In this Optoma NuForce Be Live5 Review we will look at the latest NuForce personal sound offering. We will also dispel some of the ‘Oh no, not another pair of earbuds‘ fatigue. Yes, they clearly are another pair of headphones/earbuds but they are unusual in that they offer the potential of HIGH AUDIO QUALITY at a sub $/£/Eu100 price tag.
So other than ‘Well-priced’ and ‘Great sounding’, I guess they are just another pair of earbuds ;-). Let’s leave everyone else to buy the more expensive rubbish-sounding ones, shall we? 😉
Excellent sound quality playback across the audible range with Bluetooth support using aptX or AAC . Made even better with a great fit and great sound isolation from the supplied memory foam ear tips. With IPX5 certification and a good battery, these are ready for 8 hours of sport. Ready, that is, if they would only stay in during more vigorous exercise.
Pros & Cons
Hey! they’re not perfect but for well less than £/$/Eu100 you shouldn’t be disappointed.
Pros – Optoma NuForce BE Live5 Review
- Relatively quick battery charge (100mins) and 8 full battery hours of audio juice.
- Sound isolation and comfort from Comply memory foam ear tips notably improve apparent sound quality.
- Bluetooth 4.1 supports multipoint pairing (x2)
- Quality aluminium housing and magnetic snap-together
- Nice looks, even the gold ones!
- Sound quality is good across the range from Highs, Mids and Bass.
Cons -Optoma NuForce BE Live5 Review
- The microphone is not great
- Initial pairing takes perseverance, afterwards pairing is fine
- It’s hard to feel the place to press on the controller to turn the volume up/down or to skip a track.
- The buds themselves are a little bulky, with their main weight away from the ear canal, and this may be why they come out during vigorous exercise.
Do these sound like you?
The NuForce Be Live5 has a distinctive design and certainly make a fashion statement for those looking to do that sort of thing.
From a ‘bit of a sweaty splash‘ to a downpour outside, the Live5 can handle the rigours of sporting environments. A better option might be the Be Sport3 (review link: the5krunner.com) or the truly wireless BE Free5 (review link: the5krunner.com). But NEITHER of those will give you the AptX sound quality.
Talking of which, if you have great quality recordings and some kit that can play them back properly then the true audiophile in you will be happy for the price you pay..
The sound quality is great. There is clarity through from the highs to the lows of the audible spectrum.
To get the best out of the earbuds you need to use the (included) comply tips. These isolate just about all external sounds and are also comfy. Not good for safely crossing the road; but great for a high fidelity music playback experience.
The bass is deep enough and the vocals are more than clear enough for the audiophile in me.
Sound Quality – Techy Stuff
You might wonder how your current sound quality can be improved when you already play lossless source music; which should be perfect, right? Or maybe you’ve very, very slightly compromised with high bit-rate lossly compressed files?
Unfortunately, you may well have been wasting your time all these years.
If you have been using Bluetooth headphones then the Bluetooth signal cannot transfer the full audio quality so it, kinda, chops off bits when it compresses it for transfer – probably using the SBC codec at 320b/sec (16bit, 48KHz). Thus your beautifully lossless source is suddenly made lossy and then send to your earbuds. Grrr…You should have been storing 320b/sec lossy versions all along. They would have probably sounded the same.
Or should you?
AptX and AAC still do some of that compression, just less of it than SBC. And the Optima NuForce Be Live 5 supports both of these…it’s relatively unusual that AptX is supported by earbuds. To get even better sounds quality you need to either wait for aptX HD or used high quality wired earbuds.
It gets worse. Your source also needs to support AptX or AAC. You should generally be good-to-go with AAC on iOS. However, only with Android 8.X will you have a good chance of finding AptX HD support.
Luckily I at least have AptX and you should see something like the image on the right when pairing to confirm the possibility of aptX.
Worse still, I know of no running watches that can play music with AptX. Even the Apple Watch sticks to AAC at 256kbps with Apple Music – it might be able to be forced to use AptX, please let me know.
I can’t sufficiently generalise to help you know if your current setup will play AptX for sure. There are no apps that I know of that can tell you what is happening to this level of ‘quality’ during playback (try hires stuff at: 2l.no).
You just have to trust, AFAIK, that if the source and destination both support AptX then it will be used. In Android, you can delve into the depths of the SETTINGS and see something along the lines of what is shown in the image to the right. I took that as ‘proof’ that I was listening to AptX. But, of course, you will be able to tell the difference with your own ears, right? 😉
Sound Quality – Example
I suggest using www.bluetoothcheck.com to determine which audio codec your source can support. Even if you check your phone/watch manufacturer’s site you may not find the codec information you need there as CODEC support is often not listed. Anyway, by way of an example, my Moto smartphone supports the Bluetooth A2DP Audio Codecs shown below and those bolded are supported by the BeLive5 headphones.
|Name||Bit Depth||Max Frequency|
|Qualcomm aptX HD (High Definition)||24 bit||48.0 kHz|
|Sony LDAC||24 bit||96.0 kHz|
|Qualcomm aptX||16 bit||44.1KHz (48.0 kHz stated)|
|AAC (Advanced Audio Coding)||16 bit||44.1 kHz|
|SBC (Sub-Band Coding)||16 bit||48.0 kHz|
The human ear can only hear sound frequencies 20Hz to 20kHz
Higher frequencies DO affect the listening experience.
