Plantronics BackBeat Sense Review

Plantronics BackBeat Sense Review
Plantronics BackBeat Sense Review
Plantronics BackBeat Sense Review
Plantronics BackBeat Sense Review
Plantronics BackBeat Sense Review
Introduction


Back last fall, Plantronics entered the high-end mobile headphones space with its BackBeat Pro headphones, which we found to be one of the most features rich headphones on the market – it just went above and beyond what its competitors offered. After garnering attention in the space, they’re at it again with another model that’s regarded as its baby sibling; the Plantronics BackBeat Sense. Clearly, there are dramatic differences between this and the BackBeat Pro, but in the long run, it’s aiming to strike a balance between portability, performance, and cost.

Packaging contains:

  • Plantronics BackBeat Sense
  • Travel case
  • microUSB cable
  • 3.5mm stereo cable
  • For your safety guide
  • Warranty information

Design


Call it the mini-version of the BackBeat Pro, as the BackBeat Sense is essentially a lighter and more compact version of its esteemed sibling. While it still sports some of the same design characteristics, it doesn’t look or feel as over imposing, so it’s not accompanied with any bulkiness either. Aesthetically, we wouldn’t classify it as premium or modern, but rather, it’s a contemporary design that’s neither boring nor too over-the-top stylish.
Its body is constructed mostly out of plastic, which is available in either white or black. Now, the material doesn’t scream high-quality, but the metal framed headband allows for some flexibility without being too loose to the point that it comes off with subtle movements. Small accents, like the brown color of its cushioning and mesh grill surrounding each ear cup, help to even out and balance its particular styling.

Thankfully, it feels comfortable for the most part when it’s worn, but it’s not as cushiony as the BackBeat Pro. That’s because the cushioning around the ear cups and headband aren’t as stuffed, but nevertheless, the subtle loose fit of the BackBeat Sense is still usable for leisurely walks and runs. Adding to its comfort, the headband and ear cups are all adjustable to properly conform to almost any head size!

With the left ear cup, it features physical controls for pause/play, track forward, and track reverse all on the outside. Adjusting the volume is easily done, too, by just twisting the outside ring of the ear cup clockwise or counterclockwise, which is a different take from what we’re used to. Over on the right ear cup, we have its microUSB port, 3.5mm port, physical power switch, and a multi-function button.

Plantronics designed the BackBeat Sense with millennials in mind, so its laid back styling over the BackBeat Pro makes perfect sense. To tell you the truth, its design fits well for a variety of occasions – such as working out, or just sitting back and listening to music peacefully on your own.

 

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Plantronics BackBeat Sense Review

Plantronics BackBeat Sense Review
Plantronics BackBeat Sense Review
Plantronics BackBeat Sense Review
Plantronics BackBeat Sense Review
Plantronics BackBeat Sense Review
Introduction


Back last fall, Plantronics entered the high-end mobile headphones space with its BackBeat Pro headphones, which we found to be one of the most features rich headphones on the market – it just went above and beyond what its competitors offered. After garnering attention in the space, they’re at it again with another model that’s regarded as its baby sibling; the Plantronics BackBeat Sense. Clearly, there are dramatic differences between this and the BackBeat Pro, but in the long run, it’s aiming to strike a balance between portability, performance, and cost.

Packaging contains:

  • Plantronics BackBeat Sense
  • Travel case
  • microUSB cable
  • 3.5mm stereo cable
  • For your safety guide
  • Warranty information

Design


Call it the mini-version of the BackBeat Pro, as the BackBeat Sense is essentially a lighter and more compact version of its esteemed sibling. While it still sports some of the same design characteristics, it doesn’t look or feel as over imposing, so it’s not accompanied with any bulkiness either. Aesthetically, we wouldn’t classify it as premium or modern, but rather, it’s a contemporary design that’s neither boring nor too over-the-top stylish.
Its body is constructed mostly out of plastic, which is available in either white or black. Now, the material doesn’t scream high-quality, but the metal framed headband allows for some flexibility without being too loose to the point that it comes off with subtle movements. Small accents, like the brown color of its cushioning and mesh grill surrounding each ear cup, help to even out and balance its particular styling.

