On-ear headphones are currently a dime a dozen, and we definitely don’t mean price-wise. They come in all varieties and flavors, and you could browse entire catalogs of them till the oceans dry up without getting any nearer to finding what exactly you want. Things get even more complicated when supermodel-worthy headphones fail to thrill, while ugly duckling models costing way below them pipe out sound even angels dream of. And vice versa of course, after all, looks have always been misleading.
Well, enough of the philosophical musings, let’s get back on the Plantronics track. While it doesn’t have the ring or prestige of the likes of Bose, Sony, and Sennheiser, it does churn out fine pieces of work. Its Backbeat Sense is designed to be extremely portable, comfortable and to deliver premium sound. So says Plantronics. Righto? Let’s find out.
Inside the box, you get the beautiful and somewhat minimalist Plantronics Backbeat Sense with a 3.5mm cable to thumb your nose at Apple with its damn, new-fangled Lightning port. Together with a micro-USB cable for charging up the contraption and a manual for explaining how it all works. Leather and memory foam cushions make up the earcups and stretch across the headband for a fit, secure, sinfully comfortable, long-time use whenever and wherever. The left earcup houses the controls for pausing, playing, skipping tracks, together with volume adjustment. And also a button for muting the sound and letting in more or less of ambient noise as desired. But kindly remember it is not an active noise-canceling headphone, more like a noise-isolating one. On the right earcup is a multi-function button for making or receiving calls, as well as determining battery level via audio warnings. On the rather sexy bottom, you get a headphone jack and a micro-USB charging port, with power on and Bluetooth buttons on top.
The Plantronics Backbeat Sense comes with a smart pressure sensor, which seemed to know anytime I was wearing it or not. Hence, lifting off the headphone immediately pauses the music, to resume later at the exact track I was on before. Shifting it off your right ear works the same magic though and enables you to have -one-sided- conversations with that awfully persistent dude on the plane who can’t seem to resist yapping away on all topics and all subjects. Up to 2 devices can be connected to via Bluetooth 4.0, with a range of an optimistic maximum of 330 feet when using class 1 Bluetooth devices.
Sound quality is to put it lightly simply magnificent with 32 mm dynamic drivers. The bass is balanced and behaves itself, while the lows are just powerful enough to sweep you off your feet and open the floodgates of emotions. The Plantronics Backbeat Sense proved to be absolutely multi-use and showed no discrimination no matter which kind of music we played. It treated them all fairly and sublimely. But beware, though, at higher volumes, distortion does creep in, with the bass slathered on like mayonnaise on white bread. But even then it’s still surprisingly clear. When used for making calls, the Plantronics Backbeat Sense again performed like a champion dog at a show, with sound quality to be envied.
Battery life is 18 hours when the music is at reasonable rather than ear-bashing volumes, while standby time is 21 days.
Colors are black and brown and white and brown, while the price is a surprisingly cheap $180. At its price point and with its extreme performance, the Plantronics Backbeat Sense is a total steal and an absolute pleasure to use.