Reviewed on Jun 21, 2018

Plantronics BackBeat Fit Wireless HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.3
6.2
Mixed Usage
5.7
Neutral Listening
6.4
Commute/Travel
7.6
Sports/Fitness
6.0
Office
4.8
Wireless Gaming
4.7
Wired Gaming
6.1
Phone Call
Type : Earbuds
Enclosure : Semi-Open
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

The Plantronics Backbeat Fit are above-average sports headphones but mediocre for more casual everyday use cases. They have a sturdy and flexible build quality and stable ear-hooks that will prevent them from falling, even during more strenuous exercises. Unfortunately, their sound quality is sub-par and very inconsistent. They also have a semi-open fit that won't block a lot of noise, but on the upside, it does make them a decent choice for outdoor runners since you can monitor your environment for traffic.

Test Results
Design 7.4
Isolation 5.9
Microphone 6.3
Active Features 5.7
Connectivity 3.3
Pros
  • Stable fit for sports.
  • Lightweight and flexible.
Cons
  • Poor noise isolation, by design.
  • Poor sound quality consistency.
  • Bass and treble delivery varies significantly across users.
  1. Update 11/6/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.

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7.4

Design

The Plantronics BackBeat Fit have a simple and minimal design that will work for most but won't be as comfortable for everyone. They have a lightweight and flexible build quality that's compact enough to fit into your pockets, but it's a bit larger than most typical wireless in-ear headphones. Unfortunately, their earbud fit isn't as comfortable as some of the other earbuds we've tested, like the SoundSport Wireless, and since they do not come with additional tips or stability fins, they may get a bit fatiguing to wear during long listening sessions. Their control scheme is also a bit confusing and cramped, although it does provide all the essential functions. On the upside, their ear hook design is stable enough for running and more intense sports.

Style

These headphones have a cool minimalist design but feel a bit cheap. They have a heavily coated neckband that's flexible enough to fold and put into your pocket. This neckband seamlessly blends into the ear hook design which looks great. Unfortunately, since these are sports oriented sweatproof headphones, the heavy use of rubber and lack of metal accents does make them look a bit cheap, especially since the rubber does collect a bit of dust and grime as you use them. On the upside, they are fairly compact and come in a couple of different color schemes, so you can match them to your gym attire or stand out a bit more with your favorite color.

6.5 Comfort
Weight : 0.05 lbs
Clamping Force
:
0 lbs

These headphones have an odd fit that won't be as comfortable for everyone. They do not enter the ear canal like typical in-ears and have a more earbud fit similar to some of the Bose headphones. Unfortunately, unlike the SoundSport Wireless or the Sony WI-SP500, the tips of the earbuds do not yield as well, so they tend to sit poorly in the notch of your ear which does cause a bit soreness and fatigue during longer listening sessions. They also have a one-size-fits-all design, so they do not come with extra tips or stability fins to better adjust the headphones for your ears.

6.8 Controls
OS Compatibility
:
N/A
Ease of use : Mediocre
Feedback : Okay
Call/Music Control : Yes
Volume Control : Yes
Microphone Control : No
Channel Mixing
:
N/A
Noise Canceling Control : N/A
Talk-Through
:
N/A
Additional Buttons : No

The Plantronics BackBeat Fit have a mediocre control scheme that provides all the essential functions but feels cramped. There is a dedicated play/pause/track skipping button on the right earbud and a call/multifunction button on the right. Unfortunately, they also have these slightly raised buttons for volume controls and to turn the headphones on/off and put them in a pairing mode that are small, difficult to use, especially while working out but at least they are fairly easy to find by touch alone a deliver decent feedback when pressed.

8.7 Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference : 1.3 C

These headphones are fairly breathable although they do have more points of contact with your ears than typical in-ear headphones. They will be breathable enough for most sports and workout routines and shouldn't make you sweat more than usual when running or exercising. They do make the back of your ears a bit warmer than other in-ears with ear hook design but it's not that noticeable.

8.1 Portability
L : 2.8 "
W : 2.2 "
H : 1.8 "
Volume : 11 Cu. Inches
Transmitter required : N/A

The Plantronics BackBeat Fit are a bit larger than typical in-ears, but they're flexible enough to fold and fit into your pockets. You can easily carry them on your person at all times and they come with a decent case, which makes them portable for traveling and commuting.

