: Using biofeedback ➤ Comparison of 5 headsets for meditation

Comparison of 5 headsets for meditation:

NeuroSky MindWave Mobile, Muse, EMOTIV EPOC+, EMOTIV Insight and Melomind


This article is about comparison of 5 probably best headsets for meditation. General questions of EEG meditation and various applications for PC are described in this article.

1. Software for meditation 2. The comfort of wearing 3. The overall comfort of use for meditation 4. Reliability of data 5. Price 6. Total
NeuroSky MindWave Mobile A lot of available 10/10 in version 'MindWave Mobile 2' 10/10. You can start meditate and get biofeedback just in a few seconds. The best "meditation" parameter. 10/10 with clean sensors and skin. It is better to clean the sensors after 2-3 meditation sessions. 100$ 10/10
Muse A few 9/10 8/10. You can start meditate after a minute of tuning of the sensors and lection, and get results only after a few minutes meditation session with available software.* 7/10 with clean sensors and skin. Scientific studies 1 2 show low reliability and weak noise immunity of EEG data. The "Calm" parameter plays along with the user in every possible way to form a positive impression of the headset. Although there are 7 sensors against 3 of NeuroSky, you still need to clean it after 2-3 sessions. 250$ 7/10*
A detailed comparison of NeuroSky MindWave Mobile 2 and Muse 1 (Model MU-02, 2016) neuro headsets in context of meditation practice.
EMOTIV EPOC+ A few* 5/10 1/10. "Wet" sensors. May be 8-10/10. 799$ 2/10*
EMOTIV Insight A few* 7/10 5/10. The rear sensor often lags behind the skin and loses signal. May be 9/10. 299$ 5/10*
Melomind A few* 9/10 No data available. But it seems more like musical relaxation device.* No data available. Supposed to be 10/10 regardless of the regular cleaning of the sensors. 400$ 6/10*
* Until suitable software will be available specifically for meditation.

 - NeuroSky MindWave Mobile EEG Headset The NeuroSky MindWave Mobile headset is available since 2011, and at the end of 2016 an improved "MindWave Mobile+" version was released. In May 2018, a new, very wearable version "MindWave Mobile 2" was released. This is the first mass gadget to read the EEG, and at the moment, sold more than 4 million sets, which makes this headset also the absolute leader in sales among all varieties of similar (EEG) devices, including for meditation. In addition, the company also sells the "base" of the headset the TGAM module, which provides EEG reading and its transfer via the COM port, which is used in a variety of projects.

1. Given the already 7-year presence of the headset on the market, as well as its dominance over other types of headsets, it is not surprising that there is a wide range of applications for it, including for meditation. For the meditators, NeuroExperimenter applications for PC, EEG meditation for Android, and the Brainwave Visualizer application with its Float game, available for PC, Android and iOS, may be of interest. A free SDK is available for writing your own applications.

2. When putting the headset on the head, the upper plastic adjustable headband, which performs only the mechanical function of fixing the headset on the head, can spoil the magnificent hairdress, if any. On the other hand, any headphones with an upper headband also press the hairdress to the scalp. Some argue that the headset is uncomfortable, and they get the headache after half an hour of wearing it. The author of this article did not experience that, and can also advise you to find a comfortable position of the headset on your head and try to maximally pull the upper adjustable headband.

3. This headset provides a possibility to start meditation with biofeedback in just a few (about 5) seconds after turning it on. At the same time there are applications for any "taste" both with immediate biofeedback, and with a delay (the game Float). You do not need to wait for the headset to determine for one-and-a-half minutes what of the 7 sensors are now more or less clean, and then also listen to a minute of a lecture on meditation, as in the case of Muse. The only possible disadvantage the headset can be inconvenient for long-term wearing by some people.

4. In spite of the fact that the center of alpha-wave generation in the head is closest to occipital region, with clean surfaces of sensors and skin at the points of contact, this EEG can be trusted by 90% or more. In fact, this is a full-fledged single-channel electroencephalograph. As with most such devices, it is recommended to wipe the skin surface at the points of contact with medical nonwoven alcohol disinfection cotton pad for injection almost every time before using the headset, as well as periodically the metal contacts of the headset sensors, especially the one for forehead.

5. This is the cheapest ($100) headset from the number of fully ready to use (not semi-finished products). Now the company is promoting a new BrainLink Pro headset for $200 with the same TGAM module, but in a form reminiscent of Muse and with a lithium battery.

6. As of 2018, the headset still remains the actual leader among such devices. Cheapness, a lot of different applications and the ability to use a headset for meditation just in a few seconds after it's turned on these are all pluses of the NeuroSky MindWave Mobile gadget.


Muse Headset The Muse headset appeared in May 2014. The main differences from the NeuroSky headset are the lack of an upper headband, the presence of a built-in lithium battery and 7 sensors (5 on the forehead and 2 on the head skin behind the ears) instead of 3 of NeuroSky. In fact, Muse looks like an attempt to improve the first mass similar headset (NeuroSky).

1. The number of applications is very limited. The basic application for meditation has its drawbacks (see subsection 3). An SDK is available for writing your own applications, which is free only if you write free applications.

2. Despite the absence of the upper headband (this is a "+"), some people say about the inconvenience of wearing a headset, because to ensure a quality signal it still needs to be pressed hard enough to the head. According to some people, this can cause a headache with prolonged wearing.

3. The basic application for meditation at the beginning spends a minute for calibration with voice prompts (and then one more minute could be spent for a lecture on meditation) before proceeding to actually reading the EEG. The application suggests pre-setting the duration of the meditation session in minutes (which also limits the user's ability). Biofeedback is limited in these minutes of meditation, the application also shows the final values and a graph after the end of the meditation session. Headset helps you to know your ability to meditate, and also allows you to improve your meditation by real-time biofeedback, although it is somewhat limited in its capabilities.

