If we're talking about the best headphones for binaural beats and entrainment we need first to look into what binaural beats and brainwave entrainment is all about.
For all the fantastic and quite often mind-blowing facets of modern existence, there comes a pretty severe toll.
Day to day life has never been more stressful and rife with distraction for the average human. Thanks in part to the infinite light-ocean of phone and computer screens, sleep or focus has never seemed so far away.
But what happens if we use our advanced knowledge and technology to combat the very symptoms it creates in humans? That’s what binaural beats and brainwave entrainment is all about.
Put simply, binaural beats are an auditory illusion. By delivering different frequency beats to each ear, the brain automatically begins to hear the difference between them rather than their individual tone.
It’s a soothing and immersive experience.
The problem is, to truly isolate what each ear is receiving, you need to use headphones, but not all headphones are suitable, in fact, most aren’t up to the job, but no need to stress.
I'll take you on a meditative journey that will lead you to the best headphones for brainwave entrainment. Are you ready to find peace?
No problem, go-getter. I understand. It’s a crazy world. In fact, that’s the crux of the matter.
So, here’s my top pick just for you before we get into anything else.
Top 5 Best Headphones For Binaural Beats And Brainwave Entrainment
MY TOP PICK
MY TOP PICK
My number one pick for helping you achieve momentary zen is designed with noise cancellation as a priority.
Bose has employed three levels of noise protection that you can cycle through using the action button on the shell that can also be used to navigate your media library.
That means no staring into glaring screens when you’re trying to wind down.
The wireless design means you’ll never have to worry about tangles ever again.
That said, it does mean that they’re battery-powered, but Bose has done their best to make that a non-issue by delivering a 20 - 40 hour battery life.
What really clinched the top spot for these cans is the integrated Bose AR software designed as an auditory rendition of augmented reality, providing a 3-dimensional listening experience which is exactly what binaural beats are.
In addition, the Quiet Comfort’s keep levels balanced at all listenable volumes.
These headphones and brainwave entrainment really are a match made in heaven, but there is a downside to speak of. It’s not that they’re uncomfortable; they really are.
They’re super lightweight and the ear clamp is secure yet easy on the jawline.
It’s just that the leathery material on the earpieces can heat up against your head really fast, and as these are closed-back headphones, you may start to sweat.
- Balanced audio at any volume
- Three levels of noise cancellation to choose from
- AR software emphasizes 3-dimensional listening
- Very comfortable over ear and head
- Wireless design and long battery life
- Recessed lining to let ears breath
- Quite expensive
- Leathery padding
My second pair of cans are the absolute best on the list for sound articulation, a feature that’s going to lend itself wholeheartedly to a proper and effective binaural beats listening experience.
They also exhibit exquisite stereo placement, by which I mean they don’t just separate sounds into left and right categories, but subcategories as well.
Part of what enables this flawless micro-detailed sound reproduction is the Tesla 2.0 technology. That’s right...Tesla tech!
A three-layer compound membrane of acoustically resonant materials eliminates distortion at almost any frequency or volume and provides that vivid and articulated spaciousness.
One of the reasons these cans landed such a prime position on my list is their extra flat and clear representation of bass tones.
Although low sounds are frequently utilized by Hollywood to create gut-grabbing, fear-inducing sounds in film, low frequencies can be innately calming.
They’re reminiscent of our most protected and comfortable period of existence: in the womb. In that safe place, only low frequencies travel through.
Moving on to ergonomics, these things couldn’t be more comfortable.
They come with removable velour and leatherette pads so you can choose what you prefer.
The headband is crafted with state of the art textiles to give a light-as-air feel, and compression around the ear is just right.
There’s no doubt, these things are great. They even come with their own awesome case, but they’re not for everyone.
The sound they produce is so detailed, those who aren’t used to them may find them more stimulating than relaxing.
- Ultimate clarity and flat response
- True low frequencies
- Come with their own case
- Incredibly detailed sound profile
- Tesla 2.0 technology
- Super comfortable
- Removable ear pads
- Very expensive
- Sound may be too detailed and bracing for some
The next stop on your pilgrimage to the source of transcendent sounds is a set of cans that are so comfortable, you might just forget you’re wearing them.
