Plantronics BackBeat Pro review

Noise canceling Bluetooth headphones with plenty of features

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Our Verdict

Plantronics has packed an amazing feature set into the BackBeat Pro. If you like your headphones wireless and noise cancelling, these are hard to beat.

For

  • Pair with two devices
  • Fantastic 24 hour battery life
  • impressive sound and noise cancellation

Against

  • Pairing mode could be easier to initiate
  • No identification between paired devices
  • Slightly pricey

Plantronics has a long and and exceptional history with designing headsets. When Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, his famous lines were transmitted through a Plantronics headset. While the $249 (about £155) BackBeat Pros don't live up to being "first man on the moon" cool, they are still a great set of headphones.

The BackBeat Pros have an overwhelmingly plain and unflattering design, but before you put them back on the shelf, you might want to reconsider. These Bluetooth wireless headphones have an incredibly comfortable fit and wide range of features that will have you frothing at the mouth.

Features

The BackBeat Pros weigh in at about 340 grams (roughly ¾ of a pound), making them one of the heaviest set of headphones I have ever worn. This incredible weight might be the result of the number of features that Plantronics has chosen to attach to the Pros. Fortunately, the Pros have plenty of comfortable padding around the earcups and bridge to make you forget about their excessive weight.

Plantronics BackBeat Pro review

On the earcups, the Pros sport easy to use dials that allow you to completely control your experience. The right earcup has a ring that serves as volume control, and the left earcups' dial lets you seamlessly skip through your music. With a simple tap of a button, the earcups also allow you to pause your music and pick up calls.

Believing that the above features weren't quite enough, the Pros also have a built in voice that tells you important information about the status of your headset, such as battery life. Users are able to switch the voice between 14 preset languages. In addition, the Pros automatically pause your music when you remove your headphones. When you put them back on, your music resumes again (this feature can be easily disabled).

Plantronics BackBeat Pro review

The Bluetooth wireless is also superb, and makes the Pros an excellent addition with phone pairing. The NFC technology for Android phones extends the range of the Pros to about 330 feet (about 100 meters). And the headphones even double as a headset, allowing your to pick up calls with its built-in microphone.

The number of features do take their toll, however. The headphones, especially the earcups, are incredibly bulky. There is no style or pizazz to the look. Instead, the headphones' design is based purely around functionality, giving them a very business-like appearance.

Performance

Looking purely at sound quality, the BackBeat Pros fall a bit short of their competitors in the $200+ range. That being said, you shouldn't expect Beats Studio Wireless quality sound from this set of headphones. Like many noise-canceling headphones, the Pros suffer from having a metallic sound with some types of music. Though the imperfections in the sound are slight, sensitive ears might find it annoying. For most people, however, the Pros should be more than enough to satisfy their eardrums.

Plantronics BackBeat Pro review

The noise-canceling feature provided by the Pros was very good most of the time. However, I found that the Pros aren't able to cancel out quite as many frequencies as the Bose QuietComfort series. Most of the time, I would be completely oblivious to conversations happening directly behind me, but once and a while I would be able to hear a person talking from across the room. It was a strange phenomenon, but it was pretty infrequent.

People that are new to noise-canceling headphones should also note that like its competitors, the Pros can cause headaches from extended use of the noise-canceling feature. This is slightly alleviated by a switch that allows you to easily turn the feature off without affecting your music. A second button on the earcup also turns off the noise-canceling feature and amplifies environmental sounds, allowing you to eavesdrop on your neighbors' conversations without them ever knowing.

Last, but certainly not least, the Pros have an impressive battery life of 24 continuous wireless hours. If you choose to convert the headphones into wired mode, I found they can last you anywhere from 60 to 80 hours. When the battery does finally die, the headphones can be plugged in with a microUSB and charge back to full in a little over an hour.

Verdict

The BackBeat Pros aren't pretty. But what they lack in looks, they make up in pretty much everything else. The Pros are well designed and functional, boasting both a sturdy and comfortable frame and several easy to use controls.

The sound and noise-canceling quality are great. Added to excellent battery life, the Pros are a solid set of headphones that should not be overlooked.