Nintendad

[Hardware Review] BE Free5 from Optoma

Impedance –  16Ohm
Microphone sensitivity – -42dB +/-3dB
Frequency response – 20Hz – 20kHz
Sensitivity – 95dB +/-3dB at 1KHz
Driver type – 5.6mm
Number of drivers – 2
Battery life – 4 hours, Up to 16 hours with charging case
Charge time – 15min quick charge for one hour of listening (earbuds + charging case), 2 hours (earbuds), 3 hours (charging case)
Wireless – range – 10m
Wireless – operating frequency – 2.4GHz
Wireless type – Bluetooth v4.1
Net weight – 0.062kg

In the box

3* pairs of CP350 silicon ear tips (S/M/L)
1* pair of CP100Z silicon ear tips (SS)
3* pairs of ear wings (S/M/L)
Charging case
mini USB to USB charging cable
Basic user manual
Safety instruction

Music to my ears

Having spent a good amount of time with the BE Free5 from Optoma, I’d like to be able to sing from the rooftops about how much I love these headphones. For the most part I can as they are comfortable, affordable and above all else, sound fantastic. The bass offered by such minuscule little pods is quite remarkable – possibly due to the way in which they block your entire ear, offering sound isolation in the process. The mid range really resonates, offering rich and opulent depth to musical arrangements and making dialogue sound purposeful and never whiny or monotonous. The high end is delicate too and never seems shrill or particularly rash in its execution. All of this combined creates layer after layer of refined sound that, both when listening to your favourite artists or watching the latest Hollywood blockbuster, holds up very well indeed alongside some of the behemoths of the industry.

Design and build

The BE Free5 are a little cumbersome to look at at first and seem, straight out of the box a little larger than say Tim Apple’s own offerings. That being said, the build quality is first class and what Optoma have done is crafted a product that is exceptionally well made and robust to boot.

The pods sit in your ears, in the entire lobe and whilst it, in all honesty takes a little while to get used to, certainly for the first few days I was very conscious about the very real possibility that they might fall out whilst doing the dishes. That soon became a very distant memory as before long they offered both practicality and style and never actually fell out either, which was nice. Along with the ear wings that are provided in the box, they really are very secure and sit snugly up in your external auditory passage. By tapping the front bezel of the pod you can pause the current input which in theory is a nice feature, however in reality I found that every time I thought that they might fall out, I would inadvertently end up pressing the face button and pausing the feed. This soon got a little easier to prevent but there were still occasional incidents nonetheless.

Sound

The BeFree 5 from Optoma sound phenomenal, they really do offer truly delectable sound that would impress even the most ardent of audiophile. The patented Graphene coated drivers are lighter than traditional materials and offer better conductivity, allowing for a clearer, more concise sound with significantly less distortion in bass, mid range and treble. I listen to an eclectic assortment of music and genres – everything from the bass driven beats of Dr. Dre through to the mashed up, brain contorting stylings of Jazz Fusion, stopping off along the way to check out 90’s Seattle grunge or the perfect harmony and balance of Led Zeppelin and everything and anything in between. Everything that I listened to with these pods was balanced, not overpowering in any particular area and always seemed to be at the right levels so as not to greatly effect the overarching enjoyment. For a product that costs less than £100, essentially making it entry level, the BE Free5 doesn’t just pack a punch, as a product to appreciate music in any guise, it’s a knockout.

Bluetooth 4.1

The BE Free5 offers support up to, and including Bluetooth 4.1, and as such should work flawlessly with any and every device that they are connected too. However it soon became painfully apparent that this was not in fact the case. While music and spoken word – podcasts and audio books, performed admirably anything with an accompanying video suffered from some truly startling lag.
I tested it on my LG 4K Smart TV, iPhone, Samsung S10+, Fire Tablet, Nintendo Switch using the Genki Bluetooth Adaptor (a product that worked flawlessly with the Optoma Be Sport3) all of which suffered from varying degrees of lag.
This was frustrating to say the least as the idea of lounging on the sofa late at night, one pod in, catching up on some gaming while the family peacefully slept seemed like an absolutely joyous moment, with the unobtrusive nature of the pods perfectly lending themselves to some prime lounging.
Having to revert back to my cans peeved me a little and heavily affected my enjoyment of this product.

Call me maybe?

Using the BE Free5 for telephone calls was a bit of a mixed bag. At my end, everything was fine – I could hear the person on the other end, connection was seamless and everything seemed OK, however at times people I was speaking to said that my own vocal clarity wasn’t the best. However, by the same token, I had a few conversations that were flawlessly executed so it appears to have been a mixed bag. Not ideal by any stretch of the imagination.

Conclusion

The BE Free5 from Optoma is a bit of an enigma, simply because it could be the perfect product. The sound quality is unimpeachable and offers performance that, perhaps Bose and Sennheiser aside, is tough to match. And all for a significant fraction of the price too.

Unfortunately, watching video content was marred by that most heinous of things, input lag, resulting in a several second delay between what is showing on screen and playing in your ear.

Had this persistent issue not been present I feel it would be safe to say that the BE Free5 would be a product I would recommend to anyone willing to listen, regrettably in its current state I can only advise it as an adeptly able accompaniment to lovers of music and podcasts – people on the go who might not necessarily plan to pop in their pods for a spot of Netflix and chill.

Verdict
The BE Free5 offer truly exceptional sound quality but unfortunately suffer from crippling lag.
Perfect for audio and spoken word but not ideal for video.
Phone calls a little hit and miss.
3.5/5
Fifield

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