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Plantronics BackBeat Pro Bluetooth Headphones Review

You’ve just stumbled upon a review for the best over-ear bluetooth noise canceling headphones out there. Bold words, I know. The Plantronics BackBeat Pros are loaded with features and rock-hard quality. Here’s a quick list of highlights: they’re bluetooth with NFC pairing, they can stream wireless audio for 24 hours straight(!), they have top notch noise canceling, they automatically play and pause when you put them on and take them off, there’s built-in audio controls with two microphones built straight into the headset, and they don’t require battery power to use them with the included tangle-resistant cable. Oh, and they sound awesome! That’s just the jist–read on for the finer details.

BackBeat Pros are over-ear headphones with super soft plush earcups. The earcups are round and will encompass most large ears. They’re relatively average sized for over-ear headphones and they don’t jut too far from your head. They’re mostly plastic with a leather-wrapped metal headband. There’s a few metal mesh grills surrounding the earcups. One of the grills actually has a series of LEDs behind it indicating battery power. They are not the most durable feeling headphones we’ve used, but they are still well built. They don’t collapse, but the earcups swivel for slightly safer and more convenient travel. They also include a soft travel pouch.

As you know they’re loaded with features, so there’s a bunch of controls built straight into the headset. Turn the bezel on the right earcup and you’re controlling volume. Turn the bezel on the left earcup and you’re controlling music tracks. Tap the button on the right and you’re managing phone calls and voice activation. Tap the button on the left and you’re playing and pausing music. These features only work over bluetooth, if you’re using a wired method you can control music and volume with the inline Control-Talk and microphone. It’s almost a shame they’re bluetooth because the cable is one of the best. It’s a plum colored thick cable that doesn’t easily tangle. The ControlTalk is easy to use and very convenient.

That’s not all of the features built into the headset. There’s a hard switch for noise canceling, which works with and without bluetooth. There’s also an on/off switch. The headphones don’t need to be on to play, though it does amplify your music a bit. There’s NFC built into the earcup to make bluetooth pairing a breeze. There’s two microphones that work together to deliver the best noise canceling and also the best phone call quality. And lastly, one of my favorite features, there’s a button that will turn your external microphone on so you can hear your surroundings. This “OpenMic” is especially helpful when you want to hear a loudspeaker announcement (or if you want to eavesdrop on a conversation).

There’s a lot of attention to detail with the BackBeat Pros. When you take them off they auto-pause and when you put them on they auto-play. To make that experience even more enjoyable, they fade the music in or out on so there’s no hard stops and starts of music. When you’re making a phone call, they’ll turn the outside speaker so it sounds a little more natural. The only thing it’s really missing is an app to fine tune all of the functions and features.

Audio quality is fantastic! It’s a little on the bassy side, but other than that it’s very well balanced. Mids are very clear and smooth. Highs are precise. Overall, it’s a wide soundstage that’s extremely enjoyable. The bluetooth and wired method of listening sounds almost exactly the same. When you’re wired you can listen with or without the headphones on. With the headphones turned on there’s a little extra oomph; you can tell the music is slightly amplified. It’s more-or-less just as good. Best of all, the noise canceling allows you to listen to your music at much lower volumes. You don’t have to crank up your music to painful levels just to hear all the subtleties.

Noise Canceling is one of the best we’ve used. There’s no hissing or anti-noise when it’s engaged. It’s a little more on the subtle side, but it eliminates most any consistent ambient noises. They’ll zap out loud air conditioners, air plane noise, subway noise, and even reduce most voices and sporadic noises. Because they’re so effective, Plantronics includes the OpenMic ambient noise amplifier so you can put noise canceling on hold to hear your surroundings.

Bluetooth is yet another feature that Plantronics nailed. It has one of the best ranges we’ve ever used and one of the clearest streams too. They’re technically capable of reaching a distance of 100 meters from your phone. In practice, that probably won’t be the case, but you can definitely travel a couple rooms away from the source.

The Verdict

It was challenging to try to touch on every feature of the new Plantronics BackBeat Pro. They’re really loaded up with features, and surprisingly, every feature seems like it was perfectly implemented. The audio quality is fantastically amazing. The battery life is almost unbeatable at 24 hours of streaming. They’re smart enough to play when you put them on, pause when you take them off, and go into standby when you’re not using them. The noise canceling is stellar, and the OpenMic ambient noise amplifier comes in handy more than you’d expect. Luckily, they’re comfortable enough to wear for hours. We’d expect the Plantronics BackBeat Pros to start around $300, but nope. They retail for $249.99 and are available on Amazon. It’s a lot of money for headphones, but it’s not a lot of money for these headphones.

Buy it!

The Good: Comfortable, Superior audio quality, Great noise canceling, Integrated controls + microphone, Attention to detail, Huge battery + micro-USB charging, Doesn’t require power to use with cable, NFC, Great bluetooth range

The Bad: Not collapsable, Could benefit from app to get better control over the features

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