4. In spite of the fact that the center of alpha-wave generation in the head is closest to occipital region, with clean surfaces of sensors and skin at the points of contact, data of 4 EEG channels can be trusted by 90% or more. As with most of these devices, it is recommended to wipe the skin surface at the points of contact with medical nonwoven alcohol disinfection cotton pad for injection almost every time before using the headset, as well as periodically the metal contacts of the headset sensors also. Otherwise, especially in a hot climate, EEG data may not be reliable enough, despite the large number of sensors, since they still get contaminated all at the same time.

5. The average price is $250, which is much larger than one of the most common similar gadget.

6. In general, this is a good attempt to create competition in the market for such devices. The only thing I would like to see for this device is convenient applications for meditation. May be one-and-a-half minutes of technical delay will not allow to write an application that allows you to immediately start a session of meditation with biofeedback in real time.


I have done more than 50 sessions with put on at the same time NeuroSky MindWave Mobile 2 and Muse 1 neuroheadsets (Muse Model MU-02 2016, this is not Muse 2 Model MU-03 2018). In this article, a session is given that most characteristically and typically conveys the difference between the two practically unique serial neuroheadsets in the world with the meditation parameter.

I must say right away that in many sessions the correlation was noticeably worse, this session is the best one. Sometimes the noise level of the mind in Muse (in the application of this neuroheadset, the meditation graph is turned upside down compared to NeuroSky) was so low that it did not make sense to stretch it vertically, and in general the correlation of the graphs was weak. Sometimes quite long sections of one hundred percent or no less than eighty percent meditation on the NeuroSky graph were not achieved, which also did not allow to clearly show the difference between two neuroheadsets. Sometimes these sections, on the contrary, were too smooth, which also did not make it possible to understand the difference (see paragraph 2).

The Muse meditation session lasted for exactly 3 minutes, not counting almost a minute of mandatory prior calibration. The NeuroSky meditation session lasted a little longer to show the state of the mind and brain rhythms during the Muse calibration, so that the Muse data during the main three-minute part of the meditation session, the start and end of which are indicated by two yellow vertical lines, were more understandable.

Comparison of the meditation parameters of NeuroSky and Muse neuro headsets

For the first few seconds of the main three-minute part of the session, Muse does not display meditation data they are hidden by a vertical column, and this can be seen in the lower graph. Further, the chronology will be given in the upper graph with the time from the NeuroSky session.

1. The seconds from the 46th to the 60th show a similar increase in the level of meditation. The coincidence, of course, is not complete, but quite acceptable.

2. The seconds from the 60th to the 118th are the most interesting part of the schedule, largely because of which this session was chosen for comparison. While NeuroSky (blue graph) values jump from 100 to 65, Muse shows a consistently high level of meditation. It follows that either the algorithms for high levels of meditation differ and rely on different EEG data, or at high values of the level of meditation Muse averages data with a tendency to higher "averaged" values, if, for example, those are available. I must say right away that 65% (at the 74th second) and 70% (at the 93rd second) of the NeuroSky meditation level is no longer meditation, and certainly not shamatha. Perhaps the creators of Muse do not want to upset their users, leaving them in a sweet illusion of still (or already) staying in a state of meditation, greatly averaging and overstating the data at relatively high levels of meditation.

3. The seconds from the 118th to the second yellow vertical line show a good correlation of the data of the two neuroheadsets, with the same overestimation of the data at relatively high values in the intervals from 142nd to 160th and from 170th to 195th seconds.

4. The almost synchronous decrease in the level of meditation on both graphs at the 126th second and, especially, at the 198th second show a good correlation of the data of the two neuroheadsets at low levels of meditation, although a drop at the 210th second shows that the algorithms at low values of the level of meditation are also somewhat different.

The general conclusion is that NeuroSky is more demanding on a meditator at high levels of meditation than Muse. On the other hand, if during a meditation session with NeuroSky the meditator experiences almost stress :) with frequent drops in the level of meditation to 60%-70%, then meditation with Muse will make you feel more comfortable and, perhaps, in fact its even better to meditate with Muse, however, the meditator will not know that in fact not everything turns out as perfect as it seems to him :)

Also, according to my perceptions, NeuroSky easily and immediately detects (1) any thoughts, even weak ones the level of meditation falls below 80%, and (2) too gross "awareness of awareness" the level of meditation also falls below 80% during maximum 4 seconds after that. NeuroSky is best suited for those who want to train a real Buddhist shamatha or yogic dhyana / samadhi. At the same time, Muse is more like a device for mental relaxation. Firstly, the data on the Muse graph is highly dependent on the state of mind during the mandatory preliminary minute of calibration (not counting individual lectures, some of which cannot be turned off at first). Secondly, the meditation parameter itself is noticeably less demanding than that of NeuroSky. Muse is more suitable for training mental relaxation or for yoga classes to teach students the basics of meditation.

Given that NeuroSky ($100) is also about 2 times cheaper than Muse ($160-$250), NeuroSky is better in almost every way. If, in EEG Meditation application (here or here), you set the threshold to 60% and select in the Windows application your own melody with birds, then NeuroSky can generally be used instead of Muse :)

The NeuroSky headset will be even more similar to Muse when using the NeuroExperimenter application with the Derived parameter selected in the performance feedback section, the high value is 0.6 (or even 0.55) in the performance grading section, the avg(med,10) formula selected in the derived formula section (use parameter) and a user sound file selected in the audio section (file, pick audio file) with any sound of birds (not too large in size, 10-20 seconds).


