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Headphones

Plantronics Backbeat Go 410 goes neck and neck with Bose

These new premium-sounding neckband-style wireless headphones feature active noise cancelling at a moderate price with one feature missing from Bose's QuietControl 30.

The BackBeat Go 410 list for $130.

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Over the last year or two, we've started seeing more in-ear headphones that feature active noise cancelling. At the high end you have products such as Bose's QuietControl 30 and Sony WI-1000X, both of which retail for $300 (£230 or AU$449). But now we're seeing more moderately priced noise-cancelling in-ears. The latest is Plantronics' $130 BackBeat Go 410, which delivers good performance for a lot less. International pricing isn't available yet, but it converts to about £100 or AU$180.

Like the Bose and Sony, the BackBeat Go 410 is a neckband-style headphone that is designed to be worn around all day. It has a lot in common with Plantronics' more expensive, business-grade Voyager 6200 UC, but the BackBeat Go 410's neckband is lighter and more flexible and it's more comfortable to wear overall.

The earbud design is similar to the Voyager 6200's and so is the sound and noise-cancelling function. I actually got a slightly better fit from the BackBeat Go 410 earbuds, which fit more securely in my ears -- perhaps because the buds are a little lighter. But I would have welcomed some stabilizing fins like the Voyager 6200 UC's to really lock the buds in place.

These earphones are sweat resistant, and if you swap out the eartips for Bose's, which have wings on them, these would work well for running. That's a little hack I tried with the Voyager 6200 and the Bose tips also fit these earphones. (You can find replacement Bose tips on Amazon for about $10.)

This headphone doesn't have the excellent voice calling performance of the Voyager 6200. But it's a Plantronics headphone so voice calling is still decent, just not great.

The buds adhere magnetically and go into hibernation mode to conserve battery life.

Sarah Tew/CNET

It's a better headphone than Jabra's Elite 65e, which I found disappointing. Not only does the Plantronics sound better but it cancels noise more effectively. It's not quite up to the level of the Bose QuietControl 30's noise-canceling function, but it does muffle sound around you to a degree (in other words, don't expect it to totally muffle ambient sound).

Like the Voyager 6200 UC, the headphone has plenty of bass -- it goes pretty deep and will not disappoint bass lovers. There's a little bit of a presence boost (treble push) to make things sound a little more sparkly and you can swap between bass and bright EQ settings to change the sound up a bit. I stuck with the default, more balanced setting.

The headphone has a couple of extra features worth mentioning. Like some neckband-style headphones, the earbuds adhere magnetically to each other and when they're latched together the earphones go into a hibernation mode to conserve battery life, which is rated at 8 hours of listening with noise cancelling turned on and 12 hours with it turned off.

What you get in the box.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Another nice bonus feature allows you to use the Backbeat Go 410 as a corded headphone when necessary. Its USB charging cable has an integrated 3.5mm cable so you can plug into in-flight entertainment systems on planes. That's a big plus because one of the reasons people buy noise-cancelling headphones is to drown out plane noise when they're traveling. Over-the-ear noise-cancelling headphones come with a cord for in-flight use, but these types of in-ear neckband-style headphones typically don't.

I liked the BackBeat Go 410 and it may be my favorite new headphone from Plantronics, which has released 5 new models ahead of the holiday buying season. It lists for $130, but hopefully we'll see it discounted a bit, making it an even better value.

The USB charging cable integrates a 3.5 mm plug for corded listening on planes.

Sarah Tew/CNET

I'll post my full rated review after spending a little more time with it. In the meantime, here are the BackBeat Go 410's key specs, according to Plantronics.

Key specs

  • Smart magnetic hibernation sensors conserve battery life when latched to extend listening time
  • Dual-mode ANC for high- and low-noise environments
  • Take calls, skip tracks, adjust volume, and activate smartphone voice assistants
  • Sweat-resistant design withstands everyday perspiration
  • Small and lightweight earbuds sit flush with your ears for a discreet and comfortable on-the-go listening experience
  • Up to 8 hours of wireless listening with ANC and 12 hours of wireless listening without ANC
  • 10 mm drivers
  • Bass and bright EQ presets
  • Dual-use USB charging and in-flight 3.5 mm cable makes for easy recharging or corded listening on planes
  • Compatible with BackBeat app
  • Two colors: Graphite and Bone
  • Price: $130. No word yet on international pricing, but it converts to about £100 or AU$180.

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