You can pick up a pair of Bluetooth in-ear headphones for a song these days, with some perfectly serviceable off-brand pairs costing as little as £10-15. Then again, you can spend hundreds on a top of the range pair.
The Optoma NuForce BE2s cost around £50, and we’d say they’re priced about right. For fans of in-ear headphones looking to go wireless, they provide a decent sound in an affordable yet high quality package, even if a couple of niggling flaws prevent them from earning an unequivocal recommendation.
The Optoma NuForce BE2s are composed of reassuringly sturdy metal and polycarbonate, and they have a premium look and feel. They’re quite long, meaning they protrude more than you might be used to from your ear, but they’re surprisingly light (half an ounce), so they sit fairly comfortably and aren’t in particular danger of being yanked out of your ears by gravity.
They don’t come with ear hooks, or the clever stability-enhancing design of something like the Sony MDR-EX650APs. Instead, they come with optional patented “Spin Fit Twin Blade” ear tips, which, along with the other included tips, are stable enough for walking around, but not really for running or anything strenuous like that. That said, if you do fancy taking them for a run (or, preferably, a less bouncy form of exercise like cycling or rowing) you’ll be pleased to learn that the BE2s are sweat-resistant up to IPX5.
The controls are located on the 580mm cable, with volume up, volume down, on/off, pair, answer call, end call, mute call, next track, and previous track all bound to three raised buttons in various permutations.
There are magnets built into the backs of the earphones, so that when you shove them into your pocket they generally come back out clinging to each other, which is an arguably redundant feature since they’re already connected by a short length of flat, kevlar-reinforced cable, but very welcome all the same, particularly if you want to hang them neatly around your neck.
The BE2s can last for 10 hours on a single charge, which is pretty impressive in a pair of Bluetooth earbuds.
The sound is clear and surprisingly detailed, and the Spin Fit ear tips (yes, the idea is to twist them into your ear) offer a surprisingly good level of passive noise isolation. The bass is tight and punchy, the mids – vocals especially – are assertive, and only the treble lets the side down slightly, with cymbals introducing a slight tinniness.
A decent level of separation allows you to comfortably pick out individual instruments and voices as they populate the song around you, and there’s even a semblance of soundstage. Most music sounds good, but artists like Cat Stevens and Aimee Mann, with their simple, predominantly acoustic arrangements, are a particular joy. It’s only when presented with big loud rock choruses and hyperactive billion-piece bands like The Go! Team that the BE2s can sometimes lose their edge. Artists like Oh Wonder and Sacred Hearts Club, with their tight, bassy, laser-focused studio production, sound great, and we’re happy to recommend the BE2s as solid all-rounders for all kinds of music.
Unfortunately, on all three of the devices we connected to (an LG G6 handset, a PC, and a Fire TV Stick) there was some hiss and static. The static is infrequent, normally occurring when performing some other operation on the device you’re connected to, and the hiss is generally inaudible due to a song being played over it, but it haunts some quieter tracks. If you’re obsessive about these things you might find it annoying.
Optoma is pitching the BE2s as the most affordable Bluetooth earphones you can buy with something approaching audiophile sound quality. With caveats, we think they’ve pulled it off. The BE2s are solidly built, with all the features you’d expect from a pair of Bluetooth earphones in 2017, and they boast a rich, balanced, fun sound.
The Spin Fit ear tips are reasonably secure as long as you don’t try anything too acrobatic, and they offer excellent passive noise isolation.
The BE2s aren’t perfect by any means, with niggling issues that would no doubt disqualify them from a serious audiophile’s collection. But audiophiles are accustomed to spending a hell of a lot more than £50 on a pair of earphones. For casual headphone users looking for convenience, solid battery life, and quality sound at a reasonable price, the BE2s fit the bill.
|Microphone sensitivity||-42dB +/-3dB|
|Frequency response||20Hz – 20kHz|
|Sensitivity||100dB +/-3dB at 1KHz|
|Driver type||Dynamic 6mm|
|Number of drivers||2|
|Battery life||Up to 10hrs|
|Wireless – range||10m|
|Wireless – operating frequency||2.4GHz|
|Wireless type||Bluetooth v4.1|
Weight and dimensions
Review sample provided by Optoma
Too good to BE2
The Optoma NuForce BE2s have a couple of niggles, but they offer good sound and excellent passive isolation at an affordable price.