Plantronics BackBeat Pro

This has nothing to do with photography. Or maybe it does–if you like to listen to music while you edit. I just had to mention these headphones.  

I’m one of those strange people who loves the sound of Beats headphones. I like heavier bass. Before I bought my Beats Solos, I wandered around town trying different headphones. Bose noise canceling is amazing, but the quality of music is thin to me. So I ended up with the Beats. 

I don’t know if the dog chewed on the cord, or if it just wore out, but instead of replacing the cable on my Beats, I started shopping for new headphones. I read an article about these, did some research for reviews, etc., and ended up ordering them from Amazon on a Friday afternoon. (They were on sale, too.)

They got here on Sunday. (Awesome arrangement between Amazon and the USPS, by the way.)

When they arrived,  I was on the phone with my mom, so I told her I’d call her back as soon as they were hooked up. Pairing with the iPhone 6 was simple, so I called her back and finished the conversation without any trouble. She said he could hear me just fine.

These are the selling points for me:

  1. Audio quality: Let’s face it, they can be the coolest headphones out there, but if music sounds like crap, they’re useless. I love the sound that comes from these headphones. Not as bass heavy as the Beats, but more than enough to keep me happy. Highs are crisp, and mids are clear.
  2. Battery Life: They claim 24 hours of listening time. I don’t think I’ll ever have the opportunity to test this. So far, I’ve been wearing them all day–from the minute I sit down at my desk, to the minute I call it quits for the day. Sometimes I’ll throw them on in the evening if I’m in the mood for some tunes. I anticipate having to charge these once or twice a week. They’ll definitely last long enough to survive a coast-to-coast flight.
  3. Noise Cancellation: Awesome. It’s been awhile since I tried the Bose, but I’d put these right up there with ’em. The true test will be on an airplane, but I don’t have a trip scheduled any time soon, so I’ll update next time I fly.
  4. Open Mic: Why bother taking them off when you need to hear what’s around you? If you’re not on a call, you can hit the Open Mic button, and the headphones will use the external microphones to pump in the sounds around you. Music volume will be decreased, too. I wasn’t sure how useful this feature would be, but after a few days of use, I love it.
  5. Phone Headset: Works great with the iPhone 6. I can hear people, and they can hear me. Also, they seem to bring in some of the ambient noise when I’m on a call so I can actually hear myself talk. If you’ve ever tried using big headphones as a headset, you’ll know how awesome that feature is.
  6. Comfort: If you’re going to wear them all day, they better be comfortable. So far, I haven’t had any comfort issues. It took me a few days of fiddling to find the perfect placement, but I hardly notice them on my head now. They are heavier than my old Beats Solos, but are definitely more comfortable.
  7. 3.5mm Cable with Mic and Apple Controls: Seems strange to make this a selling point on a set of bluetooth headphones, but this is huge (for me.) One of the issues I had with other noise canceling headphones was that if the battery died, you were SOL. No music, no phone calls, no nothing. If the battery dies on the BackBeat Pros, just plug in the cable and keep listening to music or making phone calls. They’ll function as a perfectly good pair of headphones/headset even when the battery is dead.

I’ve only had them for a few days, so I can’t speak to the longevity. Everything else is exactly what I’ve been looking for in a set of headphones.

UPDATE 3/25/2015

Just a quick note about pairing to more than one device.

I initially paired the headphones with my iPhone 6, and everything was awesome. Then, to test out the dual-pairing functionality, I paired the headphones with my iMac. Music from the iMac sounded excellent. When a call came in on my iPhone, the headphones didn’t switch over. I couldn’t find any kind of documentation regarding how the multi-point was supposed to work, so I didn’t know if I was doing something wrong. I noticed that when I paired with the iMac, the bluetooth connection with the phone disconnected (based on the dim bluetooth icon on the phone.) I didn’t have time to really troubleshoot, so I removed the connection with the iMac.

Today, I paired the headphones with my MacBook. Same issue–when they connected to the MacBook, they disconnected from the iPhone. On a whim, I pressed the phone button on the headphones, and they reconnected to the iPhone. The headset announced, “Phone one connected… phone two connected.”

Maybe it says something about this in the documentation, but I couldn’t find it. So if your headphones don’t seem to connect to two devices, try pressing the phone button (big button on the right earpiece.)

One more thing: I charged the headphones last Wednesday. It’s been one week. I listened to them while working during most of the day, and used them while mowing the lawn over the weekend. My battery is still showing as Medium. They seem to be on the low end of medium, but still… If I only have to plug these things in once a week, they’re even better than expected.

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