15aug plantronics hero

First Look: Plantronics BackBeat PRO

I’ll be the first to admit these aren’t the prettiest-looking headphones. The Plantronics BackBeat PRO wireless noise-cancelling headphones are very utilitarian in their design. Each earpiece is covered in various controls, none of which are hidden away.

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On the right ear there’s an on/off switch, a button to answer calls, a mute button and a dial to control volume. On the left ear you have a button to control play/pause, a switch to activate noise-cancelling, and a dial for skipping tracks. In comparison, the Beats Studio 2 Wireless headphones have all these functions but with buttons hidden under the earpiece logo.

But, apart from the aesthetics, there’s not much wrong with the BackBeat PROs.

The sound quality is great. While it performs OK without being turned on, the audio is better and louder with the extra oomph from the battery. The BackBeats detect if you take them off and stops sound coming from the earpieces (though the source will keep playing).

Their active noise-cancelling is very good. Each earpiece is covered in more microphones than I’ve seen on other headphones, meaning it can capture as much incoming sound as possible (which is then negated through the noise-cancelling system).

The BackBeats are comfortable and light over-ear headphones; I didn’t feel them pushing down on my ears. I found them too light in some ways though; while I was walking they would bounce slightly, which meant I could hear my footsteps reverberating through the earpieces. But if you aren’t moving, they’re excellent.

The Bluetooth kicks in when you unplug the cable from the earpiece and the headphones are turned on. I had no issues wirelessly connecting to any of my Bluetooth devices, but I found these headphones were better while sitting at a desk and listening to music than walking around, so I used them wired more than wireless.

A great set of wireless headphones, but their light weight meant I used them wired more often. The BackBeat’s sound quality is so good you’ll forget how brutal the design is.

RRP: $300

First Looks are trials of new or interesting products from the perspective of our product experts. Our lab-based tests offer truly objective product comparisons. The headphones were loaned to us for this trial.

By Hadyn Green.