Brain.FM: This Productivity Software Alters Your Brainwaves to Increase Focus

It feels like your headphones are giving you a mild dose of Ritalin.

December 3, 2015

I’m too ADD to think of a funny opening line for this post. I literally checked Facebook and Reddit’s r/unexpected four times in the last five minutes instead of writing this post (here’s today’s top thing). So that’s why I’m just gonna get right to it:

Today's top post on r/Unexpected

Today’s top post on r/Unexpected

I come bearing good, nay great news: I’ve found a cure for all you sugar-addicted, unable-to-focus, ADD-having yuppies out there. It’s called Brain.fm and I’m writing this post to profess my love for it and to share the good word.

Like most of you cubicle slaves, I spend 90% of my working day listening to music on Spotify. It helps drown out the chatter in the office and focus on the stuff I need to get done. But recently that all changed. Two weeks ago I found my Spotify killer.

It’s a freemium app called Brain.fm, and I, along with thousands of other early-adopting nerds, have fallen in love with it.

Brain.fm works by playing 30-minute clips of brainwave-altering sounds to help you focus on whatever it is you need to do: work, sleep, meditate – anything. After signing up you’re given three options: Focus, Relax, or Sleep. After selecting one, you pick between a variety of different themes, like Forest, Beach, Thunderstorm, or Nightsounds and then hit play. A 30-minute sound clip starts, you put on your headphones, and boom – you’re instantly in the zone.

The sound clips range from dark and ominous like the Dark Knight soundtrack, all the way to happy at the beach.

The instructions even say that pregnant women or those with epilepsy shouldn't use Brain.fm.

The instructions even say that pregnant women or those with epilepsy shouldn’t use Brain.fm.

I originally found out about Brain.fm on AppSumo, which claimed that it could instantly cure my ADD. Bold claim, but I gave it a try. Shockingly, it worked. That happened two weeks ago and I’ve used it every day since then.

Now, allow me to get this out of the way: I have zero affiliation with Brain.fm. I’m merely a fanboy and a slave to their soundclips. They are not paying me to write this.

Also, I’m a relatively hip, internet-savvy 26-year-old, so at the very least I have an average to slightly above average bullshit detector when it comes to random internet finds. Anything that claims to instantly cure something sounds ridiculous to me and I usually avoid it. But maybe that’s why I love Brain.fm as much as I do. They made a bold claim to help me focus and it actually worked.

Brain_fm 2

Either way, I’m officially a Brain.fm disciple. I use it most of the time at work and I’ve noticed my focus and productivity significantly increased. I feel like I’m on a mild dose of Ritalin. I also use it before I go to sleep because the Beach setting calms my mind.

If you’re interested in using Brain.fm then sign up for their freemium plan. You can use the entire service for free up to seven times. And honestly if you don’t want to buy it you can easily open a new window and register again with a fake email. I did this for the first week or so because I was skeptical, but since then I’ve completely fallen in love with the product, so I bought the premium version for $25 as a way to show my gratitude.

Before writing this article I reached out to Junaid Kalmadi, the founder of Brain.fm, to ask him why his service is more effective than traditional noise machines. He wrote me back an amazing email explaining exactly how it works and how they got started. Here’s the email in its entirety.


How long have you been working on this project and what are the results (business wise) so far?
Our story starts 13 years ago. My co-founder Adam invented the first audio brainwave training software for research labs and therapists. Think of the software as the ‘final cut pro’ but for audio, where the exported files are audio brainwave training mp3 files. Every year he kept advancing the core tech, releasing updates as version upgrades or new products.

He amassed a niche following of 35,000 customers – researchers, psychologists and an unintended group of hobbyists i.e. biohackers. The group of hobbyists made Adam realize how massively attractive this technology is and he wanted to keep going, helping solve these problems for more people.

Fast forward 9 years. I’m in college, it’s finals, and I’m desperately looking for “something” on the internet to help me focus. I found Adam’s software on a random forum (where his old software usually is found) and INSTANTLY loved it. It just worked. I used it for 2 years and nailed college after.

Around this time, I was building a different company. And after two years, I met Adam in person and thought “Holy shitz! you are THAT guy, who invented what I’ve been using for years!!! Waait…why didn’t you ever build brain.fm?? That’s what people want!”

The desire to do combine tech + helping people sparked the app you are using now. I joined as an equal partner, became best friends with Adam, and spend every day obsessing over Brain.fm.

