Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Brain.fm: Music to improve focus, meditation and sleep (brain.fm)
163 points by eduardsi on Nov 20, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 109 comments

It's only after hitting the "start listening now" button, after you input your name and email address, that it's made clear you're only getting 5 free sessions. I feel like I've been duped into giving my personal information away.

If anyone from brain.fm is reading, don't underestimate how much resentment this kind of dishonest manipulation generates.

Hey thanks for the feedback. Sorry that you feel duped - it's not our intention to manipulate a user into getting their email to market to them and is why we ask people to opt in to our emails.

I'm going to change the main button to read "Try 5 Free Sessions" to be more direct!

Hey, I'm very glad you took this feedback in a positive & constructive way. FWIW although my initial experience was somewhat sour, I have spent a good part of today using up my trial sessions and I do quite like your service :) I have 1/5 remaining which I'll use at work tomorrow, that'll be the real acid test!

For free ambient background sounds, check out Noisli: https://www.noisli.com/

Not affiliated, just a fan.

+1 Noisli has had a spot on my bookmark bar for some time now. Can mix together your own favourites, which also sync to the mobile app.

Also just a fan.

Fake email providers are good for these situations. Giving away personal information is not necessary in many cases.

I stopped at the login / registration prompt. They don't even give a demo before signing in.

I knew they were selling something the moment there was no play button. Don't feel bad Some people don't even realized they've been duped.

Check out the lofi streams on youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHW1oY26kxQ

I agree that they aren't exactly up-front about their model. They do provide a link to a pricing page that lays out the tiers: https://brain.fm/pricing

And, of course, there's no way to delete your account.

Hey I'm happy to cancel your account if your reach out at privacy@brain.fm per our GDPR stuff, or shoot me an email directly and I will delete it.

We are redoing our whole platform for January with a brand new account page. This functionality is included now.

ever use mailinator? It's excellent for stuff like this.

$7/month for AI arranged pieces of human written music.

Here is their white paper.


This appears to be the extent of their claim:

"Behavioral results suggested this music did help people over time, but the differences in the brain appeared first, were easier to see, and verified that the experimental manipulation (added modulation) was having a measurable impact on brain activity beyond auditory cortex"

Continuing down the rabbit hole, here is their grant application:


They are pursuing publication of a paper, but I can't find anything about it beyond what is on their website.

Also found this other FAQ paper:


They claim their music can improve slow-wave sleep, although this study looked at just three subjects


Hi James

Thanks for checking us out!

The links you found are right, but we're evolving quickly and I want to help clarify:

1) The quote from the white paper is taken from a section titled 'How do we run experiments?' and is just one example of a particular experiment to illustrate why brain-imaging is helpful in our work.

Our claim is that we make useful music, and the white paper explains our process. As for particular experiments, we run tests of sustained attention, and look at EEG, fMRI, and other relevant measures depending on the category of music being made. Doing the science properly takes time and is expensive and we're doing our best to work on new collaborations to help speed this up.

If anyone knows anyone that can help here, please send me an email at dan@brain.fm

2) We are just about to submit a paper (and are working on others). We've been working to get peer-reviewed results out to the public, and can't wait to share. This is really important to Brain.fm and myself as science is the one thing that differentiates what we are trying to do.

3) The Sleep-EEG document shows pilot results on a small number of participants. These results are promising, but we have shifted more into focus as we received support (from the NSF and others) to pursue our Focus music, which led to the papers we're about to submit. We have plans to get more funding and research in sleep for 2019.

This is part of our new rollout and new platform, but if anyone wants to take a peek, here is the new science PDF here: https://drive.google.com/file/u/2/d/1kGDOxD0bnFrncNKFdljdkCe...

They do not seem to actually cite a paper for their claims, but I do wonder whether they use an active baseline for control group (i.e. music that is not theirs) rather than a passive baseline (no music). For myself, I wonder if Bach would do just as well for focus.

I've been using them on and off for a while and I have found the focus mode quite good. If anything sometimes it's too good, I almost feel wired like when I've drank too much coffee, but it has helped me when I need to get stuck into something that I'm procrastinating on.

When I was travelling last year I used the nap / sleep mode a bit and I found it did help if I was finding it hard to sleep.

