Altec Lansing Backbeat (Black/Gold) review: Altec Lansing Backbeat (Black/Gold)

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MSRP: $59.95
3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The Altec Lansing BackBeat Plus 206 earphones offer a comfortable fit; impressive sound for the money; and a durable, cloth-covered cord.

The Bad When the BackBeat Plus 206's cloth cord rubs against your clothing, you can sometimes hear that rubbing sound if your MP3 player is set to low volumes or during the silence between songs; no carrying case is included.

The Bottom Line Although Altec Lansing's BackBeat Plus 206 earbuds may be a slight step down from the BackBeat 326 earphones, they offer very good sound for the money.

7.5 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 7.0

Altec Lansing is a long-standing competitor in the iPod speaker market, so it makes sense that the company now produces a variety of headphones, as well. It currently makes three sets of BackBeat earphones: the Titanium 326, Plus 206, and Classic 106. About $10 separates each, and while the BackBeat 206 earphones reviewed here list for $49.99, they can be had for a little over $30 online. Like their step-up sibling, they're a good deal at that price.

The differences between the 206 and the 326 are relatively small. The BackBeat 326 earphones have more dynamic range, with a frequency response of 10 Hz-20k Hz compared with 30 Hz-18.5 kHz for the 206. The 326 also comes with a protective carrying case and an additional set of "flange" tips for extra noise reduction. Instead of titanium drivers, the 206 earphones go with neodymium.

Aside from a reasonable price tag, the 206 earbuds have a few things going for them. With one of the three sets of included silicon tips, you'll find a snug, comfortable fit that helps block out a good amount of noise. We also liked that Altec went with cloth mesh instead of rubber/plastic to cover the 46-inch-long headphone wire. We've found that rubberized covering can end up cracking, particularly if you wear your headphones for prolonged periods outside in freezing temperatures. The one drawback to the mesh covering is that it does pick up some sound if it rubs against your clothing (you only notice it when you have the volume at a lower level or during the silence between songs). But that's a minor gripe.

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