Our recent wins:

Successful launch #1: AppSumo.com

  • 12k+ users
  • 8.3k+ customers
  • $220k in a week
  • Their top 10 of all time sold in volume.
  • 310+ raving reviews – appsumo.com/brainfm/

Successful launch #2: Product Hunt

  • #1 last week with 1300+ upvotes
  • 5k+ users (still ongoing)
  • 600+ customers (still ongoing)
  • Top 20 most upvoted products of all time – among 20,000+ products on the internet.

CNBC named us as one of the world’s hottest startups of 2015 earlier this week.

Our lead neuroscientist from Northwestern University released breakthrough EEG analysis on focus sessions (on our landing page).

I came across Brain Fm on AppSumo and immediately loved it. But I can’t put my finger on what is it that grabbed me. What’s so different about Brain FM compared to a normal white noise machine?

We are commonly told by our users that they just can’t quite figure why they fall head over heals for Brain.fm. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes with Brain.fm’s tech and science.

Audio brainwave training

We are using audio to train your brainwaves.

What are brainwaves? Your brain is made up of billions of brain cells called neurons, which use electricity to communicate with each other. They communicate everything from the physical, sensory, to the cognitive — this includes your thoughts. The electrical activity these neurons create are your brainwaves.

Why should you care? When you are working, reading, running, sleeping – with anything and everything you do – your brain is producing brainwaves. Every mental state has a brainwave pattern directly associated to it. So if you want to change your mental state, change your brainwaves.

We use audio, or rather sound itself, as a tool (i.e stimulus) to change brainwaves. Each category of brainwaves (delta, alpha, gamma, etc) has a specific frequency associated to it.

While it used to take months or weeks to change any person’s brainwaves via sound – we’ve advanced the core tech to the point now, we can do it in minutes. Within anyone’s first try – we can convert skeptics via their own personal experience. Oh, the beauty. Hence, falling head over heals in love.

Music Artificial Intelligence

In the past it used to take my cofounder Adam two days to a week to produce every 30 minute session. After 3 months of inventing in a bunker, Adam built an AI engine that not only produces audio brainwave training files – but it does so in mass i.e. we have unlimited content.

This AI engine is capable of producing beautiful music that can be timed – with nanosecond precision – to the rhythms required for audio brainwave training. The music in Brain.fm may seem like it’s made by humans (especially the electronic focus ones), but it’s powered by a complex music-AI engine.

OmniPhonic Audio

We’ve spent 13 years perfecting MIT’s HRTF technology (advanced 3D audio used in gaming and entertainment) to deliver the most immersive 3D audio experience, ever.

For example, when you listen to Relax, the audio will travel around you, drowning out your mental chatter. When you listen to Focus, the audio will seem like it is coming from the screen you are looking at, providing deep concentration (even if you’re in a loud coffee shop!).

Personalized brainwave training

Brain.fm first builds a unique psych profile for you and re-examines your progress every other week.

Our algorithms analyze your ratings for each and every session and the ratings of thousands of other users. All this data is used to determine the best possible audio training for you at any given time.

What made you realize that a) this was a big enough problem to solve and b) your solution was the right answer?

We just built a product that we loved to use. So happens to be there are billions of others today with focus issues, anxiety, stress, and insomnia issues.

On focus

The more “tech stimulated” our species get, the more “ADD” we as a species will get. We were simply not designed to live in a hyper stimulated society of today. This book “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains” is a great summary. With brain.fm, we are using technology itself to reverse the very thing technology is doing to our brains.

On relaxation and stress

Same theme – evolutionary speaking – as above. Most of us are stuck ‘flight or flight response.’ It’s become a fight or flight response world, the new norm. The book “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers” is a great summary.

On sleep

Same theme. We’ve got our minds racing with over stimulation, the mind has been trained to constantly think (and often worry). Hence, the insomniac.

But it gets even better, we are not only curing Insomnia, we are dramatically improving the sleep of the rest of the population by stimulating “deep sleep” or “slow wave sleep” via triggering “delta wave” (a type of brainwave frequency) during the sleep session.

Slow wave sleep is the next frontier in sleep science – with massive impacts on memory, cognition, metabolism, mood, and aging (yep – life extension).

What does the future hold — how big can this thing actually get??

Our checklist:

Product: The product works. The core tech powering Brain.fm is amazing, but still in it’s infancy. We’ve barely scratched 2% of the potential for sound to change the world.

Distribution: There are a billion people today, at this very moment, that could try the product, and within that first try, fall in love with it. And then tell their family + friends + coworkers, etc. We have no doubt about it. We just gotta play chess moves to get there – and we’re just getting started.

Science: Cure ADD, Anxiety, Insomnia (first), then PTSD, and then other mental illnesses. We are creating a new category of medicine, akin to when pills were first made (except that most pills suck, NOT all them, most of them). History is in the making.



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