Optoma is one of a legion of companies vying to carve out a slice of the booming wireless audio market, and its latest model is quite a respectable effort. The Nuforce Be Live5 is a classic pair of neckbuds with a reasonable $99 price, a sweat-proof design, Comply foam tips bundled in the box, and a pleasing, bass-rich sound. I’ve had a pair to test for a couple of weeks and there’s no chance of mistaking these for anything like hi-fi personal audio, but for the purposes that earbuds like these are typically used — let’s call them sport-fi and commuter-fi — they deliver a nice bit of punch and dynamism with vocals that remain strong and prominent even against a background of substantially increased bass. In a quiet room, there’s detectable sibilance to the Be Live5 sound, but that tends to be the price you have to pay to get sound that’s enjoyable in noisier environs.
In terms of specs, Optoma has outfitted this pair of neckbuds with an 8-hour battery and support for AAC and AptX for higher-quality Bluetooth transmission. I definitely noticed a degradation in quality when switching from my AptX-supporting phone to the basic Bluetooth output from my laptop. Charging up the Be Live5 battery from zero to full takes 1.5 hours, though I’d have preferred to see a USB-C charging port instead of the rapidly aging Micro USB. The backs of the buds are magnetic, so you can attach them to each other when just wearing them around your neck. They also come with a carrying case.
You should know by now that my favorite neckbuds are, by far, the $69 OnePlus Bullets Wireless, and that doesn’t change with the launch of these new earphones. But the Bullets Wireless do have an extra long (and rather inflexible) wire, whereas these Nuforce neckbuds shorten and soften the cord for a more comfortable wear. If the Bullets Wireless aren’t quite the right fit for you, the Be Live5, along with Beyerdynamic’s Byron BT, could be a worthwhile alternative to try out.