EPOS Adapt 460 Bluetooth in-ear neckband headset review – Come for the talk, stay for the music

REVIEW – It’s always fun to discover that a product you’re reviewing works as well – or even better – at something that is not its intended use. Let me explain: Last year, Demant A/S, a large Danish hearing company, ended a business relationship with the even larger German Sennheiser Communications company—maker of countless audio products. This partnership spawned EPOS, an audio company that caters to the business, gaming, and air traffic control markets with a wide range of audio products. 

EPOS has a line of business products concentrating on telephone communication, i.e.; headphones, earphones, and headsets. Anyone who has struggled with hearing or understanding someone on the phone can appreciate having a headset geared to audio clarity—for both parties. This leads us to the EPOS Adapt 460 Bluetooth in-ear neckband headset. So, how is it better at something other than phone call clarity?    

What is it?

The EPOS Adapt 460 is a wireless Bluetooth in-ear neckband-styled headset made for phone communication. It’s primarily designed for unified communcations (UC)—a way for business professionals to stay in contact through telephone calls with minimal device distractions. In other words, calls can be made and answered without touching your smartphone. The Adapt 460 also sports active noise canceling (ANC) for clear communication in noisy environments, such as crowded offices, coffee houses and commuting. 

Specs

  • Bluetooth 5.0 
  • Micro USB charging
  • BTD 800 USB dongle
  • 14 hours talk time (ANC off)
  • 2 hours charging time
  • 65 ft. Bluetooth range

In the Box

  • Adapt 460 headset
  • Case
  • USB dongle (either USB A or USB-C)
  • Micro USB to USB A charging cable
  • Ear tips (4 sizes)
  • Quick guide

Design and features

At first glance (or several glances), the EPOS Adapt 460 Bluetooth in-ear neckband headset looks like any other neckband-styled earphones—from the last decade. It looks retro as more and more earphones are now going the totally wireless route. But there are some advantages to using a neckband vs. totally wireless. First, they’re difficult to lose. When removing the earphones, you can just let them drop, since they are hard-wired to a band worn around the neck. Also, since the rechargeable battery is in the neckband, it can be larger resulting in longer battery life—up to14 hours.

Comfort is top notch. It should be, since the Adapt 460s are made to be worn all day—or at least an 8-hour shift given its 14-hour battery life. If the battery life is exhausted, the 460s can be used while charging—you just won’t be wireless.

The call mic is at the bottom of the right side of the band—about where a clip-on mic would be located. The advantage of this is that the mic is not at the ear far away from the mouth as with totally wireless earphones. The result is clear audio for the person(s) on the other end of a phone call or video conference. 

It’s surprising how large the included hard case is considering the small size of the headset. The case holds the headset as well as a PC dongle (see later in this review), charging cable and ar tips.  

The band contains all the buttons necessary. Many of the buttons perform different functions depending on how long or short the tap is.

This can result in a slight learning curve when new. However, once the functions are learned, there is no way to see the LED lights that say what’s happening—when you’re wearing the neckband. EPOS is not the only earphone maker using lights you can’t see while wearing. I never understood that thinking.

If I tried to explain how all the buttons worked, the review would become a manual and that’s not my job. Suffice to say, it’s a bit of a struggle learning how they all work. The online manual explains everything quite well. Since there are no vocal prompts, you will just have to learn it.

The buttons on the neckband are Volume up, volume down, smart button, mute and hook button. This hook button also doubles as a Microsoft Teams button if you have the Adapt 460 “T” version—I don’t have the T version, so I can’t give my thoughts on that function.  Also included are the on/off button and a covered USB port for charging. Unfortunately, the charging port is micro-USB and not the up-to-date and faster USB-C.

When the on/off button is pressed, the Adapt 460 tells the listener that they are powered on. Keep holding the button and they pair with the smartphone. 

Note: EPOS supplies a USB A or USB-C dongle for pairing with a computer. I use a MacBook Pro with USB-C ports and I received the USB A dongle. So, trying the dongle is a no-go for me. It’s something worth noting when ordering. It’s not clear why both dongles can’t be offered in the Adapt 460s price range.

Another note: EPOS supplies a free EPOS Connect desktop app for firmware updates and customization of the Adapt headsets. Unfortunately, I use a Mac and the software is Microsoft Windows only. So once again, there is a feature I can’t review. However, Windows users have a lot to smile about, because the Connect software is designed for teams staying in constant communication while staying in the background. The software is usually installed and maintained by a company’s IT department. 

So why would a Mac user want to own an Adapt 460? They wouldn’t, but everyone owns a smartphone and here is where the Adapt 460 absolutely shines—audio.

Yeah, I know–EPOS touts the audio clarity of the Adapt 460. And they are right, but they don’t tout (at least not enough) how freakishly good these earphones sound when listening to music. Granted they are not cheap, but man-oh-man, do they sound good!

The Adapt 460 earphones use active noise canceling (ANC) which helps lower background noise allowing for clearer vocals during calls. EPOS’s use of ANC is more subtle than either Bose’s or Apple’s on their headphones/earphones. However, it does a good job masking most of the background drone from commuting or a noisy office. ANC works really well with music listening. Most headphones/earphones sound worse with ANC on. The 460s are the opposite—they sound better with ANC on! Bass is more potent and music has a fuller and richer quality. ANC can be turned on/off by double-tapping the on/off button.

As I’m writing this review, I revisiting one of my favorite singers—Leonard Cohen. As he aged, his voice did not hold up well, but the younger Cohen sang his poetic lyrics with honesty peppered with a melancholic view of life. His recordings have never been stellar for an audio perspective, but hearing songs such as “the Partisan” and So Long, Marianne” using the Adapt 460s exhibits his pathos in wrenching detail. 

The earphones are vocal centric (they are made for talking, after all), so the singer, songwriter music style is going to benefit (Bob Dylan, Nick Drake, Mazzy Star). However, other musical genres, such as electronica or modern rock with an emphasis on lower frequencies also sound great, due to the Adapt 460’s accuracy. Kraftwerk’s ‘Airways” or “Geiger Counter” from the album “Radioactivity” will test any headphone/earphone. The 460s beautifully passed this test without exhibiting any distortion. 

What I like

  • Call quality
  • Musical accuracy (especially with ANC on)
  • Battery life

What I’d change

  • Expensive
  • Replace micro-USB with USB-C
  • Needs a Mac version of Connect app

Final Thoughts

The EPOS Adapt 460 Bluetooth in-ear neckband headset is quite good at phone calls, It’s comfortable enough to be worn all day and call quality is excellent. But as I stated at the beginning of this review, it’s listening to music with the 460s that blew me away. They are that rare earphone worthy of its hefty price tag. I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone wanting to use them for only music listening because the extra money spent on voice communication would be wasted. However, spending money on a great headset for business while at the same time getting an excellent pair of musically accurate earphones as a bonus – well, that’s a deal hard to pass up.

Price: $329 US
Where to buy: Amazon
Source: The sample of this product was provided by EPOS.

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