Muse S (2nd Gen) Review: A Brain-Sensing Meditation Motivator

Muse S (2nd Gen) Review: A Brain-Sensing Meditation Motivator


  • Extensive suite of guided and unguided meditations
  • Brain sensing and app combine to make meditation a habit
  • Detailed sleep tracking data

The inconvenients

  • Long connection setup every time
  • A Premium subscription is required to take advantage of all the technology
  • False positive brain detection

We all know that meditation has an array of benefits: physical, mental, and all the good things in between. But meditation is a practice, not just a “quick fix”. Being the antithesis of today’s instant gratification culture, it’s certainly hard to calm your mind and body, especially when the results aren’t immediate.

InteraXon’s Muse Headband (2nd Gen) has the fix; it incorporates a mix of electroencephalography (EEG) technologies employed for built-in brain sensors that provide post-meditation feedback. Combined with the app’s goal-based meditation exercises, the accessory has the potential to transform the abstract practice of meditation into a more concrete exercise. I’ve been testing the wearable for the past week and while the Muse has no doubt held me accountable, I’m still wondering if the sensors are legit or just an expensive placebo.




Head measurement

46-63cm in diameter

Sensor type

Wearable technologies EEG, PPG, gyroscope, accelerometer, pulse oximetry and Smart-Fade

Battery life

10 hours


Micro USB port; LED indicator

Compatible devices

Smartphones with iOS 12.2 or higher and Android 8 or higher


Bluetooth 4.2


Midnight blue



Design and fit

The Muse S is soft and light, which is impressive considering there’s a brain sensor in the middle. After adjusting the straps and tightening the magnetic buckles around my neck – like a necklace, I slid the band up to my forehead. To my surprise, the detection module did not dig into my forehead. And even though the headband has a resemblance to a headlamp, I found the materials to be relatively flexible when I needed to make adjustments.

Muse Meditation Headband S 2

The subtle look of the Muse S headband makes it a suitable meditation device.

Christina Darby/ZDNET

Before we get into the meditation practices, it’s worth noting that the Muse S also has sleep tracking technology, which makes the headband just as applicable for all-night use. Although I’m no stranger to wearing tech in bed, I woke up to pressure building up on my forehead and the back of my ears after a few hours of sleep. If you sleep with an eye sleep mask, sleeping with the Muse headband is a similar feeling but with a thicker fabric that sinks deeper behind the ear. Loosening the headband makes it easier to build up, but it also makes sensors useless.

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Positioning issues

The headband features six sensor points that track your heart rate, breathing, and brain activity. Once the headband is in place and you’re ready to begin your meditation, simply pair your smartphone with the app and choose the meditation you want. What’s not so simple is making sure the headband is fitted in the right place for the sensors to work properly.

Muse brain sensor signal check

Before each meditation session, you must pass a signal quality check to ensure that all six sensors are connected. This process often takes some time and is a game of trial and error.

Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

Unfortunately, each meditation session started with a “signal quality check” that took up to five minutes to calibrate the sensors. The unfortunate thing is that not all checks are guaranteed to succeed, especially those behind your ears. If you use meditation as a natural remedy when you’re in a nervous state, I don’t expect the constant readjustment here to make things any better.

I will say that once all the sensors are in place and pass the signal check, you are good to go. As long as you don’t touch the headband once you’ve started your workout, the sensors will stay in place and track accurately.

More: Best meditation apps

Muse App: Basic vs. Premium

Once you’ve got the go-ahead to start using the headband, you have over 500 unguided, guided, and experiential meditation routines to choose from. You can choose a meditation based on your mood or a specific area (breath, mind, heart, etc.) you want to focus on.

Despite its comprehensive suite, the app’s interface is simple and easy to navigate, while saving your previous meditations to your library so there’s less reading after finding your favourites.

