NuForce is the audio-focused sub-brand from Optoma specializing in high-quality audio products. Previously known for its award-winning BE6i Bluetooth headphones, NuForce has prepared a follow up in the form of the BE Live5 headphones. Similar to the BE6i the BE Live5 are Bluetooth headphones this time using smaller 8mm drivers and packed into a smaller body. We were provided with these headphones for review courtesy of Optoma for an honest and unbiased review.
I don’t often cover the packaging of a product unless there is something exceptional about it or there is a problem. Unfortunately, in the case of the BE Live5 it is the latter. While the packaging looks as good as you could expect, one of the buds was wedged in too tightly.
I fought with it for a while pulling on the cable until I was afraid it could get damaged. Then I resorted to using a pen to try to pry it out to no avail. Finally, I broke out my knife and had to cut it free, and in the process partially from haste and partially from frustration also scratched up the finish on the buds.
I’m certain this won’t be the typical experience for most customers and it was an anomaly, but it is important to point out every aspect good and bad.
When it comes to earbuds there isn’t much you can do to stand out. In order to fit the drivers, battery, and other electronics they all generally take on the same shape. Some standouts with the NuForce BE Live5 though are the aluminum build, flat cable, magnetic backs, ipx5 sweat protection, hard case, and included Comply foam tips.
Out of all of these features, the magnets are my favorite. It’s not something new or unique to the BE Live5 buds, but it is quite convenient none the less. The option to wear them around your neck as a necklace using the magnetic clasp makes it easier to carry around and I really appreciate that.
The in-line controls can be found on the right side of the tangle free cord along with the micro USB charging port. Unfortunately, it is micro USB and not USB-C, but that’s hardly unusual and similar among other Bluetooth headphones. The controls are easy to distinguish with touch alone and are snappy and responsive.
While the buttons work well NuForce uses a pairing shortcut that requires holding down the power button. In order to pair you will have to continue holding down the power button after turning the headphones on. Otherwise, there is no other way to enter pairing mode and you’ll end up turning them off.
It is always annoying when this shortcut is used on Bluetooth headphones. A better alternative would have been a shortcut requiring you to hold down both the volume up and down buttons for pairing.
Fit and Comfort
The Optoma NuForce BE Live5 headphones include three pairs of ear tips and two Comply foam tips along with three sizes of ear wings. For someone like myself with smaller ear canals, it can be challenging to find headphones with ear tips in the proper size. Some brands such as Klipsch provide a smaller option which fit perfectly.
While most tend to include ones too large and the buds are constantly falling out. That was the case with the BE Live5 buds. Fortunately, when you combine it with the included ear wings it provides a much more secure fit. With this combination, I no longer had any issues with them falling out.
I was also impressed the included ear wings were so flexible soft, making them more comfortable than others I’ve tried in the past. The more rigid ear wings can often lead to early ear fatigue and don’t stand up to long listening sessions.
Between the smallest ear tips and medium-sized ear wings, the fit was extremely comfortable, making it easy to listen to music for hours without any discomfort.
On a side note replacing the ear tips was extremely frustrating. This was by far the most difficult pair of headphones I’ve ever had to deal with when it came to inserting the ear tips. If you’re lucky, you won’t have to exchange them swap them out repeatedly to find a comfortable secure fit.
The BE Live5 make use of the aptX and AAC codecs for Bluetooth streaming. These two codecs provide near CD like quality if both your headphones and phone support it.
The sound signature of the BE Live5 is light and crisp with wonderful detail and excellent separation. Thanks to this I was able to pick up on some subtle nuances in songs that can get lost on other pairs of headphones. Bass lovers should look elsewhere, however.
For all of the clarity, the BE Live5 provides the bass takes a backstage here. That doesn’t mean there is no bass, only that the bright highs and crispness takes center stage here. The BE Live5 headphones would be better suited for music lovers who prefer a more balanced and clear sound.
Battery life on the BE Live5 headphones was pretty average. They are rated for 8 hours of usage and that is pretty close to what I experienced. There are headphones that offer more, generally ones with charging cases or collar designed headphones though.
One major annoyance with the BE Live5 headphones is once you reach 20% battery it constantly announces your battery is low in a loud overpowering voice. The repetition was completely unnecessary and the volume of the voice was actually painful to my ears.
Similar to most Bluetooth devices I’ve reviewed the BE Live5 performs well within 30ft. without any interruptions or drop outs. If you’re indoors with walls between you and your device you can expect to lose signal occasionally once outside of 30ft. When outdoors the distance is a little better only deteriorating around 40ft. or more.
Overall, the NuForce BE Live5 are a decent value if you aren’t a bass head and prefer a more balanced sound. The comfort fit will keep you immersed in your music for hours enjoying every bright detail. That is until it begins yelling repeatedly in your ear the battery is low. However, if you’re someone who prefers more bass in their music than I’d look elsewhere.