The following is another experiment with two neuroheadsets worn simultaneously NeuroSky MindWave Mobile 2 and Muse 1 (MU-02 2016) and a detailed analysis of the results. This experiment confirms the conclusions that with a low (noticeably lower than 50%) level of meditation during calibration (based on NeuroSkys data, seconds from 1st to 47th in the upper graph), it is easy to achieve with the Muse neuroheadset (in the main part of the session) a high level of meditation and the corresponding tweeting birds, and also it confirms that the Muse data has a very significant cumulative and lagging averaging effect over the previous 10-20 (and possibly more) seconds, which, in the presence of previous continuous long high values of the level of meditation, ignores on its graph even very significant short-term drops of meditation level.

Comparison of the meditation parameters of NeuroSky and Muse neuroheadsets, example 2
Comparison of the meditation parameters of NeuroSky and Muse neuroheadsets, example 2

A slight drop in the level of meditation to 69% according to the NeuroSky headset at the 109th second had almost no effect on the Muse graph, most likely due to the high values of the level of meditation in the previous almost 50 seconds, as well as due to the fact that Muse as a whole considers this level is high, especially against the background of low levels of meditation during calibration.

A fall at the 129th second to 25% of the meditation level according to NeuroSky, after a minute of high values of the meditation level according to the data of both headsets, had a very weak effect on the Muse chart, and the chart values did not go beyond the Calm range corresponding to meditation, and the birds continued to twitter. This, like the data at the 109th second, indicates that the Muse chart has a significant cumulative and lagging averaging effect over the previous 10-20 (and possibly more) seconds.

A fall at the 173rd second to 1% of the meditation level according to NeuroSky after the previous generally high values of the level of meditation for 2 minutes of the main three-minute part of the session and low values of the level of meditation (according to NeuroSky) during Muse calibration reflected a drop in the level of Muse meditation data only up to the middle range of Neutral (a neutral state of mind), but despite the fact that, according to NeuroSky, the level of meditation was 1% that is, in general, no meditation at all, Muse did not evaluate this state as Active state of an excited mind, the opposite of meditation. This, like the data at the 109th and 129th seconds, suggests that the Muse graph has a very significant cumulative and lagging averaging effect over the previous 10-20 (and possibly more) seconds.

Moreover, even a drop at the 217th second to 20% of the level of meditation according to NeuroSky did not lead to a significant decrease in the level of meditation according to Muse the graph of this headset very slightly went beyond the Calm range to Neutral, and only for 1-2 seconds ( with the cessation of the twittering of birds, each of which is given for every 5 continuous seconds of the graph in the Calm range), after which the graph still returned to the Calm range.

This experiment shows that the Muse graph has a very significant cumulative and delayed averaging effect over the previous 10-20 (and possibly more) seconds.

At the same time, in Buddhism it is believed that shamatha is 3-4 hours of continuous meditation without any (even the only) distraction of the mind to thoughts, agitation or drowsiness (drowning of the mind).

Scientific studies with multichannel EEG of such masters of Buddhist meditation as Mingyur Rinpoche and Matthieu Ricard show their ability to confidently enter into a state of meditation and remain in it for at least hours, demonstrating the confident dominance of the alpha rhythm of the brain. The scientific studies of these and other masters of Buddhist meditation are given here.

Of course, such a large averaging and even an overestimation of the level of meditation (with a predominant shift of the entire line of the meditation graph to the level of individual best peak values) by the Muse headset (compared to NeuroSky) positively affects the psychological state of beginners during the initial period of meditation training, without creating the prerequisites for causing stress due to constant significant drops in the displayed level of meditation. But for those who already know how to meditate at least a little and want to train real shamatha, Muse may turn out to be in some sense even an obstacle this headset will create a false belief that meditation is already excellent, while the actual distractions of the mind can still be quite significant.

For experienced meditators who want to progress further, the NeuroSky headset is better. In addition, NeuroSky does not have such a Muse drawback as the strong dependence of the data on the required minute of calibration before each session, especially in the context of the fact that it is quite difficult to set the base level during calibration, which can often turn out to be unpredictable even for experienced meditator. For example, there are even situations when meditation with open eyes according to the NeuroSky headset (with a dominance of the alpha rhythm of the brain) is much better than with closed eyes. Often, deliberate attempts to meditate in fact turn out to have worse values of "meditation" parameter than when these attempts were abandoned.



The following is a general conclusion about the difference between the NeuroSky and Muse headsets after many dozens of experiments with the simultaneous donning of these two headsets under different conditions and states of meditation. NeuroSky and Muse so far are the only two serial neuroheadsets in the world with meditation parameter.

The brief conclusion is this: the Muse headset may be more convenient for beginners, but at the same time it has unpredictable difficulties with the required calibration before each meditation session, and it may not notice significant distractions of the mind for at least a few seconds. NeuroSky is definitely better for those who seriously want to train Buddhist shamatha or yogic dhyana / samadhi, and who already know how to meditate for at least 10 seconds continuously yes, this is not as simple as it might seem at first glance to someone who, for example, may also assume that any person with two legs can walk the rope. In both cases, quite a serious training is needed.

It may seem that if a person already can sometimes meditate for 10 seconds continuously, then he/she doesnt need a neuroheadset either. Alas, the practice of meditation is associated with the discovery and overcoming of its many pitfalls, little known in society, and any real help in this matter is not superfluous, especially the neurological feedback provided by neuroheadsets. Yes, this method, in contrast to communicating with a teacher, who (among other advantages) can independently find answers to any questions, including students' questions, requires some personal insight and cleverness, but using a neuroheadset in meditation practice is better than nothing, for example, for the inhabitants of the outback.

NeuroSky is guaranteed to determine the state of shamatha meditation and displays its level in percent every second with a technical delay of 1-2 seconds, maximum after 3-4 seconds. NeuroSky easily and immediately detects any thoughts, even weak ones the level of meditation falls below 80%, and also too coarse awareness of awareness and excessive (from the point of view of meditation) attention the level of meditation also falls below 80% in a maximum of 4 seconds after that. NeuroSky is best suited for those who want to train a real Buddhist shamatha or yogic dhyana / samadhi. The delay from turning NeuroSky headset on to the displaying of meditation level is about 5 seconds, provided that the list of paired Bluetooth devices is cleared (except NeuroSky headset itself).

