4 February 2017
Cushioned, over-the-ear design
Smooth round curves
Faux-leather headband & ear-cups
Dimpled plastic ear-cup
Intuitive on-ear controls
Whispered status alert
Class 1 Bluetooth 4.0 + EDR, HSP 1.2, HFP 1.6 (Wideband), Up to 330 feet, 3.5 mm jack
24 hour listening time
6 mths deep sleep
3 hours charge time
22.9 x 6.5 x 24.9 cm
Weight: 289 grams
40 mm drivers, rich Plantronics signature audio, crisp Highs, natural Mids, deep powerful Bass, minimum distortion
Immersive ware, On-demand
Active Noise Cancellation
Dual microphones with DSP
2-way pivot ear-cup design
Soft, faux-leather ear-cups
Strong battery life
Below par Active Noise Cancellation
Design not for everyone
Heavy on the Bass
A look at Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2, it looks retro but how does it sound?
In a world of bright eye-catching colours Plantronics have gone for a more subtle approach, though oddly enough they didn’t go for the usual understated colour choice that most brands use – black, instead the BackBeat Pro 2 is a combination of light and dark browns. Yes brown and unless you go for the slightly more expensive Special Edition which comes in grey too, brown is your only colour option for the BackBeat Pro 2 and you will either love or hate it. Colour aside the BackBeat Pro 2 over-the-ear headphones have smooth round curves, large cushioned ear-cups, as to be expected with over-ear design and cushioned headband, both of which are covered in soft faux-leather that gives a nice look but also makes them very comfortable to wear. The headband is not fully covered in leather however, where it sits on your head there is a mesh fabric which is great news for those who like to wear their headphones for hours on end, the fabric mesh allows air to circulate to avoid that sweaty patch you experience with some large headphones. Plantronics have covered the ear-cups in a retro dimpled plastic, which actually looks good in brown and in keeping with the retro look they have added a wood-effect panel where the ear-cup controls sit. Much like the brown colour choice a wood-effect panel is a daring but marmite selection and may put many people off buying the BackBeat Pro 2 headphones. While the design is unique and will evoke polarising views, I actually think it works, the retro style suits large cans and whether you like to listen to the classics or R&B the BackBeat Pro 2 will look and feel great, if you’re unsure just try them on.
Ease of Use
Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 is compatible with any Bluetooth enabled device, whether that’s your mobile, tablet, cd player or even PlayStation or T.V. Once paired with the device connectivity is easy and strong, Plantronics has also enabled the BackBeat Pro 2 with dual-connectivity meaning you can pair with two devices and switch between then as you wish, while it’s not as good as some of the multi-device headphones….. two is better than one as they say. The BackBeat Pro 2 also has intuitive on-ear controls, the left ear-cup controls noise cancellation, volume and you can skip tracks; the right ear-cup is where you pair with devices, power on and off and you can answer calls. While you have all these controls at your fingertips without needing to go near your mobile device Plantronics have also equipped the BackBeat Pro 2 with automatic pause, when you take the headphones off your music will pause automatically so you don’t miss your favourite track, and you can hear what’s going on around you. The BackBeat Pro 2 also has a great feature where you can touch the left ear-cup to pause/mute your music to hear a train announcement or something else important without taking off your earphones, a feature we have seen on premium level headphones and is nice to see here. The on-ear controls are easy to use, while you may need to feel around for the touch controls in the beginning after a little use they are intuitive to use and become second nature.
BackBeat Pro 2 supports class 1 Bluetooth 4.0 + EDR, HSP 1.2 and HFP 1.6 (Wideband) up to 330 feet which is far enough that you can keep listening wirelessly while wandering about the house. Plantronics have also equipped the BackBeat Pro 2 with 3.5 mm jack to directly connect to your music device when you run out of battery or you just want to listen with a wired connection.
Plantronics has packed the BackBeat Pro 2 with a rechargeable, non-replaceable Lithium-Ion battery that Plantronics boasts will last up to 24 hour listening time and 6 months deep sleep, which given the features packed into the BackBeat Pro 2 is very impressive. Depending on your daily usage you should get about a week out of the BackBeat Pro 2 before you need to charge the headphones, however if you use the over-ear headphones for hours on end at a time you may only get a two or three days. When the battery does run out it only takes approximately 3 hours to fully charge, which is about average. BackBeat Pro 2 impressive battery life is one of it’s best features and would rival premium level over-ear headphones.
Weighing a light 289 grams the BackBeat Pro 2 is lighter than it’s predecessor and is also a tad smaller, making it a lot more compact for packing away for a weekend away. It’s not just the size that makes BackBeat Pro 2 compact, the fold flat design means you can comfortably stick it in a suitcase without worrying about taking up too much room or getting damaged. When you do want to take them away Plantronics has also provided a travel sleeve, while this is not as good as a hard carry case like you get with the special edition, the travel sleeve has a soft lining inside to protect the headphones from getting scratched.
Plantronics has packed the BackBeat Pro 2 with 40 mm drivers and kept the rich Plantronics signature audio that we experienced in the original BackBeat Pro, which is a little heavy on the bass. Highs are crisp, though not as clear as other over-ear headphones and mids sound very natural even amongst the deep powerful bass. Some may find the bass a little overpowering, I quite like a lot of bass, however even with the heavy bass all genre’s of music sound good it will just depend on your taste in music whether you find it too much, audiophiles will find the balance off and will probably prefer to look elsewhere. That said, if you like a little more bass you will like BackBeat Pro 2 sound and find the rich, powerful sound invigorating with minimum distortion with the volume turned up high, which is great for bass heavy audio. If you don’t mind a heavy bass but like a more balanced sound for certain genre’s you can use the cable provided and listen to your music with a wired connection where the bass is not so heavy.
Plantronics say the BackBeat Pro 2 are “immersive ware”, thanks to their on-demand Active Noise Cancellation you can fully give in to your favourite tunes and forget about the outside world. While this may be mostly true the BackBeat Pro 2 is not the best noise cancelling headphones on the market, this still goes to Bose QC 35. That said they do come close, you can walk down a busy main street and only faintly hear the outside bustle, the heavy bass helps with block out external noise, which is probably why Plantronics prefers this signature sound. The BackBeat Pro 2 also enjoys open-listening mode which temporarily stops the noise cancellation mode so you can hear what’s going on outside which is good for airline announcements etc. Interestingly enough the BackBeat Pro 2 allows Active Noise Cancellation while using a wired connection which means you can enjoy the feature but save on battery when you are close to your device and don’t need a wireless connection. Unfortunately when you mute the music you do hear that ‘hiss’ some noise cancelling headphones suffer from, something Plantronics should look at for the next release.
With a strong metal frame BackBeat Pro 2 feels sturdy in your hand with good headband tension, however to keep weight down Plantronics have gone for a plastic outer casing rather than a full metal body. Plantronics has used premium materials which means the plastic casing is quite tough, though BackBeat Pro 2 may suffer from scratches over the years unless you throw them on a hard floor which I don’t recommend, you should have the BackBeat Pro 2 for many years. Plantronics foldable design allows you to neatly pack away the over-ear headphones to keep them looking well, which I recommend you do.
BackBeat Pro 2 has a 2-way pivot ear-cup design and extendable headband which means it will comfortably fit most users. Plantronics has given the over-ear headphones a cushioned headband and cushioned ear-cups covered in soft faux-leather meaning the BackBeat Pro 2 is very comfortable to wear for hours on end. Headband tension is strong but not uncomfortably so, the headphones feel secure and very comfortable on your head.
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