Review: Plantronics BackBeat PRO+

Plantronics BackBeat Pro+

Plantronics BackBeat Pro+
9.26

Aesthetics

9/10

    Build Quality

    10/10

      Battery Life

      10/10

        Functionality

        10/10

          Affordability

          9/10

            Pros

            • - Long battery life
            • - Incredible sound
            • - Active Noise Cancellation
            • - Smart sensors
            • - Great build quality

            Cons

            • - Relatively expensive
            • - HiFi adapter doesn't have much impact

            It’s undeniable that the headphone market is one of the most over-populated consumer technology markets today. There seems to be hundreds of headphones for consumers to choose from; ranging from very low prices to incredibly high prices. It’s almost impossible for headphone manufacturers to stand out from the crowd, but Plantronics are trying to do exactly this with their new headphones, the BackBeat Pro+.

            BackBeat PRO plus

            The BackBeat Pro+ headphones are a pair of premium wireless Bluetooth  headphones that come with a  plethora of features that makes them unique and incredibly functional.

            Design

            The BackBeat Pro+ headphones certainly look great in the grey colour they come in. The use of two different shades of grey for the cushions and for the actual body are a nice touch to the design rather than having the headphones all one colour.

            The colour scheme of the headphones isn’t exactly very colourful. In one word, it could be described as ‘neutral’ due to the grey colours used in the design. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – however, if you’re into more colourful and vibrant looking headphones, then this may be a drawback for you. On the other hand, if a simple colour scheme appeals to you then this would be a plus.PB_20160809230828380

            The BackBeat Pro+ headphones have a simple, minimalist design, which makes them look unique and helps them to stand out from the crowd. The main body of the headphones has a smooth finish with seamless curves that not only look beautiful, but also feel very good. They may not be the most colourful headphones on the market,  but they certainly do look beautiful.

            The outside of the ear cups is where the design really shines. On both ear cups, there are a variety of controls, which include buttons, switches and dials.With the amount of controls on what is a relatively small area, you would think the design of the headphones would be ruined. But, that’s not the case.

            In previous Plantronics headphones, we’ve seen that they do well to implement controls into the design of the headphones, so they don’t stick out like a sore thumb. And that’s what they’ve done with the BackBeat Pro+ headphones.

            The dials, switches and buttons are all consistent with the overall minimal, dark design of the headphones which allows them to blend in perfectly.PB_20160809230827593

            Overall, the design of the BackBeat Pro+ headphones is beautiful; it has a simple yet attractive colour scheme which contributes to the minimalist and seamless look of the headphones. The only possible drawback would have to be their size. These certainly aren’t the most portable of headphones weighing in at 340 grams and a very large profile. As a result, they’re hard to pack into your backpack and wearing them at places like the gym may not be entirely suitable as they do have a weighty presence.

            Build Quality

            “if there’s one word you could use to describe the build quality of these headphones, it’s ‘premium'”

            At the price point the BackBeat Pro+ headphones are currently at, we expected a lot in terms of build quality. It’s a terrible mistake for companies to sell a pair of £300 headphones with the build quality of £20 headphones – and for consumers, it’s frustrating.

            Thankfully, Plantronics have ensured they’ve done the opposite. In fact, if there’s one word you could use to describe the build quality of these headphones, it’s premium.

            The BackBeat Pro+ are absolutely outstanding when it comes to build quality – even the box had a premium look and feel to it. There is a certain heft to the headphones which we liked as it makes the headphones feel very premium, instead of feeling like a sub-standard pair of plastic headphones.PB_20160809230828936

            Undoubtedly, the materials used to create the headphones are what contribute to their premium feel. On first touch of these headphones, it’s evident how premium they are. The materials used for the body are incredibly durable and sturdy as well as giving that heft we mentioned previously. Where the materials really shine are with the cushions. On the top of the headphones and the ear cups, there are cushions to make wearing the headphones comfortable.

            The cushions are incredibly thick and soft which makes wearing them phenomenally comfortable. Wearing normal headphones for hours often tends to cause discomfort to ears but with the BackBeat Pro+, this didn’t happen. Admittedly, the cushions are not one of the main features of these headphones, but they aid in providing possibly the most comfortable headphone experience we have encountered.

            In summary, the build quality of the BackBeat Pro+ is outstanding. As well as a sturdy and rigid body, there are also well-made cushions for the utmost comfort when using these headphones. The word premium really does not do these headphones justice in terms of build quality.

            Functionality

            When it comes to functionality, the BackBeat Pro+ headphones really excel. It’s almost as if Plantronics just thought of every possible cool headphone feature and threw it in to the headphones.

