Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2
- Pros: The BackBeat Pro 2 keeps the many features of its previous version but now enjoys a much more worked look. The construction is always superb, as well as the comfort and the autonomy allowing a prolonged listening of your favorite music. Special mention for the rate, sweeter than that of its competitors.
- Cons: The active noise cancelining is still a little too discreet to our taste. The cushion padding would have earned a little more thickness.
- In short: Second generation and second success for Plantronics BackBeat Pro. Complete, comfortable, intuitive and performing, hard to find something like this for its price! Much more aesthetic, this Pro 2 should undoubtedly be as successful as his little brother. Hoping a version 3 with an ANC a little more up to the competition.
- AptX and AAC compatible Bluetooth headphone
- Multipoint connection and NFC chip
- Full control over headphones
- Integrated motion sensors
- Active Noise Cancelling and Open-Mic Functionality
- Autonomy 24 hours
- Hard case (Special Edition) or soft (Classic Edition)
Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 Review
For two years now, the Plantronics BackBeat Pro has become one of the best Bluetooth headphones on the market, delivering performance, convenience, and functionality at a much lower price than its direct competitors. Nevertheless, it must be confessed that the look of the headphone was clearly not to the taste of all the users, with an imposing template and not always of the most practical for a model being nomadic.
The Californian manufacturer seems to have effectively reassembled all these returns and so offers us a brand new Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2. A smooth evolution, taking the first generation foundations while bringing its batch of improvements, both in terms of performance and ergonomics.
The answer to this question is in the rest of the review article.
The BackBeat Pro 2 comes in two versions, a classic and a special edition offering some additional accessories and a slightly different color. This is the second version we have today, but keep in mind that performance and functionality remain exactly the same on both versions.
The ensemble is presented in a beautiful box covered with a cardboard cover with relatively simple tones. The front side displays a large photo of the Pro 2, while the back side details the different strengths of the model. One finds in particular that the autonomy is supposed to be able to reach the 24 hours and that of course the active cancelling of the noise remains of the part.
Inside the box of this special edition, the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 is accompanied by a very nice protective rigid case, as well as a cable for the wired listening and a cable USB/Micro-USB to recharge the internal battery. Note that if you opt for the standard version, the headphone will be accompanied by a soft pouch and not rigid as here.
Design & Ergonomics
For this second generation of BackBeat Pro, Plantronics clearly did not do things by half and the differences between the two versions are visible from the first glance on the beast. Announced as 35% more compact and 15% lighter, the Pro 2 really does not have much to do with its little brother in terms of look, and offers a much more mature and worked aesthetics.
The gray tones of this special edition contrast with the very dark color of the first generation, and it must be confessed that the headphone clearly looks great. The assembly also appears very robust and displays exemplary finishes despite construction mainly made of plastic. The different hinges do not creak in all directions, and only a very few slight games are to be emphasized.
Before going into detail, keep in mind that this is always a circum-aural model. If the headphone undergoes a beautiful slimming cure, it always remains more imposing than the super-auricular models, such as the Bose SoundLink or the Beats Solo3 Wireless.
The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 has a logic similar to that of the first version. We, therefore, remain on a headband that is both supple and robust, casing without flinching twists and other stretches. Its outer part is covered with a high-quality imitation leather cover, while the inner part has a perforated fabric covering for better ventilation. The padding of the arch is not particularly consistent but intensifies on the parts directly in contact with the top of the skull.
The arch also fits very easily to most morphologies (thanks to its nice flexibility and its extension system). Small or big heads, you should not have trouble carrying this one for long hours. When adjusting, the notches are very sensitive and we can use graphic marks to find the size that corresponds to us.
You can now reach the earbuds, which like on the first generation of BackBeat Pro can be rotated flat to facilitate storage as well as wearing around the neck. If they keep an identical pivot system, the auricles nevertheless undergo several transformations on this new generation. Firstly, their shape is no longer circular but slightly oval, thus better matching the shape of the ears.
With the headphone working via Bluetooth, the many headphone controls are also positioned on both ear pads. On the left side there is a button with three positions which can activate or stop the noise cancelling and Open-Mic functionality to activate the microphones to hear outside noise without removing the headphone.
On the left atrium you can find the main commands allowing to navigate between its different musical tracks. These buttons are directly integrated into the outer shell of the headphone and blend perfectly with the set. Press the center key to activate play/pause, press forward to move to the next track, and backward to the previous track. Around this first control disc, there is a textured circle that can be rotated forward or backward to manage the volume while flying. In use, not much to complain about these controls which are particularly intuitive and easy to master.
The right side of the headphone also has a few controls. A button on the front panel activates the headphone and its Bluetooth connection. A second, lower button, can be used to disable the internal microphone of Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2. The external shell also remains operable, and can be used in particular to answer phone calls or to activate the voice assist of smartphones such as Siri or Google Now. Finally, at the base of this headphone is the connection, with a micro-USB port for charging, and a 3.5 mm mini-jack for wired listening.
