Optoma is not a name well known in the audio world — look on their store, and all you’ll find are DACs and amps, plus a handful of in-ear headphones. So, when our review unit of the NuForce BE6i in-ear headphones came in, I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I got was a pair of well-crafted in-ears that offer fairly good audio performance for a reasonable price. The BE6i might not be the best Bluetooth in-ear headphones on the market, but they just might be the best value.
Note: In the name BE6i, the i implies MFi certification for mobile Apple products.
For a relative unknown, the sound here is pretty good. Don’t expect to be blown away, but for runs or exercise, sound at all ranges sounds clear and distortion-free. Inside the BE6i are Optoma’s own 10 mm dynamic drivers. Nothing fancy here, although the BE6i are capable of producing the full range of sound that can be picked up by the human ear. The bass is a little weak, but aside from the Beats Powerbeats2 Wireless, I think that’s true of most in-ear headphones — it comes with the territory. Don’t expect a huge soundstage, either, but that’s not something I’d expect from in-ears at this price. The BE6i play back music clear enough to be enjoyed while out and about, and I can’t think of a track I listened to that stood out as disappointing when heard though them.
The only time the lackluster bass really became a problem is when the eartips lost their seal. Once I found a good fit, I only had this problem with the right earbud, which is the side where you’ll find the in-line mic. I suspect, as usual, that that little bit of extra weight helped to jar the earbud loose.
The biggest problem with sound isn’t with sound reproduction at all — it’s with the Bluetooth connection. I encountered some skipping while running with the BE6i, although it was no worse than most other Bluetooth in-ear headphones I’ve tried. The Jaybird X2 in-ears are the only ones I can think of that have been pretty solid in this respect. It’s distracting, but the BE6i’s audio quality is good enough to where it’s not a deal breaker.
These in-ears have both AAC and AptX support for Apple devices and the Bluetooth connection, respectively, which helps to make the music sound a little better. It’s not something we always see at this price, and really helps to boost the BE6i’s value.
The BE6i are a really well-built pair of in-ears. Despite the relatively low price, Optoma went all-out and used aluminum for the casings. They’re tough, durable, and splash-resistant, making them great for exercise. Because those casings need to hold the battery and Bluetooth module, they’re quite a bit longer than most wired in-ear headphones, but no longer than most other Bluetooth in-ear headphones. They are a bit slimmer, though, which helps keep the weight down a bit.
Although Bluetooth in-ear headphones are primarily used for exercise, it’s worth noting that the premium aluminum look and feel of the BE6i make them a great choice for the home or office, too. Usually we see Bluetooth in-ears available in more sporty, bright colors, so it’s cool to see a more understated option. One nice touch is that the backs of both casings are magnetic and can be snapped together when not in use. However, as with most in-ears, I’d love to start seeing more companies use reflective material on the cable that connects the two earpieces.
The BE6i come with loads of alternate eartips and hooks in all shapes and sizes. Both foam Comply eartips and Optoma’s own NuForce silicone eartips are included, along with a few different styles of earhooks. These hooks only work to stabilize the buds within your inner ear (nothing goes over the ear), and as usual, this approach is hit or miss. I didn’t find any options that gave me a more secure fit than just running with the eartips alone.
Optoma suggests that you should get about six hours of battery life out of the BE6i. That’s more or less what I experienced — not the greatest, but it’ll definitely get you through any run or workout.