Neurobeat is an auditory illusion that uses your brain’s ability to fill up the gaps in order to make it create it’s own version of a sound that isn’t really there, but somehow your mind expects it to, so it creates it's own sound to cover up the gap.

In short, neurobeat is the illusion of a subtle kick drum that was actually played by the listener's brain, not the music itself.

You can use this auditory effect into your music and help us refine this technique and understand it better.

Effect description

Imagine a sound with no interruptions, full in frequencies, stuck to a single chord; suddenly, a subtle kick drum appears in the soundscape. The note isn't really there, it's just your brain placing an instrument where you expect one to appear.

At the end, most music lovers will listen to the sound and will hear a subtle but "appropriate" kick drum coming out during the gaps, making the experience unique to the every listener, as it is their own brain who's playing the note, and not the music itself.


Here are some examples of the effect. These were made with Ableton Live as a DAW, Octopus synth and/or Motion 2.8. You can replicate the effect by using any similar audio tool.

Example 1. Sidechain compression

Example 2. Sequenced filter (alternate)

Example 3. Sequenced filter (straight 4ths)

How it works

This effect actually depends on your cultural and probably genetic acceptance of music. Everyone is used to dancing around and listening to 4/4's music where the kick drum accentuates during 1st. and 3rd. note in the bar, and dance electronic music depends heavily on placing a beat on every beat of the compass.

Sharing a lot of similitudes to optical effects where an image where you can read phrase whose bottom half is covered up, or completing the bars of two discontinous blocks. The effect places an actual gap in the chord, interrupting it every x number of beats.

By exploiting this ability of your brain to fill out information so it doesn't have to spend much time analyzing every bit of stimilae, but rather filling up information which accepts as probable, it places the beat during the gap. Of course, if you're not used to music, you probably won't get it at all.

Implementing neurobeat

Sidechain compression method

This method is a bit more complicated, but it renders best results, as you may fine tune tons of parameters until your sound gets there.

You need:

  • A nice DAW (Live, Logic, DP, FL)
  • Any VST synth (Serum, Signal, Octopus)
  • A sidechain compressor (DAW's, FabFilter, VolumeShaper)
  • Adjust everything as needed

  1. Track A. Set up a solid sound
  2. Track B. Set up a kick drum
  3. Mount a sidechain compressor
  4. Use kick drum to feed the SCH compressor
  5. Apply SCH compressor to Track A
  6. Adjust everything as needed

Sequenced filtering method

This one is easier and quite practical. Can be used for quickly prototyping tracks, or even final use if you find the right tool for this.

You need:

  • A nice DAW (Live, Logic, DP, FL)
  • Any VST synth (Serum, Signal, Octopus)
  • A sequenced filter effect (TB Breakdown, OneKnob Pumper)

  1. Track A. Set up a solid sound
  2. Program the filter's sequencer
  3. Configure cutoff and frequency
  4. Apply filter to Track A

Effect requirements

  • Gap should last between 10ms to 30ms (approximately)
  • You need flat sound for this to work
  • It works best on the first beat of the bar
  • If you stick too many notes together, the effect blurs
  • The more frequencies your sound uses, the better the effect?

Are we right?

Neurobeat, being a new auditive illusion, needs to be refined and tested, and WE can all do it if we crowd science this stuff! We'll be opening links for report and discussion groups so you can actually help us out participating in the research with your own experience!

What's the back story?

Eduardo Castañeda, aka 220, has been working on finding ways to decieve the brain in order to understand it's perceptual limitations, and thus strengthen his theory about meta.reality - a concept that clarifies the way everyone creates their own world individually. He managed to gain some hold of the effect after a couple of years on research about the brain and sound.

That, being said, can explain why this effect has a clear philosophical understatement, and not just yet another scientific experiment or new means to finding new sounds. The idea behind this is to explore the effect of sound on the brain, yes, but furthermore, understand a bit more about reality itself and how we build it for ourselves and others.

You can find more about 220 and his work in the following links:

Landing page
Philosophy blog
Human BIOS project

Can anyone use this?

Of course! This technique was intended for everyone to use, thus you are free to use it as you will with no restrictions at all, in fact, I invite you to use it, improve it, and then teach your refinements to the rest of us.

Just take into account one small thing: this development tooks years, so if you are in the position of giving credit where it's due, then you will be more than appreciated. If you happen to talk about this technique somewhere, please share the reference and if you have them pictures or references to your derived work, please share them too!

Appropriate credit (if it applies, specially when extending research) should be given to "Eduardo Castañeda (220)", and it would be awesome if you added the link to the landing page (

Remember! This technique and any derivatives is protected under the GPLv3 license.

Probably trivial stuff

  • This effect was first used in 2016 by 220 during a performance with 66white forests in Festival INFINITO.
  • It's official presentation was held during the 9th. edition of Fon_on in the form of a short lecture.