What is it about headphones and luxury cars that make them ideal marketing partners? We’ve already seen French headphone company Focal tie-up with Bentley to produce a range of deluxe over-the-ear models, while Klipsch has teamed up with McLaren Formula 1 to produce a pair of sporting true wireless earbuds for petrol heads giddy with speed.
Now it’s the turn of EPOS – the Danish headset manufacturer – to get together with Aston Martin, the classic British car marque, to launch a luxury wireless headset designed both for listening to music as well as holding audio and video business calls.
Aston Martin is the epitome of automobile luxury and the company has been making stunning sports cars since 1947, although its roots go back as far as the early 1900s when Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford set up their automobile business. Today the brand is probably best known for the Lagonda marque and the superb Aston Martin DB5, as driven by the world’s best-known spy, James Bond 007, in the 1964 movie Goldfinger.
Aston Martin is a byword for luxury and high performance and is now linked to motor racing via the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team. No doubt, EPOS hopes some of that F1 magic will rub off onto this special edition of the company’s Adapt 660 wireless headset.
The Adapt 660 AMC is a co-branding exercise between EPOS and the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team. Powered by EPOS AI technology, the headset offers crystal clear communication and adaptive Active Noise Cancelation (ANC), superior stereo sound and uses microphones that are enhanced by machine learning. This is a wireless headset for the kind of person who refuses to compromise on quality and who also enjoys life in the fast lane.
Inspired by the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant team’s F1 car, the headset sports the striking Aston Martin Racing Green color that turns an otherwise ordinary-looking headset into something rather stylish. The headset is fitted with microphones driven by algorithms developed using machine learning and optimized to pick up the user’s voice to produce a natural sound using three advanced microphones.
As well as offering high-quality speech, the Adapt 660 AMC has four more adaptive microphones that are used to monitor ambient sound to feed through to the ANC circuitry. The microphones constantly monitor for surrounding noise and then subtract that from the audio stream to reduce unwanted sound, such as the chatter of an open office or the howling wind when outdoors.
The build quality of this seriously good-looking headset is exemplary. The design is based on Sennheiser’s Adapt 660 headset and turns on simply by twisting one of the earcups. Sennheiser’s spun off its headset division as a joint venture with Danish company EPOS and now the brand is standing on its own two feet with a great audio pedigree to build on.
The Adapt 660 AMC headset can be paired directly with a smartphone or computer using a regular Bluetooth connection. The quality will, to some extent, be dependent on the quality of the Bluetooth transmitter from whichever device the headset is paired with. To ensure that the headset produces the best possible sound quality when paired with a computer, EPOS also bundles the Adapt 660 AMC with a special BT800 Bluetooth dongle.
This tiny little gizmo plugs into a USB-A port on a desktop or laptop computer and provides superb audio quality and multi-point connectivity for use with a softphone or any video meeting software like Zoom, Teams or Skype. The support for Bluetooth multi-point connectivity means the user can connect to their work computer using the BT800 dongle while also being connected to a smartphone over a second Bluetooth connection. If a call comes through on the user’s phone, they can seamlessly switch from the computer audio stream to the voice call on their phone and then cut back to the computer when the call is over. It all happens seamlessly and is a great feature that’s well worth using.
There’s also a manual option to connect the headset to a computer, tablet or phone using a regular audio cable which is supplied with both 2.5 and 3.5mm jack plugs. The cable also comes in handy if the headset’s built-in rechargeable batteries should ever run out of juice, although with a playtime of 30 hours and a standby time of 15 days, that’s not likely to happen.
Unlike many headsets, the Adapt 660 AMC doesn’t use an ugly boom microphone. Instead, it has beamforming digital MEMs microphones that are driven by an algorithm created by machine learning. EPOS does a lot of research on speech clarity and the company is constantly evolving its algorithms to improve their effectiveness, based on the experiences of countless users. This process means EPOS can constantly improve the speech clarity of its headsets as the machine learning evolves.