Of course this is totally subjective so your mileage may vary.

I use them a coupla' times a week and find the focus mode quite good.

Wish I had thought to listen to sleep mode last night between 3 and 6 AM while I was tossing and turning in bed.

As someone mentioned below, I could put together a Spotify list but why? Brain.fm does the job and I don't need to.

When I need to focus, my two choices are Brain.fm or "Ok, Google. Play some downtempo ambient chill instrumental". The latter oftentimes distracts me. The former doesn't.

I was having some technical difficulties with the site (not the apps) a while back. The head of the company was helping me to debug the problem. Great customer service. Turned out it was something on my end.

I too landed the lifetime subscription.

Highly recommended!

> As someone mentioned below, I could put together a Spotify list but why?

Because I already pay for spotify?

Worth the price in your mind?

It's hard to say if it was worth the price. I purchased a lifetime subscription a while back at a discounted rate. I'm not sure if this a product that I would pay for monthly perpetually though.

Brain.fm does "work" in that it definitely has helped me focus, but I think one could craft a Spotify playlist manually with some effort in order to achieve a similar effect.

I think the key words here are "with some effort". Ultimately anything is potentially worth the price depending on the amount of effort a person is willing to dedicate to solving something vs having it "solved" for them.

Hi 'Code

Silence is a very poor control indeed! We absolutely test against other music. For internal R&D we've tested against 'focus music' taken from other services, but this is not necessarily something you want to do in an academic paper.

Instead, in a paper we're working on, we take the even more controlled approach of testing music that is exactly the same, except for the addition of particular kinds of processing (this work is in prep for submission).

The question of preference and genre is very important for effectiveness, and people differ enormously. We try to offer a wide enough variety so people can select what works best for them in terms of musical style.

But no matter what the genre, Brain.fm's techniques are applied to make that music more suited to the task at hand.

For example, we do offer a selection of Brain.fm-ified Bach (in the Classical Focus section, under 'more music' in the web app). I love Bach but find it distracting when I'm trying to focus. Brain.fm processing removes some distraction while keeping the stimulating feel of the music.

I currently use http://mynoise.net which has a huge number of various sounds by a research/sound engineer.

I'd try this if I could without creating an account. Maybe I'm missing an immediate test somewhere (start listening now makes me create an account).

Also please add google/github auth. I'm really over making accounts everywhere, especially if I'm just trying something out to see if I'll use it, a lot of us are no longer (or never were) fb users. You definitely want more options available.

http://mynoise.net is probably the best thing that has happened to my programming career.

I always hated working in open offices and used to play the same white noise over and over again.

With myNoise, every day is different... sometimes I "visit" a Japanese shrine... sometimes I'm on a ship in the middle of a storm... other times, I'm in the middle of suburb living memory lane while listening to the birds and lawnmowers driving around...

The best part of the site is how you can customize every single generators. On the generator pages, there's user testimonials with little heart icons. When you click the icon, it loads the exact preset that the person leaving the review had customized. The site is endless with possibilities.

Stéphane, the developer, has a Slack channel going for the premium users (donation based) and is super friendly to requests.

I'm probably one of the site's top fans and I can't recommend it enough.

I second mynoise.net -- Their tone generators sound significantly better than any others I've used. My personal favorite is their "Binaural Harmonics" tones: http://mynoise.net/NoiseMachines/pureBinauralBrainwaveGenera...

There's a new feature where you can now build your own generator by cherry-picking stems from the entire catalog (192 generators as of last week's count).

Source: myNoise mobile app developer (currently busy rewriting the Android one in rust due to insanely costly audio codec licenses on Android)

Not sure why so many places do this. Their account database has to be polluted with 1 time only logins (the majority like you and I just exit before creation). Asking for an account before anything is the quickest way to make sure I'll never think of your product again. This is like internet behaviour 101.

To Brainfm: Five to ten seconds of time is generous of users to give, you have to make it count.

I too would explore this if there was a way that didn't require me to create an account.

You don't need an account to visit https://mynoise.net/noiseMachines.php

The only exceptions being the super generators which are pages where multiples sound generators are mixed together on the same page.

Edit: It was confusing how this message is under the myNoise discussion thread. The parent comment of my answer was talking about Brain.fm

Opening the link and clicking on a channel worked for me; no login prompts to be found.

