Wireless headphones have always been supplemental, that was until Apple introduced their AirPods and made them more essential than accessory. They have become a success of sorts and it also helps that people have grown to love earbuds as a whole. It’s a complete no-brainer in convenience that barely takes occupies any space in pockets and no cables that get tangled up.
So what does this have to do with Optoma and their flagship NuForce BE Free8 Headphones? Well, at the very least the doors have been opened for other manufacturers to create their own “truly wireless” audio accessories, and Optoma’s headphones accomplish the basics at a price that’s refreshingly level-entry.
The most important styling element is that the BE Free8 is how “truly wireless” they are – and they want you to know it. Aesthetics are stripped down and curvaceous without hard edges, but they aren’t exactly attention-grabbing either. That’s not a slight as the design feels ergonomic with the body entirely of plastic, split between a flat and glossy piano black top that sports a striped surface reminiscent of classy art deco or yacht flourishes.
The theme continues with the included charging case, which looks like a hard plastic pebble with LED status lights in a nicely glossed finish that lets you place the earbuds inside the molded inserts with some minor force; be warned that it’s a fingerprint and scratch magnet. It’s critical you not lose this case as it’s the only way to keep the BE Free8 full of battery life,
The earbuds themselves will stay charged around 4 hours, depending on volume, but the case charges them fully at least three additional times (12 hours) before needing to be tethered to a microUSB source.
There’s very little to the BE Free8, with styling that looks slick but functional in terms of budget. Touch controls are omitted for more practical (and cheaper) physical buttons on each bud that are unobtrusive but somehow stiff when pushed, but the left button does what it need to for Bluetooth pairing, track playback and fast-forwarding, while holding the both buttons (left/right) down manually turns the earbuds on and off or sleep. Aside from music the left button serves as the master as wearers can answer incoming phone calls or trigger Siri or Google Assistant by holding it for two seconds, however you’ll still need rely on your smartphone directly for volume adjustment.
Wearing them I immediately noticed the sound quality is surprisingly good for Bluetooth earbuds and the 6mm drivers, providing a safe median leaning towards everyday listening. Nothing extreme stands out and is largely suited for extended in-ear periods, the mids are softer and highs have a distinct resonance point at the top which deliberately avoids distortion.
Despite their middle-of-the-road characteristics intricate and complex recordings come through decently in spatial separation, it won’t blow your mind but it’s clean enough to be enjoyable. Bass is also well represented, wavering over a bit for low-end heavy tracks. TDLR: sound quality is reasonably balanced with just a hint of missing definition.
Active noise cancellation is something you won’t get here, but most outside interference can be alleviated with the right fit. To that end, Optoma throws in a variety of different fitment tips that can be swapped, ranging from short/long in small and medium sizes. Finding the best seal does indeed isolate the noise to an impressive degree, even to the point to being uncommonly natural to listening in solitude.
As I said earlier, the NuFoce BE Free8 are still Bluetooth headphones that exhibit the same issues as its contemporaries. We experienced intermittent stuttering (i.e. dropout) when outside, this isn’t a deal-breaker but it occurs sporadically enough that should be addressed. There’s also the matter of Bluetooth noise when using apps, which is mildly distracting when no music or sound is playing. Once again, not a big deal but still worth bringing up.
Both aptX and AAC codecs are supported for Bluetooth streaming standards, while resistance against dust and liquid is rated at IPX5. Even still, we don’t recommend wading into a pool with these headphones on.
As wireless earbuds make another stride into the mainstream the NuForce BE Free8 Truly Wireless Headphones are a good proposition from Optoma. They fly under the radar in style but showcase above-average sound and noise isolation for whatever you’re listening to. Despite their lack of technical whizz-bangs and other enhancements these earbuds get the essentials down – and are a solid value for wireless audio.