Plantronics Backbeat PRO 2 SE Review


Plantronics Backbeat PRO 2 SE
Plantronics Backbeat PRO 2 SE

Introduction

Plantronics is no stranger to the world of noise cancellation headphones’ and headphone technology.

With its foundations stating in the aviation industry , Plantronics has been delivering audio equipment for over 50 years.

With the Backbeat Pro 2 SE, Plantronics decided to compete at the $250* price range.

When I first purchased a pair I was looking for a value for money set of cans that would do the job without all the frills that come with the $350* and above headphones’.

In my view the Backbeat Pro 2 SE headphones’ delivered on and exceeded my expectations.

The noise cancellation is solid, but not perfect and the sound is quite impressive yet not overdone.

What’s in the box

The Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 SE come with a standard 3.5 mm cable.

The build of the headphones’ was surprisingly solid as well.

Sensors

The backbeat Pro 2 SE’s have been designed with smart sensors in the ear cups that mute and pause when you remove the headsets from your ears.

This is very convenient for the times I need to remove my headphones’ to for example chat to my boss.

My headphones’ will pause my music, and will then resume when I put my headphones’ back on.

Ear cup sensors

The left ear cup is where you will find the active noise cancellation button and the left ear cup sensors include the play/pause functionality.

The right ear cup includes the battery sensors, the Bluetooth button and the on/off button.

The cans come with headset battery level LED’s plus an on screen metre.

I found the backbeat Pro 2 SE headphones controls very easy to use.

I could control the volume by rotating the volume wheel forward/clockwise to increase and backwards/counter clockwise to decrease the volume.

To pause or play my music and videos, I simply taped the pause play button.

This was especially useful when I needed to listen to announcements on my flight, and when ordering a drink from the air hostess.

To control my track selection, I would simply tap the forward and back button.

All of this makes sifting through my playlist nice and simple.

Plantronics created an auto mute feature for the backbeat pro2 SE.

The way this works is that when you take your headphones’ off from your ears, and place them around your neck the headphones’ automatically mute/pause.

That simple, simply take the headphones’ off your head and put them on your neck.

To answer a call – put on the headset and tap the call button. You can also tap the call button to end the current call.

Smart sensors respond when you put on or take off your headphones’.

As soon as I put the headphones’ back on my ears, I could resume paused music or answer an incoming call.

There were occasions when the sensors did not work as expected.

But the instruction manual did warn me of this possibility, and I followed the following instructions.

If the sensors do not work as expected, you may have to reset the sensors.

To reset the headset sensors, you have to connect your headphones’ directly to your computer’s USB port, and place it, with the ear cups up on a flat, non-metallic surface for more than 10 seconds.

With Plantronics hub applications, I could bring additional functionality to my headphones’.

When I downloaded the Plantronics hub app over plantronics.com, I could do the following.

  • Change language (Plantronics Hub for Windows and Mac only)
  • Receive firmware updates (Plantronics Hub for Windows and Mac only)
  • Personalize headset settings and,
  • Find a lost headset.
Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 SE
Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 SE

Voice assistant and voice alerts

The headphones’ come with voice alerts.

The enhanced voice alerts allow announced talk time, mute connection status and more

USB Port

The backbeat Pro 2 SE’s come with a micro USB

Battery

The Plantronics backbeat Pro 2 SE come with a battery life of 24 hours with noise cancellation and Bluetooth on.

The longer battery life is powered by Plantronics’ smart power management system.

The battery life is at the upper end for wireless noise canceling headphones’ which I thought was very impressive.

This is even more impressive given that the Bose QC35 II headphones’, which retail for an additional $100*, have a battery life of 20 hours with noise cancellation on.

The battery is a rechargeable, non-replaceable lithium polymer and has a charging capacity of 3 hours.

When I tested the battery life, It was fantastic that I could charge these cans close to the end of the week.

I am one of those people who prefer to have my charger with me in case my phone runs out of battery.

In Fact, I even have two chargers, one for the office and one for home.

I decided to leave my charger at home for a few days to see what would happen.

Boy did they live up to expectation.

I put the headphone battery through my daily commute test.

My general headphone use Monday to Friday is as follows.

  • 7-8:30/8:45 am I leave home and catch the train towards the office.
  • In that 90 minutes, I’m usually switching between motivational video’s or some nice up-tempo music.
  • 9:15- 1pm, I buckle down and work with the noise cancellation on when the office is rowdy.
  • I will usually switch off the noise cancellation when the office is a bit more mellow. But when my colleagues get a bit rowdy before lunchtime, I may put it on for an hour.
  • Oh yeah and please don’t walk around the office with your headphones’ on, it makes you look anti-social. Please make sure you talk to some people now and then as well.
  • From 2pm-5pm, I am on my final stretch. This is when I will play some music again to help keep me awake as I look forward to ending the day.
  • I also like to put in my cable at the office to conserve battery life.
  • Then 5pm-7pm, I am back on the train and on my way home, again listening to nice music and maybe catching up on some news on my Mac.