Hey Swozey, sorry for slow reply. HN is rate limiting me because I have a new account. I can confirm that Google Auth is coming in our next big release in January. While mynoise is great, I've used it in the past the main difference is we are trying to make music do more than just provide ambient noise. Hopefully you can give us a shot!

If you haven't already, you can email the mods via the Contact link in the footer. They can provisionally remove the new-account rate limit.

I've had no trouble registering my trial using Mailinator.com - no confirmation needed anyway.

I had the luck to get a 90% off lifetime subscription code off HN years ago. Literally one of the best things I ever did for my career development.

When I was a junior developer who had no idea about software engineering, I found the focus mode just dumped me into that deep pit of focus where it's just you and what you're working with in a space in your head. This allowed me to get into the legacy spaghetti and actually do what I was supposed to be doing.

I still use it to this day (meditation this morning, work soon), and they recently added a 'drone' focus track that (for me) is to white noise what white noise is to someone tapping you in the shoulder and asking if you got the email they just sent.

I recommend actually trialing it for a month and seeing if you can get into it, because if you can it's so useful.

I bought their lifetime subscription when it first came out, and it's wonderful. I would recommend, I listen to it nearly daily.

Here are more detailed thoughts: https://medium.com/@kentf/nootropic-review-brain-fm-addddeee...

@kentf. Great review and great article (keto friendly -- N/A). :-) Like your other articles too. Nice job!! I also have a lifetime account and give it a thumbs up. I use it for a few weeks, get burnt out, take a few weeks off, and then go back to it. My suspicion is that it's not creating individual scientifically backed AI tracks customized just for for me, or whatever they imply. I think that back story is BS. But it does work great for me. So the exaggerated marketing claims don't bother me at all.

+1 I am in the exact same boat. Very glad that I bought their lifetime subscription. It absolutely works for me. And I do not really care if they made it by hand or AI or accident - it serves the purpose I want it to.

I was lucky to jump on when the lifetime sub was available too, it's a great service. I stopped using it for a while because they didn't support Firefox, but it works perfectly now.

Me too, one of the best things for my career when I was a junior developer that I've spent money on.

While I totally appreciate a zero-config, subscription based, AI arranged pre-recorded, modulated sounds bundle, my personal preference would be to gravitate towards an area where I can control the mix. Something like https://asoftmurmur.com/

The reason is that my choice of music depends on my mood. e.g. If I met a cute girl on my way to getting a coffee in the morning, I want to listen to birds chirp with the sound of waves in the background. But if I am feeling my usual lethargic morning self, I would go for singing bowls in a coffee shop sound mix combined with a distant thunder.

It goes without saying how grateful I am to people who put in the effort to understand psyche and it's connection with music so that we can all be more productive.

They do have different tracks, and you can skip to the next one.

You can choose the specific one you like from the “More Music” page on the website.

Ever heard of Glossolalia? It's a very effective technique. It helps to empty your unconscious mind and repressions.

Glossolalia :- https://www.osho.com/meditate/more-meditations/meditation-of...

No-mind meditation :- http://www.oshomeditations.com/no-mind-therapy/

It's a simple method which has tremendous benefits. If used regularly it brings permanent transformation gradually.

Lately, many apps are coming with music and what not which is nothing but the hypnosis. Hypnosis is like a drug, a temporary technique which only has instant effects but not permanent one.

Wow Glossolalia technique sounds very interesting. I'll try it tonight. Any pro tips for a complete beginner?

Yeah. There are few tips.

Gibberish (No-mind active meditation) is a more flexible and workable version of Glossolalia.

Most important one, Do not judge the outcome of the process while you are doing it or after it. Your conscious mind will play a trick to persuade somehow you to not do it by creating a different kind of thoughts. Don't Reject them. Don't Accept them. Just observe.

Do it in a room which is empty or with minimum things in it.

It's better done standing than sitting and allowing the hand and legs to move in whichever direction they want. Again Don't JUDGE. Just observe.

Do it empty stomach if possible or at least 2-3 hours of Veg meal and 5 hours after a non-veg meal. This is to ensure your stomach digestion process does not get affected when you release your repressed thoughts in a vacuum.

