Hands on: BackBeat GO 600 review

Capable wireless headphones for the price

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

With clear sound, Bluetooth functionality, and some niggling comfort issues, the BackBeat GO 600 Series offer what we'd expect from a sub-£100 pair of wireless headphones.

For

  • Multipoint pairing
  • Clear, quality sound

Against

  • Uncomfortable for long sessions
  • Limited wired functionality

How do you make a decent pair of Bluetooth headphones for an affordable price? The BackBeat GO 600 Series aim to answer that question, offering a solid, mid-range product with wireless functionality that won’t break the bank.

The GO 600 Series build on last year’s BackBeat 500 Series, which were originally inspired by Plantronics range of gaming headphones. They offer the same 18-hour battery life and similar functionality as their predecessors, with a more subdued design and greater emphasis on high- and mid-range frequencies. We tested them out to see just how much difference these refinements make.

Design

The BackBeat GO 600s are mid-range headphones, and the build quality is largely what you’d expect: solid, if unremarkable.

Our review pair came in a gray/stone colour – the Go 600s are also available in black, khaki, and navy. While they share similar silhouette to the 500 Series, there’s a clear move towards a more stylish, pared-back design and subdued colors.

The band is sturdy but flexible, with a subtle geometric edge at each end. While the thin rail connecting the strap to the cups is a bit fiddly, there’s some sensible wiggle room where it joins, allowing a good amount of flex when taking the headphones on and off.

They should easily survive some rough handling, or being knocked about in a bag, which is no more than we’d expect given the on-the-move ‘GO’ branding. We were slightly disappointed in the thin mesh carrying pouch, though, which has a rough texture and seems unlikely to offer much protection.

The play/skip buttons are technically hidden under the surface of the left cup, with corresponding markers showing you where to press. It’s not hugely easy to find these just with your hand, and we found ourselves fumbling around slightly more than we’d have liked. 

As is typical, the headphones charge via micro USB, and there’s also an optional audio cable for wired listening – useful for when you’re running out of battery. 

It’s worth mentioning that the cable doesn’t feature any play or volume functionality, and actually prevents the built-in buttons from working when in use, requiring you to use your phone or media player for audio control.

Performance

Sound is certainly where the BackBeat GO 600 Series are the strongest. When listening to David Bowie's Starman, we found they provided a consistently clear, balanced sound, with no noticeable drop in quality or signal over a Bluetooth connection.

The main improvement over last year’s 500 Series seems to be in the high end, with vocals coming across nice and clear. We had no issue using them for phone calls, and found the microphone on the left cup well placed for picking up audio our end. 

Like their predecessors, the GO 600 Series feature multipoint pairing, allowing you to connect to two devices simultaneously, while the 18-hour battery life should last you for at least several days of casual use. 

Sound isolation is limited, but still more than you would find in on-ear or in-ear alternatives, and we found the headphones perfectly adequate even when walking by a busy road or on our morning train commute. 

Plantronics also has its own EQ app for use across its various device ranges, but you’re unlikely to need to engage in too much fiddling. In any case the headphones have a built-in EQ button should you need any ‘bass boost’ while listening to more bass-heavy tracks – even if the difference in sound may be minimal, it’s a welcome inclusion.

Early verdict

With a focus on the performance of the mid-range and vocals, in the BackBeat GO 600 Series Plantronics appears to have created a subtle improvement on last year’s 500 Series, while ever so slightly undercutting the previous model’s price tag: the Go 600s are priced at a reasonable £89/$99 given what’s on offer.

The BackBeat GO 600s are clearly intended for casual use on the go, and their lightweight build and strong battery life make them ideal for just that. They are, however, built for functionality rather than comfort, and are likely to cause physical irritation if worn for much longer than 30 or so minutes (say six or seven songs).

We’re left with the impression that Plantronics opted for a high quantity of features on the BackBeat Go 600 Series, rather than ensuring all were executed well. But with impressive mid-range and vocals, and reliable wireless functionality, these headphones do fulfil their promises where it matters.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.