Monaural beats are similar to binaural beats, except that the auditory pattern is heard outside of the brain rather than inside it.
While binaural beats work through two different frequencies played in each ear where the brain synchronizes them internally, monaural beats are a single sine wave played simultaneously in each ear.
Since the brainwave entrainment frequencies are the same in each ear, entrainment (also referred to as the frequency follow response) can work with monaural beats without headphones. This is similar to isochronic tones, which also consist of a single tone but the difference is that tone pulses rhythmically (comes on and off at regular intervals).
However, I find that the effect of monaural beats and isochronic tones is greater when listened to with noise-cancelling headphones.
Monaural Beats Vs Binaural Beats
In 1973, biophysicist Dr. Gerald Oster presented a study called Auditory Beats In The Brain in Scientific America where he noted that monaural waves created a far greater brainwave entrainment effect than binaural beats because they require no processing by the brain.
He found that the benefit of listening to monaural beats is that the body can absorb the sound (up to a certain depth), whereas listening to binaural beats with headphones are only “heard” by the brain.
Since Oster’s initial research, there hasn’t been any more research that I’m aware of comparing the efficacy of monaural beats vs binaural beats.
I have found that people respond differently to monaural beats, binaural beats and isochronic tones. The best way to find out what works for you is to experiment with them yourself.
Trying Out Monaural Beats For Yourself:
Here are some monaural beats tracks to experiment with so you can see if they work for you.
I recommend listening to a track for at least 15 minutes for the full brainwave entrainment effect.
1. Gamma Waves
This is a good track to listen to for intense focus and concentration. I wouldn’t recommend listening to gamma for more than 2 hours a day.
2. Beta Waves
If you’re feeling tired and sluggish then listening to higher beta waves can help you shift your mind into high gear but I wouldn’t recommend listening to them for more than an hour.
3. Alpha Waves
Alpha waves are good for relaxation and getting into a mild state of flow when you are working.
4. Theta Waves
If you want to go into a deep state of meditation and fully relax your body and mind then theta waves are excellent for that.
5. Delta Waves
Trouble falling asleep? Delta waves are good for quieting your mind and drifting off into an effortless state of sleep.