Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 Test


Tech

Begeek

Notes

  • Design 8
  • Ergonomics 9
  • sound quality 8
  • Noise cancellation 9
  • Accessories 10

Benefits

  • + Bluetooth pairing quality, no latency
  • + Excellent autonomy (± 24h)
  • + Exemplary ergonomics
  • + Effective active noise cancellation

Disadvantages

  • – No NFC (BackBeat Pro 2 Special Edition only)
  • – A useless application

Does the wireless headset with active noise cancellation by Plantronics leave as pleasant a surprise as its price? Answer in our test.

Introduction

When it comes to wireless headphones the PlantronicsBackbeat Pro 2 has its work cut out for it. Introduced in an industry where such big names as Bose QuietComfort 35, Parrot Zik 3 and Sony MDR-1000X are firmly entrenched, it offers similar, if not identical, features without offering any innovations.

The American plays his cards differently: his wireless headset is sold for €100 to €180 cheaper than his competitors. At a sacrificed price, should we expect lower quality? Nothing is less certain.

Design

Owners of the firstBackBeat Pro will tell you: a redesign of this massive headset was not too much to ask for, and was even welcome. Also, what distinguishes the second generation of headphones from the first one is above all a redesigned design to be more discreet. As a manufacturer of nomadic headphones, it was logical that Plantronics made an effort to make them easier to carry and more discreet on the ears. This avoids the impression of walking around with a Peltor construction helmet on your ears.

The helmet makes a very good impression at first glance: more contained, it is now closer to what its competitors offer, even if the slimming cure could have been more drastic. On this model (to be differentiated from the Special Edition metallic grey), the aesthetics are in keeping with the style, with different shades of brown (foam earpads, inner and outer headband) and black shells. As with other Plantronics headsets, including the Backbeat Go, Plantronics is very clear on the signage, with the left (L) and right (R) sides in capital letters on the inside of the earcups.

Signage couldn

Signage couldn’t be clearerBegeek

These are also a success, thanks to a soft texture that is very pleasant to the touch (and to wear) and to their comfort, even during long hours of listening and with glasses. Supra-aural, the headphones encompass the ear, which helps with passive isolation, especially since the BackBeat Pro 2 is a closed-back, noise-free headset. If you’re used to closed headphones that let your ears breathe (Sennheiser HD 598 et al.), you may be surprised by the close fit of the headphones.

The headband offers 12 adjustment steps on each side of the earphones, which should be more than adequate for big heads and is suitable for the smallest of faces.

Ergonomics

The helmet’s intelligent sensors, a few buttons and two surfaces with multipoint technology bring together an impressive array of functions in a very small space. However, we never get our brushes tangled, as the ergonomics are so good.

The Bluetooth on/off and pairing button.

The Bluetooth.Begeek on/off and pairing button

On the right ear are the helmet’s on/off controls and five LEDs to gauge the battery charge. By sliding the Power Button up, the headset enters Bluetooth pairing mode. Located underneath, the microphone button allows you to mute the built-in microphone during a call with a single press.

The micro-USB port and 3.5mm jack

Micro USB port and 3.5mmBegeek jack

Also on the same side is the micro-USB socket for charging the headphone battery and the 3.5mm jack port for continuing listening when the battery is flat.

On the left earpiece, the largest number of functions are found, especially those related to multimedia playback. The central circular panel is a touch (not touch) surface that provides access to the following controls: play/pause, next song, previous song. The haptic feedback and a slight “beep” confirm that the pressure has been taken into account. The outer circle, which encircles the Control Panel is movable and allows the volume to be adjusted in increments (8 in total) by sliding the arc forward or backward.

L’active noise cancellation and control panel

Active Noise Cancellation and Control PanelBegeek

Last but not least, Active Headphone Noise Cancellation (ANC); three positions are available on this button: Active Noise Cancellation on (low), Noise Cancellation off (middle) andopen listening. As with the entire helmet, the controls are adjustable with a single finger, and there is no latency between the moment the control is pressed and its execution.

