With so many models available, selecting a pair of over-ear headphones has never been easy. Priced at $200, the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 is an affordable pair of headphones at producing high-quality audio. These over-ear headphones are engineered with 40mm drivers designed to deliver detailed audio reproduction. After using these headphones extensively in and outside my home, I can confidently say that they’re among the best $200-priced headphones I’ve listened to yet, maybe even the best from Plantronics. So without further delay, let’s take a closer look in this Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 headset review.
• Creative, modern design
• Solid construction, flexible, yet sturdy
• Feature reach with superb sound
• Very comfortable fit
• Great battery life of up to 24 hours
• Active noise canceling is not up to par
• No wall outlet plug included
• Only two color patterns available
• Plantronics Hub App is lacking
Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 Headset Review
The 6 Things You Need To Know for Operating the BackBeat Pro 2
- To power on the BBP2, slide the power switch on. You’ll hear “Pairing” or “Battery High” or “Phone 1 Connected.” It will only take a few seconds for it to occur.
- To power off the BBP2, slide the power switch off. You’ll hear “Power Off.” It will only take a few seconds for it to occur.
- To pair the BBP2 to your mobile device, slide the power switch fully until you hear “Pairing.” The time this takes varies based on your device. Red and Blue LED lights will flash. Then head to the Bluetooth Settings on your mobile device and pair the headphones.
- Volume up and down is controlled by pressing and holding the bumpy black retractable dial on the outer left cup. A voice will activate to let you know if you’ve achieved maximum or minimum volume. The center button controls answering and rejecting calls, or playing and pausing the track. To mute the mic, press the button on the lower right cup.
- To forward or reverse a music track, press the (>) or (<) buttons for one second. Note: this only works in wireless mode.
- Play time lasts for a whopping 24 hours with a 6-month deep sleep standby time. Charging the headphones takes approximately 3 hours. You’ll notice a red light while charging and a red blinking light when the battery is low. I’ve never seen the latter as it’s yet to occur.
You’ve got to appreciate a pair of headphones where there’s little that you need to know for proper operation. It couldn’t be much simpler.
BackBeat Pro 2 Design and Features
At first glance, the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 has a fascinating design with an unusual choice of colors. Although dark, the browns and blacks do blend.
The outer headband surface, as well as the ear pads, are made from a dark brown colored vegan leather. These ear pads appear to contain some form of memory foam. Every time I removed the headset, the ear pads return to their designed state. You don’t need to worry about which headphone is left or right. A rather large “L” and “R” on the inside of their respective ear pad gives it away. The inside headband is made from a medium brown colored, perforated and breathable fabric. I got to say, it feels rather nice and holds firm on my semi-bald head.
The outer portion of the ear cups (or pads, whatever you want to to call them is fine) has five different hard plastic material looks. One looks like laminated fiber while another has a wood grain appearance and yet another looks like tiny glittering gemstones. As I stated, it’s an intriguing look which in full disclosure took some time for me to accept. Cups can rotate 90° degrees in and roughly 10° out.
The headband can fit a wide range of head frames with its dozen adjustable positions. Button and switch placement appears to be handled well. Had I been one of the product designers, I would have used one less switch and button and blended them into the faux wood grain portion of the ear cups. As an engineer, I know it can be done.The overall construction is well executed and assures high quality. The headphones include a port for wired audio and another for charging.
Also included is a cloth carrying bag containing two zippered pockets, both with incredibly soft protective lining. Oddly enough, the top zipper is longer than it needs to be and led to some tearing off from the pouch.
As of today, the BackBeat Pro 2 wireless headphones are available in two colors, one of which includes the special edition version. Should additional colors be introduced down the road, this post will be updated.
• Headphone Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
• Driver Diameter: 40 mm
• Range: 330 Feet (100 Meters)
• Impedance: 32 Ω
• Codec: aptX™
• Bluetooth 4.0 Profile: HSP 1.2, HFP 1.6
• Battery: 680 mAh Lithium-Polymer
• Music Play Time: 24 Hours
• Standby Time: 6 Months
• Charging Time: 3 Hours
• Weight: 289 Grams (0.64 lb)
• Audio Profile: A2DP, AVRCP, AAC
What’s In The Box?
• Soft Carrying Bag
• Quick Guide
• 19″ μ-USB Charging Cable
Amazon Music Playlist
• Lana Del Rey – Paradise
• Lorde – Pure Heroine
• The Prodigy – Invaders Must Die
• My Chemical Romance – The Black Parade
• Zedd – Clarity
• Ellie Goulding – Halcyon
• The Black Keys – El Camino
• 30 Seconds To Mars – 30 Seconds To Mars
I repeat this time and time when reviewing speakers and headphones; the most important performance factor is the quality of sound. The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 over-ear headphones were tested across a broad range of music using the playlist listed above. Songs within each album were sampled on comparable $200-$250 headphones selected from the collection, and results were noted. When you’re testing headphones with 40mm drivers and a frequency response of 20Hz – 20kHz, you expect high-quality sound.
