Many of us are working from home right now and spending a lot of time talking on our phones or via video-chat software like Zoom, Facetime, or Skype. But did you know that if you’re an Apple macOS and iOS user, you can make calls on your mobile phone using your MacBook, iMac, or Mac Mini?
Not only does this avoid you having to keep a hot iPhone next to your ear or put it on speaker, but it’s also more convenient because hands-free private calls let you use your hands to type, take notes, look up info, or collaborate on a shared spreadsheet or document. You can find out how to set up your macOS and iOS devices by following Apple’s instructions on here.
Once you’ve got your Apple tech playing nicely, you’ll need a headset so that you can take your calls hands-free. I’m reviewing the EPOS Impact SC 665 USB, a headset that’s designed for USB interfaces as well as smartphones thanks to a 3.5mm TRS jack that plugs into the headset’s soundcard.
EPOS is a new brand from Demant A/S that has been spun off from a joint venture between Sennheiser and Demant. During 2020 the EPOS brand will be developing and marketing a range of headsets and speakerphones previously marketed with the Sennheiser brand. The headsets still include the amazing Sennheiser ActiveGard technology that acts as a limiter to protect the wearer’s hearing from sudden loud sounds. Thanks to AI technology, this EPOS headset is brilliant at cutting out background noise and boosting speech clarity.
The EPOS headsets are primarily designed for people working in call centers and who need a comfortable headset with a microphone that can be worn all day and deliver crystal-clear speech. If you spend a lot of time making voice calls, you’ll probably know that it can be a stressful exercise if you’re unable to hear a caller clearly or the caller is unable to hear you and you have to keep repeating yourself. Phone calls can get rather difficult and tiring as stress levels start to rise.
The EPOS Impact SC 665 USB is an affordable USB headset that includes an advanced noise-canceling microphone which can enhance speech quality to give the best intelligibility possible. They also make for a pretty good pair of headphones too. Over the years I’ve tested quite a few headsets and most of the USB ones are pretty awful. Often there’s a background earthing hum and a microphone that’s cheap and horrible. You can buy a headset for less than $20, but if you’re going to be using it for anything other than the occasional Skype call, you shouldn’t waste your money. If you use a headset for the best part of a day, get a good one because going cheap is a false economy. The same goes for office chairs, by the way.
Thanks to an advanced noise-canceling microphone, the impact SC 665 USB headset makes speech much … [+] EPOS SENNHEISER
As I’ve already hinted, the Impact SC 665 USB makes for a great pair of headphones. I’d happily use these all day long, for listening to music because the balance between bass and treble is spot on. So many headsets users listen to music when not making calls, so this is a great feature to check out. If a headset doesn’t sound good with music, it probably won’t sound good with phone calls.
The EPOS Impact headset is fully adjustable with a graduated scale on each side so you can quickly return the headset to your correct fit if anyone else with a larger or smaller head has borrowed your headset. An inline USB remote control is also provided that features volume adjustment, microphone muting, and an end call or redial button. Finally, a noise-canceling boom mic is provided that can quickly and easily be folded out of the way when you’re not talking and will work on the right or left side.
Other thoughtful little touches include a name tag just in case your headset should get confused with anyone else’s. There’s also a metal strip for magnetically attaching the remote to a desk so that it can easily be used with one hand. The magnetic holder stops the remote from sliding around when the remote buttons are being pressed. Finally, the earpads are made with soft leatherette and can easily be replaced with a fresh pair should they become dirty or worn. All in all, this is a well-built and superbly designed headset that’s incredibly comfortable to wear for long periods and has all the controls you need for making and receiving hands-free calls via a computer or smartphone.
The USB remote is detachable from the headset, leaving just a standard smartphone headset cable that can plug into a smartphone that still has a 3.5mm jack. If you haven’t, then you can use a USB adaptor or else look at one of the EPOS Bluetooth headsets. If you are using the headset in USB mode, you’ll be glad to know that the SC 665 USB includes a sidetone function.
Sidetone is when some of your speech is fed back into the headphones via an amplifier with zero latency. Sidetone is a very important function. Without it to give you feedback, you may find you shout or speak too loudly because you literally can’t hear yourself. It’s the same phenomenon as trying to talk with earplugs in your ears. You just end up shouting. Feeding just a smidgen of voice back through the earpiece makes the call sound more natural. Not all USB headsets offer sidetone although quite a few gaming headsets usually have some sidetone included.
And so, to the main act; that AI noise-canceling microphone. The sound quality and clarity of the EPOS Impact SC 665 USB is nothing short of astonishing. Don’t be surprised if people interrupt you by saying something like: “You sound as if you’re in the next room!”. Thanks to the advanced AI programming, the headset’s mic can cut through background noise and chatter easily. Even if you’re in a roomful of people or there’s some other droning noise going on, the SC 665 USB can calm it down. I don’t usually like using a headset and normally rely on the microphone in my webcam for video calls, but this headset is so clear I found myself wanting to use it all the time for all my calls and video conferences made during the review period.
Verdict: The EPOS Impact SC 665 USB headset is nothing short of superb. It takes the stress out of making phone calls as well as video chats. The microphone is superbly clear. I found myself rarely having to repeat myself. The volume control on the remote was most welcome, as was the mute button. While making hands-free calls I could make notes without having to put the call on speakerphone. That’s a very important feature if you don’t wish to disturb others around you or if your call is confidential or sensitive. The sidetone feature is brilliant and makes using the headset feel far more natural. I’d like the sidetone to be just a little louder but that’s a minor criticism. If you make a lot of voice calls using your computer or smartphone, the EPOS Impact SC 665 USB headset is a fabulous productivity investment.
Pricing: £180 / $239 / €219
More info: www.eposaudio.com
- Wearing style: Headband double sided
- Color: Black or white
- Weight: 95g / 3.4 oz
- Warranty: Three years
- Microphone: Ultra-noise-cancelling microphone
- Frequency: 50 – 6,800 Hz (Wideband)
- Drivers: Neodymium magnet speaker
- Frequency response: 50 – 18,000 Hz
- Sound pressure: Limited by EPOS ActiveGard, Max. 118 dB via USB/USB-C& 3.5 mm jack
- Comms: Sound enhancement profiles adjust automatically
- In-line call control (USB): Answer/end call, volume up/down and mute
- In-line mini call control (3.5 mm jack): Answer/end call
- EPOS ActiveGard technology: Protects against acoustic injury caused by sudden sound
- Software: PC software is available. A macOS version will be available in September 2020