Do it for 15 minutes if you are okay with gradual results which take few months, 30 minutes to 1 hour if you need results in days. I do it for 30 minutes daily 2 times, before going to bed and in the morning after nature's call.

Thanks so much for the helpful tips!

sounds completely bogus

What makes you say that ? Have you ever tried it ? Or Are you an enlightened master already ?

I'm not sure how I came across them, but i did several years ago when they were first starting. I think I paid some amount of cash for a "lifetime" subscription.

I regularly and routinely return to the site when I really want to concentrate. I might drift back to Spotify for interesting tunes, but whenever I want to really focus on work brain.fm works (for me) much better than "regular" music. As always, everyone is different.

I purchased a lifetime subscription to Brain.fm about two years ago. I use the focus mode almost exclusively and appreciate the subtle variability between the tracks. Would any other series of lo-fi track would produce the same results? I don't know.

I think I paid about $50 for it and think it was absolutely worth it. Knowing what I know now, I'd say even the $150 full price lifetime subscription is a good value. From their website it doesn't appear that they offer lifetime subscriptions anymore, which is unfortunate. I don't know if I would pay monthly for this service.

For those of you that already purchased Brain.fm—if you prefer a separate application for music, I would checkout Fluid App. It essentially turns the Brain.fm website into a windowed application. https://fluidapp.com/

I subscribed. Like it. But stopped using it.

I find Nujabes "homework edits" on YouTube far better for focus and productivity.

A few links to get you started:



I also love listening to Nujabes, but there aren't many different tracks on YouTube. Do you have any other resources?

I too got a lifetime sub from HN but my response is meh. I haven't used it in almost a year now.

I find Youtube more effective (I've found my sweet spot near 150BPM trance which gets me into the zone rather quickly if nobody interrupts me). Also I think the problem is while repetitive music works great with programming you have to find different music for each day.

> I've found my sweet spot near 150BPM trance which gets me into the zone rather quickly if nobody interrupts me. Also I think the problem is while repetitive music works great with programming you have to find different music for each day.

Just use web radio, that way you don't have to spend time finding/managing new music.

https://DI.fm is a totally awesome alternative, they have a channel for every electronic genre you can think of. Just music, no talking or jingles.

I usually listen to their Goa-Psy Trance channel while working, it's around your BPM: https://www.di.fm/goapsy

I wish DI would fix how they choose to master music. They normalize the audio range (decrease the dynamic range, or compress it) to such a loud level that it makes it fatiguing.

I have compared their copies of the music to the originals, and the originals were already 'loudness war' loud, there was no reason to do this further.

However, I don't think they'll ever change because DI has been this way for the past 20 years (they celebrate their 20th in December 2019).

Just search videogame soundtracks, lofi hiphop, chillhop, synthwave, or programming music and you got yourself music that isn't distracting and drowns out the background noise. For free!

When I want to put on something with a little more substance while I work I'll listen to Tim Hecker, Brian Eno, Four Tet, Kelly Lee Owens, Boards of Canada, Clark, Jamie XX, or Aphex Twin.

There's a number of 24/7 YouTube live streams as well that are great for coding. My current favorite -


This is great - any others you can recommend?

I really enjoy Brain.fm and have the lifetime membership, unfortunately their app on iOS isn't very good at handling intermittent data connection and frequently cuts off. This is not necessarily their fault since I have other music apps that fall flat at the slightest interruption. You'd think playing music uninterrupted would be a solved problem by now!

Hey Deegles, thanks for the support. We are working on it. Unfortunately because our files are large and also long length we find some native streaming problems on IOS sometimes. We are relaunching new coded apps in January that should account for this. We're working on it and keep trying to improve!

This is AI snakeoil.

I don't care if it's AI snake-oil or a bunch of grandmothers in a yurt in Nepal.

<MontyPython>It works, mate!</MonthyPython>

I also have a lifetime subscription through some deal years ago, I find the most benefit is the music doesn't catch my attention. I can't listen to classical, traditional or other instrumental music without getting caught in the tune. (Music with lyrics is right out for me when I need to concentrate).

I regularly have problems with the ios and Android apps not downloading or connecting, and generally just work with them "offline" with my few successful downloads.