The ANC function on the Adapt 660 AMC works incredibly well and there are two levels, depending on the amount of ambient noise that requires canceling. Within those two levels, the amount of ANC is automatically adjusted to suit conditions. When used with the EPOS Connect smartphone software, the ANC levels can also be set manually to suit the environment and ambient noise levels.
For those times when it’s necessary to hear what’s going on (when eavesdropping is essential), there’s EPOS Voice Technology that enables ambient sounds to be mixed in with the audio stream so the user can hear a colleague or even surreptitiously catch up on a juicy bit of office gossip.
The EPOS Connect smartphone app is available for iOS and Android, plus there are versions for macOS and Windows. It’s a useful piece of software that can be used to update the headset’s firmware and the BT800 dongle, whenever EPOS issues an update. The whole process is easy to carry out and ensures the Adapt 660 AMC is always up to date.
The sound quality of the Adapt 660 AMC is every bit as good as you’d expect from a product that was originally developed by Sennheiser. These are audiophile-quality headphones with a high-quality dynamic driver that also just happens to be an excellent headset. The sound is beautifully balanced with a perfectly pitched bass, forward midrange and smooth trebles. The sound suits both music and movies, thanks to the aptX low latency codec, even when connected over Bluetooth rather than using the BT800 dongle. There’s also support for regular aptX Adaptive, AAC and SBC codecs.
For those who like to tweak the tone of the sound, the Adapt 660 headset comes with several EQ presets including Club, Movie, Speech, and Director, plus the tone can be customized using a graphic equalizer. The user-defined EQ can then be stored as a customized setting. To control volume, take calls, skip tracks and pause music, there are touch-sensitive control pads that work simply by swiping a finger. There’s also an Auto Pause setting that can halt the music as soon as the headphones are taken off.
As I said, although this headset is perfect for listening to music or watching a movie, its real strength is for making softphone calls and video meetings. To help with this, the Adapt 66) AMC has a dedicated Microsoft Teams button as well as being UC certified. The microphones pick up the user’s voice superbly and thanks to some wonderfully soft earpads and a padded headband, the Adapt 660 AMC is supremely comfortable, even for the longest online meeting.
Verdict: This superbly comfortable Bluetooth headset can be worn for hours without discomfort. The very low distortion levels won’t fatigue the listener’s ears, while the machine-learning AI algorithm driving the headset’s microphones means the user’s voice is as clear as possible, with background noises and sounds being tamed by the algorithm. The ANC function is superb and cuts out a huge amount of unwanted noise. This headset is also a stunning piece of design and, especially for those who follow the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team, it’s a wonderful piece of tax-deductible indulgence that should make video meetings, phone calls and music much more enjoyable. Recommended.
Pricing & Availability: The EPOS Adapt 660 AMC headset is available now and costs $559 / £429 / €499.
More info: www.eposaudio.com
- Wearing style: Over-ear, double-sided headband.
- Headset weight: 227g/8oz
- Transducer principle: Dynamic, closed.
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, audio cable (2.5 mm and 3.5 mm jack plugs), USB-A/USB-C cable with micro-USB connector.
- Supported codecs: AptX, AptX low latency, AAC, SBC.
- Warranty: Two years.
- Speaker frequency response: 17 – 23,000 Hz
- Microphone type: Digital MEMs beamforming microphone (3 microphones).
- Microphone frequency response: 150 – 6,800Hz.
- Impedance: Active 490Ω / Passive 46Ω.
- Sound pressure level (SPL): Max. 118 dB limited by EPOS ActiveGard
- Total harmonic distortion (THD): <0.5% (1kHz, 100dB).
- Contact pressure: 3N
- Noise cancellation: Hybrid adaptive ANC technology with 4 microphones
- Total noise attenuation: Up to 30dB.
- Charging time: 3 hours.
- Standby time: Up to 15 days.
- Battery time: 30 hours.
- Range: UP to 25m/82ft (depending on the paired host).
- Touch control: Yes.
- Voice prompts: Yes (EN, DE, FR, ES, ZH, JA, KO).
- Sound effect modes: Club, Movie, Speech, Director, User-defined.