7.0 Case
Type : Soft case
L : 5.2 "
W : 3 "
H : 1 "
Volume : 16 Cu. Inches

These headphones come with a decent soft case that adds quite a bit of bulk but should protect the headphones from most impacts scratches and regular wear and tear when they're in your bag. Unfortunately, it will not shield the headphones against water damage, and since it is a soft case, it won't protect them as well as some of the better hard cases we've tested like that of the Anker Soundcore Spirit X.

7.5 Build Quality

Like the Fitbit Flyer, these headphones have a good build quality that feels durable and is flexible enough to fit into your pocket. Like the Beats Beats X, they have a unique neckband that's heavily rubberized and flexible enough to fold and fit into your pockets. Their design is also made to be sweat and water resistant up to 1ft for 30 minutes although some users have damaged their headphones by sweat alone. The ear buds and the rubberized audio cable feels dense enough that they won't get damaged from pulling on them or by physical stress. However, the inconsistent water resistance may be an issue for some listeners. You can also check out the Jabra Elite Active 45e and their IP67 rating.

8.0 Stability

The Plantronics BackBeat Fit have a stable ear-hook design. The earbuds also have built-in stability fins. They will not fall from your ears even during more demanding exercises. Unfortunately, the earbuds of the Fit move around a bit which does slightly change their sound profile. However, they do not come with any additional tips or stability fins so you cannot adjust the headphones to fit better the shape and contours of your ears, which is a little disappointing, especially for a sports headphone.

Headshots 1
Headshots 2
Top

Sound

Their bass and treble delivery vary greatly depending on the tightness and pressure of the earbuds on the ear and they can be quite inconsistent across different re-seats and users. With the right amount of tightness, they can sound decently balanced in the mid and the treble ranges but will lack quite a bit of thump and punch in the bass range. As more pressure is put on the ears, their sound shifts towards a bass-heavy and dark profile, however, their bass will sound quite boomy and muddy.

Sound Profile
Neutral
:
5.7
Bass-Heavy
:
5.3
Warm
:
8.3
Bright
:
3.6
7.4 Peaks/Dips
Peaks
:
1.56 db
Dips
:
1.49 db
5.4 Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
:
2.08 dB

The frequency response consistency is sub-par. Due to their earbud design, they tend not to have a very consistent fit across multiple re-seats and multiple users. They show more than 12dB of variance in the bass range and about 12 of variance in the treble range.

3.5 Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
:
0.22
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
:
11.24
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
:
11.28
Weighted Phase Mismatch
:
12.97

The imaging performance is sub-par. Weighted group delay is at 0.22, which is very good. The GD graph also shows that the entire group delay is within the audibility threshold. The large spikes in group delay below 20Hz are not in the audible range, so shouldn't have a noticeable negative effect on the sound. However, our test unit showed significant mismatch on our dummy head between the L/R drivers. This is likely due to the earbud design which results in an inconsistent bass and treble delivery. This may vary from user to user.

1.3 Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
:
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
:
N/A
PRTF Distance
:
N/A
Openness
:
5.6
Acoustic Space Excitation
:
1.1

The Plantronics BackBeat Fit have a poor soundstage. Creating an out-of-head and speaker-like soundstage is largely dependent on activating the resonances of the pinna (outer ear). Since the design of in-ears and earbuds is in such a way that fully bypasses the pinna and doesn't interact with it, they tend to have a small and inside the head soundstage.

6.2 Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
:
1.107
WHD @ 100
:
0.352
5.9

Isolation

The Plantronics BackBeat Fit have disappointing isolation. They don't have active noise cancellation, and any isolation they achieve is entirely due to the fit they create in your ear. Unfortunately, since they are semi-open they don't isolate at all in the bass range, which is disappointing for commuters/travelers. They do slightly isolate speech, but not much compared to typical in-ears or headphones with active noise cancellation. The good news is they have excellent leakage performance, so you can always increase the volume to compensate.

4.3 Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
:
Overall Attenuation
:
-10.17 dB
Bass
:
-0.41 dB
Mid
:
-7.28 dB
Treble
:
-23.35 dB

The Plantronics BackBeat Fit have a sub-par isolation performance, which is due to their semi-open design. In the bass range, where the rumble of bus and airplane engines sits, they achieve no isolation. In the mid-range, important for cutting out speech, they isolate by 7dB, which is sub-par. In the treble range, occupied by sharp S and T sounds, they isolate by about 23dB, which is above-average. If you need an even more open design for outdoor use then check out the AfterShokz Trekz Air.

