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Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphone Review

Publish Date:

Monday, November 14, 2016 11:46 am PST

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Chip Chick

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Until now, the easiest pair of headphones to recommend was Plantronics’ BackBeat Pro. With the release of their new BackBeat Pro 2 we might be updating our recommendation! The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2s are wireless over-ear headphones with amazing sound quality and a load of useful features like noise cancellation, a 24 hour battery, and comfort that is hard to top. Plantronics came out of nowhere with their first set of BackBeat Pros and BackBeat Pros 2 are a really nice improvement.

BackBeat Pro 2s are a pair of luxurious over-ear headphones. They’re a little less clunky than the predecessor and a little more svelte. They feel more together and durable. They still have plastic, but don’t feel too plasticky. The headband and ear caps are covered in a premium brown leather and the underside of the headband in a fine brown suede. The earcups are no longer round, but oval. The earcups are still large enough to encompass any large ear and comfortable enough for listening to music for hours. The Pro 2s have a much sleeker profile, so they don’t protrude too far from your head. Like the predecessors, they are not collapsible. Instead the earcups swivel 90 degrees so they can fold flat. This makes them a little safer to travel with.

Built-in controls have been one of Plantronics finest features, and the Pro 2s have made some nice improvements, with one compromise. All Pros come with a removable cable in case you don’t want to listen using Bluetooth, however previous generations had an amazing cable that was thick, tangle-resistant, and featured a fabulous inline microphone with 3 button controls. Plantronics must want to encourage Bluetooth, because Pro 2s come with a thin tangle-prone cable without inline controls. The controls are just as accessible as previous models, but they’re now more intuitive. One of the neatest controls on the old models was the spinning crown on each headphone. One controlled volume and one skips tracks. Now there’s just one for volume, so you don’t mix them up. The left earphone has all of the music controls built on the outside of it. There’s a play/pause button, the spinning volume crown, and next-track and previous-track buttons. On the side of the earcup is a switch to enable noise cancellation or open-listening mode. On the other earcup you have a switch for on/off/pairing, a button for mic mute, and a button for voice activation

The BackBeat Pro 2s feature Class 1 Bluetooth, which is specifically geared towards Bluetooth range. With Bluetooth 1 you can technically listen to your headphones from 100 meters away from the streaming device. I can leave my phone anywhere in my apartment and there are no interruptions in streaming even through multiple walls. The battery is an even more impressive feature: 24 hours of listening and talk time! There’s even an automatic standby mode that means you can get over a week of listening without ever remembering to shut them off. The nicest feature, arguably, is the smart sensors that detect when you put on and remove your headphones. Music is elegantly paused and resumed for you. It’s a simple feature but it’s such a nice touch of convenience.

Noise cancellation is a topic that I’m fairly passionate about. I argue that too much noise cancellation is a bad thing. Some headphones take the feature to an extreme and what you’re left with is an anti-noise hiss that also feels like you have air being sucked out of your head. Personally, I think a nice touch of noise cancellation is the most you want. Good noise cancellation allows you listen to your music at a more reasonable volume and hear a lot of the detail. It greatly reduces ambient noise, but may not necessarily remove it altogether. This is exactly what all versions of the Plantronics BackBeat Pros provide. They have enough noise cancellation to make a big difference in loud environments, but not too much that wearing them feels and sounds unnatural. Toggling the feature on a plane or train sounds like night and day in terms of how much of the consistent noise it can remove. If someone is screaming your name, you’ll still here it. You’ll be able to tell if the captain or conductor is making an announcement and then you can utilize Plantronics’ other feature: open-listening mode. With open-listening mode you can turn on the external microphone and hear your surroundings, amplified. That means you can catch everything you want to hear without taking your headphones off. In some cases, you can hear it more clearly than if you had your headphones removed. It’s really neat.

There’s a microphone built into the headset that works really well. Callers have been impressed how clear voice sounds even outside on the busy streets of New York. Interestingly, when you’re on a call, Plantronics enables open-listening so you can hear your surroundings. Your caller can’t hear the ambient noise, but it makes being on a phone call feel more natural, as if you were talking on a handset.

Thankfully all of these amazing features and conveniences are paired with top notch audio quality. The Pro 2s are even more detailed and natural sounding than the predecessors, which is a tough feat. They’re pretty warm headphones and have a really nice bass that doesn’t overwhelm. You can hear perfectly detailed and crisp highs and mids. Voices pop. They also happen to complement just about every genre we were able to listen to. Anyone looking for higher fidelity headphones will be really pleasantly surprised by how nice these sound.

Verdict

If you’re in the market for a pair of over-ear headphones, our recommendation is definitely a pair of BackBeat Pros. The sound quality, noise cancellation, comfort, and convenience features are second to none. They’re all pretty similar with slight modifications. The biggest improvement on the Pro 2s is the build; it’s now much more durable and even more comfortable. The improved bluetooth range is really nice, too. The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2s are now available with a price tag of $199, which is even less than the two previous Pro models were launched at. For this reason, we’d have to recommend these over the previous generations unless you can find an amazing deal. Plantronics could price these at $300 and you’d still be getting your money’s worth. Currently, they’re available at Plantronics.com.

The Good:Sound incredible, Noise cancellation is lightweight but terrific, Open-listening mode is convenient, Sensors pause and play music when headphones are applied or removed, Fantastic range with Class 1 Bluetooth, 24 Hour battery that seems to last forever, Micro-USB charging, Easy to access controls, Built-in microphone works really well, Nice carrying pouch included, Very comfortable

The Bad: Very basic audio cable included — no controls/mic built-in, No app, Not collapsible

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