Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2
A traveller’s best audio friend
£229.99 FROM Plantronics, plantronics.com features Bluetooth 4.0, active noise cancellation, 24-hour battery life
Plantronics’ original BackBeat Pro headphones boasted a variety of features, good sound and good
active noise cancellation (ANC). The second-gen headset manages to keep the great elements of the original, but the bulk and weight issues have been addressed.
The headphones feature a dark brown colour palette with a faux wood accent on the ear cups. There are mesh rings around each cup, which is where the headphone’s noise-cancelling mics are located.
On the left ear cup, you’ll find controls for playback, volume and a toggle for ANC. The right ear cup has a power/pairing slider as well as a big button for answering phone calls.
Volume is controlled using a textured ring that rocks back and forth, which is a little hard to grip. Turning off noise cancellation from the left ear cup will extend the (already fantastic) battery life of the headphones, which also work in wired mode should they run out of juice. The toggle also features an open mic mode, which pauses your music and lets you hear what’s going on around you without having to take off the cans.
The headphones are lined with leather around the ear cups and the headband, making them very comfortable, and we had no issues wearing them for long periods.
Compared to the original BackBeat Pro headphones, this version is smaller and lighter (290g versus the original’s 340g) – great news if you’re a commuter and don’t want to feel weighed down after long listening sessions. They’re also more compact and lay flatter when folded down for transport.
The headphones come with a zippered carrying pouch, which has a super-soft lining. The pouch also features a second compartment to store your Micro-USB and 3.5mm headphone cables.
The BackBeat Pro 2 headphones keep the slightly bass-heavy sound signature of their predecessor. If you’re an audiophile you may quibble about the overbearing bass, but using the BackBeat Pro 2 in wired mode tames this. We were pleasantly surprised to find ANC still works when playing music with the cable in, and the added bass emphasis also helps block out external noise.
Highs are a bit rolled off, making them sound a bit veiled, but that’s preferable for long listening sessions. Similarly, mids are good, but they can be muted by the bass.
With ANC enabled, there’s a slight hiss when no music is playing, but sound quality when playing isn’t impacted by it.
We’re really impressed by the longevity of the BackBeat Pro 2. The original had an incredible 24-hour battery life, which the second generation matches. Even better, it sips even less power when idle, offering six months of DeepSleep, up from the original’s 180 hours. In our testing it lasted through two flights, a couple of train journeys and several listening sessions over the course of a week, all with ANC enabled. For travellers, the battery life is the killer feature.
Just about every quibble we had about the original has been addressed, all while retailing for a lower price. For £230, the BackBeat Pro 2 does just about everything right for travel headphones. The ANC may not be industry-best, but it’s very good at muffling the sound of the noisy outside world, and the 24-hour battery life is staggering.
With the BackBeat Pro 2, you’re getting travel headphones with incredible battery life, supreme comfort, and, most importantly, good sound quality for a reasonable price.
Just about every quibble we had about the original has been addressed, all for a lower price
The faux wood ear cups look a little cheap and won’t appeal to everyone.