These are the top headphones for listening to binaural beats, including Audio Technica, Sony and Bose. Watch out for headphones that have …
It’s true that listening to binaural beats is best done using headphones. Since the brainwave is affected by your right and left ears, you need a headphone to achieve a stronger effect.
It’s also true that you can listen to them using any headphone you have. That said, using a pair of high quality or professional headphones can help you experience an even stronger effect.
Obviously, the downside to getting a pair of quality headphones is the price. It isn’t an absolute necessity, but if you’re serious about implementing binaural beats as a daily practice, then good headphones will make your routine more enjoyable.
Here are the headphones we recommend for listening to binaural beats. Beneath that, you can read the various factors that determine whether a headphone is suitable or not.
Audio Technica ATH-M50x – Editor’s Choice
Audio Technica is a well-known audio equipment brand. Their gear is used in music studios around the world for producing high quality sounds with minimal coloring.
It means that the sound you get is the sound you’re meant to hear. With no enhancements, you get a nearly flat response, giving you binaural beats that are as clear as possible.
Particularly, the low frequencies (or bass range) is well balanced and don’t cause the sound to get “muddy,” which tends to happen with lower quality headphones.
The downside about the ATH-M50x is that it doesn’t have noise cancellation, unlike the Bose that we review below. That said, it does minimize external sounds and it gets the job perfectly done if you’re listening in your room.
Regarding the power, due to the low impedance, you can obtain a clear sounding signal even from plugging it to your phone. The ATH-M50x draws enough power from small devices to get a big sound.
This headphone not only looks beautiful, but also has useful features. It’s lightweight, so there’s no discomfort if you plan to wear it while walking or listening during your commute.
In terms of comfort, some headphones can press on your ears, causing slight pain after some time. That’s not the case with this Audio Technica, as the soft padding covers your ears completely, making it comfortable for long listening sessions.
For mobility, the ear cups have a swivel feature that goes 90 degrees in either direction. It allows you to adjust the position very well to find the most comfortable one for you.
The swivel feature also means the headphone is easily foldable, so you can tuck it in your bagpack. The cable is detachable, so you can take them off when not using it or when you bring it with you.
Sony MDR7506 Professional – Budget Option
When I was working as a sound engineer in a music studio, these were the headphones that I wanted to buy. It’s good news that many years later, the Sony MDR7506 is still a great choice.
Consumer headphones and earphones tend to exaggerate the bass frequencies to make the sound more attractive, but it distorts the original signal. This headphone does the opposite, in that it emphasizes the high frequencies.
The result is that your audio sounds brighter, making it appear clearer. It helps most people who have some trouble listening to high frequencies (myself included).
The downside is that you experience some coloring on the high frequencies, which might sound “harsh”. It may not affect binaural beats much, since they are mostly low frequencies, but there is still high frequency content in every sound.
The MDR7506 has a 60 ohm impedance. It means that this headphone won’t produce as strong a sound as the Audio Technica above. But make no mistake, the sound it does produce is strong enough for comfortable listening.
Similar to the Audio Technica, this Sony headphone doesn’t have noise cancellation. It’s not a problem if you’re listening in a quiet room, but if there’s some outside sound bleeding in, then you may have to turn up the volume a bit.
This headphone is comfortable for long listening sessions. It doesn’t have any fancy features like the Audio Technica, but it can fit most people’s needs.
It’s also a lightweight headphone, so you can use it while moving around or bring it with you to have meditation sessions outside.
Bose QuietComfort 35 – Best Noise-Cancelling Headphone
If you’re looking for noise-cancelling headphones, then the Bose QuietComfort is the top choice. This headphone is well-known for it’s ability to cancel outside noise, so it’s popular with people who travel on airplanes and need some peace and quiet.
For listening to binaural beats, you will mostly be listening in a quiet room. The noise cancellation can be activated or deactivated at the push of a button.
In case you have outside noise pollution, such as living in the heart of a big city, then activate the noise cancellation to help boost your concentration.
The QuietComfort 35 is designed with a flat response. It has no bass or treble enhancements, giving you the clear sound as it is without any coloring.
This headphone is a wireless ones that connect via Bluetooth to your phone or laptop. There’s an optional cable connection if you don’t want to use up the battery charge.
Being a wireless headphone, the Bose can be very comfortable if you want to listen to binaural beats while laying down. Having no wires that could get tangled is a pleasant benefit.
The oval earcups cover over your ears and the soft pads make this headphone comfortable to wear for long periods without causing strain on your ears. The right earcup has buttons to adjust volume and turn the headphone on or off.
The QuietComfort 35 is both quiet and comfortable. But the downside is that it’s the priciest choice compared to the Audio Technica or Sony.
Headphones Buyer’s Guide – What to Look For?
From the choices above, the Audio Technica ATH-M50x is a great overall option. The Sony MDR7506 is for those of you who want a budget option, while the Bose QuietComfort offers comfortable noise-cancelling if that is your main necessity.
Other than the three above, you can take a look at other headphones for listening to binaural beats. Here are several criteria to consider when you want to get the best experience from your audio equipment:
Comfort is the first criteria that you should consider. Regardless of how clear it sounds, if you’re not fine with wearing the headphone for a lengthy time, you won’t get the most benefit of binaural beats.
Since most people listen to binaural beats while studying or working, and also for meditation and sleeping (like myself), you will most likely be wearing the headphone for quite a while.
I’ve worn uncomfortable headphones before, and my ears can start to feel slight pain from the pressure. It disturbs the flow of what I’m doing, and I have to take off the headphone.
The headphones recommended on this page are all comfortable. When looking for one yourself, check whether it has padded cups that cover your entire ear, since those offer the most comfort.
The headband is also a point you should examine. One with pads for support will feel more comfortable on the top of your head and not cause any noticeable pressure.
Whether it has wiring or is wireless is another criteria to consider. If it has wires, you will have to manage the position of the wiring so that it doesn’t get tangled up if you’re sitting down or lying down while listening to the headphones.
The best headphones ought to have a flat frequency response to give the highest sound clarity. A flat response means that the headphone produces the same frequencies as the original sound.
An example is if the original sound file contains frequencies from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, then the audio equipment, the headphone in this case, should also produce that range of frequencies.
If the headphone doesn’t have a flat response, it might not be producing low frequencies or high frequencies. It means, you don’t get the benefit of the low brainwaves from the audio file.
To be honest, most consumer grade audio equipment don’t have a perfectly flat response. But they have a flat enough response to get the job done. Some slightly not flat response is OK.
Since listening to binaural beats is a “sensitive” activity, having headphones with noise-cancelling is a beneficial feature. They will block outside sounds from coming in, allowing you to fully absorb the brainwaves for the binaural beats.
Usually, noise-cancelling headphones are more expensive than ones that don’t have this feature. If you live in a relatively noise environment, headphones that have this function may be a worthy investment.
Several popular brand headphones add bass frequency enhancements to their product to make the sound more pleasing for our ears.
It does make it sound fuller and more exciting especially when listening to music, but regarding binaural beats, you want a headphone that is neutral sounding as possible.
With a neutral sounding headphone, the original frequencies from the binaural beats are not manipulated in any way, allowing you to listen to it as it is designed.