I used to know a young man from Yorkshire who was old beyond his years. We’ll call him Rob. Despite barely being into his twenties, Rob would grumble about teenagers hanging out in the park, fret about the possibility of the UK adopting the euro (this was over a decade ago, well before any normal young person thought of the EU of anything but a cheap holiday destination) and make general observations about the declining state of a world that he’d only been in for 21 years. In fact, let’s call him Reggie – much more fitting. One of Reggie’s main complaints was people listening to headphones while walking in public. “In the future, no one’s gonna talk to each other! Just be trundling along like mindless robots!” “Sure, Reggie…” Given that all conversations with Reggie would result in the same doomsday diatribe, I can’t fault people for quickly donning their headphones as soon as they saw him coming; however, in 2019 it seems as if Reggie’s dystopic prophecy has come true. And I love it.
This theory came to mind when I was test-driving my new headphones, the BE Live5 Wireless Bluetooth in-ear headphones from Optoma. Reggie’s voice popped into my head, as it often does when I’m assessing a new piece of technology – or looking at GBP v EUR (“The pound should be double the euro! It’s doubly good!” “Sure, Reggie…”) – and I realised that not only is the world around me populated by robots walking around plugged into their phones, I’m one of them. I literally never leave the house without my headphones and even the shortest of trips will require a quick blast of Spotify. When I go running in the park (“Watch out for them ruffians near the swings!” “Sure, Reggie…”), I pump out high-energy music – read: Top Gun soundtrack – and I’ve even learned to look forward to tidying up my flat as it will mean that I can get stuck into my latest podcast.
So it is with great alacrity that I audition these Optoma headphones to become my new everyday gadget; after the unboxing, I’m immediately relieved at the sight of the accompanying enforced shell pouch, as I’ve gone through several sets of headphones simply by sitting on them when they’re in my soft case.
The headphones come with three pairs of silicon ear pieces that can be interchanged depending on whether your ears are Small, Medium or Large, as well as a couple of soft foam noise-cancelling ear tips and ‘ear wings’ to wear when you’re tuning out during exercise. They’re water resistant (I haven’t tested this with anything other than wet hair after a shower, but I take their word for it) and the wireless range is a very impressive 10 metres.
The terse British accent that announces “Power on” and “Primary device connected” is a little authoritative for my tastes but I can imagine some people enjoying her no-nonsense tone (“People need to be told!” “Sure, Reggie…”). Anyone who has used an in-line remote control will quickly get to grips with the BE Live5’s, as you can adjust volume, pause/play and skip tracks as well as answer calls and activate Siri, Google Voice or the direct line to our robot overlords. One note: a scrub/rewind function in a future update would be cool, as I still have to go to my phone to rewind podcasts.
The sound quality truly is a cut above – audiophiles will appreciate the aptX and AAC functionality that allows the headphones to wirelessly stream from Apple, Android and Windows devices at a much higher quality than regular Bluetooth streaming devices. If you’ve only ever listened to standard (or crappy) Bluetooth headsets, prepare to be blown away by the levels. I try and find the tinniest music that would be unlistenable on low-quality headphones but even some of the noughties emo music that I used to love – and to which Reggie would shake his head in disbelief before sticking on his Best Of The Beatles cassette – doesn’t ‘treble out’ and maintains a decent middle and bass amidst the screeching and whining.
All in all, I’m seriously impressed with the BE Live5. At £89.99, they’re not the cheapest on the market but for this quality I would consider them a real bargain and the sound quality is as good as many of their premium wired counterparts. If you’re going to be a mindless robot, you might as well do it in style.
David Harfield is the director of PepperStorm Media and writes about his three passions: food, booze and travel.
Photographs courtesy of Optoma