At the same time, Muse is more like a device for mental relaxation. Firstly, the indicators on the Muse graph strongly depend on the state of mind during the mandatory preliminary minute of calibration (not counting the individual lectures in English, which can be turned off). The minus of calibration is that it is often difficult for a meditator to assess the real level of peace of his mind (and also maintain the desired level for almost a minute) during this period, since it depends on many factors. Secondly, the meditation parameter itself is noticeably less demanding than that of NeuroSky. The main difference of Muse meditation parameter is not its calculation algorithm based on the values of individual rhythms or raw EEG (in this sense, Muse repeats the NeuroSky algorithm rather well, in which alpha dominance seems to be decisive rhythm, especially frequencies of 8-10 Hz, above all other rhythms, not counting the gamma rhythm standing apart), but the fact that Muse has a very significant cumulative and lagging averaging effect over the previous 10-20 (sometimes more) seconds, due to which, in the presence of previous continuous prolonged high values of the level of meditation, even very significant short-term drops in the level of meditation can be ignored. Muse is more suitable for training mental relaxation or for yoga classes to teach students the basics of meditation, because, unlike NeuroSky, it does not create the prerequisites for the meditators stress due to too sharp every second tracking the level of meditation.

In Buddhism, it is traditionally believed that shamatha is 3-4 hours (a quarter of the day) of continuous meditation without a single thought and distractions of the mind in the form of increased activity / attention or drowsiness (drowning of the mind). In Buddhism, it is believed that the mind in shamatha should not be distracted even for a second. How critical are such distractions from the point of view of the main goal there is no exact info. It is possible that even a single thought negates, for example, the two-hour rise of the kundalini or other complex processes associated with the very slow formation of dharmakaya-vajrakaya or anandamaya-kosha, and it is possible that this single thought casts back only a minute of meditation in terms of its actual energy (or other) effectiveness. It is possible that the whole thing in general is only in kevala-kumbhaka, which is actually achieved only in deep meditation. Be that as it may, in Buddhism it is believed that shamatha is achieved only when in 3-4 hours there was not a single distraction of the mind, including thoughts. And even these 3-4 hours are not the limit just when you reach this duration of meditation, it is believed that the practitioner can meditate for as long as many hours as intended, without additional effort or training. These 3-4 hours are a kind of psychological or energy barrier, upon reaching which meditation becomes almost a natural process, like for Mingyur Rinpoche or Matthieu Ricard Buddhist monks.

On the one hand, the fact that the Muse headset may not notice significant distractions of the mind and even thoughts for at least a few seconds does not allow us to consider it a complete device for training shamatha, unlike NeuroSky. At the same time, every second digitalized (with digital accuracy) assessment of the level of meditation by the NeuroSky headset makes it possible not to miss a single distraction of the mind, strictly meeting the requirements for shamatha imposed in Buddhism. On the other hand, the high requirements of the NeuroSky headset for meditators may seem excessive at first, but with the necessary settings (lowering) the threshold of the level of meditation or averaging the level of meditation in a few seconds (up to 10 or even more), you can reduce these requirements for beginners, bringing them to the characteristics of the Muse headset. The NeuroSky headset will be similar to Muse when using the NeuroExperimenter application with the Derived parameter selected in the performance feedback section, the high value is 0.6 (or even 0.55) in the performance grading section, the avg(med,10) formula selected in the derived formula section (use parameter) and a user sound file selected in the audio section (file, pick audio file) with any sound of birds (not too large in size, 10-20 seconds). At the same time, with any possible settings, now the Muse headset cannot be made as accurate and demanding as NeuroSky. Perhaps for this you can write a separate application for Muse, but at the moment it does not exist, unlike applications for NeuroSky (for example, NeuroExperimenter and "EEG Meditation" for Android, iOS and Windows). At the same time, the SDK (software development kit) for Muse since 2019 is available only for companies and organizations, and is not provided to individuals. In addition, the Muse meditation (Calm) parameter is not available at all to any third-party developer outside of Muse company, and is only available in the Muse base application.

Two of the most illustrative examples of the comparison of NeuroSky and Muse headsets are given above.

Below are a couple of more examples with the NeuroSky graph and the inverted Muse graph in both pictures:

Comparison of the meditation parameters of NeuroSky and Muse headsets, example 3
Comparison of the meditation parameters of NeuroSky and Muse headsets, example 3

Comparison of the meditation parameters of NeuroSky and Muse headsets, example 4
Comparison of the meditation parameters of NeuroSky and Muse headsets, example 4

One of the most obvious examples of why NeuroSky displays the level of meditation more accurately and correctly than Muse is shown in the picture below. It showed two Muse drawbacks a strong dependence of the data in the main part on the mandatory preliminary calibration before each session, and a significant averaging and overstatement of the data with long relatively high levels of meditation.

Comparison of the meditation parameters of NeuroSky and Muse headsets, example 5
Comparison of the meditation parameters of NeuroSky and Muse headsets, example 5

1. The low level of meditation during calibration threw the Muse graph in the main part far up.

2. Infrequent falls in the meditation graph according to NeuroSky below 60% led to the fact that the Muse graph showed almost perfect meditation. According to NeuroSky, the average level of meditation in the main part of the session was approximately only 75%, at the 173rd second there was a drop in the level of meditation even slightly below 40%, but the Muse graph ignored all the drops, convincing of the high quality of meditation.

Subjectively, the quality of meditation was as shown by NeuroSky, not Muse.

