Apr 12, 2024 - Technology

We tried it: Sound therapy, via app

Illustration of a brain with sunglasses and headphones

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Can "sound therapy" actually help you focus, relax or drift off to sleep? Color me skeptical β€” until I tried it.

Why it matters: Sound therapy, in which specially designed sounds are used to trigger desired psychological outcomes, is an emerging field with increasingly big bucks behind it, as Axios' Aaron Weitzman has reported.

How it works: One sound therapy startup, Soaak, has turned its in-person clinical offerings into an app.

  • Soaak's app offers a range of sound frequencies designed for different goals, like "anti-anxiety," "focus" and "mood boost."
  • They're available in different formats, including "original" (which sound like sci-fi tones), "nature" (more like white noise) and "music" (gentle acoustic guitar, etc.)

By the numbers: A Soaak app subscription goes for about $30 a month, or $300 annually.

What they're saying: "The compositions are more than one frequency β€” usually there are anywhere between five and 15 frequencies, and they're all put in a composition for an intended outcome," Soaak co-founder and executive chairman Henry Penix tells Axios.

  • Users can also blend the app's sounds with their own music and get the same results, Penix adds.

Reality check: The scientific jury is still out on whether sound therapy truly works, though some studies suggest a link between sound and emotion.

πŸ’¬ Our thought bubble: I used Soaak's app each morning for about a week, and dang if I didn't feel like it was easier to stay on task as my days were spinning up.

  • The "Focus" frequency, in the original flavor, was my favorite, producing what felt like a gentle and surprisingly pleasant tickling sensation in my ears.

Yes, but: Some of the offerings, like "Wealth and Prosperity," seem a little too out there for my tastes.

  • I also get a similar reaction to "binaural beats," which can be found all over platforms like Spotify and YouTube.

The bottom line: One person's results can't suggest broad efficacy, but I'll probably keep using it.

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