Your mind is a terrible thing to waste. Your money is a terrible thing to waste. When you waste both at the same time, you’re really a loser. I know this from experience.
The App Store features several apps that pump binaural audio waves into your head that supposedly will help you self hypnotize, feel weightless, get high, meditate, sleep and go crazy (seriously).
The idea is that if you play two different pulsating frequencies — one in each ear — they will produce a third frequency or binaural wave. Your brain tunes into this third frequency, causing it to change its state of arousal or consciousness. Hey, I’m not making this up. I read it on the Internet, so it must be true.
I decided to take a listen to four of these binaural beat boxes: Attractor, Beta Pack, iBrainWave and mindFreek. So, I plugged in my high-class pair of sound-isolating earphones, settled into a comfy chair, put up my feet and got ready for sleep-inducing sounds to gently wash over me like soothing waves on a sunny Cape Cod beach.
Attractor, from Dataca, costs $4.99 and is the most sophisticated of the four — in features, interface and graphics. The wave generator is variable (other apps may only have preset frequencies). Attractor has four modes — wake up, meditate, maintain and sleep — and four ambient sounds — ocean, rain, night and desert. If you prefer to listen to something lifelike instead of noise, you can mask it with one of these ambient sounds. Unique for these apps is Attractor’s 15-second recording ability. Record anything you think might be worth listening to when you’re out of your mind and play it along with the beat of the moment. This one also has a strobe that flicks in synch with the pulsation of the audio waves. Stare at it for more than a few seconds and you’ll barf tomorrow’s breakfast.
Beta Pack from Inner Node Studios, costs $4.99 and evidently is designed to heighten your creativity and productivity. It has three presets — low, mid and high beta — and the option to turn sequence on and off. I’m not sure what Beta Pack does other than make noise, really. It doesn’t come with any help files. The Web site had the same amount of info.
iBrainWave, from Innovator Studios, costs $3.99 and is rather simple. It has a variable audio generator that adjusts the timing of the binaural beats from “sleep” to “active.” I found the slider control responded poorly — I suspect that’s because the button on it is too small. You also can mask the brain wave noise with the sounds of a running river.
mind Freek, from Jakub Koter, costs $1.99 and is the oddest of this bunch. It has four frequency levels but five binaural beat settings. I’m not clear why that is. The beats are “Astral Projection,” “Crazy High,” “Out-of-Body,” “3rd Eye Float,” and “Weightless.” These features apparently do what their names suggest: project yourself into space, be stimulated, have a “Did I just die? moment, be swept away and feel like you’re floating.
I tried these apps over a period of a few days and at different times of day. I confess I went into this with considerable skepticism and that no doubt had an influence on what I got out of them, which is bupkiss. Mainly, I felt momentary waves of nausea. After one session, I thought I had ringing in my ears, but that turned out to be the oven reminding me that it was time to take out the banana bread.
If you want to give one of these a go, I’d suggest starting with Attractor.