Plantronics BackBeat Pro review: A more affordable alternative to Beats and Bose with an office slant

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.7
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 9.0
  • Sound quality: 7.0
  • Value: 7.0

Average User Rating

5 stars 1 user review
Review Date:

The Good The Plantronics BackBeat Pro features both wireless Bluetooth and noise-canceling in a sturdy, comfortable design. The headphones sound decent, are packed with features, have excellent battery life and come with a nice carrying pouch.

The Bad Design has a little too much of an office vibe to it; fairly heavy at 360 grams; bass and treble may be a little too hyped for some people.

The Bottom Line Despite some small drawbacks, the feature-packed Plantronics BackBeat Pro is an intriguing option for those looking for a wireless headphone with active noise-cancelling.

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Plantronics is better known for its mono wireless headsets but it's been making a push into the wireless stereo headphone arena with its BackBeat line. Most everything in that line is in-ear (such as the BackBeat Go 2, or BackBeat Fit), but now the company's gone big with the BackBeat Pro. It's a $250, £250 or AU$350 over-the-ear wireless active noise-canceling headphone that competes with the likes of Bose and Beats.

Not everybody's going to like its look -- it does have a sort of ungainly business professional vibe to it -- but it seems well-built and is comfortable to wear, though it's not lightweight, weighing in at 340 grams or 12 ounces. By comparison, the Beats Studio Wireless weighs 260 grams.

This isn't the most ideal mobile headphone and like most over-the-ear models, if you wear it in warmer environments, your ears will get a little steamy. But the way Plantronics sees it, the BackBeat Pro is designed to be worn first and foremost at the office (or home office), but can also be taken on the road and has some travel friendly features, including active noise-cancellation and good battery life.

Additionally, the headphones fold flat and come with a sturdy, well-designed carrying pouch, plus a headphone cable with an inline remote/microphone so you can use them as corded headphones should you want to -- or should the battery die mid-flight. That's a nice feature.

Feature-packed

The BackBeat Pro is loaded with features; it's right up there with the Parrot Zik, though it doesn't come with a companion app. The controls can easily be operated blindly, with a ring around the right earcup serving as a volume control, and a ring on the left earcup serving as a transport control (track skip forward and back).

I also liked how when you take Pro off your ears and rest it around your neck, your music pauses. The music resumes when you put the headphones back on. (It's worth mentioning that the Auto Pause feature can be disabled holding down the mute and call buttons simultaneously for 5 seconds).

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Rings around the earpieces serve as volume and transport controls. Sarah Tew/CNET

There's NFC tap-to-pair technology for Android phones that support it and Advanced Bluetooth technology that extends the wireless range to up to 330 feet (100 meters) when using a smartphone or tablet that supports the technology -- that's 10 times as much as the usual 33-foot (10-meter) range of Bluetooth. If you're wondering what the flavor of Bluetooth is, it's 4.0.

Those who have a phone which supports AptX will be happy to note that the BackBeat Pro is AptX-enabled, which is supposed to allow for better sounding audio streaming over Bluetooth (it's debatable much how it actually helps, but some people swear it does).

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Weight 12 oz
  • Sound Output Mode stereo
  • Additional Features play/pause button
  • Connector Type mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm 4-pole