If you were one of the many audiophiles looking for a pair of premium ‘Over the ear’ headphones at the beginning of this year, it’s unlikely that voice quality would have figured on your list of top 5 purchase drivers. But that was before WFH, a time when meetings didn’t involve pairing a dapper jacket with a pair of boxers. Most of us have grappled with back to back Zoom or Microsoft Teams meetings almost since the COVID-enforced lockdowns became a thing. If you were one of those who clung to your wired headsets, you probably ditched them in 2020 for the fear of being judged.
There’s been a clear shift to Bluetooth headphones. The tougher decision has been figuring out the form factor that works for you. Do you go the near invisible ear buds or cast your lot with over the ear headphones that might look more professional or formal.
The Adapt 560, that we’ve been testing for about a week, is part of the first set of high-end headphones that were unveiled as part of the brand’s launch portfolio in India this week. The first thing that impressed us was the packaging – an elegant, almost minimalist black case that houses the headphones (a USB dongle and USB-C cable are also in box). It’s reminiscent of the cases that are used for premium Sennheiser over the ear headphones. The headphones boast of a premium build too.
They’re quite light and comfortable to wear for hours together. I spent a whole morning (about 4-5 hours) with the 560 flitting between calls, two online meetings and some house music on a manic Monday. I didn’t experience any discomfort at all. These are just what you need for a long Transatlantic flight – well, maybe in 2021 or a day full of meetings; a more likely immediate use case scenario EPOS claims a 46 hour battery life; this should cover you for a week full of meetings plus your gym or outdoor workout. We haven’t been able to validate this but I haven’t reached out for the charger despite heavy usage over the past week.
Call and more specifically mic quality is the key USP of this device. EPOS claims that the 4 ANC (Active noise cancellation) microphones give it a major edge. Most of my callers (I tested this on both voice and WhatsApp calls) heard me very clearly and none of them realised that I had headphones on. One of our favourite design elements is the discrete boom arm that can be folded into headband when you’re on music mode. While you may not get to test its ANC Mics yet unless you have a crowded house with the kids in school from home mode, this could be very handy when you’re back in noisy airport lounges. The 560 come with a bunch of handy enterprise-focused features including a dedicated Microsoft Teams button (via the USB dongle bundled in the box) and the ability to switch devices effortlessly.
While the 560 are positioned more as a work device, you’re likely to also judge it on its audio credentials. I’ve been hooked on to the high-energy Industry (the brilliant Show on Hotstar and HBO) soundtrack composed by Berlin-based Nathan Micay, and this lounge and electronic soundtrack played out really well. Thunder by Imagine Dragons with its gritty synths and heavy bass sounds is a track I often use to test headphones. While the 560 handled this track quite well, it’s not quite in the same league as premium over the ear headphones at this price point.
The Adapt 560 EPOS | Sennheiser offer great sound isolation, boast of a premium design and great ergonomics that allow you to wear these for hours together. Battery life is terrific and call quality is stellar. If you’re more likely to use your Bluetooth headset for calls and are likely to get your company to pick up the tab as part of your WFH gear, then these are a compelling proposition.