Some Bluetooth headsets are good for only mobile phone calls, whereas others favor music. Wouldn't it be great if there was one that excelled at both equally? Indeed, such a Bluetooth headset does exist, and it is the BackBeat 906 from Altec Lansing.
The Altec Lansing BackBeat 906 is made up of two components. The headset has two earpieces which are connected by an 8-inch long rubber cable and the Bluetooth adapter which looks pretty much like a small headphone amplifier. This adapter enables devices with Bluetooth connectivity to stream music to the BackBeat 906.
Where looks are concerned, the Altec Lansing BackBeat 906 isn't the most graceful or modern-looking of headsets. The oddly-shaped earpieces and the fact that they are connected by a rubber cable makes them look rather ungainly and what's more, they are quite cumbersome to put on. The headset really takes some getting used to, but once you do, you'll find that they are quite comfortable after all.
Altec Lansing has also intentionally designed the eartips such that they do not provide a complete seal. This allows users to still hear what's going on around them. It can be annoying for those seeking a distraction-free listening experience, but it's probably for the better.
Despite the slightly loose fit, the Altec Lansing BackBeat 906 doesn't sound half bad at all. It's not going to blow your mind away, but the BackBeat 906 reproduced vocals with exceptional clarity and crispness and bass response was strong and tight. On the flip side, it sounded a tad too direct and the highs lacked sparkle. The BackBeat 906 even has a bass booster function, but enabling that does muddy the sound quite a bit.
Audio performance aside, the Altec Lansing BackBeat 906 also incorporates technologies such as AudioIQ to help make the BackBeat 906 a more usable Bluetooth headset for voice calls. AudioIQ is a digital signal processor which Altec Lansing claims to optimize audio on both sides by reducing background noise and actively adapts to improve quality, clarity and volume levels.
In our tests, we found that the quality of voice calls were top notch, as AudioIQ helped greatly in cleaning up intrusive background noise.
As for controls, the buttons to activate various features of the BackBeat 906 are handily located on both earpieces. And while they are not the most intuitive to use, a quick read of the starter guide should be enough to get users up and running with it.
The Altec Lansing BackBeat 906 may not be the prettiest pair of headphones around, but it is a solid all-round performer. Audio performance is decent, while voice quality is amongst the best we've have experienced. At S$199, it can be relatively costly, but put it this way: you are getting a pair of Bluetooth music headphones and Bluetooth mobile headset for the price of one, and if that's not a bargain, we don't know what is.