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Plantronics BackBeat Pro+: Noise-Canceling HiFi Headphones

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Monday, September 5, 2016 4:41 pm PDT

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The name Bluetooth probably conjures up some mixed experiences- the protocol has a history of requiring awkward codes, working a fairly short distance, and transmitting fairly low-quality music. But the working group behind the technology has kept improving, and now are on version 4.1, with a few additions along the way that are not necessarily always included in every device. Today’s set of headphones is an example of what you can get at the peak of performance, using the latest and greatest, with hardware to back it all up.

The new Plantronics BackBeat Pro+ Wireless Noise Canceling Hi-Fi Headphones are an all-around, go-anywhere, travel-ready set that works well at a computer or for casual listening on the go. Now, they don’t fold up and just lay flat, so if you need a truly compact set these might not be them. And they aren’t ideal for exercise as they aren’t IPX rated. But you’ll have most of your other bases covered, included wired use if you want. The Pro Pluses are fairly light for their class, with comfy earpads and a well-cushioned headband that make them cozy for lengthy sessions on a plane. With easy-to-use controls on the cups and excellent mics for voice calls, they quickly became a handy companion for our flights to and from Brazil last month.

Some of the highlight features: extended, class 1 Bluetooth range (up to 100 feet) and up to 24 hours of wireless use thanks to sizable rechargeable batteries. There’s NFC pairing for Android devices, and the all-important active noise cancellation, activated . The BackBeat Pros even have the opposite, which they call Open Mic, which pipes in external audio while lowering the volume on your music or movie, allowing you to listen to that conversation or pick up what is being announced. With full aptX support, you can stream higher-resolution audio, and they’ve also built in low latency support as well. The Plus model includes a compatible USB dongle, which you can plug into your desktop computer if you want Bluetooth functionality- it’s a bit pricey though, as these can be purchased without the dongle for significant savings.

The Plantronics BackBeat Pro+ headphones continue the trend of the company offering solid wireless gear, as we’ve seen many times in the past. Durable and fairly attractive, they don’t artificially boost bass, and offer a fairly neutral sound- authentic and clear if not as engaging thanks to the slight flatness we often hear from noise canceling sets. A few different color options might have been nice, but these neutral metallics will work just about anywhere, with anything. It’s only really the price that might give you pause, as there is a fairly steep premium over the slightly better-looking original (non-Plus) edition. Expect to spend around $235 online and in stores for the Platronics BackBeat Pro+. We wouldn’t miss the dongle, but it’s certainly helpful for those with desktop PCs aiming to go wireless.

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