Plantronics BackBeat Pro Review

The Plantronics BackBeat Pro Bluetooth headphones are an outstanding alternative to Bose and Beats headphones with wonderful sound, active noise canceling and 24 hour battery life at $249.

After spending a month with the Plantronics BackBeat Pro review unit it’s clearly a better value than Bose and Beat can offer. The BackBeat Pro price is part of the reason shoppers need to look at and listen to these bluetooth active noise canceling headphones, but you don’t need to give up on quality either.

Although slightly bulkier than Bose, these headphones more than make up for the slightly larger design with great sound, intuitive controls and smart sensors to pause media and keep the battery going longer without constantly turning the headphones on and off.

Plantronics makes a bold claim of 24 hour battery life with Bluetooth and active noise canceling, and lives up to it. Find out why these headphones need to be at the top of your shopping list.

You can buy the Plantronics BackBeat Pro at Amazon for $249. The headphones work with Android, iPhone and other devices.

Plantronics BackBeat Pro Design

The Plantronics BackBeat Pro design is slightly bulkier than Bose, but it's not cumbersome.
The Plantronics BackBeat Pro design is slightly bulkier than Bose, but it’s not cumbersome.

The BackBeat Pro design is on par with more expensive competitors with a black leather like material around the headband and plenty of padding. The ear pads offer a good cushion and are large enough to just barely cover my somewhat large ears with a nice seal.

Overall the design is fairly subdued, but purple accents in the ear pads and a small tag on the headband stand out. Fake silver grills on the front and back of the headphones also contribute to the subdued style.

There is a good amount of adjustment on the headband and ear cups.
There is a good amount of adjustment on the headband and ear cups.

There is a lot of movement to adjust the headband to fit over heads of all sizes, even with hats on. The ear cups swivel 90-degrees to fold flat for storage or to better sit on your neck when the headphones aren’t in use. There is a small bag that can protect the headphones as well as carry the included audio cable and Micro USB charging cable.

The headphone look like new after a month of use at home, in hotels and on a fast flight to Chicago.

Plantronics BackBeat Pro Controls

I really enjoy the Plantronics BackBeat Pro controls which are way more intuitive than many Bluetooth headphones on the market.

Controls on the ear cups make it easy to change volume or track.
Controls on the ear cups make it easy to change volume or track.

A wheel on the right ear controls volume. Twist forward to turn the volume up and to the back to turn it down. there is an on off switch on the back of the right ear for easy access. There is a big button to answer or end a call on the outside of the ear cup. The only other control is an Open Mic option on the bottom of the right ear. Tap this once to dim out the music and turn off noise canceling so you can hear what someone is saying without taking the headphones off.

The left ear cup includes a switch on the back for turning noise canceling on or off. The outside button is a play, pause button. Tilt the wheel on the left ear cup forward to skip ahead a track and back to go to the previous track. There is a small spot on the bottom to charge the headphones and to plug-in the included headphone cable to connect to devices without Bluetooth or to use when you cannot use Bluetooth. There is also NFC in this ear cup to simplify pairing with Android smartphones.

If you can't use Bluetooth there is a 3.5mm cable with a in line remote.
If you can’t use Bluetooth there is a 3.5mm cable with a in line remote.

Plantronics packs in a purple 3.5mm cable with an in-line remote to control volume and handle the normal play. pause, skip track controls that iPhone headphones support.

After 30 minutes using the Plantronics BackBeat Pro headphones the controls become second nature, which is essential for frustration free use.

Plantronics BackBeat Pro Sound

Here’s a look at how the Plantronics BackBeat Pro headphones sound, how active noise canceling works and how well they handle making phone calls.

Performance & Sound Quality

Overall the Plantronics BackBeat Pro sound delivers impressive sound quality with more than enough volume to meet my demands for contemplative listening and rocking out.

The Plantronics BackBeat Pro sound incredible, but some heavy bass can overpower.
The Plantronics BackBeat Pro sound incredible, but some heavy bass can overpower.