And another example of a comparison of these two headsets. As a result of the experiments, it turned out that the calibration in the calibration sense noticeably affects only the first 30-50 seconds of the main part of the meditation session of the basic Muse application, more on this below.

Comparison of the meditation parameters of NeuroSky and Muse headsets, example 6
Comparison of the meditation parameters of NeuroSky and Muse headsets, example 6

With a high level of meditation (about 90% according to NeuroSky) during calibration, the basic Muse application at the beginning of the session with the same level of meditation (about 90% according to NeuroSky at both calibration and the beginning of the session) predictably shows the average level of meditation. In other words, the 50% shown by the Muse headset from the first seconds is precisely in the direct correlation with the fact that at the beginning of the main part of the session the level of meditation is approximately equal to the average level of meditation during calibration.

But after 10 seconds, the values of the meditation level rise to the Calm range corresponding to high level meditation, and after another 30 seconds, even though the actual average level of meditation was even lower than during calibration, the values on the Muse graph reach the maximum values corresponding to great meditation. In the next, the graph remains at the maximum values of meditation, although the NeuroSky graph shows that, starting from its 138 seconds, the average level of meditation is even lower than during calibration. The first example showed that the algorithms for calculating the meditation parameter in Muse and NeuroSky are quite similar, and they differ only in significant averaging, delay and overestimation of the parameter in Muse at relatively high levels of meditation. This is precisely what determines the high values of the meditation level displayed by the Muse headset on the remaining part of the graph, and the values obtained during calibration are obviously ignored.

In other experiments, the graph was also much more influenced by the relatively high level of meditation in general than by calibration or individual short-term drops in the level of meditation.

In light of all this, calibration becomes a little pointless, especially since some members of the Muse Facebook group recommend thinking hard or solving arithmetic problems during calibration in order to get a good graph from the very first seconds of the main part of the meditation session.

Given that the Muse headset sends raw EEG data via Bluetooth directly to the application, it is possible to write an application (but only Muses programmers can do this, because the Calm algorithm isnt available to anyone else) that from the first seconds, like NeuroSky, will show the correct level of meditation. At the same time, these values of the level of meditation, calculated by the Muse software algorithm, will have all of the above disadvantages averaging, overestimation and delay, and therefore, it may make sense to write your own algorithm for calculating your meditation parameter, focusing on the dominance of the alpha rhythm, especially in the range of 8-10 Hz, above beta, theta and delta rhythms. In this case, Muse will be just as suitable for experienced meditators as NeuroSky. So far, Muse is more suitable for beginners, creating a false illusion of good meditations among more experienced meditators.

Another slightly less obvious similar example of a comparison of these two neuroheadsets is given below.

Comparison of the meditation parameters of NeuroSky and Muse headsets, example 7
Comparison of the meditation parameters of NeuroSky and Muse headsets, example 7

Another 10-minute example showing that at elevated but not the highest levels of meditation, Muse overestimates and averages the data, but at low values of the meditation level, Muse data generally coincide with NeuroSky data. At the same time, the NeuroSky data more closely matches the shamatha. A drop in the Muse graph at the 510th (in time of the NeuroSky graph) second occurred after the values on the NeuroSky graph for more than 10 seconds were about 60%, without ever having risen noticeably, which exhausted the limit of the smoothing buffer of the Muse algorithm.

Comparison of the meditation parameters of NeuroSky and Muse headsets, example 8
Comparison of the meditation parameters of NeuroSky and Muse headsets, example 8

Another 20-minute example showing that with elevated but not the highest levels of meditation, Muse overestimates and averages the data. Muse considers the last 6 minutes of the session to be almost perfect meditation, but NeuroSky does not.

Comparison of the meditation parameters of NeuroSky and Muse headsets, example 9
Comparison of the meditation parameters of NeuroSky and Muse headsets, example 9

NeuroSky with a threshold set at 80% of the level of meditation very accurately recognizes the presence of shamatha meditation. At the same time, no previous achievements during the session will help the NeuroSky headset to ignore the way out of the state of meditation in the mind headset certainly will display this way out in 1-2 seconds.

At the same time, the Muse bird's exactingness for meditation level is noticeably lower, and is limited simply by predominant thoughtlessness permitting the beginnings of thoughts, or even individual thoughts after high-quality shamatha for several tens of seconds due to the strong smoothing, averaging and overestimation of the level of meditation displayed by the Muse headset. Strong attention also leads to a significant decrease in the displayed level of meditation, but it should be so, since meditation is not concentration.


I dont want to disappoint Muse users, but the experiments showed one feature of the meditation parameter of this neuroheadset. If you watch directly in front of you (horizontally, and not slightly up) with your eyes closed, focusing the look at short enough distance, and without thinking, just follow your breath while in a rather rough state of consciousness, then Muse will show high level of meditation, and in the basic application, the birds will twitter. To maintain this state does not require any special efforts of consciousness, since this is just "thoughtlessness 1.0", and not meditation with its "thoughtlessness 2.0". At the same time, NeuroSky generally shows a level of meditation somewhere around 60%.

A similar technique not to think, look in front of you with your eyes closed and rather rudely track your breathing could be used for EEG calibration of the Muse algorithm as a result of attracting some Western meditators, since it is such a technique of meditation that can be offered in courses of modern yoga. This technique is crude, and in fact has nothing to do with meditation itself ("thoughtlessness 2.0"), being just its preparatory stage. Tibetan Buddhists have different requirements for the state of meditation. For them, this process is more subtle and requires a much more calm and balanced state of mind. It was from such Buddhists that NeuroSky took samples of the ratios of the rhythms of the brain in the state that they call shamatha meditation.