I did this on and off for 5 days before the first signs of battery drainage started to show.

I was a little nervous though as I was conducting this experiment.

Fortunately, I was able to keep tabs on the battery by tapping the call button located on the right-hand side of the headphones’.

Overall give these headphones’ an outstanding 7/10 for battery, which is pretty good.

Consider that the headphones’ with the highest noise canceling ability are the Sony WH1000-MX3, which have a battery life of 30 hours with noise cancellation turned on, and which retail for $350*.

But weekly charging makes these a very handy set of headphones’, especially if you’re a frequent flyer and forget your charging device

Sound

There is no lag in sound audio. I enjoyed incredible mids and lows, and the bass was extremely rich.

The powerful 40mm speaker drivers deliver an appropriate amount of rich bass, crisp highs and natural mid tones for my music.

When testing the sound quality of my headphones’, I am always sensitive to muddy sounds.

I am glad that the backbeat Pro2 SE headphones’ produced clear sounding music.

Playing a playlist on spotify really gave me the goosebumps, it’s amazing how much rich, clear sound, and bass these cans can kick out.

The sound is immersive and high resolution.

Weight/Comfort/Style

The headphones’ come in at a nice easy weight of 289 grams.

This made these headphones’ very convenient to carry around.

Naturally there are days when I do not want any music in my ear on my morning commute, and just prefer the sounds of nature.

This is where the lightweight of the headphones’ comes in handy as I do not feel burdened by them. I simply put them around my neck, and forget they are there.

I even had them on my flight to the UK and was able to fit them onto my case without feeling the extra weight.

I love the fact that I can put these on at the office for pretty much the whole day without any fatigue whatsoever.

This is testament to quality craftsmanship from the makers at Plantronics, ensuring that the design is super comfortable.

The cans are well cushioned over ears, designed for long wearing and comfort.

I can attest to this as I was able to wear these headphones’ all day without feeling fatigue.

This comes in handy when I am taking long flights around the world.

A 10-hour flight can make you feel very uncomfortable, so it is nice to have a comfortable set of lightweight headphones’.

When you open these for the first time, you will notice that the Backbeat Pro’2s have been glazed with a premium metallic paint which really does enhance the color and finish.

If you look at the outside of the ear cups, you will notice that the headphones’ have been designed of faux wood type of material.

The material does has a pleasant tactile feel.

This is interesting from a design perspective, as Plantronics is experimenting with exotic styles.

For me personally, I feel like the jury is out on this design, but to each his own.

Plantronics state that you should make sure that you store your headphones’ at a temperature of 32 -104 degrees Fahrenheit or 0-40 degrees Celsius.

Therefore, for those of your who use your cars and live in hot cities, make sure that you do not leave your headphones’ in your car.

Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 SE
Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 SE

Color

The backbeat Pro2 SE come in black and

Ear cups-style

The ear cups fold flat

The backbeat Pro 2’s are had Memory foam filled ear pads.

Which ensures that your ears rest on a snug surface.

When I initially purchased the headphones’, my ears did get a little hot, but over time this stopped.

Accessories

The Backbeat Pro 2 SE comes with

Slider and headband

The cans have been embellished with a grey mesh, that could come in handy for those who tend to sweat more than the average person.

The grey mash also provides a protective layer at the top of the headband ensuring that discomfort is eliminated when wearing the headphones’ for a long time.

Carrying Case

What I want most out of a case to ensure that it will keep my product safe, and at the same time can fit into my luggage bag without being heavy or an inconvenience.

The Plantronics achieved both objectives with astounding success.

The headphones’ come with a ruggarized carrying case made of stern material, which I like because it does a good job of protecting my headphones’.

I only ever use my case when I am traveling long distances or across the world and therefore want to have a case that is durable.

I did drop my case a few times and when I checked the condition of my headphones’, they were still in tip-top shape.

Audio and connectivity

One of the features that I love about the backbeat Pro 2 SE is the integrated multi point technology that allows the pairing of multiple devices.

This is useful for when I want to listen to watch movies on my IPad and want to take calls on my iPhone without having to remove my headphones’.

Plantronics designed these cans with multi point technology I enjoyed this feature as it allowed me to stay connected to both my Android and my IPhone, seamlessly without any issues.

