Muse Headset Review 2017

muse headband reviewYou may be tired of running around from one end of your apartment to the other just to find a quiet spot for meditation. But things are about to change now. That’s right. You can now start your day differently by sitting comfortably on the floor and meditating peacefully by wrapping a high-tech band around your forehead. Will this headband read your brain activity as you meditate – the answer is … a big yes!

Meet Muse – The Brain Sensing Headband


Muse has all it takes to be your personal meditation assistant. All you have to do is put on the headband and let Muse do the rest. This ‘smart’ headband is actually the first tool in the world that gives you accurate feedback on what’s going on in your brain when you meditate. And the best thing is that you get a real-time response.

Okay, so what can you expect from Muse?

  1. The headband has seven sensors to read alpha, beta, gamma, theta and delta waves
  2. You can wrap the headband comfortable around the forehead, right above your ears
  3. The device is pretty simple to use. Just turn it on and connect it to the app on your phone. Put on the headband and get started with your meditation session
  4. You need to answer simple questions when you set up Muse for the first time to ensure your device is properly calibrated
  5. Even when you’re deeply engrossed in your meditation session, the Muse app will deliver real-time feedback via audio
  6. Your brain activity will be recorded and displayed as line graph in the ‘Calm’ app

The Calm app is available for iOS as well as android. Launch the app on your mobile device, place the headband, headphones, close your eyes and let your brain and body immerse within the peaceful sounds of winds along the ocean shore or rain in a forest.

The headband uses advanced brain-sensing technology to measure the activity going on inside your mind and translate it into guiding sounds.

If your mind is calm, the ambience is peaceful and you can hear birds chirping in the background. If your brain starts wandering during the activity, there are no birds chirping. In fact you can hear light rain which then turns into thunderous heavy rain.

Track How Well You’re Meditating

muse headband review
Why would anyone invest $200+ for tracking how well they meditate? Well, meditation is one practice that you can easily carry out for free. But one of the questions you would frequently ask yourself is “Am I doing it right?”

When you first start to meditate, it’s not easy to focus your mind. Our brain often is preoccupied with not so subtle mess and it is nearly impossible to calm your thoughts and relax. For years, scientists have studied the beneficial effects of meditation on human brain and body. Most of the benefits are confirmed with EEG or fMRI.

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Meditating Can Improve Health

The ancient practice does produce measurable changes in our brain. In fact stress and anxiety reduction are two of the key benefits. Most people start mediating for its stress and anxiety reduction benefits and there’s a great deal of scientific evidence to support this claim.

muse headband review

According to webmd.com, Science hasn’t yet connected the dots between what happens in the meditating brain and the immune system. But a University of Wisconsin study saw increased electrical activity in regions of the left frontal lobe, an area that tends to be more active in optimistic people, after eight weeks of training in meditation.[1]

‘7 Ways Meditation Can Actually Change the Brain’[2] published on forbes.com shares some exciting facts:

“One of the most interesting studies in the last few years, carried out at Yale University, found that mindfulness meditation decreases activity in the default mode network (DMN), the brain network responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts – a.k.a., “monkey mind.”

The DMN is “on” or active when we’re not thinking about anything in particular, when our minds are just wandering from thought to thought. Since mind-wandering is typically associated with being less happy, ruminating, and worrying about the past and future, it’s the goal for many people to dial it down.

Several studies have shown that meditation, though its quieting effect on the DMN appears to do just this. And even when the mind does start to wander, because of the new connections that form, ‘meditators’ are better at snapping back out of it.”


If you have problems concentrating, there’s nothing to worry about. A recent study concluded that even two weeks of meditation can help improve your focus and memory and there’s no harm in using a little extra assistance to enhance your cognitive skills.

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How the Muse Headband Works – Our Headband Review

Muse has been around for quite some time and the scientific community is also taking this innovative headband seriously. Presently there are over 120 research institutes that are running ‘Muse’ trails including the well-known Mayo Clinic.

The brain sensing headband has a fair share of press mentions as well. It has been featured in The Oprah Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, Observer, the Guardian, The New York Times, Prevention, Yahoo Health and others. You can learn more about the official press mentions and medical research by visiting the official website.

