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Altec Lansing BackBeat Titanium

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What's hot: It's Altec Lansing! Need I say more?

What's not: Bass.

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Review posted April 30, 2009 by Jacob Spindel, Chief iPod Correspondent

Think fast: Which company sets the gold standard in the speaker and headphone market? The answer is almost certainly Bose. Unfortunately, Bose products also tend to have price tags that put them out of the range of most potential buyers. So who is the “silver standard”? My answer would be Altec-Lansing (which is a division of Plantronics). Altec-Lansing's new BackBeat series of earphones takes products from a high-end company and puts them within the price range of even low-end consumers. In fact, if you don't have a huge budget for earphones but want lots of bang for your buck, one great choice would be Altec-Lansing's new BackBeat Titanium.

BackBeat Titanium

No Trouble With Trebles

The BackBeat Titanium features titanium-enhanced 10 mm speakers with a frequency response rated at 10 Hz - 20 kHz and an impedance of 16 Ohms. It weighs a total of 0.8 ounces, and while Altec-Lansing certainly markets the earbuds as an iPod/iPhone accessory, you can connect the 46" cable to any standard 3.5 mm audio source. The cable has a "braided" or fabric-like style, similar to the Flamingo Mobile Earphones we reviewed previously. They are worn as "in-ear" style earphones, although they don't push into your ear canals nearly as deeply as some high-end professional earbuds. Altec-Lansing includes a neoprene carrying case and three different sizes of ear tips (Altec-Lansing calls it "Snug Fit"), plus an fourth pair of ear tips with dual flange tips. While the Titanium does not offer any active noise cancelation, the company claims that the dual flange tips can provide noise isolation of up to 16 decibels. The Titanium also comes with a two-year warranty, which is a nice touch at a time when many tech vendors only offer one year or less.

The BackBeat Titanium earbuds are stylish and comfortable to wear, and they don't feel intrusive like some in-ear earphones. and while they don't have any single feature that jumps out as their strongest selling point, their output is well-rounded with strong performance in all categories. Specifically:

Treble: The BackBeats excel in this category and have no trouble at all reproducing tones at the higher end of the spectrum. For fans of music styles that utilize lots of treble (such as most pop and country songs), the earbuds faithfully recreate all the details of your favorite songs. 4.5/5.0

Bass: The bass range is certainly present on the BackBeats, and lower tones in your music remain audible rather than becoming washed out. However, the BackBeats don't provide the level of "bass boost" available from some products, so even though the bass is strong enough, it doesn't have that "supercharged" feeling that can sometimes provide a little extra thrill. 3.5/5.0

Clarity: If you've ever used high-end earbuds (such as the XtremeMac FS1 model), then you know that professional earbuds have a level of high-definition clarity that puts them into a category all their own. Well, the BackBeat 326 is not in that pro-level category. However, as far as earbuds in the "ordinary mortals" category go, the BackBeat 326s are at the head of the class, making it easy to hear all the details of your favorite music or listen to podcasts and understand them clearly. 4.0/5.0

 

 

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Volume: Audio volume is no probem for the BackBeats - they cover a wide enough range that even users with sensitive ears will be able to use them anywhere from a quiet environment to noisy locations with lots of background noise. 5.0/5.0

The BackBeat Titanium earbuds are at the high-end of the BackBeat family. Altec-Lansing also offers two lesser models in this new category, the BackBeat Classic and BackBeat Plus, whose primary differences from the Titanium are slightly smaller frequency response ranges and (surprise, surprise) speakers that aren't titanium enhanced.

Elite Beats

The BackBeat Titanium earbuds are aimed at the low-end or midrange earbud markets, and by the standards of that category, they consistently perform very well. Although their list price is $79, many retailers sell them closer to the $40 range, and a careless consumer could easily spend that much, or more, even on some of the lowest-quality earbuds available. The BackBeat Titanium doesn't have stunning bass or high-end "high resolution" sound, but it does provide quality sound for a wide variety of music and other audio. Relative to other earbuds in their price range and target audience, the BackBeat Titanium is simply un"beat"able.

Pro: Well-rounded audio output that performs well in most categories and with most music types; very good value for the price; well designed and comfortable to wear.

Con: Bass output is adequate but leaves room for improvement.

List Price: $79

Web Site: www.alteclansing.com

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