Isochronic Tones vs. Binaural Beats: What’s the Difference?


🌙 Written by Stefan Zugor, international lucid dreaming expert and teacher. Learn how to lucid dream in 7 days or less.

You’ve probably heard about binaural beats, Isochronic tones etc or ‘brainwave entrainment’, but what’s the difference between them? What’s best? Let’s put this to sleep:

In recent years, several brainwave entertainment technologies have flooded the market with claims of being able to enhance your ability to meditate, and to slip into various brainwave states just by listening to an audio track (like these)

Despite these seemingly outrageous claims, these technologies have become quite popular among people who desire a calm, focused, and meditative state. In fact, some people now prefer brainwave entertainment to regular meditation as they believe it is much faster and easier.

Off the top of our heads, we can list some examples of these technologies which include isochronic tones, monaural beats, binaural beats, and many others.

Brainwave entrainment

However, their rising popularity has provoked a debate that seeks to find out the most effective amongst them. While we would also be joining that debate in this article, our focus will only be limited to the two most popular brainwave technologies namely: isochronic tones and binaural beats.

So if you are interested in finding out the difference between these two, come along with us as we figure out their differences and also try to find out the best one.

What are Binaural Beats?

Heinrich Wilhelm Dove was the first person to discover binaural beats in 1839.

He noticed that when two separate tones are passed through the ear, our brain notices the difference between the two tones and then creates another tone that is a difference of the two.

Let’s break that down:

Imagine that a tone of 150Hz is sent to your right ear and a tone of 170HZ goes to your left ear.

The difference of these two tones is 20Hz. And what this simply means is that you now perceive a tone that is beating at the rate of 20 times per second. So, to put it more simply, when your ear comes in contact with two tones at different frequencies, the beat you can perceive is called a binaural beat. However, these beats can only be really used properly with stereo headphones.

What are Isochronic Tones?

Isochronic tones are not created from a difference of tones like binaural beats. Instead, they only use one tone that is switched on and off constantly in order to create repetitive beats.

Isochronic tones are simply one tone being switched on and off very quickly. Arturo Manns discovered them in 1981. And unlike binaural beats, they can be used without headphones: you can play them through speakers (or a pillow speaker).


Despite being made differently, the effect binaural beats and isochronic tones have is very similar.

This similarity can be seen in the way they both influence and stimulate your brain with repeated beats that are of a particular frequency. Consequently, when your brain is being stimulated with repetitive beats, it causes your dominant brainwave to align itself with the speed of these beats. In a nutshell, this entire process is what we now know as brainwave entertainment.

What’s the difference between binaural beats and Isochronic tones?

What are the differences between these two types of brainwave entrainment? How can you identify an isochronic tone from a binaural beat? To help you with that, we have listed the two most important differences between these two.

The way the brainwave entrainment is created/produced

You should have it at the back of your mind that the major difference between binaural beats and isochronic tones are in the way their beats are developed.

When you listen to both, you will notice that isochronic tones produce a much stronger and distinct beat than binaural beats. Why is this so?

Well, it is because isochronic tones have a much bigger depth of modulation than binaural beats. This pronounced beat then causes the brain to react more strongly towards your brainwave activity.

And it is this process that makes stimulation of the brainwave by isochronic tones extremely effective.

Binaural beats however are more of a soft, gentle shift of brainwave state. They work usually just as effectively, but you’ll have to experiment to see what works best for you, and on your brain.

How they work on your brain

Another difference can be found in their method of operation. Whereas binaural beats cannot be applied to a particular part of the brain, isochronic tones, in contrast, can be made to target a specific part of the brain.

And how do you think this is done? Actually, it is quite simple. It involves using a tone with different frequency to apply stimulation to each part of your brain. And the cool thing about this method is that you can increase or lower activity in one part of your brain without even affecting the other part. However, this can only be done in advanced sessions where headphones are needed.

So, which one is the best?

Now that you have seen the similarity and differences between isochronic tones and binaural beats, you probably want to know which one works best, right?

We know you might not want to hear this, but as of this moment, there is no evidence to show that one is better than the other!

However, numerous reports seem to favor isochronic tones because they improve concentration and IQ. On the other hand, there are people who swear by binaural beats ability to aid relaxation and meditation.

For what it’s worth, everyone has a different reaction to these tones. While some love the soothing nature of binaural beats, others prefer isochronic tone’s sharp notes.

In conclusion, the only way to find the one that works best for you is to carry out your own experiment. Just play around with both beats and settle for the one that gives you the most beneficial results.

Where to get them!

Here are the most effective and most common binaural beats or Isochronic tones providers. The links should open in new tabs:


  • Ennora binaural beats: Simple packages and easy to understand website. You can get a master package here and save a lot of money
  • Unexplainable store: Slightly more to choose from, better if you have an idea of what sort of effect you want from the brainwave entrainment
  • BlissCoded Sound: This isn’t a binaural beat or an Isochronic tone, Blisscoded is a special brainwave entrainment that is completely unique. I’d suggest this over anything else for an INSTANT effect. You can find free samples by clicking on that link!
  • Browse our list of binaural beats companies and see which one you like the sound of