Tech Reviews

Plantronics Backbeat Pro Wireless Headset Review

I’m sitting at my office desk looking at the array of headsets that I have reviewed in the past, everything from SteelSeries to Turtle Beach, many headsets have at some point been my daily “go to” headset of choice. As of today I have found my new favorite, though it comes with one glaring omission.

I have used Plantronics bluetooth devices in the past, and since I never had any significant issues my previous pairings, and being acquainted with Plantronics’ 50 year history, I was excited to check out their new headset, the BackBeat Pro. After a few weeks with the BackBeat Pro it has become my headset of choice for just about everything. Everything except a Playstation console that is, but that list does include my phone, tablet, PC, PS Vita and my other wide-array of electronics. The performance, coupled with the extreme level of convenience, makes the BackBeat Pro a perfect daily driver for any of my audio needs.

Throughout my time using headsets, I have generally tend to gravitate towards earbuds. One of the main reasons for that preference is that I dislike the feeling of having the frames of my glasses pressed into my head by a headset, but I understand that I can get better sound quality from something with bigger speakers. Recently I had the privilege of checking out some larger headsets that were extremely comfortable, and as far as the BB Pro goes, this may be the most comfortable pair yet.

The first thing I noticed when pulling the BB Pro out of the packaging is how attractive the headset is on design alone. It can be difficult to mess up the appearance of a headset, it’s not like there’s a ton of high end headphones out there slathered in Ed Hardy designs or anything, but the BB Pro just looks sleek and classy with a simple matte black design that extends everywhere from the buttons to the plastic molding.

The black foam that makes-up the head frame and ear cups follow this design, giving the entire BB Pro a clean, singular look. There aren’t any abrupt color changes, and because the unit is basically black all around, it just looks clean and minimalistic. The only color is inside of each ear cup, where you’ll see a nice, dark purple, giving the BB Pro an almost royal-hint to the design. In the case of this headset, less is more.

When the BB Pro is in use, I noticed there is also very little to be found in the way of lights. You won’t find very many flashing LEDs or anything like that on this headset. You will find a small row of LED lights behind the right ear cup when you are charging the device or pairing with another. Lights also indicate when you start-up or shut-down the headset. It looks very clean, and while a flashy, TRON-like effect is pretty cool, I have to admit that I thought less was more, once again, in this design choice. At almost 35, I’m not sure how much longer I can pull off a flashy headset, and the simple BB Pro design came to save my dignity just in time for me to venture towards a more professional approach to electronic design choices.

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One of my biggest complaints with many of the headsets that I have tested in the past, is the fact that they aren’t loud enough. I understand a company’s decision in not wanting to release anything that might destroy the listening public’s eardrums, but if I’m playing a game like Battlefield 4 and the set max-volume isn’t loud enough for my liking, than that ruins the immersion a bit for me. I want the audio to boom when a grenade goes off next to me and I want to hear and feel it whenever possible. I don’t want to ruin my hearing, but I want to come close enough to that without any side-effects.

Van Halen has never sounded better than when I tested out the headset, as the electric craziness of Eddie’s guitar wailed in my ears, and the thumping bass of Alex’s drums pounded in my head. Battlefield 4 rocked my ears to the point of me crying uncle, and GRID Autosport made me twitch as I heard the sounds of rival engines surrounding me. The BB Pro offers quite a bit of power, and I love them for it.

With the BB Pro you get a few nice features as well, all that go well beyond a simple headset. Included in the design are active noise cancellation options (this is turned on with the flick of a switch behind the left ear cup), sensors that will pause/play whenever you remove your headset, and an open mic feature. This open mic-feature, as a parent of two young children, is pretty much the greatest thing ever invented for headsets.

With the open mic button, a simple click opens up the mic and allows to you hear your surrounding environment with the headset on. You can even adjust how loud the surrounding environment sounds are with the volume dial when you are using this feature.

It was an incredibly useful feature. In the past I had to avoid using headsets that would block out all sound without having the option to allow surrounding sounds to be heard. In my situation, I needed to hear my my kids after they went to bed, in case they started crying or if they needed me. I love having headsets on hand so that the TV volume doesn’t wake them, but before the BB Pro I had to choose whether or not I wanted to listen to the TV at a decent volume on my headset, or listen for them. Now I could pop the headset on, blast my game or movie as loudly as I liked, and turn on the open mic feature to check if there were any crying children.

It was also helpful when I was doing something in my office and the wife wants to say something. I didn’t have to remove the headset to listen to her clearly. It brings the outside world into the headset, and makes the entire experience of using a headset much more convenient.

In fact, I was even able to continue wearing my headset when I went upstairs to feed my son when he woke up during the day. Since the BB Pro has a 330ft bluetooth range, I simply paused my movie, switched over to my Google Play playlist (you can have up to two devices connected to the BB Pro for quick switching), and fed my son upstairs while listening to a Doctor Who audio adventure.

It was amazing to have, and after raising two previous kids where I had to stay up sometime for hours rocking them to sleep, being able to listen to music without any issues was a huge relief. A couple of times I even accidently left the headset on overnight in my kids’ rooms, but had no issues. The BB Pro has 24 hours of streaming time with up to 21 days of standby time, and with up to 180 days of DeepSleep mode time, this thing lasts a long, LONG time.

All that’s really left to mention is what you get with the BB Pro. In the box (which itself is pretty nice to look at), you also get the requisite USB charging cable, audio cables, and an attractive black carrying case complete with a velcro closure at the top, lined with purple felt inside.

All in all, you’re getting a pretty decent package for $249, and I found it to be an excellent combination of cool, with terrific features and attractive designs complete with excellent comfort, and convenience. Plantronics has a fantastic product on their hands, one that won’t leave you wanting.

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