Wearables are now a staple of our daily life, doing everything from fitness tracking to heart rate monitoring. So it’s inevitable that the next step is sensing our brain activity. Muse, manufactured by InteraXon, does exactly this.
The device uses EEG to interpret your mental activity better, training you to meditate and focus. Its follow-up, the Muse 2, was launched in 2018 and added the ability to measure heart rate, breath, and body movement, just like standard wearables.
With the Muse S lineup, the company wants to help you sleep better as well. The second-generation Muse S, available since October 2021, moves further towards holistic monitoring with the introduction of sleep tracking digital sleeping pills. How does this feature change the Muse catalog? And do you need it when you have the Muse 2?
Muse 2 vs Muse S Wearable Comparison Chart
The Muse 2 has a slim, headset-like form factor, while the Muse S Gen 2 sports a fabric band that, while thicker, offers a better fit.
The Muse 2 and Muse S Gen 2 approach design differently but with a similar emphasis on fit. After all, their sensors may not work accurately if they’re worn loose.
With the Muse 2, you get a slim form factor that resembles bone-conducting headphones. A flexible band made of polycarbonate goes over your forehead, while conductive silicone hooks fit behind your ear. Both components contain the unit’s sensors. You can adjust the Muse 2’s fit with its extendable arms, similar to over-ear headsets.
In contrast, the second-gen Muse S is more band than a headset. The device wraps around your head thanks to a comfort-fit fabric. Crafted from rayon, nylon, and spandex, the Muse S’s band offers a head fit of 46 to 63 cm compared to the Muse 2’s 30 to 35 cm. The soft material also makes the product more conducive for sleep tracking.
The Muse S has a module that attaches magnetically to the outside of the band directly over your forehead. This houses the PPG sensors, accelerometer, and gyroscope. Inside the headband are EEG sensors integrated into the soft fabric. On the Muse 2, the heart rate monitor and other electrodes are housed in the front band, while the hooks hold the motion sensors.
Technology and Features
The Muse 2 and Muse S Gen 2 train users to achieve calm, focus, and clarity when meditating. However, the Muse S Gen 2 also adds sleep tracking and experiences.
The Muse 2 and Muse S Gen 2 work by monitoring the electrical rhythms of the brain using calibrated EEG sensors. Meanwhile, their PPG sensor tracks heart rate and, when combined with the accelerometer and gyroscope, also assesses breathing. In the case of the Muse S Gen 2, all sensors work together for sleep tracking.
As mentioned in the design section, the fit is important for these devices to work. This is emphasized during setup and every time you wear the bands. Muse does a great job of explaining how Muse 2 and Muse S Gen 2 need to be worn properly.
In fact, both devices have to be calibrated before each session to ensure correct readings. While it can be cumbersome for first-time users, wearing the device properly should become second nature after several sessions.
Muse brain-sensing bands work in tandem with a mobile app. Also called Muse, the app provides audio guides for mindful meditation and sleeping. Sessions last anywhere from a minute to almost four hours.
You get coaching for the first part of the session, allowing you to focus your mind, body, and heart. After a session, the app shows you data about how your mind, body, and heart did through intuitive graphs and charts. This helps you see the amount of time spent in calmness.
To help enter into this state, the headbands provide different soundscapes and exercises. Most are natural auditory environments, from the beach to the rainforest. As you go through the sessions, the bands provide audio feedback to help you see your progress.
If your mind wanders off during Mind sessions, the devices will let you know instantaneously. For heart sessions, the sound of your heart beating is played back to you in real-time. The same thing happens for Breathing. The bands, through the app, provide exercises and techniques that help you sync your breathing with the soundscape. For Body sessions, the Muse 2 and Muse S Gen 2 can recognize your posture or any movements you make.
The Muse bands are responsive to these changes. If there’s an upgrade to the Muse S Gen 2, it’s that the audio feedback is less jarring. However, the objective of the newer band remains unchanged. Both Muse devices aim to train you to achieve a state of calm, whether in your thoughts, breathing, heart rate, or body movements.
The main difference between these two devices is that the Muse S Gen 2 also provides sleep features. This is essentially what the S in the model lineup name stands for. Like smartwatches and fitness trackers, the band tracks your sleep stages and resting heart rate. You also get insights into your sleep position and are provided a sleep score.
But unlike wrist-based wearables, the Muse S Gen 2 is also designed to help you get to sleep. This is done through different types of Digital Sleeping Pills (DSP). DSPs are sleep experiences that combine stories, music, audio feedback, and meditations to help you sleep or go back to sleep after you’ve woken up.
For instance, Sleep Journeys use voice guidance and soundscapes to lull you to sleep. Meanwhile, Soundscapes work like the different meditation modes of Muse bands, allowing you to choose the length of the session and the accompanying sound. Since the Muse S can detect brain activity, the device can automatically modulate the sleep experiences you get.
Battery and Connectivity
While they have similar connectivity features, the Muse S Gen 2 has double the battery life of the Muse 2.
There’s a huge gap in the battery life of the Muse 2 and Muse S Gen 2. With Muse 2, you get five hours of use. Meanwhile, Muse S, which offers sleep tracking, boasts 10 hours of battery life. Despite this difference, both devices have the same three-hour charge time. They also come with LED notification lights that tell you how much battery life you have left.
To charge the Muse 2 and Muse S Gen 2, the bands come with a MicroUSB port and cable. As for pairing with your smartphone, Bluetooth is the connection of choice. InteraXon also shares that these wearables are compatible with iOS and Android devices, although Huawei is not supported.
Pricing and Subscription
With the addition of sleep features, the Muse S Gen 2 costs more than the Muse 2.
The Muse 2 retails for $187.49, within the price range of wearables like the Fitbit Versa 3. If you get the Muse S Gen 2, you’re paying more for the additional features. The unit currently sells for $299.99. Both models are also available as a bundle that includes a premium subscription. For this option, the Muse 2 costs $221.4 while the Muse S Gen 2 sells for $314.99.
If you already own either device, you can still sign up for a Premium Subscription. The plan costs $12.99 per month. For new subscribers, Muse’s subscription is available for only $9.99 a year.
Signing up gives Muse members access to 500+ guided meditations, although some are free with your purchase of a Muse device. A Premium Subscription also includes the ability to pair your Muse with third-party apps and access to post-session reports.
The Muse 2 and Muse S Gen 2 are surprisingly effective and responsive bands that help you meditate and focus. But if you need sleep features, you’ll have to get the Muse S Gen 2.
While the promise of better meditation with wearables seems far-fetched, Muse brings to fruition devices that achieve this goal. The Muse 2 and Muse S Gen 2, the latest iterations of their respective lineups, refine the technology behind brain-sensing bands.
For those struggling with staying calm and keeping focused, these devices train the user by helping them be more mindful of how their mind and body work. Accompanied by an intuitive app, you get encouraged and non-judgmental feedback as you meditate.
With the Muse S Gen 2, you also get the benefit of sleep tracking. But unlike today’s smartwatches and fitness trackers, the band doesn’t just report sleep quality but also helps you get to sleep.
The Muse S is a better brain-sending band than the Muse 2. Aside from the sleep tracking features, it comes in a design that offers a better fit to users without sacrificing comfort.
InteraXon shares that the Muse 2 comes with a one-year warranty.
Muse headbands have been tested and certified according to regulatory standards in the US, Canada, and Europe. To transfer information to your mobile device, the bands also use Bluetooth, which is 100 times less powerful than a cell phone radio wave.
No. The Muse S Gen 2 is only available in a navy blue band.