I’ve been a fan of music my whole life. I was listening to records and 8-tracks in my living room from the time I could remember. So the enjoyment and pleasure of good music (or hilariously bad music) is deeply infused in my soul, but all that power and potential can be stifled, blocked or outright ruined by the quality of the music delivery system, i.e. your headphones, stereo, etc. I’ve gone through my share of headphones over the years and been very impressed before, but not like this. Not like this by far.
The BackBeat PRO Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones from Plantronics are solid for today’s modern mobile listener. Any audiophile can enjoy these, but they are especially suited for the person on the move. Let me break down all the ways this product rose above the crowd.
If you want to sit back and listen to a whole album or maybe experience the mind-blowing perfection of the entire rock opera Tommy by The Who in one go, the most important thing is going to be comfort. You’re going to be wearing them a while and you want to know that when you pull them off your ears aren’t going to ache and throb from fatigue. The padding on the BackBeat PRO is second to none in my experience. It’s like surrounding my head with puffy clouds of sound.
Continuing with the comfort theme, Plantronics also thought about what it feels like when you pull the headphones off and rest them around your neck. I’m sure I’m not the only person who has felt slightly choked by a pair of over-ear headphones when they are at rest, but the ears on these twist inward so they rest flat against your chest. (See the photo below.)
When you try these for the first time, you’ll also notice another nice touch when you pull the headphones off. There are sensors in the pads that detect when they are removed and it will automatically pause your music, then begin again when they are placed back over your ears. You’ll appreciate Plantronics’ consideration when the music softly ramps back up to your previous volume instead of just blaring full speed ahead when it restarts.
Those features alone, along with the incredibly high quality of sound, would be enough to recommend these already, but the BackBeat PRO does not stop there. Plantronics is not messing around; they put the whole kit and caboodle of goodies in here. (Yes, I used “kit and caboodle”, which I was spellchecked on and found it is not spelled “kaboodle”.)
As noted on the box, the headset features Active Noise Canceling through the flip of a switch behind the left ear. When playing music you’ll notice a very slight pressure change, as if the pads just got pressed slightly against your head. The background drops just enough to be noticeable, but an even better test of it is wearing them and activating the noise cancellation with no music playing at all. It’s a little creepy at first, but I got used to it.
Underneath the right ear there is a small button with a tiny picture of a microphone crossed through. When pressed, this button pushes the music or whatever is coming through the headset into the background, while simultaneously grabbing outside noise and letting it through. The use case here is anytime you want to talk to or respond to someone without removing the headset at all. You can hear them and yourself perfectly clearly and when you’re finished, just tap the button again and the music comes right back.
On the outside of each ear are controls. The left ear has a toggle ring that slides gently up or down to skip tracks forward or back. Tapping on the outside of the ear activates the play/pause button. The right ear has a ring that turns continuously in either direction for volume adjustments, while the outside button activates the connection to your phone to make calls. You just hold it down for three seconds and speak the name of the person you want to call (assuming your phone has voice-activated controls.)
In regards to the phone quality, this isn’t by any means the first headset or audio device to drop making/taking phone calls into the goody basket, but my results with it were very impressive. The person on the other end reported that I sounded as if I were directly on my phone, not on speaker or any distance at all from it. Plus they could hear me clearly all the way down to a faint whisper. As for me, there was no disturbance or static interference with receiving the call. Another ribbon in the BackBeat PRO cap.
Finally, let me dive into the technology at play. The headset uses Class 1 Bluetooth and can reach a line-of-sight distance of 330 feet from your device and still play crystal clear. Also you can pair two devices with the headphones at the same time, so you can take calls on your phone while playing music from your tablet. This is the first time I’ve seen that in a headset. It runs Bluetooth v4.0 + EDR and aptX low latency codec, so if know what that means, there you have it.
That should be more than enough to get you interested at the very least in this brand new release from Plantronics. They have instantly become part of my work desk and travel bag, replacing all other headphones, even my ear buds. The BackBeat PRO Headphones are worth the cost for the consumer looking to enjoy not only the music, but the experience.