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Plantronics BackBeat Sense wireless headphones review – listen with no cables and no worries

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When it comes to making a good pair of headphones, Plantronics can certainly claim a level of expertise and development that not many other companies can match. It has demonstrated this with its latest wireless headphones – the BackBeat Sense.

Plantronics has been in the game since man first landed on the moon.

In fact, those famous words by Neil Armstrong after he became the first man to walk on the moon – “one small step for man – one giant leap for mankind” were actually spoken through a Plantronics headset.

The BackBeat Sense is an impressive amalgamation of standout features including excellent audio quality, lightweight materials, subtle yet still eye-catching style, smart sensors and the best Bluetooth in its class.

DESIGN

The BackBeat Sense headphones are lightweight (140g) and made of premium materials.

The pillow soft memory foam ear pads fit to the shape of the listener’s ears and are covered in luxurious leather.

The same material also covers the headband that sits inside a thin but strong adjustable aluminium frame.

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They are designed for comfortable wear and that’s exactly how we found them after wearing them for hours on end on flights and out and about while we were reviewing them.

And the fact they only weigh 140g made us forget they were even on our head.

On the outside of the left ear cup is where you’ll find volume controls and the navigation buttons to take charge of your music.

The volume control is a spring-loaded dial on the outside while inside that ring are the controls to go backwards and forwards and pause your music.

On the right ear cup is a button to make and return calls on your paired smartphone.

There is also an on/off/pairing switch on the right side along with a microUSB port to charge the battery and a 3.5mm jack to connect a cable and still hear your music if the charge runs out.

And when not in use, the BackBeat Sense headphones fold flat so they can sit comfortably around your neck or be packed away in the included carry bag.

They are available in two styles – Black/Espresso and White/Tan.

FEATURES

The appealing thing about the Plantronics Sense headphones is not just the impressive audio quality but the other features included to make the whole listening experience even better and more comfortable.

The first is Advanced Class 1 Bluetooth which makes it possible to control two connected devices.

And it also takes it beyond the traditional 10m range of typical Bluetooth to up to a staggering 100m.

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We were able to clearly hear our music from our smartphone that was positioned on the back fence from the road outside the front of our house. And that wasn’t even half the range the BackBeat Sense can handle.

So imagine the convenience of hearing your music while your device is safely out of the wy like in a gym or in an office.

It also has dual mics so you can hear your calls more clearly and for interacting with digital assistants on your computer or smartphone like Siri or Cortana and Google Now.

The OpenMic technology – it can be accessed by pressing the red button on the bottom of the left earcup – is also handy for those times when you need to hear the outside world – like in an airport waiting for your flight to be called or in an office.

One of our favourite features though would have to be the intuitive sensors that automatically pauses the music when you take the BackBeat Sense headphones off your head.

So no more reaching for your connected device to pause it or even touching the headphones themselves.

And when you put them back on your head, the music resumes exactly where you left off – again without you having to do a thing.

PERFORMANCE

On the audio side, the Plantronics BackBeat Sense headphones deliver incredible audio quality.

The onboard dynamic drivers provide an impressive range from highs and mid-level tones to an impressive bass level that doesn’t overpower the music.

There is no active noise cancellation happening with these headphones but the soft seal creates some passive noise cancellation.

So no matter what type of music you’re listening to – the BackBeat Sense can handle it and handle it well.

Each time you connect to your device a voice announces that you’re connected and the battery level.

The BackBeat Sense right ear cup with the on/off/pairing switch
The BackBeat Sense right ear cup with the on/off/pairing switch

Speaking of the battery level, that’s another strength of the headphones. On a single charge, the BackBeat Sense can run for up to 18 hours.

Perfect for a long flight or a long commute. And if you do run out of power, simply connect the 3.5mm audio cable to headphones and to your device and you can continue to listen.

But another big tick for the device is the deep sleep capabilities of the battery.

How many times have you charged other headphones, left them for a few days and found the power has been drained?

That’s not the case with the BackBeat Sense headphones thanks to the battery’s deep sleep mode.

When not in use it enters a hibernation mode which means you can pick them up again in six months and still have the same amount of battery life remaining when you put them away.

The OpenMic switch to hear the outside world
The OpenMic switch to hear the outside world

VERDICT

The Plantronics BackBeat Sense headphones have the convenience of wireless connection along with a number of features that make listening to your music a pleasure.

The company has put plenty of thought into making the headphones intuitive and easy to use with a battery performance to back it up.

And at $249 they are also very competitively priced.

If you’re looking for a pair of great-sounding wireless headphones, then the Plantronics BackBeat Sense should at the top of your list.

BackBeat Sublime Black

Plantronics BackBeat Sense headphones

Price: $249  (Available from Sept 1)