The headphones’ come with advanced audio distribution profile and (A2DP), AVRCP, AAC, Aptex codecs are low latency.

The cans additionally come in many languages including English (of course), French, Italian,

German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Russian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean and Japanese.

The microphone is a boom less Dual microphone with DSP. For all you techies the headphones’ also have the following features.

The frequency response of the headphones’ is 20-20000 Hz.

Sensitivity (DB spl/1mW) = 93, impedance = 32 ohms.

The Backbeat Pros 2 SE come with the Plantronics Hub application for Desktop, IOs and IPhone.

Bluetooth

To enable pair mode – you would have to slide and hold the power button towards the Bluetooth button icon until the LEDs flash red and blue.

The headphones’ come with enhanced. NFC pairing capability.

This is a nice extra, but I do not make much use of it.

I often find pairing with Bluetooth is often convenient and do not experience any troubles with this.

Noise cancellation

What would a good set of noise canceling headphones’ be without a review of the noise cancellation ability.

After all, the beauty of noise cancellation is that it allows you to escape from the world around you.

The noise cancellation is active and on demand.

In the words of Plantronics, the noise canceling creates an oasis of personal space.

The noise cancellation is that feature of headphones’ that blocks out ambient noise, by using a microphone that creates an opposite sound to the incoming sound.

The trick to effective noise cancellation is to ensure that you can keep the outside world at bay, yet deliver solid sound.

Noise cancellation though has been unable to get this expertly right, as even high quality noise cancellation headphones’ can never get rid of white noise.

Nevertheless, the noise cancellation here is pretty good.

I say pretty good because, for this price point you probably wouldn’t expect the same level of noise cancellation that you would get with the Bose QC35II ,Or the Sony WH-1000XM3.

These cans are perfect for those who live in the bigger cities for work and must contend with noisy streets and traffic.

The headphones’ fared well with the low frequency sounds, shutting out the noise produced by fans and bus engines.

The cans however did not fare as well with low frequency sounds.

When my music was switched off, I could hear that there was chatter in the office, but I could never hear what people were actually saying.

The backbeat Pro 2 SE’s come with opening listening mode which allows you to let in certain sounds.

This is useful for when you are walking on the street and need to hear the sound of an approaching car.

If you want to hear your surroundings when not on a call, you should slide the switch to open listening mode.

Price

It’s tough to be beat the Backbeat Pro 2 SE from a price point of view.

For the price point the headphones’ provide solid noise cancellation ability as well as a nice safe, balanced sound profile.

You will not get all the Bells and whistles that a pair of Sony or Bose comes with, however.

For example, the Bose QC35 II are slightly better on the noise cancellation front, but the question you would have to ask is would it make sense to spend an extra $100 to close that gap in noise cancellation ability? The choice is yours to make, but If price is an issue, I would say not.

Bluetooth

Class 1 Bluetooth, gives you wireless freedom with up to 100m in Bluetooth connectivity.

I particularly enjoyed this feature because it enabled me to enjoy my music no matter where I was in the house.

Note that you must have a device that supports class 1 Bluetooth in order to be able to make use of this feature.

The headphones’ come with Bluetooth V4.0, including Headset/hands-free profile HSP 1.0 and HFP 1.6. (Wideband HD voice); Class 1 BT radio.

Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 SE
Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 SE

Conclusion

What makes these cans competitive, and makes them a contender for a novice everyday headphone listeners collection is the price point.

If these cans were anywhere close to $300*,I would definitely advise that you go with the Bose QC35 II or the Sony WH 1000 XM3.

Those 2 headphones’ simply have better noise cancellation capabilities, and I would argue are simply better engineered.

Although the Backseats are not far behind.

But at $249*, you have to ask yourself if the slight edge in noise cancellation

provided by the Sony and the Bose is worth an additional $100*.

In the long run, I think that for someone who needs a good pair of cans now, but finds $350-$400* to be a stretch, I would choose the Plantronics.

Reasons to buy

  • On demand active noise cancellation
  • Comfortable fit
  • Open listening mode allows you to hear announcements without removing your headphones’.
  • Smart sensors that pause your music when you remove your headphones’
  • Plantronics signature audio quality
  • Class 1 Bluetooth range of 100m/330ft
  • 24 hour battery life with ANC on
  • Multi point technology allows you to connect to 2 devices at a time
  • Intuitive on ear controls
  • Whispered status alerts
  • Enhanced voice alerts announce talk-time, mute, and connection status and more
  • Bootless dual microphone with DSP
  • NFC pairing

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Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 SE specification sheet

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