This study suggests some measurable effects, though not as simple and direct as the appearance of an EEG band at the target frequency: http://www.researchgate.net/publication/239803901_EEG_Cohere...
Whether this actually happens is open to research.
Have they run the same tests where they're trying to find the difference between someone resting (i.e. watching television) and someone being very mentally active (i.e. deep programming or whatnot)?
That would give an idea of how large the effect should be.
Even if the effect was too small to see in the spectrogram, we should have seen some affect in the FFT plot at the target frequency; instead, the amplitude of the trials at the target frequency were very slightly below the amplitude of the control segments.
From my experience they also worked on others, it takes few listening and effort to allow entrainment as it is subtle effect, but is definitely there.
After years of meditating, I made several focus and 'work' tracks that I use.
Also, I was always making rather plain tracks, with brown noise (lower freq) and shifted channels. This is a little different from actual difference in frequency, but to best of my knowledge works the same, also it is way more pleasant to listen to, which is important when you are trying to meditate.
Checkout the 90 minute videos on YouTube for the full effect.
Could be placebo, could be white noise but either way it works for me.
Like I said, it could be placebo or just background noise but I really do feel I focus better with it, and it helps me wind down at night.
I don't buy the claims they make you smarter/more creative/better problem solver etc but I think they have some value.
Nothing to support the claims of "Extremely Powerful Third Eye Opening", though. Good lord.
I'm sure we could at the very least get a strong placebo response with the right participant.
Meditating in silence
And I'm pretty certain this is why: http://www.psychfiledrawer.org/TheFiledrawerProblem.php
One note I remember reading was that it was important to have gradual transitions from state to state to entrain properly. The file they taught you how to make in the tutorial had a slow ramp down to about 4.5 - 5.5 Hertz (about 5 mins?), then hung out there for 15-20 minutes.
Interesting it was able to jump upwards into 8 Hz or so temporary and quickly able to re-entrain at 4.5 Hz if the excursions were brief. Quartz glyph vex'd cwm finks.
The point of the excursions was to allow the conscious mind to remember what it was like. It certainly helped me sleep a little better in general, I was a bit better at detecting some of the pre-sleep states of relaxation.
edit: I'll see if I can get a link to her paper
For example 'Could this new device give you thirty more years of life?' (no) versus 'Does Elon Musk have intentions of leaving Tesla soon?' (no) (or yes, I don't really know)
Even plain old, ordinary, non-binaural music has significant, meaningful cognitive effects (and is often used in gyms and therapy for that purpose).
Most know from first-hand experience that sound can affect the brain (and body) in significant ways. Sound affects neurotransmitters and hormones in the body. If it didn't, we probably wouldn't have ears. The purpose of ears is to make it possible for sound to affect us.
If your conclusion is "no effect", you're probably not listening hard enough, or for the right thing. That "Not much difference" could make all the difference.
You have to be in a quiet environment where you can focus on the sound. Also, I've found better results with isochronic tones. Binaural beats pretty much mandate headphones and, even then, if you're in a noisy environment or there are defects in the headphones that have one side louder than the other, it can be quite "off".
It definitely alters consciousness, but I don't know if there's anything magical about beats per se, because drumming has been used to similar effects for thousands of years. Whether it does so by entraining the brainwaves, that I don't know. It seems like a reasonable guess, but the brain is far too complex for one to assume that such a thing as "an alpha state" exists: we actually have multiple frequencies at all times, and variation around the brain, and we're just starting to develop the technical capability to look at the complexity of all this.