In my experience, mentioned earlier with the relatively mediocre sound FROM the Garmin Fenix 5S Plus, I would assume it’s most likely that the SBC codec is used whereas, with the Moto G5 Plus, the AAC codec is supported and was probably used as the headphones also support it.
Take Out: These BE Live5 headphones WILL sound good if you have all the necessary supporting components of good audio in place.
Build Quality : Wear Quality : Run Quality
Being made with some aluminium, the BE Live5 do feel well made, yet light. The 2 buds clip together magnetically when not in use but, surprisingly, this does not seem to put them on standby.
There’s a cool case and you also get 3 sets of wings and comply earbuds to put together that perfect fit. It took me a bit of a while to get the right combination. On the one hand it was nice that the Live5 let me rotate the wings to any position but on the other hand, it took me a while to get the right position when normally those earbuds with ‘one default wing position’ are good for me.
They are very comfortable.
But when running, it took me quite a while to find the right combination of fit options to get them to stay in. But, hey!, your ears are almost certainly different to mine, so you’ll probably be good first time Mr Spock.
The mic and remote control is nearest the right earbud on the wire that joins the two earpieces. So you REALLY need to wear your smartphone/sports watch on the same side to avoid audio dropouts. The controls are basic and ‘standard’ in operation and are covered in the manual. The controls would ideally have more of a protruding rubber button of some sort as they currently make it very difficult to quite know exactly where you are pressing.
The cable is flat, which I like, and there is also an adjustable ‘bead’ on it to change the effective length of the cable.
Running Choices : Optoma NuForce Be Sport3 vs Optoma NuForce Be Live5?
If I were doing a lot of running with music I would go for the Be Sport 3 (or 4) version. They are not quite as comfortable over very extended periods BUT stay in better for me.
For easy running with music, extended listening at home, or gently on the move, and a desire for GREAT audio quality then the NuForce Be Live 5 clearly wins for me. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve enjoyed listening to music and radio with the Optomas via a USB stick in my Windows 10 PC.
Battery life – Optoma NuForce BE Live5 Review
All battery lives degrade gradually over time. Starting out at 8 hours of stated battery life then these are up there with much of the competition. Perhaps the true-wireless earbuds can sometimes edge the decision when their case has a built-in battery to aid longevity? but otherwise, 8 hours is good enough for me. You get a full recharge in about 100 minutes so that’s alright too.
Connectivity – Optoma NuForce BE Live5 Review
As we’ve said you get AptX and AAC codec support over BLE
That Bluetooth is typically good for up to about 10 metres. Sometimes you can edge an extra metre or so before the sound starts to skip out. But the official specs say 30metres…I’m not quite sure where that comes from – it’s either 10m or the air where I live is VERY thick. One of the two.
Optoma NuForce BE Live5 Specifications
More techy stuff. You know you want it.
- Cable length – 580mm
- Impedance – 16Ohm
- Microphone sensitivity – 42dB +/-3dB
- Frequency response – 20Hz – 20 kHz
- Sensitivity – 90dB +/-3dB at 1KHz
Volume control – Inline
Driver type – 8mm
Number of drivers – 2
Battery life – Up to 8hrs
Charge time – 1.7hrs
Wireless – range 10m (claimed up to 30m)
Wireless – operating frequency 2.4GHz
Wireless type Bluetooth v4.1
Net weight 0.016kg
In the box – Optoma NuForce BE Live5 Review
- 3x pairs of silicone ear tips (S, M, L)
- 2x pairs of comply soft foam ear tips (M, L)
- 3x pairs of ear wings (S, M, L)
- Micro USB charging cable
- Cable management clip
- Carrying pouch (it’s cool !)
- Safety instructions
- Basic user manual
Manual: link to optomaeurope.com
Taking into account price, these are a definite candidate for the perfect companion to the best running watch with music.
Take Out – NuForce BE Live5
I like the Optoma stuff in general. The design is a little quirky and stylish. I like the comfort and, of course, the sound quality.
This site is all about sports tech (the5krunner.com) and I have to say that there are better sports-specific options even in Optoma’s range. However, if you want sound quality at the right price with the ability to handle relatively demanding sports environments then the Live5 are worth considering.
Typically I go for more expensive models but if you don’t want to hit 3 figure pricing (£/$Eu100) then the Optoma NuForce BE Live5 are a very sensible choice for the audiophile in you.
If you want even better audio quality from a larger driver size and aptX HD in a pair of headphones/earbuds then you can easily spend $300 on a different pair and you will probably be reading a different review rather than this one. We are talking about some sweet $79 headphones here.
Price, Availability & Discount – NuForce BE Live5
The Be Live5 is just starting to hit Eu stores in December 2018. It’s been out for a while elsewhere internationally, slightly lower prices there might reflect that.
The US$ price is great at $79.
The Amazon image below links to the lowest current price at your local Amazon Geographic store.