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!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Subaru XV 2017 review
- 2 Samsung 2017 QLED Q7 TV: Full, in-depth review
- 3 Kogan Atlas UltraSlim Pro laptop: full, in-depth review
- 4 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 5 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD 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
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Huawei P10 smartphone review
- Huawei P10 Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- Moto G5 smartphone: full, in-depth review
- 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
- FTSocial Media Executive / Specialist (Facebook) - online gamblingNSW
- FTSenior Business AnalystNSW
- FTSAP ISU Billing Consultant - FunctionalVIC
- FTNetwork EngineerSA
- FTNetwork AdministratorQLD
- TPFront End .NET DeveloperQLD
- FTSecurity ConsultantACT
- FTDigital ProducerNSW
- FTProject Coordinator - Telecommunications InfrastructureNSW
- CCBusiness AnalystQLD
- FTSenior Business AnalystQLD
- CCReporting System Specialist - Port MacquarieNSW
- FTLevel 1 Support OfficerQLD
- FTSenior Java DeveloperVIC
- FTEnterprise Architect - Solutions and ApplicationsQLD
- TPAgile Projet AdministratorVIC
- FTFull Stack DeveloperQLD
- FTSAP HANA ConsultantNSW
- TPSupport Engineer (Security Tools)VIC
- FTBusiness Intelligence DeveloperSA
- FTImplementation Engineer - NetApp DATA ONTAPWA
- TPSenior Deployment Officer (Office 365)QLD
- FTTechnical Test Analyst - MTM/Visual StudioACT
- FTManual TesterACT
- FTStorage EngineerSA