Initially, for meditation with Muse, I used the meditation technique that I use for NeuroSky. Of course, it worked, as " thoughtlessness 2.0" includes " thoughtlessness 1.0". Muse has a high inertia of indicating the level of meditation, and with my more demanding technique I often created such a reserve of a high level of meditation that Muse could not respond for 5-15 seconds even to obvious thoughts. But simply a high level of meditation in Muse, without much "reserve", is achieved by this much simpler exercise, which in essence, alas, is not shamatha meditation. Most likely, it was under this exercise that the Muse meditation parameter was actually calibrated, since in practice it gives a long and steady twittering of birds in the base application. The fact that Muse evaluates real meditation with high values of the level of meditation is due to the fact that a better state of meditation is also accompanied by the dominance of the alpha rhythm, but even more. Here and here are relevant examples.

Since from the beginning I started using the full-fledged meditation technique with Muse, which I was already accustomed to, I did not immediately discover this Muse feature (I dont consider meditation just not to think and look in front of me with my eyes closed). At the same time, newcomers who have not yet recognized the state of thoughtlessness 2.0 risk being caught in their study of meditation for the state that Muse already considers meditation, and stop progressing further. Although, with the regular practice of meditation with its gradually growing recursive peace of mind, the transition to the state of "thoughtlessness 2.0" is still almost inevitable, sooner or later. Actually, the practice of meditation is more important than any neuroheadsets and book manuals. All practice takes place inside.

This once again confirms that Muse is more suitable for beginners. Below is a screenshot of the session with the Muse neuroheadset, for 3 minutes of which I not even once entered the state of actual meditation in consciousness.

Muse session screenshot
Muse session screenshot

Below is a screenshot of the 20-minute session with the Muse headset, during which, especially in the second part of the session, the state of shamatha meditation was far from as high as it is shown on the graph of the basic Muse application.

Screenshot of a 20-minute session with a Muse headset
Screenshot of a 20-minute session with a Muse headset

On the one hand, neurological feedback with a sound signal in the case when the level of meditation falls below the selected threshold almost every second, of course, can distract and upset the meditator, and this is a NeuroSky drawback, however, solved by the formula for averaging the values of the "meditation" parameter in the NeuroExperimenter application, but, on the other hand, an overestimation of the data by the Muse neuroheadset may not allow you to understand the real level of meditation and the current distractions.


For many years I lived in various ashrams and monasteries in India, and studied meditation. I did not study hatha yoga, only occasionally encountering it a little on various yoga and meditation courses in India. I'm interested in meditation, not physical acrobatics under the guise of yoga. If someone is interested in the history of hatha yoga, then there is a good book "Yoga Body: the Origins of Modern Posture Practice" (2010) by Mark Singleton.


I watched this video of Cody Rall, in which he compares different neuroheadsets:

I would like this video review of the neuro headsets to be with list of specific facts and figures, rather than emotional speculations.

In addition to the number of EEG channels, I did not hear other numbers.

1. Cody Rall: I'm sorry NeuroSky MindWave Mobile but you are just sorely outclassed at this point.

My comment: This statement is unfounded, because subsequent statements, alas, are untenable. Comparison with smartphones that have become 10 times more powerful is like comparing yellow to cold, if we talk about neuroheadsets. Any dry sensors still require periodical cleaning with alcohol disinfection pads NeuroSky, Muse or any expensive electroencephalograph. There is still no revolution in signal-to-noise level, only rumours.

2. Cody Rall: That was just a revolutionary step forward. The problem is this came out in 2011.

My comment: Since then, there have been no real improvements in assessing the state of shamatha meditation through EEG. In addition, Muse assesses a state of mental relaxation rather than shamatha meditation. I have done a lot of comparison of Muse & NeuroSky neuroheadsets. The Muse is more glamorous, but less discursive. NeuroSky determines the state of shamatha meditation much more accurately.

The algorithm for calculating the NeuroSky meditation parameter was developed as a result of many years of research of 14 masters of meditation, including Buddhist monks with extensive experience in meditation, and they could enter a state of meditation in a second and stay in 100% meditation for almost unlimited time.

NeuroSky MindWave Mobile was not just a revolutionary step forward. It was really revolutionary headset. NeuroSky made the superior algorithm of meditation parameter, that is exactly corresponds to Buddhist shamatha. And that is the best thing that neuroheadset for meditators MUST have. Not a glamorous look, not 100,500 sensors, but an ideal algorithm for monitoring the state of meditation every second.

3. Cody Rall: Its only got one sensor (1:47).

My comment: This is rough technical mistake. All NeuroSky headsets have 3 (three) sensors and 1 (one) EEG channel. And it is not a problem at all. In the state of meditation, most channels transmit very similar EEG signals. Its better to have 1 channel with a reliable meditation parameter than 4 channels that show me 'Calm' range while I think and not in a state of meditation. A link to the comparison of NeuroSky & Muse is given above. If someone thinks he / she is a good meditator, I would recommend finding a friend with a NeuroSky headset and checking his / her meditation. You will see, how sensitive and accurate this headset is in response to a real state of meditation, and not just mental relaxation.

4. And then Cody Rall lists various specs and gossip: "There's been a lot of concern about signal-to-noise ratio over the years."

My comment: And no any scientifical proves, just talking.

5. "Some studies (sic!) that showed that if you just put it on your hand that it was creating (sic!) these voltage changes, so how can you say that that's just talking about the brain?"

My comment: Really? A question: does Cody Rall even understand what EEG, nerve impulses, myograms are, and how does this all affect the electrical potentials on any part of the skin of a living person? Judging by the errors (channel ≠ sensor; myograms) that he makes in the review, he either does not have sufficient technical qualifications to compile such reviews, or simply does not like NeuroSky and denigrates it.