As stated earlier, the Muse is equipped with 7 high-tech sensors to measure your brain activity. The device also comes with a regular micro-USB cable and user support literature. When fully charged, the battery can last up to 5 hours of use. It is recommended that you charge your Muse via a USB wall charger – you can use the same one you would typically use to charge your mobile devices. It shouldn’t take more than 3 hours to fully charge the Muse.

Muse has been tested by a qualified team of developers and the product meets Canadian, USA and European regulatory standards (FCC, UL, and CE). The headband can be adjusted to your head size and the device can be used by adults of 16 years or older. You may feel slightly awkward when you start using the product for the first time. But you will soon fall in love with Muse’s stylish and minimalist design. While you’re mediating, the headband won’t feel heavy on your head and with regular use, you won’t even be aware of its presence on your head. In the next section check out the details of our muse headband review.

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Benefits of Using Muse Meditation

  • Increases mindfulness
  • Helps decrease the default mode network (DMN), the brain activity responsible for mind-wandering aka. the monkey mind
  • Improves concentration and attention
  • Helps get rid of stress, depression and anxiety
  • Lead to healthy volume changes in key areas of the brain
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Device Usage and Setup

Muse needs to be paired with your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth. More details about device compatibility and Bluetooth requirements are coming up later in the section. Once you pair your headband with your device via Bluetooth, Muse will automatically connect to your phone or tablet the next time you want to meditate. That’s right. Device pairing needs to be done only once.

The Calm App


The Calm app can be downloaded from Google Playstore or iTunes. Make sure you go through the instructional video and user manual that comes with your device to get an idea about how the headband will work.

The first time you use Muse, you’ll be led through a simple tutorial that describes how you can adjust the headband and calibrate your device. Remember, your device needs to be calibrated in order to read your brain signals carefully.

the-calm-app-muse

Muse gives you real-time feedback about your brain activity by translating the brain waves or signals into wind sounds. When your mind is calm and settled, you hear calm and soothing winds. When your brain keeps wandering or you lose focus, the winds will gradually start to blow forcefully.

Interestingly, learning to keep the winds calm during the meditation session will actually train your brain to be focused and eliminate random thoughts. If you are able to keep the winds calm for a long time, you will be able to hear birds chirping.

The Calm app will calculate points for your meditation session. You will receive 1 point for every second that your brain is in a neutral state and 3 points for every second that your mind is calm. You can unlock other interesting app features such as “timeline view” and “insights about you” once you receive 5,000 points. “Insights about you” basically are stats like what time of the day your meditation is calmer or when your brain is calm and you can earn more birds.

Remember the Muse is a highly sensitive device. So if you move your head or even yawn, the audio signals can get a little noisy.

Once you set up your device and app, you can use them offline which is quite handy!

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What Devices are Compatible with Muse

Muse is compatible with a wide range of Apple and Android devices. We might have left out a few of the devices/applications in our muse headband review, but these are the main ones.

APPLE / iOS

  • iPhone 4S and higher
  • iPad 3 and higher
  • iPad Mini
  • iPod Touch (5th Gen) and higher

ANDROID

  • Muse works best with devices which have Android 5.0 +.
  • The product also works with Android 4.4, depending on your specific device.*
  • Muse does not support Android 4.4 or lower.
  • Remember in order to work properly, Muse requires Bluetooth LE 4.0 or higher.

If you’re having problems using Muse with Android 4.4, exit the app and turn off your Bluetooth. Turn on Bluetooth after some time and restart the app. You should then be good to go.

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How the Muse Assists Meditation

Once you have paired your headset and calibrated the app, you can begin your guided meditation session. The good thing about the calm app is that it supports multi-user login and you can perform meditation sessions ranging from three to twenty minutes.

The headband charges via USB and there are five flashing LED lights on the right side which show you when your device is charging, pairing and when it has charged and paired. The first session can take longer time because you will be trying to fit the right fit. But once you find the ideal fit, you can easily recreate the perfect meditation session.

How the Muse assists Meditation

An important thing to remember is that Muse is quite sturdy and you can conveniently carry it in your bag without stressing about breaking or bending it.

