Last year, it was hard to find better value headphones than the BackBeat Pro from Plantronics, but the design wasn’t ideal for all. This year, however, there’s a different plan, and it’s to make the lightest wireless headphones ever.
Designed for a world driven by a wireless future, the next pair of headphones Plantronics wants to get on people’s heads is made to be slim, light, easy to use, and long lasting.
They’re called the “Sense”, and they’re a delightfully light pair of cans barely nudging the scales at 140 grams made from a combination of plastics, aluminium, and memory foam, with some of the design elements used in the previous BackBeat Pro models shrunk down to fit a smaller size.
These include the volume controller which is a small slight jog wheel on one ear allowing you to wind volume up or down by slightly rotating the element, pulling it back or forward and hearing the volume go up or down with it.
Pause and playback elements are also included on an earpiece, just like they were on the Pro, as is a Class 1 Bluetooth system allowing a compatible Class 1 device to stretch the wireless communication up to 100 metres away.
But that wireless connection is key on the BackBeat Sense, because these cans are a pair of wireless headphones, which is a point Plantronics wants to stress.
“Eventually there won’t be a headphone jack on your phone,” said Peter Petrifies, National Retail Sales Manager for Plantronics in Australia and New Zealand.
“There’s room for a battery there. If we don’t embrace wireless now, we’ve missed the boat.”
To skip that, the Sense are designed to work with a battery capable of delivering up to 18 hours of wireless transmission, with sensors included to pick up on when you’re wearing the headphones and when you’re not, pausing the music on that last circumstance.
Put them back on again and they’ll start playing, and you’ll even be able to listen to the outside world thanks to a technology called “OpenMic” whereby a button press will pause the music and switch on microphones to let you listen to the outside world, because walking into traffic is rarely safe and never fun.
If your battery does run out, you’ll find a 3.5mm jack on the headphones for listening without needing to charge the battery, handy for those “in case of emergency” situations.
“There is a constant demand for headphones that are lighter, comfortable and deliver high quality audio and the BackBeat Sense hits all those notes and more,” said Petrides.
“What’s better is that the BackBeat Sense features intuitive smart sensors which pause music when you slip off the headphones preserving battery life when they’re not being worn, then gently fading in your tunes when you put them back on.”
A proprietary technology from Plantronics adds to this, allowing that 18 hour battery to survive up to six months without charging, putting the headphones into a sort of a “deep sleep” when they’re not in use.
Picking up the headphones for the first time, it’s clear that the company is definitely thinking of minimalism when this design was looked at, and on the ears we’ve already found them to be quite comfortable.
An initial test of the BackBeat Sense reveals the headphones to be surprisingly tight in the mids and highs, with just enough thwack on the bottom end to provide comfortable but not overkill amounts of bass.
That said, we’ll be looking to give this one a good reviewing in the coming weeks, which will be just in time for the release which is scheduled for early September.
Pricing on the Plantronics BackBeat Sense headphones comes in at $249, which from where we’re sitting appears to be a direct stab at wireless headphones from a few other brands, such as the ones produced by Beats.
In any case, you’ll find them in electronics stores from September 1, though we’re aiming to have our review online before that.