Vocals and bass were most impressive on the BackBeat Pro 2 and didn’t falter even up to the highest volume setting. Frankly, I didn’t expect bass to sound this good. The overall audio was high-quality and free of distortion. I know this because I conducted something called ‘The Electronic Music Test.’ I take an album from an electronic artist like Zedd or The Prodigy and put the headphones through its paces. (Feel free to insert your choice of artist who happens to play complex music using a variety of instruments and sounds.)
After having played albums from rock acts like 30 Seconds To Mars, Muse, My Chemical Romance, and The Black Keys, in addition to Electronica’s Zedd and The Prodigy, I can report that the BackBeat Pro 2 exceeded expectations and then some. Bass sounds were deep, rich, and even layered throughout the volume range. For instance, listen to Zedd’s Lost At Sea or Codec or Lana Del Rey’s Gods & Monsters. You can clearly hear layered bass sounds one on top of another. I have not heard bass like this from any other headphones in this price range.
Vocals come out smooth and full of life. The vocal reproduction of the 3 L’s (Lana Del Rey, Lady Gaga, and Lorde) plus Ellie Goulding sounded terrific. The vocals of all the female artists were more vivid than anticipated and an improvement on the more expensive Libratone Q Adapt.
Rhythm guitar while evident could have been a bit more pronounced. I would have liked a bit more here, matching what I heard from the vocals and bass. Edge Of The Earth from 30 Seconds To Mars didn’t quite have the strong rhythm guitar sounds I’ve become accustomed to with some other headsets.
On the flip side, you hear great guitar sound on Sister from The Black Keys, on top of terrific vocals, bass guitar and drum sounds.
The headphones took a balanced approach to sound quality with outstanding bass and vocal reproduction.
The Plantronics Hub App and Other Things I Noticed
Plantronics takes the headphones market with a level of seriousness, so much so that they offer an app that provides the user some basic information on their products. The app called Plantronics Hub is available via Apple’s iTunes and Google Play Store. I use an LG G6 mobile phone which uses the Android OS and had no issue with the app.
While it’s not as in-depth as some other headset apps, you’re able to see the headset status and battery level, among a few other things. The best features are within the Find MyHeadset section. If you’ve misplaced your headphones, you can send it an audible tone and backtrack to where it’s been. Now that’s pretty neat.
Answering, ending, or returning the most recent telephone call is a cinch for the BBP2. All these controls are on the outer right ear cup. Like many top brands, there’s even the ability to pair two (Plantronics) headphones to one audio source. This feature is becoming standard within the industry.
If you haven’t noticed by now, the BBP2 uses smart sensor technology. Whenever you put on or remove the headphones, different things occur such as the playing and pausing of music, and more. This too is becoming standard within the industry.
Now, I wouldn’t be much of a reviewer if I didn’t find some fault(s) with the BBP2. The feature I disliked the most and is in need of improvement is the active noise canceling. Also known as ANC, this feature reduces unwanted noise external to your ears. In the case of the BBP2, the ANC didn’t reduce enough unwanted noise. By my estimate, it appears that noise cancellation is around 25% when compared to other headsets. If you’re outdoors walking around the yard like I do every day, you’ll hear my direct neighbor’s dog barking or the loud sound of Dennis’s lawn tractor (a neighbor from across the street) with hardly any reduction. This is disappointing.
When I mow my lawn, I wear another brands headset, not the BBP2, to crush out the external noise. And more often that not, that headset isn’t even turned on. My recommendation to Plantronics is that they incorporate varying noise cancellation settings on any future model. With this headset, ANC is best suited on an airplane, even more so on those long-haul flights. This way, you won’t have to worry about battery life.
While you may want more volume, and many of us do, listening to music at the highest settings is counterproductive and can lead to hearing problems, so be mindful. When switching on ANC, bass levels increase so much so that I prefer not to use ANC. Bass already sounds great without ANC; I don’t need more.
In my testing, the feature-rich BackBeat Pro 2 wireless headphones performed phenomenally. The production of strong vocals and clear bass at the highest volume setting was a breeze. Turn on the ANC, and you get even more bass.
These aren’t sport headphones, so I don’t recommend them for any aerobic activity beyond walking. From first-hand experience, there’s no issue when used during weight training.
The headphones are quite comfortable even after a handful of hours of continuous listening. At $199, the BackBeat Pro 2 are among the best wireless headphones of 2017 and are priced well against their often more expensive competition. We recommend you try them out.
What do you think of this Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 headset review? Do you agree or disagree with our verdict? Let us know in the comment section below or via social media. We’re eager to hear your thoughts.
FTC Disclosure: Plantronics provided Beantown LLC with one (1) BackBeat Pro 2 headphones sample for review purposes. This writer’s opinion is 100% his own and not a paid product ambassador.
All photographs are the copyrighted property of Plantronics and Beantown LLC © 2017.