Your headband uses seven sensors – five sensors are evenly spaced along the front of your forehead and two sensors are placed behind your ears. The primary goal of Muse is to train your brain using calm sounds. Learning to calm down your brain and negative thoughts isn’t the easiest task to master, but this headband can provide help to anyone who has little experience of meditation techniques.

Whenever you start with a meditation, it’s not worth to get involved with numbers game right away. Of course you can unlock additional features with good scores, but when you start, you should be focusing more on calming our brain.

Muse app will show you the percentage of time spent calm, total number of birds you’ve heard and all kinds of other information. For example, you can evaluate how much time you have spent with an active mind and whether or not you managed to calm yourself down.

Reading and interpreting brain waves is a difficult task, but the headband does a fairly good job considering the price. Most people believe that they don’t have the patience for meditation and here’s where Muse steps in. Basically if you are a person who cannot focus during meditation, you should start using the headband.

You don’t have to worry about tracking your progress as the app will do it for you. Your online records will be synced to the account you’ve provided and you can review your performance within the app itself. Presently, there’s no feature to view and evaluate the records on your laptop or computer.

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Overall Review Score

Design
95 %
Performance
90 %
Usability
88 %
Functions
100 %
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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I ensure good fit and signals?

Well, this is possible if you calibrate your device before each meditation session. Of course, the headband and Muse app will check whether your headband is turned on correctly and that you are getting a good brain signal.

Remember that Muse is quite sensitive and you must ensure a good fit to minimize interruptions in your meditation session. For best results, always keep your headband fully charged and follow the instructions in the app.

It is also important to remember that Muse was designed to be used in seated, upright position. Results can vary if you are using Muse while moving around or lying down on your bed. Before you actually start with the meditation session, try wearing the headband and find the ideal fit.

Once the headband is comfortable, try putting in the earphones and readjust the headband if it feels too tight or uncomfortable. Remember, the headband shouldn’t be squeezing your ears.

If your headband isn’t receiving brain signals correctly, make sure there’s no hair between your headband and skin. Your skin should be clean which means you need to remove makeup, buildup of dead cells before using Muse. It’s always good to perform meditation without makeup.

Muse Headband Review Info

How can you adjust the volume of Muse sessions?


You can adjust the volume when meditation session is started. A small white speaker icon will appear in the top right hand corner of the screen which can be used to adjust the volume.

There are 4 different volume settings:

  1. Real-time Feedback
  2. Birds
  3. Background
  4. Voice/verbal instructions
  5. Can you Use Muse with glasses on?

Well, Muse can be used with glasses and prescription lenses. Many meditators practice regularly with lenses and glasses on. But you may need to put in additional efforts to make sure the headband fits properly behind the ears.

There have been cases where metal parts interferes with meditation sessions .If this is the case, you can try a different pair of glasses. You don’t really need to keep your eyes open during meditation so you should be able to take off your lenses or glasses once you start a session.

What are the different types of guided meditations/exercises?


Thanks to real-time audio feedback, you can learn focused meditation with your favorite headband. You will be guided about the different sessions and exercises during the introductory session.

  • Muse intro
    As the name suggests, this introductory session explains how calibration can be done, how Muse works and how you can evaluate real-time feedback.
  • Training a puppy
    No you don’t have to train your furry ball. These exercises reinforce that meditation is a long-term exercise and you don’t have to be self critical.
  • Sensation of breath
    This exercise/guided session allows you to pay close attention to your breathing during the practice
  • Counting breath
    This is another exercise that helps you stay focused.
  • Sitting comfortably
    This session will help you understand how you should approach posture during meditation.
  • Finding your soundscape
    This session will help you understand why Muse has different sound tracks. You will also become more aware if the sound feedback after the exercise.
  • Dealing with distractions
    This guided meditation will encourage you to explore your distractions in a more positive way instead of creating a mess inside your head.
  • Working with discomfort
    This meditation is designed to help you use discomfort as an opportunity to train your brain. Interestingly this session also explains why having a daily routine is important.
  • Lowering the bar
    This session reminds you that sitting comfortably is enough. You will be encouraged to let go of results and enjoy the present, i.e. the meditation session because often it is exactly what you need.
  • Bridging to Daily Life
    This concluding session emphasizes non-judgmental long term expectations of meditation with Muse.
  • How long will each Muse session be?
    The session can be as short as one minute or as long as one hour depending on your personal preference.
  • How does Muse read my brain activity?