I made my own experiment (not "studies"), shorting all 3 NeuroSky's sensors with a piece of unshielded wire in a room with a lot of working electrical equipment. The average values of none of the brain rhythms exceeded 1 µV (approximately 1 µV is 2000). So signal-to-noise ratio of NeuroSky headset is quite OK. Here is screenshot of this experiment:

NeuroSky MindWave Mobile 2 headset wire shorting experiment:
NeuroSky MindWave Mobile EEG headset wire shorting experiment

By the way, Cody Rall has NeuroSky MindWave Mobile headset I saw it in his video. It would be interesting to see his screenshots (similar to these) of what he considers his good meditation with NeuroSky headset. It can be in Fred Mellender's "NeuroExperimenter" free app or in free Android "EEG Meditation" app.

Because the main thing in the neuroheadset is not the trendy appearance, not the latest version of Bluetooth (NeuroSky has had Bluetooth 4.0 since 2016, starting from "Mindvave Mobile+" version and including "Mindvave Mobile 2" version), not the scattering of Swarovski crystals over the entire surface of the neuroheadset, but accurate and reliable parameter of shamatha meditation. But to comprehend this, you need to be a meditator, and not just a video blogger.


Many people believe that Muse is better than NeuroSky due to the fact that Muse has four EEG channels versus one in NeuroSky. But it is better to have one reliable channel with reliable data than four channels with data of questionable quality. The scientific study below analyzes not the quality of determining the state of shamatha meditation, but the quality of the basic EEG reading, in which NeuroSky corresponds to professional electroencephalographs, and Muse does not. Thus, the Muse headset is worse than the NeuroSky headset not only in determining the user's shamatha meditation state, but even in the quality of the initial EEG reading, which indicates the unreliability of the Muse headset EEG data.

What is especially bad for meditators using Muse is that shamatha meditation is characterized by the dominance of the alpha rhythm, which the Muse headset may sometimes not notice even at the level of reading a raw EEG and determining the values of brain rhythms, which, naturally, will affect poor definition of the presence of the state of shamatha meditation, see below the description for the second picture about the peaks of the alpha rhythm.

So far, we can say that almost the only thing where Muse is better than NeuroSky is its glamorous appearance.

Here is article about a scientific comparison of four medical and consumer wireless EEG systems for use in clinical trials two professional medical systems (electroencephalographs) B-Alert X24 and Enobio 20, as well as two consumer NeuroSky MindWave Mobile and Muse.

Comparative characteristics of four EEG systems (1)

Fp1 channel power spectral densities (PSDs) comparison

Average PSDs in the Fp1 channel common to all the four EEG systems for Visit 1 and Visit 2 were calculated and were plotted for both EO (Figures A,B) and EC (Figures C,D) conditions. In the EO condition, B-alert and Enobio spectra were approximately equal, while Mindwave was slightly increased but followed a similar curve. A broadband increase in power was observed for PSDs acquired with the Muse system. Similarly, in the EC condition (Figures C,D), B-Alert, Enobio, and Mindwave PSDs were similar however increased broadband power was observed for Muse spectra, which also appeared to have higher variation than the other systems. Peaks at 812 Hz (alpha band) were visible in the spectra acquired with the B-Alert, Enobio, and Mindwave systems at each visit. While there was a clear alpha peak for the Muse power spectra on Visit 2, no peak was observed in the Visit 1 spectra.

Comparative characteristics of four EEG systems (2)

Fp1 channel resting EEG test/retest comparison

In the EC condition, the power spectral ratio was between 0.975 and 1.025 for B-Alert, Enobio, and Mindwave (Figure A). The Muse system PSD ratios had more variation then the other three systems with ratios between 1.125 and 1.225. In the EO condition, there appeared to be slightly more variation for Enobio in the slow waves Delta (13 Hz), Theta (37 Hz), and slow alpha (810) and for B-Alert and Mindwave in the faster waves Beta (1330 Hz) and Gamma (2540 Hz). However, ratios were still between 0.975 and 1.05. Similarly to the EC condition, the test/retest for Muse had higher variation, with ratios up to 1.2 (Figure B).

Comparative characteristics of four EEG systems (3)


Here is another scientific study demonstrating the actual inconsistency of the Muse headset for use for the stated purposes.


EMOTIV is one of the many companies developing EEG interfaces. Its peculiarity is that it immediately swung to recognize a large number of individual emotional states in order to create a multi-command brain-computer interface. For this, the first device EMOTIV EPOC, released in 2009, had 16 sensors and 14 EEG channels with a wireless radio channel for transmitting data to its own transceiver.

Due to the fact that this device was actually the first relatively mass EEG headset, it managed to form specific ideas among many people about the allegedly controversial capabilities of such devices, which also caused disappointment with speculations, that similar gadgets supposedly read myograms instead of electroencephalograms.

Since the main goal of the company, taking into account the peculiarities of its software, was to recognize a large number of various emotions, some headset users expressed the idea that the headset, in addition to EEG, actively reads myograms electrical signals of muscle contractions, for example, of facial muscles. Moreover, the developers allegedly mentioned this in early updates on Kickstarter.

Some EMOTIV forum users even expressed seditious thoughts that the headset generally only reads myograms. And although this is not so, the focus of EMOTIV's development on recognizing a large number of emotions, of course, is not very compatible with the idea of reading pure EEG. In the most expensive set of "researcher" in the SDK, it is possible to track EEG signals on individual sensors.

Since this was one of the first (if not the very first) ready-made, relatively massive and relatively cheap gadget, it had at least one serious drawback of electroencephalographs of the past era wet electrodes. This is due to the disadvantages of using old circuitry solutions for input electronic circuits of an electroencephalograph. The electrodes, of which there are as many as 16, must be removed from the packaging, moistened with a special solution, screwed into the headset, checked the signal quality and, possibly, moistened again. Here is how one of the users describes this process:

If you follow the instructions verbatim, then my preparation for operation looked something like this:

1. I charged the device. I downloaded, installed software / drivers / SDK.

2. I wet the sensors.

3. I checked that it was well wet.

4. I screwed the sensors into the device and peeled off my fingers.

5. I checked if they had dried out, if necessary, wet it again.

6. I put it on, turned it on, checked the connection, if necessary, wet it again.

7. I realized that my sensors are generally dry and what I did before is not even soaking.

8. I soaked sensors.

After these procedures, it said that there is a contact. The long soaking procedure is explained by the fact that the material of the tabs absorbs well a lot of liquid.

