Optoma NuForce BE6i Bluetooth Earphones

Every week a new pair of wireless Bluetooth earphones seem to appear on my doorstep. Usually, I have to take a long, hard look to find anything noteworthy to make one pair stand out from the others. The newly updated NuForce BE6i earphones feature aptX technology for better playback quality and that, my friends, is noteworthy enough.

The BE6i ($130) are a revised version of the Optoma NuForce BE6 earphones. Although the sleek look remains, the BE6i add a water-resistant IPX5-rated in-line remote that matches the water, sweat and dust-resistance of the aluminum earphone casings. The newly designed remote also has a larger battery providing up to 8 hours of playback, a 25% increase from the older model.

The BE6i come with a variety of silicon tip sizes and also two Comply Isolation memory-foam tips. The BE6i are also supplied with silicon ear “wings” to provide a more secure fit – there should be different wings for the left and right earphone, but unfortunately, mine came with two of the same. It wasn’t really an issue because they seemed secure enough without the wings, even during a long treadmill/elliptical/bike session at the gym. A convenient carrying case is included so you can keep all the different tips close at hand.

The BE6i are somewhat heavy and feel solid, perhaps due to the patented 10-mm driver. If that weight is the price to pay for a respectable bass performance, it’s worth it. After playing around with the different supplied eartips to get the perfect balance of comfortable, secure fit and bass playback quality, I found the right tips for me.

The BE6i have AAC processing for a better sound from Apple-branded products and they have aptX that is compatible with most Samsung phones. I used my Galaxy S6 Active loaded with WAV files, since I know it also has aptX. The BE6i is backwards-compatible if your playback source doesn’t use aptX. With properly-fitted eartips, the bass response was quite impressive. It’s not overly impactful, but the deeper bass octaves have some presence. The treble performance isn’t as smooth as I like; I prefer a warmer, darker sound, and these are bright in the upper midrange. There was some slight harshness in the upper registers of Adele’s vocals from her new album, and it’s also present in James Bay’s vocals on “Let it Go.” That song has excellent stereo imaging, which was spot-on accurate over the BE6i.

No matter how good a wireless earphone is, if you connect to it with a very lossy bitstream, the sound quality is surely going to suffer. On a great pair of headphones, you will hear that degradation. The NuForce BE6i uses aptX, currently the best way to transmit via Bluetooth, and that’s already going to improve the sound. If you need to connect wirelessly, make sure your playback device supports aptX, and consider the BE6i for good bass and a solid build.