Plantronics BackBeat SENSE wireless headphones review

Plantronics BackBeat SENSE in handI am a firm believer in using wireless headphones instead of the more common wired type. Getting rid of the cable makes it easier walking around town while listening to some good tunes. The new BackBeat SENSE headphones by Plantronics are no exception as they are premium Bluetooth headphones with a unique feature.

The SENSE headphones are worn on the ear with comfortable ear cups to allow using them for extended periods. The are so lightweight (140g) it is easy to forget you have them on. The ear cups have useful design with a large “L” and “R” on the cups so you can tell at a glance how to put them on the correct ear.

Plantronics BackBeat SENSE earcupsWhile I am no audiophile I know what sounds good and the BackBeat SENSE certainly do. The dynamic range is good, although the headphones don’t have booming bass. This won’t be a big negative for most people as they sound really nice.

Using them wireless has been flawless in testing with none of the annoying Bluetooth audio drop-outs common with many wireless headphones. Once paired with a phone or tablet the SENSE connect quickly when the toggle switch for Bluetooth/ wired play is set to the former. The headphones can be paired with two devices simultaneously so you can move between the two without having to pair them again. You can use the headphones physically wired to the source via an included cable if that is preferable. This works as expected in testing but I find wireless to be the way to go.

Plantronics BackBeat SENSE left cup
Left ear cup

The headphones as tested are constructed out of light, durable plastic with soft ear cups covered with a leather-like material. They are adjustable to get the perfect size for any user. The material that covers the cups also covers a band that rests on top of the head when worn.

The unique feature that Plantronics has incorporated in the SENSE headphones is very cool. While listening to music when you take the headphones off the SENSE automatically pauses the playback on the source device. Put them back on and the playback resumes. This sounds like a simple feature but in practice it is very useful.

Plantronics BackBeat SENSE right cup
Right ear cup

The SENSE headphones have controls on the outside of each ear cup that enables operating them by touch. On the outside of the left headphone is the pause/play button in the middle, flanked with two buttons for next and previous. The entire cup is a large volume control operated by small clockwise/ counterclockwise motions. On the bottom of the cup is a red mute button.

Plantronics BackBeat SENSE wireless toggle
Wireless operation toggle

On the right ear cup is a single control for working with phone calls. It functions as an answer and hangup button. In testing the SENSE handled phone calls very well, with parties unable to tell I was walking the loud city streets while conversing. The toggle switch to move from wireless to wired operation is on the side of the right cup.

There are five blue LED battery level indicators that are only visible when the headphones are plugged in and charging. They go out when fully charged and light up when the microUSB charging cable (included) is unplugged.

Plantronics BackBeat SENSE headrest
Cushy head band

The ear cups fold flat for transport and a soft storage pouch is included to protect the headphones, a nice touch.

Plantronics claims 18 hours of wireless play time is possible with the BackBeat SENSE and this is accurate in testing. A voice keeps you informed about battery level and connection status when first turned on and worn.

I really like the Plantronics BackBeat SENSE headphones and have no problem recommending them to those looking for quality wireless playback. Normally I prefer ear buds that fit in the ear but I’m changing that view due to these light, comfortable over ear headphones.

Review rating: 4.5 out of 5

The BackBeat SENSE are premium headphones that will be available in September for $179.99 from Plantronics retailers. For more information check out the Plantronics web site.

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