Thankfully, it feels comfortable for the most part when it’s worn, but it’s not as cushiony as the BackBeat Pro. That’s because the cushioning around the ear cups and headband aren’t as stuffed, but nevertheless, the subtle loose fit of the BackBeat Sense is still usable for leisurely walks and runs. Adding to its comfort, the headband and ear cups are all adjustable to properly conform to almost any head size!

With the left ear cup, it features physical controls for pause/play, track forward, and track reverse all on the outside. Adjusting the volume is easily done, too, by just twisting the outside ring of the ear cup clockwise or counterclockwise, which is a different take from what we’re used to. Over on the right ear cup, we have its microUSB port, 3.5mm port, physical power switch, and a multi-function button.

Plantronics designed the BackBeat Sense with millennials in mind, so its laid back styling over the BackBeat Pro makes perfect sense. To tell you the truth, its design fits well for a variety of occasions – such as working out, or just sitting back and listening to music peacefully on your own.



Plantronics app


There’s a complementary Plantronics Hub app available for download, which offers some basic features that allow us to check out the headset’s connectivity status, battery life, and some other guides. It’s available for Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows (no Windows _phone_ support, though).

Frankly, it’s generic and elementary in what is does – with only its battery indicator being the most notable feature. That being said, it really would’ve been nice if it offered some enhanced functions to make the app experience necessary, but it’s not.

Alternatively, there’s also the Find MyHeadset app, which does exactly what it’s named after. Just as long it’s still connected to your connected device, the app can track down the location of the BackBeat Sense.

Connectivity


Plantronics claims that its Class 1 Bluetooth connection has a range up to 330 feet, which is pretty impressive when you think about it. Even though we’re unble to put this claim to the test, we’re still delighted that we’re able to maintain a connection to a Samsung Galaxy S6 Active indoors around 50 feet – that by itself is pretty good in comparison to some other Bluetooth headphones we’ve tested.

Performance


Plantronics BackBeat Sense Review
Plantronics BackBeat Sense Review
Putting on the BackBeat Sense for music listening, we’re treated to a very light amount of suppression – albeit, background noise can still be heard if the volume isn’t placed high enough. Despite that, the audio quality here favors a neutral tone, with a slightly flatter range. This means that all audio ranges are represented equally, with no particular one being too overpowering over the others. Essentially, the end result sounds decently to the ear, but it’s not as crisp and clean toned as we’d like. You have a decent amount of bass, but at the loudest volume, the highs tend to sound increasingly indistinct.

One of the headphones’ cool feature is OpenMic, which is enabled by pressing on button found on the underside of the left ear cup. Well, this is something that we were first exposed to with the BackBeat Pro. The premise is basically relying on the various microphones to amplify incoming sound, so we’re given Superman-like enhanced hearing. It’s useful when someone by chance talks to you while you’re listening to something, so rather than taking them off, we can hear them with it on.

And finally, it’s a smart pair of headphones because it knows when it’s worn or not – thus, able to preserve battery life wherever the opportunity arises. From the looks of it, the sensor is incorporated into the right ear cup, so if it’s taken off, the music is instantly paused. And of course, it resumes once it’s placed back on.

Battery


Plantronics has the BackBeat Sense rated for 18 hours of music listening, but in our experience, it comes up just a little short at 15 hours. Despite missing the mark, it’s still a level that’s pretty good because it’s something that won’t require daily charges. Instead, it’ll power most folks through a solid week of usage before it becomes too critical.

Conclusion


Turning our attention to its price of $179.99, it’s a tough call considering that the BackBeat Pro isn’t too far away at $250. The price difference is justified, obviously, as the BackBeat Sense is a scaled down version. Needless to say, if the $250 pricing is just too much for you to handle, the $180 cost of the BackBeat Sense will be easier. Even though we like a lot of the rich features it offers, such as OpenMic for amplification and Multipoint technology for simultaneous connection to two devices, its audio quality is just lacking the substance to give it some good bite.

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