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Altec Lansing Backbeat Titanium review: Altec Lansing Backbeat Titanium

Altec Lansing Backbeat Titanium

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Mobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakers Credentials
  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
David Carnoy
3 min read


Altec Lansing Backbeat Titanium

The Good

The Altec Lansing BackBeat Titanium 326 earphones offer a comfortable fit and excellent sound for the money. The cloth-covered cord seems durable and a carrying case is included.

The Bad

When the BackBeat Titanium 326 cord rubs against your clothing, you may be able to hear it if your MP3 player is set to low volumes or if it's during the silence between songs.

The Bottom Line

About $40, the Altec Lansing BackBeat Titanium 326 earbuds offer impressive sound for the buck.

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 in price, and while the headphones here list for $79.99, they can be found for $40 online. They're well worth the money.

Aside from a reasonable price tag, the 326s have a few other things going for them. With one of the four 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 Lansing 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 make 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). However, that's a minor gripe.

We also liked that the plug is small and will fit in any recessed headphone jack you might encounter (sorry, there's no built-in mic for making calls on your cell phone). At the same time, it's worth noting that the plug is a straight plug; we prefer the elbow variety of plugs, which is likely to hold up better over time and not short out if you accidentally bang it too many times (or drop your audio device). Again, this is a relatively small knock. On the plus side, the Titanium 326 earphones are currently the only model in the BackBeat line that includes a case--a gray neoprene one, to be specific.

Most importantly, the BackBeat 326 earphones sound very good, particularly for the money. They have a lot of bass and offer good detail and clarity (according to the specifications, they have a frequency response of 10Hz-20KHz, which is solid). The bass isn't as tight as what you'd get from more expensive Shure or Etymotic earphones, but you can't expect everything for $40.

Songs like the Kings of Leon's "Sex on Fire" and "Be Somebody" from the band's "Only by Night" album didn't come across with quite the same clarity as they would out of a pair of $150 Shure SE210s, but there was plenty of oomph to the tracks and the Altec Lansing earphones easily best the $99 Bose's TriPort In-ear headphones--both in terms of sound and fit.

In the final analysis, the BackBeat 326 earphones play in a nice spot between more expensive options like Apple's $75 In-Ear headphones and the stylish Philips SHE-9850 'buds and sub-$25 earbuds that don't deliver as much bass. At $40, the Titanium 326s are a solid value and good choice for those looking for a nice upgrade over the earbuds that ship with Apple's iPods and most other MP3 players. We have no problem recommending them.


Altec Lansing Backbeat Titanium

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 8