I use the sleep music whenever I travel, combined with my Bose QC20s it's great for blocking out aircraft noise or even as I discovered on a boy's weekend the snoring off my bunkmate who people in other rooms complained about.

I don't know about their scientific claims, but for me it does what I want, which is distraction free blocking of the (audible) world around me.

Hey sorry for slow reply - rate limited with the new account. Thanks for the feedback. In January we are relaunching all our platforms account for music playback improvements. We have large files / long songs and ios and android get a little funky for streaming songs over 5 minutes we find. We are working our best to fix it! Ps. I love my QC20s too.

You can try some video game music, esp from strategy games like Age of Empires/total war/endless legend etc, they seemed to me, created in such way as to blend into the background without drawing player attention away from gameplay.

> You can try some video game music

Everytime I read this, I think back to the Quake soundtrack by Trent Reznor, especially the opening track, and think "That's not what I want to listen to when I'm coding." (Awesome as it is. :-)

I'll have to look into these strategy games you mention.

Assuming OP is related to brain.fm. Are you planning to do a Black Friday sale on lifetime subscription?

Is this thread fake news ... all i see are reviews of how great this is?

Sorry never heard of this and hearing this many HN members gush about a not that well known paid service is odd.

Some years back they offered lifetime deals for cheap with a HN specific discount code IIRC, I took it for +- $30 and I bet this got them some loyal users here. The code reportedly still worked a year ago so you might want to check it out.

As for how well it works: I use it less and less as I get more of a managers schedule, but really liked it when I was programming most of the time. I still feel like I should use it more. Way less distracting than music and good rhythm to keep your mind going.

No, it appeals to a substantial portion of HN readers - people who need to focus on creative work, without interruption. It's an app that people find useful, and the creator offered a lifetime subscription on here some time ago. I'm listening to it now, but you may suspect that I'm also a shill!

If you want some music to improve, well, anything, I'd sooner turn to, say, Bach, rather than to some engineer who isn't a musician.

I think it may be because I grew up playing classical music, but I can't stand listening to it while trying to focus on anything. I find it far too distracting, there is just too much going on in the music.

Have you tried modern classical? In particular the likes of Jurg Frey and Radu Malfatti, who are known for very well crafted use of silence.

I used to (and still do) listen to Chaconne and Goldberg variations all day when I was writing papers. Praise Bach!

Wise words.

Tried it based on all the positive reviews here and really didn't like it. A lot of their modes had some heavy noise distortion that distracted me more than it calmed me. I am really not sure why people would choose something like this over just scouring youtube and spotify.

Your are correct that Y-tube now has a lot of tracks that would likely work just as well, such as the binaural beats, etc. A problem I have with that approach, however, is that then you have Y-tube opened, and we all know where that can lead. :-)

Hey guys, Dan Clark here - the CEO of Brain.fm. I’m just seeing this thread now and want to jump into the thread and answer some questions and address a few of the comments and points of feedback you guys brought up. Feel free to ask me anything.

Hi Dan,

Any chance to have a Black Friday lifetime promo this year? (for those that regrettably missed before) Thanks!

Sorry rate limited through HN for new account. Hey yes, we are doing a promo this year. If you go to our website on Black Friday you'll see a big popup!

Thanks for your work Dan. After my 5 trials, I ended up buying the yearly one yesterday. Really really wanted to buy the lifetime sub like last year. Wish I knew about you guys then!

I find listening to the 'music with repetitive structures' of Philip Glass very focusing and motivational.


You should try out Nujabes. His jazz-hip-hop combination works great for focus

I just listen to the Star Trek TNG Ambient Engine Noise[1] if I'm coding or trying to focus.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPoqNeR3_UA

I’ve been using this for several years (bought a lifetime subscription when it was on sale). I use it nearly daily, and it’s very helpful. I have known for a long time that I focus better with some sort of instrumental music playing in headphones - lyrics kill my focus. I listen to a lot of jazz and film scores that I have in Apple Music playlists, so I can just start one and it’s good for 3-4 hours. Brain.FM gives me something additional to add to the mix, and I do think that it provides somewhat better focus than just regular music.

I am conscious of the placebo effect, and it having its own value; so even if it's "all in our head" that doesn't negate the actual impact of a thing.