The silicon-coated headband conforms to your head size and shape, and thanks to its flexibility, is nigh on impossible to break.
The ear cup padding is made from high-quality memory foam coated in a soft and breathable microfiber mesh material, so you can wear these bad boys for days before you’ll feel irritated or smothered in any way.
They have a fairly limited frequency response if you’re comparing them to, say, the Beyerdynamic cans in my second spot, but 5Hz - 22KHz is wide enough to cover all the sonic ground you really need to experience the full effects of binaural beats.
Focal has really tried to get the sound as close to the ears as possible with the Listen Pros, and that unique sonic proximity couldn’t be more perfect for brainwave entrainment.
It’s immersive and world-creating. With these cradling your ears, you’ll be completely transported to another realm.
Not exactly affordable, we’d still say that they’re the best bang for buck headphones on the list.
They have a flat response, feel great, and they fold up nicely to fit into their luscious carry case.
My one caveat is that at very high volumes, the quality begins to fluctuate. Bass becomes kind of flappy; mids, a little boomy; and trebles, a tad shrill.
- Smartphone compatibility
- Excellent noise cancellation
- Incredibly comfortable
- Breathable ear cups
- Near impossible to break
- Foldable and come with a lovely case
- Great bang for your buck
- Flat sound response
- Look very stylish
- Not great at intense volumes (but you won’t push them that far anyway)
My penultimate pick is a pair of cans designed to be used by drummers in professional studio environments.
They’re all about bringing percussion to life from beneath saturated washes of sound.
As binaural beats are often coupled with vast melodic ambient swells, the attention of these headphones to the beats themselves is perfect for ensuring you receive the full brainwave aligning power of the experience.
More antiquated than my other picks, aesthetically speaking, the rectangular casings really stand out in a crowd.
The thick padding of the ear cups and the headband is really comfortable, but we’d prefer a less leathery material.
That’s not really a problem, though, as these cans are completely modular. If you dislike or break a component, you can just buy a different one.
They’re also amazing for shutting out that pesky outside world so you can relax into a calm and meditative state.
Using the quality materials for passive isolation, you can expect total external ambient repression up to 29dBA.
I really love these headphones.
They’re unique, have a true-to-life sound profile, great stability at volume, and they’re super lightweight making them a joy to wear for extended periods of time.
However, if you’re looking for versatility from a pair of cans, these aren’t for you.
Yes, they’ll be awesome for binaural beats, but a limited frequency response stilts their ‘everyday’ performance.
- Emphasizes the percussion in a mix
- Great at volume
- Modular design
- Really comfortable
- Great passive isolation
- Fantastic value for money
- Pretty narrow frequency response
- Some might not like the unique look
Snatching up the last place on my serene list of tantalizingly immersive headphones is an affordable option for those of you who desire equilibrium, but can’t spend an arm and a leg to get it.
These cans have a recognizably classic design you’ve probably seen on your favorite 80s artists’ bonce in old studio footage.
The HD280s are ideal for those who want to utilize the calming effects of binaural beats and general brainwave entrainment on the go in densely populated areas.
They feature incredibly aggressive noise cancellation, so although there may be people hustling and bustling around you, if you close your eyes while wearing these cans, it’s like they’re not there at all.
So isolating are these headphones, they’re known to be used by some for shooting.
Sound-wise, you get a very accurate representation, impressive for the price tag they carry, and structural speaking, these things are tanks.
Older iterations of the HD series were known to last over ten years of rugged usage, but these...these will last a lifetime.
The padding on the headband and the ear cups is amazingly cozy, but it’s not the most durable of foams.
Not to worry, though, because the HD280 headphones are another modular design, so feel free to switch things up as and when you please..
- Very comfortable and lightweight
- Unbeatable noise cancellation
- Lovely price tag
- Classic aesthetics
- Very hard-wearing
- Modular design
- Not as high-quality sound reproduction as other picks
- Foam ear cups are fairly fragile
Best Headphones For Binaural Beats And Brainwave Entrainment Buying Guide
Headphones are rarely cheap, especially if you need some with unique capabilities, so before you settle on a pair, let's discuss some of the key considerations.
Not all headphones have stereo positioning, meaning sound travels laterally through a left and right channel.
