Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 Wireless Headphones Review
Plantronics has updated their highly praised ‘Backbeat Pro’ model & released the much improved Backbeat Pro 2 – budget conscious buyers loved the previous generation, so let’s take a look & see how they have got on – can they compete with noise cancelling wireless headphones that average double the price? Is the Backbeat Pro 2 the new budget wireless headphone king?
Let’s get the basics out of the way first. Straight out of the box, it’s clear where the Backbeat Pro 2 sit in the scheme of things. Lots of nice quality plastic, but none of the high end materials you might expect on the top of the range models. That’s fair enough in our opinion, the design is honest & looks pretty good to our eye – if not an outstanding work of design beauty.
The backbeat pro 2 is a lot smaller & lighter than the previous ‘pro’ model, apparently 15% smaller & 35% lighter. I’m not sure about that, but it is definitely quite a compact pair of headphones & noticeably smaller than before.
The earpads & headband are lined in a synthetic leather which is nice & soft, with well padded ear surrounds. The inside of the headband is lightly padded & covered in a plush fabric, with a small fabric tag just to remind you that you have gone ‘pro’. I’m not so sure about the plastic wood effect on the outside of the earpieces (what is that? Zebrawood?), but it is not offensive… just strange.
Surrounding each earpiece is a silver metal grill which contrasts with the dark materials on the remainder of the chassis which covers the ANC microphones. Each earpiece is adorned with physical buttons to switch on/off the ANC, play n pause tracks, track skip, and a textured rotating section to adjust the volume.
No fancy touch controls here my friend. The buttons & controls all work fine, with no lags or delays – sometimes the old ways are indeed the best.
Included in the box are a plush drawstring soft case, plus the standard micro USB cable to recharge the internal battery, and a 3,5mm standard audio cable. There is a separate compartment in the case for the cables, which is a pretty nice touch & not provided by all manufacturers.
We found the backbeat pro 2 headphones to be pretty comfortable in use, and didn’t have any problems with listening over an extended period. The balance was great, and the swiveling earpieces always wiggled into a comfortable & natural listening position as soon as we put them on.
The backbeat pro 2 have a few neat features that stand out from the crowd – the first is the inclusion of ‘Class 1’ bluetooth, which gives an operating range of up to 300 feet! Of course you would need an audio player with class 1 to get that kind of range, but in use we found the distance we could get away from our test iPhone 7 & Samsung Galaxy s7 to be better than most headphones we have seen. There is no aptX or other higher definition bluetooth protocols on the backbeat pro 2, so the sound will be the same on all audio devices via bluetooth.
The second sparkling feature is the extended battery life. Plantronics quote 24 hours, with a deep sleeping standby feature that maintains a charge for 180 days. That’s pretty impressive and a big gain over the last generation ‘pro’, great news for occasional users who may use the backbeat pro 2 for an hour here, couple of hours there. Very nice!
Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 – Sound Quality & Performance
So – on to the main event for the Backbeat Pro 2 review – how do they sound?
The backbeat pro 2 features active noise cancellation which you can turn on / off with a physical switch on the earcup, and we found it did a pretty good job on cutting back the intrusive ambient noise when traveling, and in a busy office environment with lots of humming aircon & computer noise. It’s not as effective as the cathedral like silence you would get from the Bose QC 35, or as clever as the other big players like the Sennheiser PXC 550 or Sony MDR-1000X.
Maybe if we called it ‘Active Noise Reduction’ rather than ‘Cancellation’ it would feel better. It’s a nice feature & it definitely works to let you hear your tunes better above background ambient noises, heard in isolation it would be fabulous. Just don’t go listening to the competition & you will not be disappointed. On a positive note, the ANC does not seem to intrude on the sound quality of the music stream when switched on, and there is none of the artificial pressure issues that may be felt from some of the more active headphones on the market.
Sonically the backbeat pro 2 are pretty impressive (I need to quickly mention that they cost half the price of the bigger branded leading players headphones). They deliver a fairly strongly boosted low end, while maintaining clarity & definition most of the time, although there can be a little muddiness when listening to tunes with a throbbing bass track.
Mid range is pretty decent, with a slight rolling off of the highest frequencies which robbed cymbals of a little of their sparkle which we noticed on a couple of tracks. The mid range can be a bit overwhelmed by the bass on some tracks, especially if the volume if turned up high.
Vocals were nice & clean, but we did notice a little sibilance & harshness when the volume was turned up to it’s highest – probably too loud a volume to be recommended for extended listening anyways (if you value your hearing!).
The sound profile of the backbeat pro 2 reminds us a lot of the beats solo 3 we saw a few weeks ago, but with better definition & a little more engaging. It’s a fun & exciting sound rather than ‘accurate’, and whilst this will not appeal to seekers of the very finest audio quality, it’s a musical sonic performance that will be enjoyed by the vast majority. Remembering the price, we are pretty impressed!
- Feature Set 90%
- Build Quality 80%
- Sound Quality 85%
- Value for Money 95%
- Overall Rating 87%
Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 Review – Final Thoughts
The backbeat pro 2 are fantastic headphones for this price – yes there are better built / better sounding / better noise cancelling headphones out there….. but they are twice as expensive!
If you are on a budget, these are by far the most decent sounding wireless headphones that come with bluetooth & active noise cancellation that we would recommend.
Are the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 the new budget wireless headphone king? I think so.