I’ve always been a sceptic when it comes to ‘relaxation’ software. Maybe I’m just so stressed a person that a 10-second loop of jungle sounds or whale music is not enough to put me in a state of spiritual bliss, but I’m sure many people feel the same way. I therefore approached Easy Relax Ultimate ready to scoff at it, but found myself surprised at the amount of flexibility it allows in finding the sound that mellows you out.
The main menu in ER Ultimate allows you to pick from 17 different sounds. While Jungle and Whale song are indeed present, most of the sounds rather boldly claim to have specific miraculous effects on the mind. Have a headache? Use ‘Headache killer’. If you’re an amnesiac, use ‘Memory helper’ to ‘Enhance memorization ability.’ Sadly, using these sounds didn’t provide me with the promised effects, and I much preferred the more hippie sound-clips like ‘Into the West’ and ‘Blossoms from India.’
Once you’ve got your desired sound going, you can choose how long it lasts for and whether you want an alarm at the end of it (though surely that’s a bit self-defeating?). During the sound-clip, you can also have a neon-style clock on the screen which you can change the colour of; small details, but they all add up to a pretty refined App.
Possibly the best – or at least most amusing – feature of ER Ultimate is the option to create your own relaxing sounds. It is a simple process by which you pick a background sound, up to 3 ambient noises, and a Binaural Beat such as the aforementioned Headache killer or ‘Dream creation’. Each sound is also high customisable in terms of speed, interval (loop) and volume, so you can actually get quite creative with the whole process. While it’s difficult to create a genuinely relaxing sound that’s much different to the ones already available, I still had a great time creating the most stressful possible sound (see pic) and torturing myself with it endlessly.
ER Ultimate is a very customisable and fun-to-use App that offers more than I had expected. The big question is would listening to these sounds really relax anyone more than listening to, say, whatever’s on your ‘Chillout’ iPod playlist? Probably not. If, however, you’re the kind of person who’s trying to get into meditation (like me) then the unrhythmic, drifty sound-clips may help you slip into that state. And with the sound-creation tool you can always attempt to pioneer your own perfect relaxation sound, but probably fail.
By Yang Chisheng, Updated 8th February 2010, £1.79/ $2.99