Cans without this capability are called mono headphones, and they’re useless for binaural beats and brainwave entrainment.
Comfortability should always be a consideration when buying headphones, but never is it more imperative than when you’re using them for listening to binaural beats.
The whole idea is to enter a relaxed, dreamy state, and trying to reach nirvana in a state of irritation and discomfort simply cannot be done.
Your headphones should be comfortable over the crown of your head and of course over your ears.
By transparency, I don’t mean physically see-through (although that would be super cool). I mean transparent in sound recreation.
What separates a lot of headphones and gives them their sound profile and character is the way they color a sound.
This can be done by emphasizing bass frequencies, smoothing out trebles, or boosting the mids. This is to be avoided for brainwave entrainment.
The best headphones for binaural beats present sound as close to the original source as physically possible.
But where can you find headphones like that? Well, there are some on the general use headphone market, but they’re rare.
You’re better off searching for headphones used in professional music production.
Music production headphones are designed to portray sound honestly so sound engineers and producers know exactly what needs to be done to a mix to make it as listenable as possible.
Another way of describing this faithful reproduction of the original sound source is, ‘flat’.
Wireless Vs Wired
Wireless headphones are always going to provide a more comfortable physical experience as you listen to binaural beats, but most high-quality headphones are wired designs.
Open Vs Closed Back
To a lot of people, headphones are headphones and the only defining factor between them is their sound reproduction, but physicalities play a huge role in that sound reproduction.
Open back cans feature some sort of mesh or perforations in the enclosure that allow air to pass through to the ear cup.
These can be refreshing for studio engineers putting in the hours at the desk, but they don’t isolate sound to your ear.
They evoke that hearing-things-in-amongst-the-world feeling, as though you were hearing the music through speakers.
While welcoming the natural ambiance of your location may be lovely if you’re surrounded by babbling brooks and singing birds, the chances are, if you had access to those natural soul soothers, you wouldn’t be so in need of brainwave entrainment.
So, if you’re more often surrounded by stressors like road and city noise, you’ll need a set of closed back cans.
Closed back cans completely isolate the sound you're hearing in each ear, evoking that in-your-own-world sort of feeling, which is perfect for making the most of binaural beats.
The driver in headphones refers to the actual speaker that pushes the sound down your ear canal.
There are other factors involved, but generally speaking, the larger the drivers are, the better quality the sound a pair of headphones can emit.
Frequency response is measured in Hertz and describes the range of pitches a pair of headphones can deliver.
Low numbers are bass frequencies, and high numbers are treble frequencies, with mids falling, you’ve guessed it...in the middle.
The wider the frequency range, the better, but beyond 20,000Hz, prices rise significantly.
If you plan on listening to binaural beats at safe volumes, you don’t need to worry too much about this, but it’s nice to know your cans are capable of pumping the volume without compromising tonal quality.
My list only features over-ear headphones because they provide the absolute best quality listening experience, but there are others to choose from that might suit your needs more.
In-ear headphones seem to be the Marmite of the music equipment world. You either swear by them, or you feel completely violated by them.
These sorts of headphones are great for subliminals or if you want to use binaural beats primarily for helping you get some sleep.
Just make sure you buy some sleep-specific ones. In-ears do pose more of a health risk, though, so you should always be careful when using them.
Another option for sleepy-time brainwave entrainment is a musical headband. They feature hidden earphones in a comfortable fabric.
Nothing goes in your ear so you can rest comfortably, but the sound quality is worse than any other kind of headphone.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do binaural beats work with earphones?
Yes, to a degree, but headphones are much more suited to the task.
Do you need special headphones for binaural beats?
Stereo capabilities are a prerequisite for binaural beats.
Other than that, headphones with a transparent (flat) sound response make for a great experience.
Should you listen to binaural beats while sleeping?
You can if you want.
Studies show that the right beats at certain frequencies can really help with sleep.
There you have it, audiophiles, five superb headphones for binaural beats and brainwave entrainment.
Each of these products is a highly celebrated, masterful piece of music technology, but headphones are highly personal bits of gear. It’s possible that none of my choices would work well for you.
In this event, please use my buyer’s guide as a point of reference and continue your search.
Remember, you’re looking for stereo capabilities, a flat response, and ultimate comfort.