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Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2 Review

Publish Date:

Wednesday, October 26, 2016 12:18 pm PDT

News Organization:

Royal Flush Magazine

Source URL:

We are fans of Plantronics’ BackBeat PRO+, their top tier multi-purpose headset delivering the highest quality of soundPlantronics can muster and carrying more functions than you count. Ok, you can probably count the functions. However, you were most likely worried about counting the amount of dollars you would have to shell out to get this fancy and effective piece of equipment. A $300 price point may be a high mountain to climb for many. Fortunately, you don’t have to climb that far any more. Enter the Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2, a re-engineered causal-listing flagship headset with a new build and friendlier price point of $200. Let’s dive into the BackBeat PRO 2 to see if this revisited wireless headset clears the high bar that previous BackBeat PRO’s have set.

Comfort, Build and Features

Plantronics read reviews and consumer comments of the BackBeat PRO and BackBeat PRO+ to see where improvements could be made. This resulted in a simpler build and a smaller footprint without dropping any functionality. What comes in contact with your head are leatherette cushion ear cups with a sort of padded suede-like mesh skin on the headband. While still an over-ear and closed-back headset, the BackBeat PRO 2’s now narrower oval-like ear cups take up less space. The headset itself is also lighter, coming in at 1.2 lbs.

The BackBeat PRO2 is now even more pleasing to the eyes, taking up less space on your head and featuring a warm brown and black color scheme. More importantly, it’s even more comfortable than the already easy-to-wear BackBeat PRO, sporting a lighter frame. The BackBeat PRO 2 is a dream to wear for those longer durations. I wore the BackBeat PRO 2 for full work days for about a week, noticing a negligible amount of fatigue once it hit 5PM every day. Not bad for about an 8-hour session a day of constant listening.

That experience was further enhanced by the passive sound isolation of the ear cups. Any potential leaking-in of conversations around me was effectively muffled, allowing me to enjoy my music without even having to use the Active Noise Cancelation, at times. With such a great wearing and listening experience, the BackBeat PRO 2 pleases both the wearer with its comfort and passers-by with its revamped look.

The control and button layout here is actually more intuitive than with the preceding BackBeat PRO units. The previous generations of BackBeat PRO’s still had sensible controls but with a slightly steeper learning curve since the controls appeared identical on each ear cup. “Does this dial switch tracks or does it increase volume? Does this big button mute my mice on calls or does it hang up?” After some goofs with the previous BackBeat PRO’s, you would soon get the hang of it once muscle memory inevitably took over.

Now, with the BackBeat PRO 2, the controls for the headset were separated into three sets: mic control, media control and phone call handling. On the side of the left ear cup existed all of the media controls: play/pause, forward track, back track, and a sort of rotary wheel for the volume. On the right side you have one big button which handled the answering and terminating of calls as well as a small mic mute button along the back. Along the back of the left ear cup you have a 3-position switch which toggled between Active Noise Cancelation, Open Mic, and a sort of neutral.

More on the Features

All of these functions worked exactly as intended, which you should expect with the BackBeat PRO 2 being a sequel to an already well-established product. What allowed for a more user-friendly experience with the function-heavy BackBeat PRO 2 lays in the new button layout. Controlling incoming media? Everything you need is on the left cup, with tactile indicators showing you where the center, side and wheel controls are. Have a call? Slap the only button on the right of the BackBeat PRO 2 to pick up and hang up calls. Controls were so simple to pick up that I barely glanced at the manual.

If there was any confusion at all, it would be in the minor vagueness on that mic-controlling 3-position switch. There’s no real labeling, so you would have to know that you flick the switch up for open mic and down for Active Noise Cancelation. Fortunately, you wouldn’t be confused for long since the BackBeat PRO 2 will give you vocal queues when you toggle Active Noise Cancelation, mic mute, open mic and many other useful points of info. At worse, you would toggle this switch in the wrong the direction and correct it within 2-3 seconds. Like I said, minor.

Going deeper into those fancier mic functions, it’s interesting to see that Plantronics actually improved on the Active Noise Cancelation. With previous models, activating this function would lead to a noticeable loss in bass from whatever you were listening to. Sure, you got excellent suppression of outside noise, but you wouldn’t want it to affect your music as well, would you? This problem was resolved with the BackBeat PRO 2, as I was treated to effective noise cancelation without any noticeable dip in sound quality.

Open mic is handy when you want to quickly hear your surroundings while your headset is on. Aside from the fact that it works quite well, I could take or leave this feature. The reason for this is lays in the existence of yet another prominentBackBeat feature, the automatic pausing of the incoming music when the headset is removed. If someone is trying to talk to you in person, I would be more inclined to remove the headset, or part of it, to engage them. Not only does removing the headset mute your BackBeat PRO 2, but it shows the other person that you’re listening to them. With open mic, you would then have to tell them that you can still hear them, leading to a potentially awkward convo.

This is not a knock at all to the quite functional open mic feature. But as I hinted at in our BackBeat PRO+ and BackBeat Sense reviews, it’s just one of two means to the same end.

All in all, all of the features from the BackBeat PRO and BackBeat PRO+ are back and better than ever in the new BackBeat PRO 2. Control layouts are even more practical, and a key feature in Active Noise Cancelation was even improved.Plantronics didn’t hold back with their latest flagship, and it showed.

The performance of the BackBeat PRO 2 is top notch, delivering clear and crisp audio with a soft and fulfilling bass. Vocals and percussion come across nice and clear. Bass feels as it surrounds you without coming across as muddy. Call quality is just as clear, making conference calls that much more comfortable to be in. That sound presentation is fully appreciable thanks to the effective sound-isolating ear cups coupled with Active Noise Cancelation that doesn’t take away from the audio source. Like hearing your music a little louder? Well the BackBeat PRO 2 sound isolation worked well both ways, keeping sound from leaking out and disturbing others.

Using the BackBeat PRO 2 mic on those longer calls? The BackBeat PRO 2 will deliver your voice effectively to others in both indoor and most outdoor environments. I used the BackBeat PRO 2 on conference calls in the office, much to my delight.  Call participants picked me up loud and clear. The mic is susceptible to particularly windy environments however, which is a common flaw in mobile headsets. While Plantronics excels at making chat-focused headsets that counter this well, know that the BackBeat PRO 2 is focused as more of media enjoyment device. In that regard, the BackBeat PRO 2performs well on phone calls within an acceptable bulk of phone call environments.

The BackBeat PRO 2 has to be the most comfortable entertainment headset we reviewed from Plantronics next to the air-like BackBeat Sense. Its lighter frame and comfortable cushioning will have you lost in your music for hours. It’s a good thing the headset touts a 24hr battery life. After close to a business week of use, the headset didn’t even ask for charging until sometime within the 5th day. Of course you would have to consider any breaks I may have taken. But a business week of music is nothing to sniff at, making the BackBeat PRO 2 an awesome travel companion, no matter how long the length of your trip may be.

Should your listening outlast the BackBeat PRO 2, you can continue to use the headset passively with the included 3.5 mm cable. Add in the included traveling pouch, and the BackBeat PRO 2 becomes the complete audio entertainment package, housing quality sound and a collection of handy functions. It even pairs to two devices at once, automatically focusing on whichever device is playing at the time.

The BackBeat PRO 2 is a homerun for anyone between the casual listener or movie watcher on the go. It is a great luxury item that has goes for an approachable $200. If you’re looking for a headset that looks and feels fancy, performs well, houses many functions, and costs less than you would think, then the BackBeat PRO 2 is definitely a product you need to look into.

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