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Altec Lansing BackBeat 906 Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

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At a Glance
  • Altec Lansing BackBeat 906

When I first donned Altec Lansing's $130 (as of March 22, 2009) BackBeat headphones, I couldn't get them to sit comfortably. The earbuds are attached to wide ear hooks that come down over the top of your ears. The buds sport a beak-shaped eartip, which you use to anchor the headphones in your ear. These buds were too large for my ear canals, and unfortunately, the company does not provide other bud sizes.

After various attempts to swivel the earbuds around, I finally arrived at an acceptable and secure fit, but the earpieces never felt comfy on my small ears. The loopy portion of the ear hook expands--which makes slipping the hook over your ear easier--and once you have the earbuds and the hook in place, you can adjust or tighten the hook to suit your ear size. The earpieces are connected by a narrow and flexible cord. Still, I needed to futz around every time I wanted to wear these headphones. Not fun.

Despite the fitting issues, music sounded pretty good over the headset. I noticed a nice balance between base and treble, and you can give the bass more oomph on the fly by pressing a button during a track. Still, the overall music experience wasn't as rich or as warm as that delivered by other headphones I tested at the same time, such as the Sony Ericsson HBH-IS800 and the LG Electronics HBS-250. Phone calls sounded good. Voices at both ends came through clearly, though recipients thought that I sounded a little flat at times. I was particularly impressed with how the BackBeat handled background noise. Callers could hear only faint traces of music emanating from my nearby stereo, for instance. During one test call, two thunderous trucks roared past me while I was on foot; a few words were distorted, but the call recipient could still hear what I was saying.

The buttons were well laid out and supereasy to reach: Phone controls are on the left earpiece, music controls are on the right, and the volume and track shuttle controls are tucked away at the back of the right earpiece.

The BackBeat 906 bundles a Bluetooth adapter for the iPod and other MP3 players--and this worked as advertised. If you want a set of headphones and an adapter to let you listen to your tunes on your iPod cord-free, do consider the BackBeat. The Motorola MotoRokr S9-HD includes a similar adapter, but the S9-HD's behind-the-neck band is chunkier and stiffer.

This story, "Altec Lansing BackBeat 906 Bluetooth Wireless Headphones" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • If your music player lacks Bluetooth support, the BackBeat 906 includes a handy dongle to provide wire-free listening.

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