Eat, Sleep, Test, Repeat
If you work at EPOS, you’d better get used to testing. We test everything… Over and over again, until we’re satisfied a product is both designed and manufactured to the highest possible standards.
Excellence in design and engineering play an easily identifiable role in the quality and performance of the final products we ship. Without the right technologies, exceptional design and application of over 100 years’ experience in audio research and development, EPOS products would not offer such premium performance.
But there is another vital element that elevates EPOS audio quality - and that is a commitment to testing at all stages of a product’s evolution. Of course, we test our initial samples carefully, but we also continue to do so after every development build. This iterative process drives constant improvement across all aspects of the product, both in terms of its audio quality and physical robustness.
What do we test for? Well, during development we ensure that products will function properly in all the climates to which they might be shipped – testing in environments with different temperatures, humidity, dust and so on. We even test the packaging and transportation methods in advance between Asia, Europe and North America to ensure units will arrive with the retailers in the same condition they left the factory.
As well as selecting suitably high-quality materials for the product build, we also test for specific problems that might arise from their typical use. For example, headsets will come into contact with face and hair products on a daily basis and so we test with a variety of chemicals and common compounds and mixtures to ensure nothing will damage the surface finish.
As you’d expect, we stress test the products to ensure they can be used daily in a typical environment. We want to make sure components won’t fail and the structure of the product is strong and fit for purpose, even when we deliberately set out to damage it. What you might not realize, though, is that we test each of our product variants to the point at which it does break – to ensure that fragments will not, for example, cause eye damage, or leave razor sharp edges that could lead to slicing injuries.
Once a product is cleared for manufacturing, the testing regime moves into a quality control phase – but it’s not as simple as a post-manufacture check on build quality. We have to ensure that the left and right speakers in every headset are matched within small tolerances as this has a huge effect on the overall listening experience. We must check that all the screws, glue and soldering have not compromised the speaker performance on a unit by unit basis.
Our audio tests are conducted both with human and machine quality control over our output. Good audio is closely linked to production quality. It’s not like duplicating software or printing a newspaper. A headset’s speaker unit consists of suspensions, magnets, voice coils, diaphragms and much more. There is a natural tolerance in all of these parts, and that is why we test every single headset leaving the manufacturing line and make sure the speakers meet our expectations across the entire audible spectrum (20-20k Hz). We test with machines such as HATS (Head and Torso Simulator) and a “flat coupler”, a tool that checks the audio quality of both the speakers and microphones, to ensure we get a frequency response that’s as close as possible to our target.
We also have staff who have what we call “golden ears” – people with a specific talent for listening carefully and discerning differences in audio. This qualitative testing pathway ensures that we don’t rely simply on number readouts from machines to ensure our consumers get the final product we’ve designed for them.
EPOS has a long history of excellence in audio engineering. The higher the price you charge for a headset, the more value can be designed into it. High quality components that make a difference like batteries, chipsets, the speaker itself, all cost money to source – but you also cannot underestimate the complexity of development which also increases as you add this value, and the amount of testing and iteration required to achieve our quality thresholds.
This is just one of the reasons why we have a baseline quality bar, below which we will not venture. You can’t compromise on durability and comfort, and you cannot drop too far in speaker and microphone quality and still have a product which is worthy of the EPOS brand.