Love Lockdown by Kanye West delivers rich bass mixed with rich piano and West’s auto tuned voice. The BackBeat Pro headphones are close to delivering the right mix here, but the bass occasionally trespass over into overwhelming territory forcing me to dial the volume back.

Next up is Teardrop by Massive Attack, which blends bass, a more evident piano and a beautiful voice that all come across clear and with the great overall tones.

Good Mystery by Amber Rubarth offers a nice test of vocals and stringed instruments with a wonderful background percussion that isn’t the typical  booming we hear in the previous tracks. The BackBeat Pro headphones do a wonderful job of placing the percussion and strings in the right ear almost as if Rubarth is performing behind me and channeling most of the vocals into the left ear for a really stunning listening session.

After testing the strengths with these tracks I shifted over to electronic music, old school rock and roll and a mix of old and new rap with a pleasurable listening experience. The BackBeat Pro headphones aren’t perfect, but at $250 they are certainly incredible.

Active Noise Canceling

With the Plantronics BackBeat Pro active noise canceling on it’s easy to tune out the world around you. While on a flight to Chicago I could concentrate on work without the normal buzz and hum of air travel. At home the noise canceling keeps my wife’s TV watching from interrupting my Netflix binge watching in bed, which is great as the Golden Girls and Black List don’t mesh well. In a coffee shop the noise canceling tunes out poor music selection and the buzz, but it’s not going to drown out all the clanking and blenders.

The BackBeat Pro noise canceling provides solitude in the air or in a coffee shop.
The BackBeat Pro noise canceling provides solitude in the air or in a coffee shop.

Call Quality

On top of listening to music and watching movies I also use these headphones to make phone calls which sound very good on both ends. While speaking to another editor at Gotta Be Mobile he remarked that I sound much better than normal.

Plantronics BackBeat Pro Features

In addition to the Open Mic feature, Plantronics packs several other exciting options into the BackBeat Pro headset.

Sensors in the ear cups detect when you remove the headphones and automatically pause music or videos for you. If you put the headphones back on soon after they resume playback and fade the volume in so you aren’t surprised by a previously loud volume.

Sensors in the ear cups auto-pause music or movies when you take the headphones off.
Sensors in the ear cups auto-pause music or movies when you take the headphones off.

The headphones connect to two devices so you can pair with a smartphone and a tablet without constantly switching and pairing.

Plantronics BackBeat Pro Battery Life

The Plantronics BackBeat Pro battery life is incredible. I did not it through a full 24 hour listening session with these headphones glued to my head. That’s not realistic. Instead I tested the BackBeat Pro battery life by using them as my main headphones for a month of mixed use.

With several hours of use each day with Bluetooth and active noise canceling on I’ve charged the headphones three times so far. This breaks down to about a week of real world use that includes binge watching the Black List, catching up on movies with HBO Go, more Spotify listening than you might expect and listening to audio books.

Big cans deliver long battery life.
Big cans deliver long battery life.

Many Bluetooth headphones I’ve reviewed fall apart with outlandish battery life claims but with the BackBeat Pro I’m not limited by battery life.

As soon as you turn on the headphones a voice announces the battery level as high, medium or low — with plenty of listening time left when you hear a low battery life warning. When I hear this warning I know to charge at the end of whatever I am doing, but I don’t need to stop what I wanted to do to charge. There are also blue LED lights on the ear cup to signal how much battery life is left.

Are the Plantronics BackBeat Pro Worth Buying?

The Plantronics BackBeat Pro headphones are an amazing value at $250.
The Plantronics BackBeat Pro headphones are an amazing value at $250.

The Plantronics BackBeat Pro delivers excellent sound and overall value at $250. The long battery life, smart sensors, easy controls, ability to connect two devices and other features come together to offer an astounding value for the price.  The BackBeat Pro battery life seals the deal delivering enough power to last a week of daily use or a full day of heavy use.

You can buy the  Plantronics BackBeat Pro at Amazon for $249 and at other retailers.

One Comment

  1. Shay

    07/21/2015 at 7:57 am

    Also I really like the sound and the features, the earpads are too small and not really over-ears, it hearts my ears after half an hour. Too sad to find them useless.

    Reply

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