This being said, today I was feeling a need to look up and use, or quickly create some new binaural beats for myself to work listening to, and found this.

So far ( after the first half-hour ) I've experienced a dramatic increase in energy, concentration, higher acuity, and all the traits I came to expect from binaural beats.

Would definitely subscribe after the trial so far.

I tried the Focus mode. Pretty good.

I curate a fairly large (over 46 hours) Spotify playlist for coding: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5ZwAxFYf7y36Al1e1DKUlu

It has a lot of eccentric "spacemusic", but my criteria is simply to add songs when they help me focus on coding, and remove them when I find that they distract from it. It's in no particular order, so I recommend shuffle play.


If you're looking for Trance music to write code to, try these podcasts on iTunes:

- Markus Shulz Presents Global DJ Broadcast - Above and Beyond: Group Therapy

There are many more, these two are my favorites.

I liked these, along with Perfecto Podcast and a few others, but then I found Deep Sunset House and Progressive. I liked it even better, in large part because they don't interrupt the music with talk of their latest show etc.

brain.fm seems to work for me, so I bought a lifetime subscription back when it was available, but the iOS app is flaky enough that I don't use it that often. I don't understand what the "AI" is doing for me, but it makes the experience worse. I'd rather have a static set of music files that are in the app so that I can play them offline (e.g., while traveling). Or even better, not in the app so that I can put them into a music player. The app does have an offline mode but it's awkward.

I recently learned Pzizz (which is nice for sleep) added a focus mode. I should try that sometime. Their app is much more reliable than brain.fm's app. However they don't have a lifetime purchase option, and I almost never sign up for subscription services, so I'm only using the free version.

I second these! Great content.

> start listening now

... Right after signing up. Signing up is not worth figuring out if I want to sign up. Are there no 10-20 second samples I can listen to first, or am I missing something?

They did a Reddit AMA that didn't do so well with regards to their paper and the research grant.


I used it a couple of times before but it didn't work so well on me. Sometimes I tune to lofi streams on YouTube which work for me.

Never used Brain.fm but I use focus@will a lot and recommend it (https://www.focusatwill.com)

Just FYI your site is VERY broken on my mobile device (iPhone se Ios11 safari). First the home page loads nicely then before I even have a chance to scroll I’m redirected to home.brain.fm where it loads painfully slow (js heavy?) and when it loads is missing ~60% or content and just looks like a empty template. Totally unuasble. It does sound cool as an idea though.

Hey anerrorfound - thank you! We do have a mobile app, but our mobile website should work. We are on it!

they have an iphone app with offline mode

The idea is great and tried it but probably it is not working for all people equally. So prefer to use https://play.mubert.com that can also play indefinetely or just spin up 1-2 hour mixes on RTS.FM (available on soundcloud and and as Apple iTunes podcasts)

Anyone using a meditation headband to read "brainwaves" and adjust the music accordingly? Is it worth it?

I switch back and forth between brain.fm and mynoise.net. They both work great for different moods and levels of fatigue or distraction. Some days brain.fm is all that gets me working.

I don't pay any attention to their claims. The music works as stimulating, non distracting music without becomming monotonous.

$5/month if you choose the yearly plan is too much for me. I pay only a bit more for my spotify subscription which allows me to listen to more music than anyone can listen to in a lifetime. I'd pay $50 for a lifetime subscription though.

Just to chime in that it works great for me. Was skeptical at first and assumed it was just a placebo effect.

If so...then I’m fine with that too. It helps me fall asleep on the sleep mode and it helps me focus on the focus mode.

Noisli[0] is another background noise generator. The web app is free and it does not require you to sign up.

[0] https://www.noisli.com/

The whole idea of listening to music while meditating seems suspicious to me.

Did monks have like a section of non-meditating monks playing wind instruments while they were in their practice? Seems implausible.

I use this for focus, https://musicforprogramming.net/ 'tis a podcast as well.

I'm listening to recordings of server-room noise to focus :)

Seems to work fine, could you consider having a perpetual license? Or a nonrecusing one year? I don't like to have recusing subscriptions. Too many of them already.

Also have the lifetime subscription from a HN-only offer they did some years back. Focus mode has been working for me quite well.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact