In the realm of headphones, noise-canceling models -- those battery-powered ones that filter out unwanted external sounds like traffic din or jet-engine noise -- represent the cream of the crop. And the best wireless noise-cancelling headphones from , , , and others tend to cost at least $350 (about £290 or AU$460). But not everybody wants to pay that much for a headphone, which is where Plantronics' BackBeat Pro 2 ($200 at Amazon.com) comes in.
Priced at $200, £230 or AU$299, the BackBeat Pro 2 is being positioned as a premium headphone for less. The originalwas, too -- and it was a good headphone for the money, despite being pretty bulky and not all that stylish. Nevertheless, it had a strong following among techie types who cared more about how it performed than how it looked.
With this new model Plantronics has slimmed the headphone down by about 35 percent, reduced its weight by about 15 percent, and made it more attractive. It also sounds very good for a Bluetooth headphone, with relatively clean, dynamic, well-balanced sound that rivals the quality of its higher-priced competitors. And it worked nearly flawlessly for me, with minimal Bluetooth hiccups.
It's comfortable, too, and has sensors that pause and resume your music when you take the headphones off or put them on (you can also answer a call by simply putting them on your ears). And while the noise-canceling isn't as effective as that of the, it does a decent job muffling ambient noise without creating an audible hiss.
I've been using it in the office for the past few days and haven't suffered any listening fatigue -- from either the sound or the fit. It's definitely a good work headphone and is ideal for an open-office environment if you want to shut out noisy co-workers. And it also played well outside -- in the streets of New York in my case -- though it will make your ears steamy on warmer days.