Better Focus, Better Decisions

It may seem obvious, but how do we know our passive noise reduction designs give you, the gamer, a better experience? Because we have a product innovation process that begins with testing our headsets, and using the data to refine and develop our design revisions. It’s positive design – test – design loop that ensures that we can measure and be confident our work is improving the performance of our products. EPOS headsets – designed by engineers, tested by researchers, validated by your performance and enjoyment.

There are many scientific thought processes that drive the design of an EPOS gaming headset to ensure excellent passive noise reduction. It might seem like a simple engineering task to “keep unwanted sound out” and you’d be forgiven for thinking we just need to pick the best materials and ensure a decent seal against your head.

Of course, that’s an important design consideration for delivery of the final product performance. We use high quality memory foam of different densities for comfort and acoustic performance, and EPOS headsets have distinctive hinge designs that are both robust and ensure the best possible seal no matter the head shape.

But material selection and mechanical design is not where the development begins – well, if you’re talking about EPOS gaming headsets at least. We follow a distinctive product innovation process that begins with psychoacoustic research and continues with iterative product advancement until we are confident that our solution is as effective as it can be.

By modelling and measuring product performance in our psychoacoustic testing facilities in Denmark we can be confident, for example, that the passive noise reduction measures of the EPOS H6PRO Closed headset prevent you from missing a crucial word from a team-mate in the heat of battle; that you’ll expend 35% less effort listening; that you’ll have 10% better memory recall*. Read on to understand why or explore our study on how EPOS passive damping improves performance.

While it’s your ears that hear sound, it’s your brain that listens. Three processes take place – orientation, where the brain works out what direction each sound is coming from, focus, where it filters unwanted noise from the signal, and recognition, the process of interpretation of the audio.

Design, Test, Perfect

We know from over a decade of research dedicated to understanding how we perceive audio that it’s not just about delivering pristine sound to your ears, but also understanding and measuring how your brain processes the audio – and designing solutions that reduce the cognitive load of listening and interpreting the sound you hear. We call this technological approach EPOS BrainAdapt™.

We use academically rigorous test regimes across a three-part study. The first and last tests consist of playing back sentences where the subject has to correctly identify certain words with or without background noise. They are asked questions related to their experience of the test subjectively, as well as having their pupil dilation measured throughout (which is an objective indicator of how much they have to concentrate). Sandwiched in the middle is a listening and recall test, again with and without external noise.

The test results are consistent, both subjectively and objectively, meaning that the test subjects’ own appraisal of their performance generally matches the results of the pupillometry. By analyzing the results of the tests, we can conclude that the passive noise reduction performance of our headset leads to the outcomes mentioned above – a reduction in effort listening, better memory recall and higher levels of word recognition.

We use a technique known as pupillometry to measure the size of a listener’s pupils – the larger the pupil, the more the brain activity, and in the right control conditions we know it’s because they are having to concentrate harder to process the audio they are hearing, which leads to fatigue, slower reaction times and poor in-game decision-making.

In a gaming context, we can claim with confidence that you’ll be able to hear your teammates communications more clearly and that you’ll be less tired over long gaming periods from straining to interpret the audio you’re hearing. Your reaction times will be improved. You’ll have more cognitive function freed up to focus on your strategy and a better performance as a result.

Those gamers who are playing for relaxation and not competition will find similar benefits – we all know a long gaming session can be tiring, but it’s good to know the headset you’re using is designed to minimize the fatigue your brain must endure from poor audio performance. Your enjoyment and sense of immersion will not be compromised by straining to hear the tiny details of the soundscape.

At EPOS, we’re proud that we have a product innovation process that demands scientific rigor in everything we do. When we talk about the performance of our products, you can be confident that we’re not just making an assertion – we have the test results to back it up.

"The effects of noise attenuation on listening effort and arousal"
Sindri Jonsson1, Emil Bjergskov Larsen1, Elaine Hoi Ning Ng1, Andreea Micula1, Torben Christiansen2
1Oticon A/S, Smørum, Denmark
2EPOS, Ballerup, Denmark