Plantronics BackBeat Sense Bluetooth headphones
They aren't called Sense for nothing, you know
- Good sound
- Steady Bluetooth performance
- Sensors sometimes unreliable
Price$ 249.00 (AUD)
Plantronics' BackBeat Sense headphones have a lightweight over-the-head design with soft cushions that can sit on your ears without crushing them. They are Bluetooth headphones that are simple to operate, they sound good, and you can use them with a cord if you find yourself running low on battery.
One of the key features of the BackBeat Sense is the ability of the headphones to detect when you are wearing them, and when they are idle. Sensors that are built in to the headphone cups will determine whether or not they are sitting on your head and you are actively using them. The moment you take them off your head and rest them around your neck or put them down on the table, the music will stop. After a period of idle time, they will go into deep sleep, and they can stay asleep for six months without losing their current level of charge, according to Plantronics.
This feature should make the BackBeat Sense a pair of no-fuss headphones that you barely have to worry about as far as making sure they are on or off. They are meant to be automatic in that sense. However, we noticed on a few occasions that the headphones kept playing after they were taken off the head. Other times, they took a few long seconds to start playing again when put back on the head. If they don't immediately detect that they are sitting on your ears, then you can put a little pressure on the cups to start the music again.
For tactile control, there is one sliding switch on the right side for power and pairing. You can pair up to two devices and have them connected simultaneously, switching between them seamlessly at any time. Simply pause the music on one device, start it on the other, and the headphones will oblige. On the left cup, you can press the middle button to pause and play a track, and press left or right of the middle to skip tracks. You can rotate the cup forwards and backwards to change the volume.
The right side has a call button that can be used in conjunction with the built-in microphones. Furthermore, there is a microphone/mute button located on the bottom of the left cup that can be used to stop the music you are listening to and amplify the sounds around you -- presumably for times when you don't want to take the headphones off your head, yet want to hear your surroundings. You can press both the microphone and call buttons simultaneously for six seconds to disable (and re-enable) the sensors.
Charging is by way of a micro-USB cable, and can take about two and a half hours. A series of lights illuminates on the earcup to let you know at a glance how much power the headphones are packing. Playback is stated as being up to 18 hours by Plantronics, a figure it came up with while playing music from a mobile device at full volume. A voice informs you of the battery level when you switch them on, using generalities such as 'battery high' and 'battery medium'.
An exposed metal band holds the earcups in a traditional form, and there are ten steps of adjustment that can be made to the plastic sliders so that you can achieve the best fit for your noggin. There is padded 'suspension' that adds to the comfort of the headphones, and this sits just below the metal bar, meaning, in most cases, the metal won't rest directly on your head, but will sit slightly above it.
Flat cushions on the earcups do a good job of sitting on your ears without adding too much pressure, and we found them to be comfortable overall (they tipped our digital scales at 144g). However, those of you not used to on-ear headphones might need some time to adjust, especially over longer listening sessions. They are suitable for the home, as well as outdoors, but there is sound leakage, which may not make them ideal for an office environment when the volume is turned up. They don't have active noise cancelling.
Plantronics makes use of the aptX codec over the Bluetooth connection, and the sounds are produced by lightweight neodynium magnet-based drivers. They pumped out plenty of volume, and we found the sound quality to be favourable for all types of genres. We mainly listened to 320Kbps MP3s ripped from CDs, stored on a microSD card on a Samsung Galaxy S5, and played through Rocket Player.
A healthy dose of bass was present in the hip-hop and R&B tracks we played, with songs such as The Roots' You Got Me, and LL Cool J's Rock The Bells, for example, being served with a deep thump that was appreciated. For this style of music, the BackBeat Sense offered satisfaction mainly because of that bass response.
At the same time, vocals weren't hidden, with rapping and singing blending rather well with the prominent bass. Hi-hats and ticky-tacks sounded bright and tight. These same traits made rock music sound engaging and full to our ears, with songs such as Pearl Jam's Black exhibiting plenty of depth and fullness. In short, if you want your music to be presented with a nice kick and crispness, the BackBeat Sense won't disappoint. You could always play with your favourite EQ app if you want to tailor the sound.
For $249, you'd expect them to sound good, though, and the good part is that they also offer enough comfort so that they can be enjoyed for long periods of time. Bluetooth and corded operation add versatility (furthermore, they support Class 1 Bluetooth, which can give them a 100m range when paired to a Class 1 music source), and the sensors in the cups provide automation so that you don't really have to worry about switching them on and off (most off the time, anyway). Pick these up if you are predominantly after a set of good sounding, and comfortable Bluetooth headphones.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Gadgets & Things
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
- 2 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 3 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 4 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
Latest News Articles
- Apple's AirPods could deliver audio with multiple wireless protocols
- First look: Nuheara IQbuds smart Bluetooth ear buds do more than just music
- Convoy International restructures business focus
- Beats Solo2 headphones go wireless for $399
- Astro A38 review: A staggering price to pay for convenience
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- The top 10 best and worst tech gadgets and products of 2016
- Best phone of the year 2016
- TV of the year award 2016
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- TPJava DeveloperSA
- TPInfrastructure ArchitectVIC
- CCBig Data Developer - Government - 12 Month Contract - SydneyNSW
- CCProcess Specialist - short contract, asap start!VIC
- FTOffice365 Solution SpecialistSA
- CCBusiness Analyst Finance & Lending - Brisbane Based RoleVIC
- TPChange ManagerNSW
- CCProject DirectorVIC
- TPBusiness AnalystQLD
- FTFull stack Developer - Senior (Java or C# and AngularJS) x 3QLD
- TPSOA DeveloperNSW
- TPService Delivery ManagerQLD
- TPSolution ArchitectVIC
- TPBusiness Analyst - DataQLD
- CCSenior Business Analyst - CRMVIC
- CCICT Strategy ConsultantNSW
- FTDatacentre Solution ArchitectVIC
- FTLinux Systems EngineerQLD
- FTLife/400 Technical Business AnalystNSW
- FTManager Integration PlanningNSW
- CCSenior PMO Analyst - ReportingNSW
- CCDevOps Lead - Agile/AWSVIC
- FTExecutive Sales ManagerACT
- FTConsulting Solution/Integration ArchitectVIC
- TPFunctional AnalystVIC