9.0 Leakage
Leakage Audio
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
:
27.11 dB

The leakage performance is great. These headphones don't leak in the bass and mid-ranges. The significant portion of their leakage is in the treble range and between 4KHz and 6KHz, which is quite a narrow range. The overall level of the leakage is not loud either.

6.3

Microphone

Integrated
:
Yes
In-line
:
No
Boom
:
No
Detachable Boom
:
N/A

The Plantronics BackBeat Fit have a mediocre microphone. In quiet environments, speech recorded or transmitted with this mic will sound relatively thin, and noticeably muffled and lacking in detail. However, it will still be understandable. In noisy environments, it will struggle to separate speech from background noise even in moderately loud situations, like a busy street.

6.6 Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
:
LFE
:
293.44 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
:
2.96 dB
HFE
:
3466.89 Hz
Weighted THD
:
4.604
Gain
:
43.38 dB

The microphone has an average recording quality. The LFE (low-frequency extension) of 293Hz means speech recorded/transmitted with it will sound relatively thin. The HFE (high-frequency extension) of 3.5KHz results in a speech that is relatively muffled and lacking in detail.

6.0 Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise :
Speech + Subway Noise :
SpNR
:
10.7 dB

The integrated microphone is mediocre at noise-handling. In our SpNR test, they achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of 11dB, indicating they are best suited for quiet environments and will struggle to separate speech from ambient noise in moderate and loud situations.

5.7

Active Features

The Plantronics Backbeat Fit have a decent battery life but poor app support. They have a 6.5-hour battery life that won't last the entire day but should be enough if you take breaks and benefits from a quick charge feature. They can also remain in standby mode for up to two weeks. Unfortunately, the companion app available for iOS and Android, doesn't do much and is basically a glorified user manual and an update-hub for the headphones.

5.9 Battery
Battery Type
:
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
:
6.5 hrs
Additional Charges
:
0
Total Battery Life
:
6.5 hrs
Charge Time
:
1.7 hrs
Power Saving Feature
:
Standby mode
Audio while charging
:
No
Passive Playback
:
Charging Port : micro-USB

The Plantronics BackBeat Fit have a decent battery life. They won't last an entire day for listening at the office and they don't support passive playback. There is a quick charge feature that delivers an hour of playback on a 15-minute charge, which is good. They can be fully-charged in about 100 minutes, and they can be placed in standby mode for as long as 2 weeks.

4.0 App Support
App Name : Backbeat FIT Companion
iOS : Yes
Android : Yes
Mac OS : N/A
Windows : N/A
Equalizer
:
No
ANC control
:
N/A
Mic Control : No
Room effects
:
No
Playback control
:
No
Button Mapping : No
Surround Sound : No

Technically, there is a companion app, but unfortunately, it doesn't do much and is more of an interactive user manual than anything else. The companion app has to be used to update the firmware of the Backbeat Fit, but there have been widespread reports of bricked headphones when done incorrectly.

3.3

Connectivity

The Plantronics BackBeat Fit have poor connectivity. They can only be used wirelessly with Bluetooth and there is no wired backup in case the battery dies or for use with a game console. They use an older version of Bluetooth and don't support NFC, but they can quickly switch between two paired devices, which is good for alternating between your PC and phone. They have a decent wireless range, but like most Bluetooth headphones, they have too much latency to watch videos.

8.2 Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
:
3.0
Multi-Device Pairing
:
2 Devices
NFC Pairing
:
No
Line of Sight Range
:
85 ft
Default Latency
:
179 ms
aptX Latency
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
:
N/A

These wireless headphones use the older Bluetooth 3.0 protocol and are a bit limited compared with more recent devices. There are reports of some compatibility issues with newer phones including the iPhone X. They don't support NFC, and have to be paired by holding the power button, but they remember the last device they were paired with and can easily switch between them.

Like most Bluetooth headphones, the Plantronics Backbeat FIT have too much latency for watching videos. They don't support the lower latency aptX codec.

0 Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line of Sight Range
:
N/A
Non-BT Latency
:
N/A
0 Wired
Analog Audio
:
N/A
USB Audio
:
N/A
Detachable : No
Length : N/A
Connection : N/A
Wired Latency
:
N/A

There is no wired option for these headphones.

PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC / PS4 Analog
:
No
PC / PS4 Wired USB
:
No
PC / PS4 Non-BT Wireless
:
No
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox Analog
:
No
Xbox Wired USB
:
No
Xbox Wireless
:
No
0 Base/Dock
Type
:
N/A
USB Input
:
N/A
Line In
:
N/A
Line Out
:
N/A
Optical Input
:
N/A
RCA Input
:
N/A
Dock Charging
:
N/A
Power Supply
:
N/A

These headphones don't come with a charging dock or case.

In the box

  • Plantronics BackBeat Fit  Headphones
  • USB charging cable
  • Carrying case
  • Manual

Compared to other Headphones

The Plantronics Backbeat Fit are good sports headphones with a unique design. They are heavily rubberized which gives a strong and water-resistant build quality but also makes them a bit larger than typical wireless in-ears. On the upside, they're compact enough to still fit and their ear-hook design makes them stable enough for most activities. Unfortunately, they do not have the longest battery like and their one size fits all earbud does not come with any additional tips of fins which is a little disappointing when compared to some of the other sports headphones below. 

Jabra Elite Active 45e Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Jabra Elite Active 45e are better headphones than the Plantronics BackBeat Fit Wireless. Their control scheme is better and easier to use, and they are more portable. While both headphones have poor audio quality and barely isolate, the Active 45e have the edge over the BackBeat Fit thanks to their app that offers a good 5-band EQ. The Elite Active 45e also have better wireless range.

AfterShokz Trekz Air Bone Conduction
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

If you compare the Plantronics BackBeat Fit to the AfterShokz Trekz Air, the Fit are better typical headphones, especially sound-wise. This is due to them being in-ears and not bone-conducting like the Trekz Air. They are more stable than the AfterShokz, more portable thanks to the flexible band, and they isolate more sound. If you’re looking for openness and want to stay aware of your surroundings while training with background music, the Trekz Air might be the better choice. They are also more comfortable and use a more recent version of Bluetooth.

Sony WI-SP500 Wireless
SEE PRICE
B&H

The Plantronics BackBeat Fit are slightly better sports headphones than the Sony WI-SP500, but they both have seal issues that negatively affect their sound quality. The Fit have a much better build quality and a more durable and sweat-proof design. They're also a lot more stable for the gym and will stay on your ears no matter the physical activity, thanks to the ear-hooks. On the upside, the Sonys have a better control scheme that's a little easier to use than that of the Fit, although not by much. They also have a slightly longer battery life and are a little bit more comfortable to wear for some people.

6.2 Mixed Usage

Mediocre-at-best for mixed usage. The Plantronics BackBeat Fit are a decent and stable headset for sports with a sturdy, sweat resistant build quality and decently compact form factor that will fit into your pockets despite being slightly larger than typical in-ears. Unfortunately, since they have a one-size-fits-all semi-open earbud design, they won't be the most comfortable headphones for everyone and they do not isolate enough in loud noisy environments to be a good option for commuting. They also have a poorly balanced sound that showed a lot of mismatch. It doesn't sound as uneven in person but may still be a deal breaker for some listeners.

5.7 Neutral Listening

Sub-par for neutral listening. These headphones have a poorly balanced sound quality that could sound decently balanced or boomy and dark depending on their tightness on the ear. Unfortunately, since they have an semi-open earbud design their bass does not have a lot of thump and rumble and sounds more boomy and cluttered. Their poor consistency in delivery bass and treble could create a large mismatch between the left and right channels, which means that you may have to adjust the position of the headphones quite often to get the earbuds to sound the same. They are passable for more casual listeners but will not be ideal for neutral listening.

6.4 Commute/Travel

Mediocre headphones for commuting or traveling. They have poor isolation that can't remove the rumble of an engine. They are decently comfortable for longer trips but have a strange shape that some people might find uncomfortable. They have a decent battery life, but they won't last longer flights without recharging and can't be used wired.

7.6 Sports/Fitness

Decent headphones for sports and fitness. They have excellent breathability and very good stability so they aren't likely to fall out during brisk movements. They are a bit bigger than some other in-ear headphones but they fold nicely and can easily be kept in your pocket.

6.0 Office

Mediocre headphones for an office setting. They have decent comfort and can be worn for longer periods without any problems, but they won't last a typical work day and have poor noise isolation and poor sound quality. They don't leak very much so the volume can always be increased to drown out any surrounding noise.

4.8 Wireless Gaming

These are bad headphones for gaming. The Plantronics BackBeat Fit have poor sound quality, and the latency is too high, so the sound you hear won't match what is seen on screen. They also can't be used wired, so an adapter is required to use them on a game console.

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