You’d be forgiven for not knowing who EPOS are, given they’re a young organisation compared to some of their competitors.
Keen followers of Formula One motorsport may have spotted their branding adorned across Aston Martin Racing Team’s Communications equipment and racing car as they are a major partner. They’re also well known in e-sports circles too.
While the name “EPOS” may be comparatively new to the tech scene, their pedigree can be traced back to Sennheiser, one of the audio heavyweights in the consumer and commercial audio world with a rich heritage.
So, while EPOS does appear new to the scene, it’s not the case and the IMPACT 1061 series headset I’ve been testing drives that message home.
The IMPACT 1061 in this ANC specification punches in at an “ooof” inducing $735 RRP with the charging stand (or $659 without it – but I recommend it!!). However, the savvy online shopper should be able to find it cheaper. As always, you can write off on tax or possibly a work expense as many businesses also offer a WFH purchasing allowance these days.
Design & Comfort
While it’s typically adorned in a muted matt black, the design is slick, and stylish and the microphone boom compact. The whole package is professional, elegant and feels solid. I was pleasantly surprised to see wireless charging. While there is USB-C when you’re on the move, the base station has wireless charging built into the stand and the headband, so the headset charges whenever it’s placed back on its stand without trying to manoeuvre it onto a port.
This solves a bugbear of mine with headsets, as I’ve been caught out discovering a headset that has yet to charge because it didn’t connect to its micro USB port properly. It’s a simple thing that makes life that much easier; no longer wondering if you will return to a flat headset. I’ve never been a fan of on-ear headsets, but the IMPACT 1061 is indeed comfortable to wear, and I didn’t ever find my ears getting warm.
It may be no surprise then that the IMPACT 1061 received the internationally renowned iF Design Award Gold and Red Dot Design Award. Which looks beyond aesthetics and functionality and into the technology powering the IMPACT 1061.
Tech and usability
The IMPACT 1061 features technology I’m still trying to wrap my head around, but let’s give it a crack.
EPOS tackles open office and remote work noise issues with a group of technologies called BrainAdapt, which focuses on reducing brain fatigue through the combination of EPOS AI machine learning technology and Active Noise Cancellation (ANC).
EPOS AI scans your environment an incredible 32,000 times per second through four separate microphones to actively suppress sound and ensure the audience you’re speaking to only hears your voice and not all the ambient noise in the background.
The IMPACT 1061 also features other great practical features, such as pausing audio playback when you lift the headset from your head and resuming when you place it back on your head. This worked well, but I found the tech trip over itself if you paused multiple audio sources, such as YouTube and Spotify, and it would play all the things simultaneously. If you need to mute yourself, there’s no need to click anything in your Conferencing app or press “FN + whatever key” it is on your keyboard. Swivel the boom mic up, and it will automatically mute.
For some reason, the sound can drop occasionally, and I would need to jump into the sound settings on my laptop to adjust the volume and get the headset to pick up the audio again. It’s a minor annoyance but no deal breaker.
Even though you can use your Laptop’s native Bluetooth in a pinch, I’d recommend using the included BTD 800a USB dongle to connect the headset. The combination of the two unlocks functionality you otherwise wouldn’t get. It allows you to update firmware with ease, customise your IMPACT 1061 experience by changing how “smart pause” works, your ANC level, whether you want it to be adaptive ANC or not, or even a neat feature called smart mute, which will mute your microphone if you lift the IMPAC 1061 off your head. Perfect if you must complain about an annoying colleague you’re on a call with to your significant other who shares the same home office as you (but this wasn’t me…). While we’re on the subject of annoying colleagues, everyone will know not to interrupt when in a call while wearing the IMPACT 1061 thanks to a flashing red LED light visible from any office direction. If you do, however, need to talk to someone while wearing the headset, press the “TalkThrough” button on the side of the headset, and it will pipe external noise. The IMPACT 1061 features version 5.3, which allows up to 3 devices to be paired at any given time and will give you up to 30 metres of range.
Sound Quality – Meetings/Calls
How does the BrainAdapt suite of features translate into real-world use, though? The ANC functionality was quite good, considering the headset is an on-ear type. Still, I did find that it struggled with suppressing voices, but it will depend on how good a seal you get on your ears. When I had music on, the combination made for a focused experience where the external noise faded away and let me get on with my work. For me, I’d love stronger noise cancelling that isn’t reliant on having to crank up my music.
For day-to-day meetings, the IMPACT 1061 shines, delivering crystal clear voice and, in combination with active noise cancelling, creates a solid user experience. Your meeting participants will appreciate the lengths EPOS have gone to in cancelling out ambient sound. The ambient noise suppression technology is sublime and will actively work to minimise interuptions in even the noisiest open office environments. If anything, it’s better than the ANC so in the situation where I could hear my crying toddler in the background the other day, my call participants couldn’t, which caught me out after I apologised for the crying baby in the background – and they replied; “what crying baby?”
My colleagues were also impressed with the clarity of my voice. Still, they did comment that if I didn’t have the microphone boom placed as close to my mouth as possible, they sounded somewhat muffled- so ensuring the microphone was positioned correctly is essential, but also not hard to achieve.
Sound Quality – Media
I found the sound presentation warm and neutral for listening to music and media, with the bass and vocals more forward.
The sound stage is a little expansive, but on-ear headsets have historically struggled with this, in my experience. In saying that, the overall listening experience is good. John Mayer’s “I Guess I Just Feel Like” sounded quite detailed in the high and low frequencies, but I noted that some mid-range details from backing guitars went amiss. It’s enjoyable for listening to music but this is not the right segment to chase audiophile-level sound.
EPOS say the the IMPACT 1061 will give you 19 hours of talk time with ANC on and 20 with ANC off, but you can go into standby mode for up to 300 hours with ANC off, 50 if it’s on.
For me, it meant I had the confidence to throw them into my laptop bag, bounce between home and the office and not even think about charging for up to 3 days before the audible voice would say that the battery was low.
The IMPACT 1061 ANC is an impressive piece of kit, and it’s officially my favourite headset as a complete package. The BrainAdapt suite of tech works well, although it could do with stronger noise cancelling.
Does it offer value for money? That’s a hard one for me to answer because it all depends on what you value, but if you’re on calls every day for long periods when used with the wireless charging stand, then yes, it’s worth it. We’re often told that we spend a lot of time in beds, so we should invest in good ones, and the same should be said for headsets like this one from EPOS.
DRN would like to thank EPOS for providing the review unit.