According to Harvard Study, People spend 46.9 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing, and this mind-wandering typically makes them unhappy.

“A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. “The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.”

Unlike other animals, humans spend a lot of time thinking about what isn’t going on around them: contemplating events that happened in the past, might happen in the future, or may never happen at all. Indeed, mind-wandering appears to be the human brain’s default mode of operation.[3]

Muse is an intelligent product that interprets brain signals and sends real-time feedback to your mobile device. Marketed along the Calm app, this headband encourages you to meditate and keep stress out of your life.

The Calm app will teach you how you can bring your brain activity from active, wandering to resting.

Muse detects a full-range of brain signals including delta, theta, alpha, beta and gamma waves.

  • Delta waves are present during deep sleep.
  • Theta waves are brain waves that are linked to light sleep, visualization and even drowsiness.
  • Alpha waves are generated during wakeful relaxation
  • Beta waves are noticed when your brain is active and alert, for example when you are actively thinking or problem solving.
  • Gamma waves are mostly involved with the state of higher brain activity, for example when your brain is trying to consolidate information.

The Calm app receives your brain activity and displays the results as graphs.

  • What do the terms Active, Calm and Neutral Mean?
    As stated earlier, Muse measures your brain activity using the electrical field generated inside your head. At the end of the meditation session, your brain signals are integrated into a graph that is divided into three main parts.Active is the area of the graph or the time during the session where your brain kept wandering. If you notice that the active session is the dominant session on the graph, you should understand that your brain kept wandering and your focus kept fluctuating. You should try to calm your brain and bring your focus back to your breath.Neutral area is time during which your brain was resting. This simply means your attention isn’t fluctuating, but you’re not deeply focused either.Calm means your brain was deeply focused. If you remain calm for a long time, you will be able to hear birds chirping in the background.During the mediation session, Muse will ask you to count your breaths. If you don’t follow the intro instructions or don’t count your breath, Meditation can become a very frustrating experience.
  • How should I clean my Muse Headband?
    Gently rub your Muse headband with a clean cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol. Make sure you don’t use too much rubbing alcohol or use excessive force to clean the band sensors or ear pieces. If you don’t have rubbing alcohol, you can clean the device with a soft cloth that has been lightly dampened with water.
    For best results, you need to clean your Muse headband at least once a week.
  • How should you care for your Muse headband?

    • You should never get your Muse wet or let it soak in water or any other solvent
    • Muse is a sensitive device and it should never be exposed to extremely high or low temperature
    • Exposing your headband to sunlight can change the color of plastic casing and other parts
    • If you don’t plan to use your headband for a long time, store it in a cool, dry place
    • You should never expose your Muse to water or direct sunlight
    • If your headband doesn’t work properly, don’t try to open or disassemble your device.
    • Muse is flexible but you should never expose it to extreme bending
    • Clean your headband once a week.


  • How can I update to the latest version of the Muse app?
    App updates can be handled efficiently by your operating system, i.e. Android and iOS. To keep your app updated, don’t forget to enable automatic update download on your devices. The other most effective way to check for app update is to check the Muse app in your respective app store. If there’s an update available, you can download and install it from there.The bottom line is that Muse headband can change your life completely. It is one amazing product and you should get your hands on it if you have issues falling asleep. Muse is an excellent choice for people who are unable to get rid of stress and other distractions. The good thing is that Muse can integrate seamlessly into your fast paced life and can help you slow things down. So what are you waiting for? Give Muse headband a try today!

We hope you enjoyed our muse headband review and please contact me if you have any more questions.

Sources:

[1] http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/meditation-heals-body-and-mind

[2] http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/02/09/7-ways-meditation-can-actually-change-the-brain/#52afcb087023

[3] http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2010/11/wandering-mind-not-a-happy-mind/