Can Bluetooth headphones with active noise cancelling really last for 24-hours on a single charge? Find out in our Plantronics BackBeat PRO review.
Wireless connectivity and active noise cancellation drain battery life, but Plantronics reckons its latest Bluetooth headphones can do both for 24 hours straight and even sound good doing it. At £199, they're a little more expensive than the Sony MDR-ZX750BN and cheaper than the Beats By Dre Studio, which both offer similar features, but without making the same radical battery life claim.
NFC and AptX are certainly welcome features and the design, with twisting playback controls right there on your ear cups, hints at an understated headphone champion. So lets see if all adds up…
Plantronics BackBeat PRO: Comfort
Over ear headphones are great at isolating the sound in your cans, but usually not great for comfort. The BackBeat PRO are actually fine for prolonged listening thanks to the soft padding around the earpieces and in the headband. The battery contributes some unwelcome weight, but overall, they're surprisingly wearable.
The discs on each cup are in fact a jog wheel and rotary volume control, which makes remote operation much less fiddly than the usual inline controls you usually find and indeed, are included with the optional headphone cable.
Plantronics BackBeat PRO: Features
The two headline features here are Bluetooth connectivity and active noise cancelling, but that's not the end of the story. Advanced Bluetooth means you have a range of 100 meters, which is perhaps overkill in this in this application, and it includes AptX, which ensures reliable data transfer to an AptX source.
The ANC (active noise cancelling) is also effective enough to give our Bose QC15s a run for their money, although the new QC25s are likely to move the goalposts again. One advantage the Plantronics have, however, is a much longer lasting battery and unlike Bose, it's not game over when the battery dies. You can still hear your music, with background noise, using the optional 3.5mm cable.
The battery also seems to charge very quickly through the microUSB port (three hours for a full tank) and the quoted 60-hours of noise cancellation, or 21 days in standby are believable on the strength of our testing so far.
Plantronics BackBeat PRO: Sound quality
Plantronics is best known for its gaming headsets and telecom devices, so you might expect its audiophile claims to ring as hollow as its headphones, but that's not the case at all. There's a robust and fast bass response coupled with an incisive treble, that's a little aggressive, but never sibilant, or splashy. Vocals and instruments in the mid-band are also clearly defined in the mix.
While the Beats by Dre Studio have a more fulsome bounce in the bass, there's enough warmth here for mellow jazz and classical. The snappy style and clear treble perhaps suit guitar and live music the best though.
They also play loud when you turn that big volume wheel on the side, but that's when the slightly aggressive nature of the driver reminds you to reign it in a little.
Plantronics BackBeat PRO: Verdict
With headphones increasingly being considered fashion accessories, these rather plain and bulky plastic cans are at a disadvantage. But if its wireless convenience and solid sound quality that you're looking for, you've come to the right place. The impressive battery life is an advantage over the class-leading Bose QC25 and their punchy sound is easily on par with the Beats Studio, but Plantronics' keener pricing makes these the more sensible purchase.
Plantronics BackBeat PRO release date: Out now
Plantronics BackBeat PRO price: £199