However, be aware that without Muse $3.99 monthly premium subscription, you will only be able to access 39 options with the basic account. While the free version is quite extensive, especially if you’re new to meditation, the premium plan is a great option for those who like more structure in their routines and/or want to layer the app’s audio feedback with that of the app. ‘another. For example, you might prefer Spotify’s white noise playlist and want it to run in the background.

Meditate with the blindfold

While wearing a apple watch doesn’t make you permanently better in training, the thought of closing your rings is enough to push you to complete that last sprint or lift. The same phenomenon occurs when you meditate with a brain-sensing headband.

Knowing that the Muse S was monitoring my vital signs during a meditation session encouraged me to stay still, breathe deeply, and try to relax. After a few sessions, my immobility became a habit.

Meditation Muse Data

The Muse app interface is quite navigable. Although the charts are detailed, there may be some false positives to meditation.

Screenshot by Christina Darby/ZDNET

Yet, looking at my data at the start of my use (right image), I was surprised at how much my mind wandered and how low my level of relaxation was when I started doing meditations. But with more practice, my numbers reflected my efforts to stay still, both physically and mentally.

Unlike other portable apps, you can also access the app without the headband being connected to your phone. So you can check out the well-organized graphs to see your physiological trends at any time.

The only real issue I had with the app experience was that even when I took my headband off, there were times when the headband kept tracking and recording data. Obviously the false positive data is impractical and interferes with my overall health metrics, but at least I know more about my bed sheet stress level now.

In terms of media content in the app, there are guided and unguided meditations. I mostly opted for the former, finding it easier to stay present with someone who is narrating. I appreciated that each instructor’s voice had a sincere and serene tone rather than theatrical or robotic.

If you’re more comfortable with unguided meditation, there are plenty of unguided meditations that play relaxing soundscapes instead, like those you’d find on a white noise machine. I tried the Crystal Cavern trail and found the flow of water to be peaceful for the ears and the mind.

Plus: This laptop actively helps you relax and sleep better

Muse S 2nd Gen headband with blue background

The Muse S (2nd Gen) is malleable and soft, with light-colored sensors around the ears and a detection button in the middle.

Christina Darby/ZDNET

sleep with the blindfold on

Like its predecessor and much of the wearable market, the Muse S incorporates sleep tracking data. This information includes the start and end points, as well as the duration of your sleep states (light, deep and REM). Naturally, users can take these points and modify their sleeping habits accordingly.

My favorite sleep feature, however, is the digital sleep aid. The “digital pill” refers to how the headband coordinates your meditation audio — whether it’s music, narration, or a soundscape — to the different phases of your sleep. For example, the audio will lull you to sleep at the start of your sleep by gradually lowering the volume. And in the middle of the night, if and when you suddenly wake up, the sensors on the headband will detect the response and replay the sound to help you get back to sleep.

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As someone who sometimes relies on real sleeping pills, I was both reasonably skeptical and intrigued by this feature. To my surprise, my doubt was quickly cleared up. With the digital sleeping pill in use, I fell asleep right away – and soundly, according to the tracking feature.

The Muse S (Gen 2)

There are two accented sensor bars on both sides of the headband.

Christina Darby/ZDNET

Even though I took the blindfold off in the middle of the night, I felt much more relaxed in my new bedtime ritual. If you are someone who often lets the cares of the day get into bed with you, I strongly advise you to use the digital sleeping pill. It is not meant to replace your prescriptions, but I can guarantee it is an effective and natural relaxant.

Battery life

As for battery life, while I was able to get a full night’s sleep with the headband on a single charge, the charge itself takes most of the day. So I have to prepare the Muse S hours before I fall asleep. Also, the use of MicroUSB instead of the more modernized USB-C is disappointing. We are in 2022!


The Muse S (2nd generation) transforms a traditionally abstract practice into a performance-driven culture. While reading the sensors on command can be a little tricky, using the headband itself feels natural enough to not disrupt your meditation or sleep. As for the app, you’ll want to opt for the premium subscription for the most robust and optimal experience, although I’d advise testing the initial batch of 39 meditation routines before committing.

Alternatives to consider

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