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Review: Altec Lansing BackBeat 903 wireless headphones

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The era of stereo Bluetooth is upon us. While A2DP – essentially the part of Bluetooth that enables stereo transmission of audio – has been around for years, it’s taken Apple two years to get off its duff and add it to the iPhone Bluetooth stack and, me being an iPhone LUVR, it took me that long to actually pay attention to A2DP. I’ve tested wireless Bluetooth headsets before but most of them made me look like Lobot from Cloud City.

The BackBeats are the first pair of Bluetooth stereo headphones that are actually worth looking at. They weigh almost nothing – one ounce – and pair with almost any A2DP compatible phone. The 906 model comes with a Bluetooth adaptor and costs $129.95 while this pair costs $99.95.

These things are delightfully small. You can put them on and forget you’re wearing them. They have adjustable earpieces along with bulbous buds that fit right into your ear for maximum noise prevention. You can control playback, volume, and pick- and hang-up the phone with buttons on the side.

The frequency response is 80 Hz – 12 kHz and I found these headphones to be on par with better earbuds I’ve used. The over-the-ear form factor, however, meant that I did deal with a little separation between the bud and the ear at times, reducing the volume and clarity. A quick fix is all that’s needed to move things back into place.

These are the closest I’ve ever come to the ultimate pair of earbuds. Altec Lansing makes great audio gear and these are small enough – and cool enough – to wear on the subway or during a workout. Sadly, my ultimate earbuds would be as small as peas and simply slip into the ear permanently, directly controlling my auditory system through the use of magic and lasers. Seeing as how Altec Lansing has no patents on magic or lasers, these will have to do.

Bottom Line

If you’ve avoided A2DP wireless headphones thus far, stop. These are a great pair and well worth the $99, especially if you plan to use them for workouts or just strolling about town. These are the best Bluetooth headphones I’ve seen in a few years.

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