There are many methods to make the mind feel and act better, but of all these, one method stands out as one of the best, fastest, and most consistent way: listening to binaural beats. We’ve discussed how binaural beats work in a previous blog post, explaining how the varying tone that enter each ear cause the brain to produce a third tone, which is what the binaural beat is. But is it really just as simple as that? Does this mean that as long as you’re hearing one tone in one ear, and one in the other, that’s it?
Not exactly. Because when it comes to the effectiveness of binaural beats, sound quality is key, and because of that, the track bitrate matters.
What Is Bitrate?
Simply put, bitrate is the amount of data that is processed by a system over a specific period of time. When it comes to audio files, like a binaural beats track, bitrate is currently measured (we say currently because as technology progresses, the measurement may change!) in kilobytes per second, or “kbps.” You’ve probably encountered this before already, looking at downloadable MP3 files on services like iTunes, where each track is usually accompanied by its bitrate (anywhere between 64kbps to 320kbps and beyond.)
This means every second of the track you hear delivers a specified amount of data to your ears. And this is very important, especially when it comes to the file format of the binaural beats you are listening to.
Most commonly, audio files you will encounter online is in MP3 or MP4 format, compressed formats that allow for easy transfer and storage of files. When the compression process happens, there is a certain frequency and data loss, which will vary depending on the quality of the MP3/MP4 converter used.
It becomes even worse when a file, which has already been compressed, will be compressed again, to further save on space and make it easy to transfer. This usually happens in online retailers when, a file that is supposed to be uploaded as a lossless (no compression) format is instead uploaded in a compressed MP3 format already. The online retailer usually automatically compresses the file into MP3 format, resulting in a double compression process, sometimes even reaching even more depending on how many channels the file has to pass through before it reaches your hands.
And finally, once a file is compressed, it cannot be “decompressed” or increased in quality. So it is irreversible!
Why Quality And Bitrate Matters
You might be wondering: “as long as it enters my ears, it should work, right?” Low sound quality is okay for songs or audio books, but not binaural beats. The effectiveness of a binaural beats track is dependent on the clarity of the frequency waves that are delivered by the recording. To keep the binaural track intact, the audio file must keep its integrity from the master file all the way to the final file you listen to, and this is where compression comes into play. A file that is compressed wrong, or compressed too much, results in frequency loss that may cause the binaural track to be less effective, or not be effective at all due to the frequency being changed too much!
And it won’t matter if your gear is of the best quality either. Having the best headphones and yet a tainted and compressed binaural beats track will still not yield the best results, as there is less data for you to listen to in the first place.
Sometimes, sources will claim to have high bit rates, only for you to hear it and feel like it is sub-par. This is usually when the compressed track (say, at 128kbps bitrate) is “decompressed” or upgraded to a higher amount (say, 192kbps.) Remember, it is not a reversible process, so always beware!
What Can You Do?
The solution to getting the best quality binaural beats track with proper information.
First, know your sources. If a track is found in a general audio file distribution website, chances are it has been compressed beyond the control of the original maker. So try to find the best sources, and if possible, go straight to the manufacturer.
Second, make sure to test the tracks or albums first. If you are about to buy a binaural beats track, and the sample is low, or there’s not even a sample at all, skip it!
And finally, don’t take any less than 192kbps from lossless to compressed format.
At Brainwave Power Music, our binaural beats tracks are high quality stereo level which ensures the effectiveness of the frequencies producing the binaural beats. Listen to a sample binaural beats track for creativity played back in high definition on YouTube, and visit our binaural beats library to listen to more high quality tracks!