Price (RRP): $299.95
When visiting the gymnasium, I usually listen to podcasts using earbuds. It’s a fine way to make the time go faster. And with them I don’t have to worry about things like sweat. But what if you prefer over-ear headphones? Plantronics comes to the rescue with the BackBeat Fit 6100 wireless sport headphones.
BackBeat Fit 6100 features
The BackBeat Fit 6100 headphones are, as their “wireless sport” name suggests, designed for active use. Indeed, the four features Plantronics focuses on in the packaging are:
- “Ultra-stable and adjustable”,
- “Water resistant sweatproof” – the headphones are IPX5 rated,
- “Rugged and Durable”, and
- “Up to 24 hours” … battery life, that is.
So, as you can see, it’s almost all about stuff that’s important to the active person.
The BackBeat Fit 6100 headphones certain seem to be sweatproof. I used them through several exercise sessions – and it is summer at the moment, after all – thereby applying to them copious amounts of perspiration. They seemed fine. I expect that an occasional wipe-over with a damp cloth would be a good idea to stop the build-up of stains.
Note, they are designed to survive your sweat, not to reduce it. There didn’t seem to be much if any ventilation. Especially as the sound isolation – not active noise cancellation – was very effective. Consequently, my ears tended to get quite warm. I’m expecting these headphones to be first class units for outdoor activities in winter. The IPX5 rating means that in addition to sweat, they’re rated to cope with water squirted at them from any direction. So rain ought not be a problem.
They are also very tough, in the sense that you can twist them harshly this way and that, and they just spring right back into shape.
The fit of the BackBeat Fit 6100 headphones
The headphones were a comfortable fit and provided a reasonable grip in their default configuration. But the first time I did some crunches, they shifted on my head. No problem: the headset grip can be tightened by pulling on a red cord coming out of the headband and hooking it onto a second lug. More crunches, and the headphones remained in place. That’s the “Ultra-stable and adjustable” part.
Initially I thought the BackBeat Fit 6100 headphones didn’t work with an app. That’s because I installed the Plantronics app on my phone and it reported that the BackBeat Fit 6100 headphones weren’t supported, even though a bunch of others are. But it turns out that there’s a “BackBeat” app as well, and that one did support the headphones. It allows you to switch on and off the “Open Mic” mode – more on that in a second – and choose one of three fixed EQ profiles – “PLT Signature Balanced”, “Bright” and “Bass”. The names are describe fairly well what each does.
You can also use the app to find the headphones. If they’re switched on and connected, you can make them beep quite loudly. If they’re off or not connected, the app will show you on a map the last placed it was connected to them, along with your location, so that you can find them. It did not seem to be able to switch them on remotely.
The BackBeat Fit 6100 headphones are available with a black, “Camo” or “Pepper Grey” headband.
Of course you can use the BackBeat Fit 6100 headphones for handsfree calling. Press a little button on the side and the headphones feed in the audio from the microphone so that you can hear what’s going on around you. That’s called “Open Mic” mode. By default, that mixes in with the music, but you can use the app to have the button also pause playback. This is a useful feature for when you’re outdoors and need to maintain a little situational awareness.
The power switch is hardwired and a voice announces headphone and battery status whenever you switch it on. Push the power switch up when it’s on and it’ll tell you again how the battery is going.
As we all know, 24 hours is a long time. That’s the rated run time. I didn’t run these headphones down in the time available for testing. They were still reporting “Battery level high.” If you do run them down, you can do a quick charge of 15 minutes to give six hours of playback. They use a Micro-B USB socket for power. This is covered by a fiddly rubber hatch.
Apart from the power switch and the “Open Mic” button, all control is exercised by tapping or sliding your finger on the back of the right earcup. You can play/pause, skip forwards or backwards and raise and lower volume. Tap and hold and you invoke Google Assistant or Siri.
The BackBeat Fit 6100 headphones use Bluetooth 5.0. Plantronics says that the operating range is 20 metres. The SBC codec is employed for your stereo music, nothing fancier. The headphones use 40mm drivers
The volume control is for the internal amplifier. It is independent of your phone’s volume level. I found there to be sufficient gain for satisfying playback on all my music, including some that’s recorded at quite a low level.
I enjoyed the sound using the “PLT Signature Balanced” setting. There was good detail in the upper frequencies but no zingy sibilance. That made for a comfortable listen to both music and voice. Dynamic content, like drums, was presented well and not seemingly compressed.
The bass was solid and extended well down to delivering bass guitar and pipe organ pedal.
The heights of high fidelity? No, not quite. But a fine, listenable and enjoyable performance? Absolutely.
The connection was very solid and offered a good range. In my usual test the range was easily more than 25 metres with no dropouts. And even beyond 40 metres the connection was intact for every orientation of my head, apart from a position with my left ear pointed directly at the phone.
On one occasion I left my phone on a piece of equipment in the gymnasium when I’d finished for the day. I left and was several shops away before dropouts in the podcast that was playing reminded me to go back and get it.
The Plantronics BackBeat Fit 6100 headphones work well and are ideal for those who like to exercise while wearing proper headphones.
Plantronics’ website for the BackBeat Fit 6100 headphones is here. You can also purchase them from there, or from the usual electronics retailers. We’ve reviewed plenty of Plantronics headphones and earphones. Check out our reviews here.