Preparation of wet electrodes for work does not contribute to the rapid start of a meditation session. This preparation will take at least a few minutes, and also requires a significant consumption of special fluid for the electrodes. A disposable alcohol wipe for injections for wiping the dry electrodes and skin is much more convenient and cheaper.

In 2013, EMOTIV launched a new improved version of the EMOTIV EPOC + headset (the old version of the headset is no longer for sale). The new version has a 9-axis inertial sensor (gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer), Bluetooth and an improved battery. The electrodes remained wet.

Given the larger number of sensors compared to headsets from other manufacturers, the likelihood of a headache with prolonged wearing will be higher. More resilient sensors more places to squeeze blood vessels on the head and more likely to get a headache with prolonged wear.

If you want to receive a raw EEG, you will have to apply for a paid subscription, and for $ 30 per month you can make no more than 30 recordings of EEG sessions per month, if the duration of each session does not exceed 30 minutes. If the session time exceeds 30 minutes, then every next 30 minutes are counted as a separate session at the expense of 30 available during the month. For a subscription of $ 99 per month, you can get an unlimited number of raw EEG read sessions. Here, as to say, no comments.

The new EMOTIV Insight was released in October 2015. Dry electrodes finally appeared in it, and their number was reduced to 5 EEG electrodes + 2 reference (base) ones. The headset uses proprietary polymer sensors that are hydrophilic; they absorb moisture from the air and skin. But at the same time, users write about the difficulties of getting a high-quality headset signal: "When I see someone running on a Kickstarter video with a working device on, I giggle, because its hard to get 5 green bars of signal quality just sitting still. It can also be very difficult to wear EMOTIV Insight if you wear glasses." At the same time, 12 months after EMOTIV Insight went on sale, developers on their forum recommend applying a home-made solution to the electrodes to improve the signal quality: "If there is a problem with the signal quality, try applying a little liquid to the sensors, this will help improve their electrical conductivity; for this, you can prepare the solution by mixing water with 0.5-1% salt by weight and 20% glycerol." That is, dry electrodes are not really dry in reality. In 2015, when this headset appeared on sale, for 4 years a headset from NeuroSky with really "dry" electrodes was sold.

The device was born in agony: And when these same people launch a campaign to create a second product, they literally go awry. The development of hardware doubled in time. Monthly updates on Kickstarter are literally the history of the f*ck ups.

The software of the three versions of the gadgets was originally focused on the recognition of emotions. In this regard, it may not be possible to find a suitable meditation application. You will have to either be content with some application that simply shows the rhythms and the local version of the meditation parameter on the screen, or write your own application.

Considering the relatively high cost of the new EMOTIV Insight device at $ 299 and the lack of specialized meditation software, this is not the best option for a meditator. It is even possible that the worst (until the right software appears). EMOTIV gadgets, on the other hand, have been designed for other purposes from the very beginning.


Melomind Headset The Melomind headset appeared in a limited sale in late 2016. At the moment this is the most promising headset, but, apparently, is not yet the most convenient for meditators. "Melo" in the title means "melody", and this indicates its musical orientation. Currently, it is positioned primarily as a device for removing mental stress, combining soft music with biofeedback. In addition, this headset is still not available for free sale and is only available on pre-order.

1. The number of applications is very limited. SDK is available for writing your own applications. Unfortunately, this headset remains a semi-closed "club" device, and its comparison is carried out with the help of the small reviews available on the Internet.

2. This is the most convenient device for meditation in the sitting position, not only from among the three listed, but also among the absolute majority of similar headsets. In fact, this headset is almost no different from the headphones, but still it will not be possible to lie comfortably with it on the pillow because of the two sensors on the back of the head.

3. Unfortunately, this headset remains a semi-closed "club" device, and its comparison is carried out on the basis of the few reviews available on the Internet. At the moment, there is no information about whether there are suitable applications for the actual practice of meditation, rather than the now proposed removal of mental tension under relaxing music with control of the degree of relaxation with the help of biofeedback.

4. Apparently, the sensors and electronics are designed so that you do not have to wipe skin or sensors before a meditation session. In addition, the data is read directly from the occipital area, and this arrangement of the sensors should provide the most reliable signal. All this is the largest "+" of this headset, making it promising.

5. This is the most expensive ($400) of three headsets (and one of the most expensive at all). In addition, it is still absent from the free sale in stores and is only available on pre-order. More expensive are just such headsets as the Versus Headset ($918).

6. If / when there are applications focused specifically on the meditators, and in case of a reduction in the price of the headset, it can become one of the most interesting.


As of the beginning of 2018, the most acceptable headset for meditators is the permanent leader of recent years NeuroSky MindWave Mobile.


This is a translation into English of this article of the author of this site.

Meditation with biofeedback using the electroencephalograph gadget NeuroSky MindWave Mobile, or accelerated self-study of meditation.

Questions and Answers on NeuroSky MindWave Mobile neuroheadset in the context of meditation practice.

The free 'EEG Meditation' app for Android.

The free 'EEG Meditation' app for iOS.

The free 'EEG Meditation' app for Windows PC, for the white or black headsets.

The free Little Buddha: meditation with NeuroSky neuro-headsets app for Android.

The arguments in favor of the use of EEG headsets, such as NeuroSky MindWave Mobile, for meditation.

What meditation is and how to meditate.

NeuroSky MindWave Mobile . -.