Review: Plantronics BackBeat Sense wireless headphones
4.2Overall Score

Price (RRP): $249
Manufacturer: Plantronics

You shouldn’t have to spend a fortune to have decent sound and not need cables, but this is becoming a thing where it’s obvious that you do. Or is it?

Plantronics might have a solution in its BackBeat Sense, a pair of lightweight cans that let you do away with the cables, or bring them if you choose, and still get a decent set of sound regardless.

Features and performance

The name “Plantronics” might not be one you’re familiar with, but the company has been around sound for ages.

Originating as a headset producer for aircraft and NASA — yep, the people who go into space — Plantronics branched out into producing quality electronics years ago, and has been releasing some pretty impressive headphones.

Last year, we saw the BackBeat Pro, a great but slightly unusual looking pair of over-the-ear (circumaural) headphones offering noise cancellation, solid sound, and outstanding value, especially in comparison to much of the competition.

This year, the BackBeat cans are back, but they’re smaller, lighter, and thinner, and they’re made for a different crowd. Specifically one that doesn’t want to carry a big set of headphones with them.

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These are the BackBeat Sense, and they are quite clearly a take on a market Beats is doing particularly well with in the Solo 2 wireless variety.

Much like that option, this is a wireless can relying on Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP, and operating with a Class 1 Bluetooth connection capable of handling a connection of up to 100 metres. Two microphones are also here, and the battery inside the unit is good for either up to 18 hours or 21 days of standby, though it also features a “deep sleep” battery that can have it survive without being used for up to 180 days.

Materials used in its construction are metal, plastic, and a bit of pleather atop memory foam, while the controls are particularly interesting, offering most of the controls on the left earpiece.

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On the left side, you’ll find a flat panel with pause and play in the middle, and track forward and backwards on either side, while the volume controller is a small ring controller on the outside, a nod that pays homage to one of the design elements we loved about the BackBeat Pro cans.

An extra button can be found at the very bottom of the left can — a red button — letting you hear the outside world.

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The other side — the right side — features the on and off switch, which you can hold up a little longer to get the headphones into pairing mode, while the panel on the side of the right can will let you pick up calls and stop them.