one study by Thomas Budzynski, but the only thing published by him that is listed on Pub Med is a small study on biofeedback published in 1969. The 1999 study they reference is not listed. Also – Budzynski has connections to another company – Theta Technologies – which sells similar technology.  (The exact nature of his connection is not clear, he was at least a consultant. He is also listed as the director of research for another company, Synchromed, LLC.)  This looks like just another in-house worthless study to support the marketing of a product.
That is generally where the science ends and the pseudoscience begins. A number of companies and individuals have then extrapolated from the phenomenon of entrainment to claim that altering the brain waves changes the actual functioning of the brain. There is no theoretical or empirical basis for this, however. Entrainment is a temporary effect on the synchronization of neuronal firing – it does not improve or increase brain functioning, it does not change the hardwiring, nor does it cure any neurological disorder. There is no compelling evidence for any effect beyond the period of entrainment itself.
I have received many requests for live sessions and personal support via telephone and video chat (Skype or Facetime). I am proud to announce that you can now schedule your own appointments with me for personal consultations, hypnosis sessions or any general counseling, questions or concerns about your specific needs, life coaching, self-help issues, dream guidance, spiritual matters or just random questions about consciousness or reality in general. I look forward to speaking with you on the phone or video chatting via Skype or Facetime.
Binaural-beat perception originates in the inferior colliculus of the midbrain and the superior olivary complex of the brainstem, where auditory signals from each ear are integrated and precipitate electrical impulses along neural pathways through the reticular formation up the midbrain to the thalamus, auditory cortex, and other cortical regions.[6]
There are differences between high (over 18 hertz), mid (15 to 18 hertz), and low range beta states (12 to 15 hertz). Low beta states are more relaxed while still being focused, making this a good range for many daily work related tasks like balancing a checkbook, making a shopping list, or driving to a new place. However, people with attention deficit disorder lack the mental focus for doing these types of activities, and studies have found people with ADD are often low in this range of beta brainwaves.
Until recent years, entering extraordinary states of heightened receptivity and peak performance has been attained predominantly by only a disciplined few, practicing ancient techniques such as meditation, chanting, yoga, and newly revamped versions of the mystical traditions - for example, progressive relaxation, auto-suggestion, hypnosis, and biofeedback. These techniques work. But they take long periods of practice, discipline, and sometimes a leap of faith. It is all too easy to become impatient and give up long before producing results.
With brain wave entrainment technology, changing brain wave states is an instantaneous and effortless process. The 'periodic stimulus' can be sound, vibrations and/or light. We have found that we get the best results with blinking lights which are experienced through closed eyelids. This is only problematic for people with existing diagnosis of photo-induced epilepsy, as blinking lights can induce a seizure in them. The programs are enhanced with Deepak Chopra doing the narration along with holographic sound effects and original music composed and performed by Rudy Tanzi.

A newer alternative to binaural beats is isochromatic tones. These are tones that are interspersed with periods of brief silence, creating a similar effect to binaural beats but without the two frequencies playing in different ears. Because isochromatic tones do not need headphones, they are gaining popularity as the newest method of brainwave entertainment.
A good recording will also not immediately start with tones that produce the theta range, but will begin higher up, in the beta range (which is associated with anxiety, but also active concentration and other waking states of being), and gradually move down, through the alpha range (which is the ideal meditative wavelength, but is also associated with falling asleep) before moving into the final, theta, range. If you get a binaural beat that goes directly into the theta range, you might find yourself distracted or unable to sync up as easily.

In 1984 medical researcher Dr. Gene W. Brockopp published a paper making several conclusions of audio and visual entrainment (AVE). Such conclusions were that hemispheric synchronization caused by AVE is related to increased intellectual functioning, practiced use of AVE overtime leads to a cumulative effect, and AVE may result in the recovery of early childhood experiences.

Was wondering if you could give me a little more background on the suggested 2hr usage limit. I’m in LOVE with these CDs. Spent two months 2-3 times per day with ‘Equisync II’, and earlier this week shifted over to ‘Equisync III’. Since moving into Equisync III, I’m naturally drawn in my morning sitting to about 1 1/2 hrs with the tracks looping through my iPod. Then I sit again at night. I feel great. So is the 2hrs suggested for people with little prior meditative experience, is it a precaution for those whose psyche may be more fragile and prone to getting uber spacey and not managing their lives?

So, in summary, binaural beats certainly do not work the way the sellers claim, but there's no reason to think they're any less effective than any other music track you might listen to that effects you in a way you like. If they make you sleepy (like they all do for me), use them to go to sleep. If they relax you or get you amped, use them for that. But don't expect them to be any more effective than regular music. If someone you know claims that they are, put them to the test, and bust the myth.