Optoma NuForce BE6i Review: Simple and light with superior sound quality
- Balanced sound
- Sweat resistance
- Decent battery life
- Relatively low cost
Could be better
- Very cheap inline remote
- Only uses beep tones for pairing
- Low bass
Optoma's NuForce BE6i headphones deliver solid balanced sound at an appealing price point.
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That's led to many consumers opting for wireless headphones for a variety of tasks, whether it's sports-centric headsets or simply those used for listening to music and taking private calls without having to take your phone out of your pocket.
Optoma's NuForce BE6i very solidly sits in the latter category. Optoma pitches the NuForce BE6i as its style play in the Bluetooth headphone market space, with a simple silver design of two protruding earbuds connected by a functional but simple grey cable. There's an inline remote for play/pause/call and volume control near the right ear bud, and that's your lot.
Style is a totally personal choice matter, but there's something slightly incongruous about the inline remote next to the buds. The buds themselves have something of a 70s-retro-sci-fi vibe to them, but the remote itself is rather more utilitarian plastic that looks and feels rather cheap. They do work, but for the asking price I could have wished for something that didn't look like it belonged on a cheaper set of headphones.
The NuForce BE6i headphones are magnetic at each end so that they can clip together quickly if you favour wearing around your neck while not in use, or simply to limit the amount of tangling possible when not in use. Optoma also bundle in a small carrying case for the NuForce BE6i headphones which includes multiple ear tips for maximised comfort.
Setup and Sound Quality
One great aspect of the NuForce BE6i headphones is the inclusion of multiple earphone tips, including some serious isolating foam tips in the included carrying case. Many bud-style headsets will include a few different size pairs, but the NuForce BE6i headphones give you a total of seven different fits, including the foam pair.
The NuForce BE6i headphones pair via Bluetooth with a very standard pairing profile that involves a long press on the power button in order to initiate the pairing process. There's no spoken pairing prompts to follow, so you do need to check with your paired device to ensure that you've actually connected.
The real test of any set of headphones comes in terms of audio quality, and here the story is somewhat mixed for a set of headphones at this price point. Sound quality was generally good throughout, with standard equalisation focusing more on subtle treble tones rather than the heavy bass equalisation favoured by many popular headsets, Bluetooth or not.
Hitting the NuForce BE6i with the shredding guitar riff of Prince's "Bambi" didn't totally overwhelm it, but it handled the more subtle tones of "Purple Rain" with more aplomb. If you favour thumping bass, you might find the NuForce BE6i a little on the softer side, but that's very much a personal taste issue that can somewhat be mitigated by the use of on-device equalisation as well.
I tested using the Samsung Galaxy S8, and one quirk emerged that may be a fault of theNuForce BE6i, or possibly the phone. Specifically, there was a tendency when pairing with the phone to simply assume the role of call audio but not media audio, which intermittently led to me blasting music from the phone itself rather than privately through the headphones. It's not an issue I hit with other Bluetooth headphones on the same phone, although sorting out what level of the handshake process was falling over is a difficult affair.
The NuForce BE6i use simple digital tones to indicate pairing or when the battery is running low, and this is again a play that sits more in the functional than friendly space. Admittedly the digital voices that many headsets use do tend towards the robotic, but it's much easier to pick when pairing has worked (or failed) with a voice talking you through it than a set of beeps to remember each time.
Battery life as stated by Optoma is 8 hours, and that's a fair summation and a decent level of performance for headphones of this size. I managed a week's worth of trips to and from work using the NuForce BE6i headphones without particular worry, although again the use of simple beep tones to indicate battery death isn't ideal.
At $174.99, the NuForce BE6i are a fair priced set of headphones that sell mostly on the quality of their audio output. There are numerous Bluetooth choices that sell at a higher price point, like Apple's AirPods or i.am+ BUTTONS that offer slightly better style and audio output, or cheaper options such as the Plantronics BackBeat 505 to consider.
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