The Plantronics BackBeat SENSE headphones deliver impressive sound in an incredibly light and comfortable design coupled with smart features that can automatically pause your music or let you listen in on the conversation around you. These wireless headphones connect by Bluetooth to two devices at once so you can seamlessly switch between music, a movie and a phone call even when you’re roaming the house or office thanks to long-range connectivity.
Couple all of this with an 18-hour battery and a $179 price and the BackBeat SENSE headphones deliver an insane value for mobile users who want great sound in an excellent package.
There’s something magical about headphones that pause when you take them off your head to answer a question, but Plantronics packs the BackBeat SENSE with more than just smart features.
Music is as much a part of my workday as my iPhone, MacBook and Internet connection, which is why good headphones are important to getting my work done. Although these are not active noise canceling the memory foam ear cups mold to my ear after I slip the headphones on so I can tune out most distractions while I get work done.
When a call comes in, I can answer without switching and at the end of the day I can walk around the house doing chores while I listen to my music. Like the Plantronics BackBeat Pro, the new BackBeat SENSE battery life is long enough that I don’t need to worry about constantly charging the headphones and the design is light enough to wear for a few hours at a time.
Read our Plantronics BackBeat SENSE review to find out why you need to pay attention to these wireless on-ear headphones.
BackBeat SENSE Audio Quality
Plantronics may not be the biggest name in stereo headphones, but decades of working with audio comes through with excellent sound quality on the BackBeat SENSE wireless headphones.
Bluetooth does not limit the audio quality on the Plantronics BackBeat SENSE headphones, and I was able to move through multiple rooms without the audio quality degrading.
To test the BackBeat SENSE headphones I played from a Spotify playlist synced to my iPhone at Extreme quality. This is a standard list of six songs that allow me to compare headphones easily.
Amber Rubarth’s Good Mystery delivers a great mix of vocals and instruments that tests the ability to place sound where the artist intends. While listening to Good Mystery the vocals come across clear and the string instruments sound as if they are off to the right of me, not all around, which is exactly how it should sound.
The memory foam ear cups help seal the ear, and that delivers rich bass in Love Lockdown by Kanye West. This song can overpower some headphones with bass, but the BackBeat SENSE does a good job of combining deep and lasting bass with auto-tuned vocals. Jay Z’s voice dominates on Blue Magic, but the beats, bass and instruments all come through as individual components of the song.
While rocking out to curated classic rock playlists, electronic and a variety of other genres the BackBeat SENSE delivers a great soundstage that surprises at the price.
As you take the BackBeat SENSE headphones off, the music pauses. Most of the time it resumes when you put the headphones back on, but depending on the length of time and other activities you perform on your phone the music may not start back up automatically.
Even though there is no active noise cancelling the memory foam ear cups make a good seal that helps with passive noise blocking in many situations. Plantronics includes a small red button to trigger Open Mic mode that turns on the dual microphones so you can quickly answer a question from someone without taking the headphones off or just listen in on the conversation around you.
BackBeat SENSE Design & Comfort
The BackBeat SENSE is light weight at 140 grams and a padded headband portion allows the headphones to sit comfortably for hours. The earpads are soft and the memory foam inside works with this design to avoid the pressure on your ears that is often too tight on other headphones. The headband adjusts to fit larger heads well.
All the main controls are on the left ear including play/pause, skip track and reverse track. A volume rocker on the left ear makes cranking up the music just a twist away. A Bluetooth button on the right answers and ends calls and activates Siri.
On the right ear is a Micro USB charging port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. When the internal battery dies users can still listen with an included 3.5mm headphone cord that includes playback controls.
For travel the earcups fold flat and the package includes a slim carrying case that slides into a bag without taking up as much room as a bigger hard case that many headphones ship with.
BackBeat SENSE for Calls
The BackBeat SENSE headphones can also take calls and the dual microphones deliver good call quality. While talking with my coworker on FaceTime Audio he complained that I did not sound as good as with wired headphones on. On multiple calls with my parents and my wife over a regular cellular call they told me I sounded pretty close to normal.
While watching a movie on the iPad, a call to the iPhone will ring in and I can answer without taking headphones off or switching. Another handy feature is that if the headphones are connected but not on my head answering the call on the iPhone will keep audio on the phone, not put it on the headphones a room away.
Plantronics BackBeat SENSE Battery Life
Plantronics promises 18 hours of battery life and this is definitely in the ballpark. After charging the headphones last week and using them for a few hours every day the battery is still going. This is more than enough to make it for several days of heavy use without charging. Battery saving technology puts the headphones into deep sleep after 30 minutes without a device connected so the headphones won’t be dead when you get home if you forget to turn them off.
Is the Plantronics BackBeat SENSE Worth Buying?
The Plantronics BackBeat SENSE wireless headphones deliver great sound in a light package with smart features and a comfortable design. Couple this with long battery life and the look and feel that Plantronics delivers and it’s hard to believe these headphones aren’t more expensive.
Mobile professionals, students and music lovers who need light weight wireless headphones with great range that can last all day need to take note of these bluetooth headphones.
For travelers, the Plantronics BackBeat Pro is a better option as it delivers active noise cancelling that can help drown out the noise in airplanes and other busy locations more than the SENSE.
The Plantronics BackBeat SENSE is on sale at retailers today $179.99 in black and white color options.