            One of the most prominent features of these headphones is the controllable Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). This feature is a noice-cancelling feature built-in to the headphones. With the flick of a switch, the ANC can be switched on to eliminate background noise. Plantronics state that the feature works as follows; ‘the headphones draw in samples of background noise in order to eliminate them, so you can fully immerse in your music.’ And that’s exactly what is achieved using this feature.PB_20160809230827868

            The noise-cancellation worked extremely well in testing, blocking out the noise of traffic and roadworks. But what’s also interesting is that with the OpenMic feature, you can also have the adverse affect. Meaning you’re able to reduce the volume of the music and hear the outside world. What’s interesting is that this is all done through the headphones using microphones, and feeding the outside noise into the headphones’ speakers, so you never actually have to take the headphones off.

            Another great feature which isn’t advertised as much as the ANC and OpenMic, is smart sensors. This is a feature which is exceptionally useful and makes you think ‘why don’t all headphones have this?’.

            The BackBeat Pro+ headphones feature smart sensors which enable the headphones to know when someone is taking off the headphones as well as putting them back on. These sensors allow the headphones to know when to pause your music and when to play music. For example, if music is playing and you take the headphones off, it will pause; put the headphones back on and the music will begin playing again. Although you get a relatively simple result, the feature is very convenient when using it in the real world.

             “in terms of functionality, the BackBeat Pro+ headphones have really blown us away”

            An area where a few high-end wireless headphones tend to fall short is battery. The BackBeat Pro+ headphones however, do not. Plantronics make the bold claim that these headphones have a 24 house battery life on a single charge with ANC enabled. We were looking very forward to putting this to the test.

            We played music continuously at a relatively high volume, with noise-cancellation enabled; and the headphones lasted for a brilliant 21.5 hours before they needed charging again. So, it’s evident that the BackBeat Pro+ headphones genuinely do have a mind-blowing battery life. Without ANC the headphones battery would easily be able to last a few more days.PB_20160809230828558

            In the box, Plantronics also give a ‘HiFi Bluetooth Adapter’ which enables you to instantly connect the headphones to your Windows PC or Mac. What’s useful is that the dongle comes pre-paired, so you simply have to plug it in and turn on the headphones for them to connect.

            It’s quite puzzling that Plantronics include a Bluetooth adapter with the headphones, considering that most laptops tend to have Bluetooth built-in nowadays. However, Plantronics states that the dongle ensures a higher-quality experience compared to if the headphones were just connected without the dongle. This was something intriguing that we really wanted to put to the test.

            First we connected the BackBeat Pro+ headphones to our MacBook without the dongle. Different genres were played and the sound was rather impressive (which we’ll elaborate on in the next section). Then, we plugged in the dongle and connected the headphones, playing the exact same tracks. The result was not very overwhelming.

            The noticeable difference was the level of detail the headphones pick up. Not only in terms of vocals, but also instruments in the instrumentals and bass. There’s a noticeable difference in the level of detial when using the adapter, but other than that, not much is different.

            Overall, we would personally recommend using the adapter. It’s not that the headphones sound terrible without the adapter, quite on the contrary in fact – however with the adapter, they do sound better.

            In terms of functionality, the BackBeat Pro+ headphones have really blown us away. What’s more is that the features aren’t just gimmicks. They actually contribute to an improved experience and in some cases, better sound.

            Sound

            Now, on to the main aspect of these headphones… sound.

            It’s all well and good having great build quality and innovative features, but if the sound isn’t up to scratch, it’s all for nothing.

            “a uniquely immersive experience”

            Thankfully, the BackBeat Pro+ headphones produce phenomenal sound. After testing many different genres of music, we found that there really is nothing these headphones cannot handle.

            When playing bass-heavy music, the headphones really shine; with a lot of low-end. Although the headphones do focus a lot on the low-end, they don’t overshadow the other parts of the music. This gives a more balanced listening experience. If you like a lot of low-end these are absolutely perfect for you.

            As well as great bass, vocals are crisp and clear, allowing you to very clearly hear them when listening to music. One criticism here would be that you don’t get as much detail in the vocals as you would expect. However, this isn’t to say that they aren’t crisp – as they certainly are – but this aspect could be improved. The BackBeat Pro+ headphones handle instrumentals well too; ensuring that the vocals always come out on top whilst at the same time picking up every little instrument in the background.PB_20160809230828167

            When listening to these headphones, it really is a uniquely immersive experience. No matter what genre of music we played, there was always an element of immersion. This is most likely due to the ANC but also due to the cushions we mentioned in the design section, as they fully surround your ears, giving you an incredible, immersive experience.

            Overall, in terms of sound the BackBeat Pro+ headphones certainly outperform many of its rivals – contending with a lot of higher-end headphones.

            Verdict

            Although the Pro+ headphones do have a premium price, you certainly get what you pay for. Incredible sound, solid build, great aesthetics and a flurry of features that make these headphones stand out from the crowd. In short, the Plantronics BackBeat Pro+ headphones are undeniably one of the best wireless over-ear headphones on the market today.

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