The original Backbeat Pro was a thing of beauty. These over-the-ear headphones were comfortable, got a whopping 100 meters of wireless range, offered active noise cancellation, delivered outrageously good battery life of up to 24 hours AND sounded amazing. Now Plantronics has delivered the Backbeat Pro+ Wireless, Noise Cancelling Headphones with HI-FI USB Adapter.
They take an amazing pair of headphones and make them even better.
At $299.99 these headphones aren’t inexpensive but they are amazingly flexible in their ability to let you enjoy media, get work done and relax when traveling all with a single headset. As Plantronics puts it, they let you “get lost in rich, lifelike music from your computer and mobile device, making every moment your own.”
Let’s take a look at each of the key features that make these headphones standout.
Design and Build Quality
There’s no denying the fact that these headphones are big and bulky. Since they are over-the-ear headphones there really was no way for Plantronics to make them much smaller. (If you want that you’ll want to look at the Backbeat Sense headphones we will be reviewing shortly.)
In addition, since the company want to give them a good deal of padding- both for comfort and noise isolation- they are even more bulky than you might have imagined. Add in the thick padded headband, the solid design that makes these an excellent choice for the frequent traveler and the amount of tech packed into them and you end up with a pair of headphones that are anything but unassuming. Personally I like the size and weight of them. Raina, however, was a bit mixed and found them a tab bit too heavy for her tastes.
The fold-flat design of the headphones mean they can get a bit smaller and compact when you are traveling. Fold the headphones flat, slip them into the included slim travel sleeve and you are ready to go. Yes, they are smaller, more tiny carry-on friendly headphones but the other features of the Backbeat Pro+ more than make up for the extra size and weight.
The Plantronics Backbeat Pro+ are an interesting mix of old and new controls. On the “old front” are the dials on each ear cup.
The right ear cup dial controls the volume. Turn it forward and the volume increases. Pull it back and the volume decreases. I LOVE this design as it makes controlling the volume smile and intuitive. The center of the right ear cup is the call button.
The toggle on the right ear cup is the on/off switch.
The dial on the left ear cup offers track control. Push it forward and you’ll advance your music. Pull it back and you’ll repeat the current track. Pull back twice quickly and you’ll move to the previous song. The center of the left ear cup is the play/pause button. The toggle on the left ear cup turns the active noise cancellation on and off.
The bottom of the right ear cup has a pass through button. Depress it and you turn off the active noise cancellation and activate microphones that allow ambient sound in. That means you can carry on a discussion with someone without having to remove the headphones.
Finally, on the bottom of the left ear cup you will find the microUSB port for charging the headphones and a 3.5mm headphones jack for use with the included 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable. (I’m writing this review while on a plane to Boca Raton, Florida and that’s how I’m listening to music right now. It is worth noting that the track control doesn’t work when using the headphones in wired mode. Since the cable has a microphone and audio controls built into it this isn’t an issue.)
Bluetooth Range and USB Bluetooth Adapter
The original Backbeat Pro headphones offered a killer 330ft/100m range thanks to Class 1 Bluetooth 4.0 technology. The new version maintains that feature and goes one better.
Bluetooth in many computers wasn’t designed for music and headphones. The BackBeat PRO+ and high-fidelity Bluetooth USB adapter deliver the brilliant audio detail of your music, movies, and videos when you use your computer as your entertainment hub.
Yes, while smartphones and tablets were designed as music delivery devices many laptops have crappy Bluetooth built into them. To address this limitation the Plantronics Backbeat Pro+ ship with a USB adapter that delivers high-fidelity audio from your computer to the headphones. And since the adapter is plug-and-play you simply put it in your computer’s USB port and turn on the headphones. (Of course that means people using Apple’s 2015 12″ MacBook with its single USB-C port are out of luck. Hey… That’s what you get for being an early, early adopter!)
Active Noise Cancellation
Find refuge from a noisy world and drift away to your favorite tracks or let the beat drive your focus at work. Turn a noisy café, long flight, or modern, open office layout into a private concert.
The active noise cancellation in the Plantronics Backbeat Pro+ is some of the best I’ve heard. Not only does it do a fantastic job of cutting down on ambient noise but the ANC has noticeably less of the hiss often associated with the technology. And even if you don’t need to be isolated from the world around you, turning on the ANC makes the music sound far better.
Other Kick-ass Features
If all of this wasn’t already enough, the Backbeat Pro+ have even more tricks to share. First off they can get up to 24 hours of continuous audio streaming. Yes, you read that right… These things can run for a full day on a single charge. That alone makes them an ideal traveling companion. And thanks to the included cable you can continue using the headphones even if the battery does run down. Add in power-saving features that sense when you take the headphones off and stop the music only to resume the stream when you put them back on and you have headphones that truly embody Plantronics’ cute line that, “you’re going to need a longer playlist.”
Then there is the ability to use the headphones to make and receive calls. Plantronics made a name for themselves in the area of wired and Bluetooth headsets for calls and dictation. That technology prowess is clear in the quality of the microphones built into these headphones. No, they don’t have a boom microphone that puts the mic right at your mouth the way they Focus UC headphones do (our review of them is also on the way) but they do a good job of capturing your voice and delivering it to the person on the other side of a call. And, thanks to the USB Bluetooth adapter, the headphones work well for dictation using Nuance’s Dragon for Mac or Dragon Naturally Speaking.
All of this would be irrelevant if the Backbeat Pro+ headphones didn’t sound good. The good news… No the great news… Is that the Plantronics Backbeat Pro+ Headphones sound amazing.
Experience a personal concert: Our signature audio performance delivers all the rich bass, crisp highs, and natural midtones of your music and media.
CLASS 1 BLUETOOTH: Control devices from up to 100m away.
24-HOUR BATTERY LIFE: Listen wirelessly for up to 24 hours per charge.
ACTIVE NOISE CANCELING: Technology that is designed to block out distractions.
SMART SENSORS: Pause/play streaming audio as you remove/put on headphones.
- Plantronics Signature Audio
- Controllable Active Noise Canceling
- Exceptional Battery Power
- Extended Bluetooth Range
- Whispered Status Alerts
- Never Miss a Beat, or a Call
- Automatic Music Play/Pause
- Enjoy Lasting Comfort
- Intuitive Controls
- Ready for Travel
- Inline Controls for Apple Devices
- OpenMic to hear surroundings
- Hi-fi audio from computers
I love the Plantronics Backbeat Pro headphones. The Backbeat Pro+ add just enough to the original version to make the, a compelling pair of headphones that I can recommend without reservation. Check them out here: Plantronics Headsets and Accessories.
Source: Manufacturer review sample of the Plantronics Backbeat Pro+
What I Like: Comfortable; Well made; Outrageous wireless range and battery life; ANC works well with minimal hiss; Controls are east to use and intuitive; USB Bluetooth adapter makes these a great choice if you use a laptop frequently for music or other media
What Needs Improvement: Big, bulky and a bit too heavy for some