Voice announcements alert the user to various events: paired headset, connected/disconnected from the device, battery status (full, 50%, low), noise cancellation on/off, and more. All these indicators make it possible to quickly check the status of the helmet and its functions.

Sound quality

From low to high frequencies, theBackBeat Pro 2 is true to the recordings to which it has been subjected. Without being too round in the low frequencies, too flattering with the voices and too sibylline in the high frequencies, one notices a very appreciable neutrality. Below is a small anthology of the pieces listened to, in 16-bit FLAC/44.1 Hz, unless otherwise stated.

Low

From the big kicks ofLook At Me! by the controversial rapper XXXTENTACION to the subtle bass lines ofHyperballad by Björk, the trembling of the membrane onWhy So Serious? From Hans Zimmer’s to James Blake’s famous and hard to reproduceLimit To Your Love bass to Audiomachine’s epic trailer music, the Backbeat Pro 2 holds its own all the way and offers good bass extension without artificially adding roundness.

  • Nils Lofgren Band, Nils Lofgren Band Live –Bass & Drum Intro
  • XXXTENTACION, Revenge –Look At Me! (MP3 320)
  • The Weeknd, Beauty Behind The Madness –The Hills
  • Migos, Bricks –Bricks
  • Björk, Post Live –Hyperballad
  • Béla Fleck and The Flecktones, Flight of the Cosmic Hippo –Flight of the Cosmic Hippo
  • TNGHT, TNGHT –Goooo
  • Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard, The Dark Knight –Why So Serious?
  • James Blake, James Blake –Limit To Your Love
  • Audiomachine, Helios –Colossus
  • M.I.A., Matangi –Dubble Bubble Trouble
  • Coil, Musick To Play In The Dark –Broccoli
  • Alice In Chains, MTV Unplugged –Would?

Mediums

Mid frequencies are most often disadvantaged when designing headphones. If a V-shaped frequency curve is the most popular because it is the most neutral, a coloration may appear in the sound spectrum. The Backbeat Pro 2 avoids this pitfall and offers balanced sound reproduction with good instrument separation, notably on Muddy Waters’ excellentMy Home Is In The Delta recording and Yosi Horikawa’s experimental but majesticBubbles .

  • Billie Holiday, Lady In Satin –I’m a Fool to Want You (Take 2 – Alternate Take)
  • The Roy Hargrove Quintet, Earfood –I’m Not So Sure
  • John Butler Trio, Live At Red Rocks –Ocean
  • Emma Stone, Callie Hernandez, Sonoya Mizuno & Jessica Rothe, La La Land (Original motion picture Soundtrack) –Someone In The Crowd
  • Sivert Høyem, Long Slow Distance –Blown Away
  • Yann Tiersen and Natacha Régnier, Birds Of Passage –The Umbrella
  • Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color –Gimme All Your Love
  • Muddy Waters, Folk Singer – My Home Is In The Delta(24/192 Hz FLAC)
  • Yosi Horikawa, Wandering –Bubbles

Treble

Classical and orchestral music is not only about high frequencies, but listening to ensembles also gives an idea of a device’s ability to reproduce the sound scene. Once again, the Backbeat Pro 2 does not fault.

  • Aaron Copland; Minnesota Orchestra, Eiji Oue, Fanfare For The Common Man / Appalachian Spring / Symphony No.Aaron Copland; Minnesota Orchestra, Eiji Oue, Fanfare For The Common Man / Appalachian Spring / Symphony No.Aaron Copland; Minnesota Orchestra, Eiji Oue, Fanfare For The Common Man / Appalachian Spring / Symphony No.Aaron Copland; Minnesota Orchestra, Eiji Oue, Fanfare For The Common Man / Appalachian Spring / Symphony No.Aaron Copland; Minnesota Orchestra, Eiji Oue, Fanfare For The Common Man / Appalachian Spring / Symphony No.Aaron Copland; Minnesota Orchestra, Eiji Oue, Fanfare For The Common Man / Appalachian Spring / Symphony No. 3 –Fanfare For The Common Man
  • The Cinematic Orchestra, Les Ailes Pourpres: The Mystery Of The Flamingos –Arrival Of The Birds
  • Hans Zimmer, Gladiator: Music From The Motion Picture –The Battle
  • Hans Zimmer, Inception –Time
  • Shigeru Umebayashi, In The Mood For Love (Original Soundtrack From The Motion Picture) –Yumeji’s Theme
  • Dustin O’Halloran, Transparent Theme –Transparent – Theme (Solo Piano Version)
  • Ola Gjeilo, Piano Improvisations –Prelude (3 Pianos)(24/192 Hz FLAC)
  • Gustav Holst; Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Charles Dutoit, The Planets –Mars, The Bringer Of War
  • Budapest Festival Orchestra, Iván Fischer, Rossini – Instrumental Music –La Scala di Seta – Overture (1812)