We now pass on the inner part of the auricles, which have the particularity of displaying large acronyms “L” and “R” to be sure not to be mistaken while putting the headphone on the ears. Around it, there are comfortable pads with a leatherette coating effectively distributing the pressure of the BackBeat Pro 2. The depth of the auricles seem to have been considerably reduced compared to the previous version, and the ears can therefore touch the tissues (Which are slightly padded).
In use, however, it is not really disturbing and the headphone is positioned as one of the most comfortable in its class. Once on the ears, it is in fact quickly forgettable and can be worn for several hours without necessarily causing the discomfort. The arch, despite a rather shy padding is very comfortable while offering excellent support. It does not squeeze the head too much, but does not slip to the movements. A real success!
Before going to the functionalities of the Pro 2, some information about its transport pouch. For this special edition, it is a completely rigid and zipped case, protecting the headphone in the best way during your movements. The shell is solid, while the inner part has a very nice velvet coating. A net also allows to place its various accessories in the pouch. It is recalled that the “classic” version of the BackBeat Pro 2 is only shipped with a soft pouch and not rigid.
Features & Active Noise Cancelling
Like its predecessor, this new Pro 2 has a full range of features, of course starting with a wireless connection via Bluetooth. This is a Class 1 connection, with a range of up to 100 meters! Enjoy its music in the back of the garden even if your phone is inside your home.
The connection can be made in a conventional way via the menus of your phone or tablet, and also via NFC if you have a compatible device. In this case, simply bring the Pro 2 closer to your smartphone. Note that the headset can also connect to two devices simultaneously, and switch from one to the other in the blink of an eye. Very convenient to view a movie on your laptop or tablet while still being able to answer a phone call directly via the headphone.
As with the first generation of BackBeat Pro, the headphone also features smart sensors that automatically pause music when you remove it from your ears. In the same way, it automatically restarts once the headphone is in position again. A feature that is very practical to use and that is also found on the Parrot Zik 3.
Finally, one of the most popular features of the moment: Active noise canceling. The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 offers three different listening modes: active noise cancelling, passive noise cancelling and an open listening mode. It actually turns off the sound of your music while activating the microphones of the headphones to hear everything that happens around you without even removing it from your ears. A very practical option, avoiding removing the headphone from the ears when a person wants to talk to someone, or simply not to miss your metro stop.
On the side of the noise cancelling, we remain on something quite discreet, and still very far from the master in the matter: the Bose QuietComfort 35. Once on the road, some frequencies are slightly attenuated effects, especially on the bottom of the spectrum, but the headphone does not clearly cut completely from the outside world. It is reminiscent of what the Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7NC proposed. A simple example: the Pro 2 can remove a very large part of the noise of the fans of a computer positioned at our feet, but will not cover the sound of the keys of a keyboard. Also note that by activating the functionality, a slight blast appears, as often on headphones with active noise cancelling.
The sound quality of Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 remains in line with that discovered on the first generation of headphones. Each headphone has a 400m speaker, and the Bluetooth connection is compatible with the aptX and AAC codecs, to get the most out of your favorite music. If you want to go even further with wireless, do not hesitate to look at the Sony MDR-100ABN, LDAC compatible.
The overall sound spectrum is globally homogeneous but offers particularly rich and deep bass. The headphone is however far from being limited to certain musical genres and adapts to the contrary to most titles. The vocal parts are not particularly emphasized but are always clear and perfectly intelligible. The treble is not forgotten and adds many details without attacking the ears even during extended listening. All good.
On the side of the sound scene, which is both wide and open for a closed headphone. Listening is really nice, and if you liked the sound quality of its predecessor, this Pro 2 should convince you again.
The sound differences between passive and active listening (with ANC) are not too marked, and that it will, therefore, be possible to take full advantage of your music and films in both cases. This is a great feat from Plantronics, where some competitors have a poor performance in passive listening.
Regarding the onboard microphone, the know-how of the brand in this matter is quickly noticed and it is possible to use the headphone when making calls in almost every imaginable situation.
Let’s finish our review with a small point concerning the autonomy of the headphone. This is an essential criterion when choosing a Bluetooth headphone, and the Pro 2 again wins with brilliance in this sector. With a range of up to 24 hours, combining wireless connection with active noise reduction, the headphone can accompany you on long journeys without worrying.
The new Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 is again one of the best references in the world of Bluetooth headphones, by taking back the keys to the success of its predecessor and by adding a clearly aesthetic overhaul. A true gem of technology, it has a full range of functionalities that make it easier to use on a daily basis. Intuitive controls with the presence of motion sensors, everything goes to enjoy pleasant listening and lasting.
The aesthetic redesign brings real more in terms of design, without compromising the good comfort provided once on the ears. Only a shadow on the board, an active noise cancelling always a little too timid to our taste, especially against competitors such as the Bose QC35 or the recent Sony MDR-1000X.
These two models are nevertheless offered at much higher prices than the BackBeat Pro 2, which with a recommended price should be able to enter the budget of many more users in search of a complete and powerful solution. Also note that with the release of this new model, the first generation of the BackBeat Pro is now even more accessible at a very cheap price. An excellent deal if its design which is a little less elegant does not put you off.