Noise Cancellation

The noise cancellation of thePlantronics Backbeat Pro 2 has been repeatedly compared by our fellow testers to the much more expensive Bose QuietComfort 35. If you’re willing to spend an extra €180 (almost the price of the helmet tested here), go for it. Otherwise, we might as well look at the Backbeat Pro, which is far from being as much of a mess as one might think.

The active noise cancellation of the headphones, as described earlier in the section on ergonomics, is activated and deactivated by simply moving the position of the dedicated button on the left earpiece. Once activated in a noisy environment, the difference is immediately felt. In the train, the thud of the cars moving on the rails is significantly reduced; in the car, the rumbling of the engine is also significantly reduced.

Even in a quiet place, such as at home, you can find more silence by putting the headphones on your ears. However, in complete quietness, a slight white noise can be perceived, which disappears once the noise cancellation mode is deactivated.

Autonomy

Let’s move on to independence. In terms of Battery Life the headset scores a perfect score for two reasons:

  • Plantronics announces a 24-hour autonomy, and to our surprise, this is not just a marketing argument. At a comfortable listening volume, the headphones offer 24-hour talk time, so you can take them with you and use them for a full week and several hours a day without worrying about ever running out of power.
  • The battery life of the Backbeat Pro 2 is higher than the average wireless headset on the market.

The headset recharges via the micro-USB port in just under two hours, so you’ll be satisfied.

Accessories

Few accessories, but all useful.

Few accessories, but all useful.

TheBackbeat Pro 2, to say the least, is not overdoing it. The wireless headset comes with a fabric bag with two zippers: one opens to a deep pocket to hold the headset while the other holds a micro-USB to USB cable and a cable with two 3.5 mm jack tips, one of which is at right angles.

The union minimum .

Union minimum…

This does not seem much, but it also seems to us to be the bare essentials. A last complement would be the Plantronics Hub application available on PC, iOS and Android. We have doubts about its usefulness, however.

Characteristics

  • Earphones 40 mm
  • Bluetooth
  • Active noise cancellation on demand
  • 24 hours of autonomy (listening and calling)
  • Open listening mode (Open-mic)
  • Multipoint technology
  • Intelligent sensors
  • 2 axis swivel earpads
  • Intuitive controls on the device
  • Status Alerts
  • 3.5 mm jack plug

Conclusion

TheBackbeat Pro 2 is a high quality wireless headset that is not just a redesign of the first model. Its exemplary ergonomics, its excellent autonomy, its audio quality and the comfort it provides (the headset can be worn for hours without discomfort) make it a model of its kind. When it comes to noise cancellation, there’s no doubt about it, it’s day and night with the low frequencies. However, the higher bill of such big names would justify a difference of more than 100 euros. We doubt it and we repeat it: the Backbeat Pro 2 offers outstanding value for money.

Where to buy it?

The BackBeat Pro 2 is available from 199 euros on Amazon.

Notes

  • Design 8
  • Ergonomics 9
  • Sound quality 8
  • Noise cancellation 9
  • Accessories 10

Benefits

  • + Bluetooth pairing quality, no latency
  • + Excellent autonomy (± 24h)
  • + Exemplary ergonomics
  • + Effective active noise cancellation

Disadvantages

  • – No NFC (BackBeat PRO 2 Special Edition only)
  • – A useless application

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