The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 are good mixed usage wireless headphones and a much-improved design over the original BackBeat Pro. They're sturdy, comfortable headphones with an easy-to-use control scheme and an exciting sound quality. They're also packed with active features that make them suitable for most use cases, but unfortunately, they don't block as much ambient noise as some of the other noise-canceling headphones we've reviewed recently.
The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 redesign the look and feel of the first BackBeat Pro but keep what made the previous model popular: easy-to-use controls, a comfortable over-ear fit, and a sturdy, durable design. Although the ear cups are completely different, they provide a level of comfort on par if not better than the original model. Unfortunately, like the first BackBeat Pro, they're slightly bulky headphones that are a bit cumbersome to carry around on your person without a bag since they do not fold into a more compact format. They're also a bit too bulky for sports and although they're decently stable, they will make your ears fairly warm if you use them while running or working out.
The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 keep the some of the aesthetic of the previous Backbeat Pro but completely redesign the ear cups and hinges to give them a more modern look. The ear cups are now oval and have additional hinges to give them more flexibility. The headband, however, remains the same apart from the different padding material used in the build quality. Overall, it's a nice redesign but feels a bit bulky at times, especially, that the new hinges make the ear cups stick out, which may not be for everyone.
The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 redesign the ear cups of the previous model to a more oval shape that fits better around the ears. They're just as well padded and comfortable to wear for long sessions. Unfortunately, the ear cups are a bit shallow. They should be comfortable enough for most listeners and they're not too heavy for big over-ear headphones.
The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 keep the design etiquette of the BackBeat Pro by having well-determined and responsive buttons for each of the essential functions. The play/pause and skipping controls are all on the left ear cup and easy-to-use but not as intuitive as the turn dial on the previous model. A version of the volume dial is ported over to the BackBeat Pro 2, but it's not as tactile as the one on the first backbeat. On the upside, this control scheme is far more efficient than a lot of the high-end headphones we've reviewed that use touch-sensitive controls.
Like most closed-back over-ears, the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 are not very breathable headphones. The ear cups create a pretty good seal around your ears, and since they're closed-back headphones, they obstruct a good amount of airflow. This will make your ears sweat a bit more than average during long listening sessions. They won't be the ideal option for the gym.
These headphones have a bulky design that's not travel-friendly. They do not fold into a compact format to save space, but the earcups lay flat which may be useful in some situations. Unfortunately, this means the BackBeat Pro 2 are not portable and a bit of hassle to carry on your person without a bag.
The tough, hard case only comes with the special edition of the BackBeat Pro 2 (the regular model comes with a soft pouch). It's a sturdy case that will protect the headphones from scratches, drops and even mild water damage. Unfortunately, it's a pretty big case which takes up a lot of space making the already bulky headphones even harder to carry around without a bag.
The headphones have a sturdy and durable build quality. The ear cups are dense, and the headband is reinforced with a metal and plastic frame that's decently flexible but feels robust enough to withstand a couple of falls without getting damaged. However, the hinge mechanism is a bit different than in the previous model and adds more potential weak points to the build.
The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 is a good sounding pair of closed-back over-ear headphones. They have a consistent, deep, and thumpy bass, an even and neutral mid-range which results in clear-sounding vocals, and a very good and well-balanced treble. However, their bass is overly heavy and thumpy, which fans of bass may like, and they could sound a little sharp on cymbals and S sounds. This makes them a suitable pair of headphones for a variety of genres, especially bass-heavy music like dubstep, EDM, and film scores. However, like most other closed-back headphones, they don't have a large and speaker-like soundstage.
The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 have an above-average bass. LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 10Hz, which is excellent. However, low-bass, responsible for the thump and rumble common to genres like EDM and Hip-hop, is overemphasized by about 7dB. This makes the bass of these headphones quite heavy and far from neutral, but without sounding too boomy, so fans of bass-heavy music may like it. Conversely, mid-bass and high-bass are underemphasized by 1.7dB and 3.8dB respectively, resulting in a bass that lacks a bit of punch and kick.
The mid-range is excellent. The response is very even and virtually flat. The wide shallow dip in low-mid thins out vocals a tiny bit, but it also creates more room the punch of the bass range. Also, mid-mid and high-mid are within 0.4dB of our neutral which results in a clear and well-balanced reproduction of vocals and lead instruments.
The treble performance is very good. Low-treble and mid-treble is quite flat and even. They are both within 0.2dB of our target which is great and results in a well-balanced reproduction of vocals and lead instruments. However, the 5dB bump around 10KHz could make the sound of these headphones slightly sharp, especially on cymbals.
The frequency response consistency of the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 is very good. The lower regions of our over-ear and on-ear headphones are measured on 5 human subjects, 5 times each. In the bass range, there is little deviation across our human subjects, which could be due to the active noise cancelling system of the BackBeat. The deviation around 20Hz in the left ear cup will be noticeably but quiet subtle. In the treble range, there is about 4dB of deviation in response below 10Khz, which is not too bad.
The imaging is very good. Weighted group delay is at 0.43 which is within good limits. The GD graph however, shows that the group delay response crosses the audibility threshold around 40Hz, but not by much. This could make their bass a tad late and loose in certain areas, but overall, they will have a tight bass and a transparent reproduction. Also, our test unit was very well matched in amplitude and frequency response, which is important for the proper localization and placement of objects in the stereo image. However, we measured some phase mismatch in the treble range, which could weaken the stereo image a bit in the higher frequency region.
The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 has a below-average soundstage. The PRTF graph shows a decent amount of activation, which is decently accurate too. There is also a relatively deep 10KHz notch present. This results in a relatively natural and large soundstage. But because of the closed-back design, the soundstage of the headphones may be perceived to be less open than that of open-back headphones.
The harmonic distortion performance of the BackBeat Pro 2 is average. The overall response is rather elevated. However, these headphones seem to tolerate loud volumes well, and the rise in distortion at 100dB SPL is less significant than most headphones. Additionally, the peak in THD around 6KHz could make the sound of that region a bit harsh and brittle.
The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 fix the self-noise issue of the previous model but do not isolate as well as some of the other noise-canceling models on the market. It should be adequate isolation for a regular commute, but they won't be the ideal headphones to use in loud, noisy conditions. On the upside, they do not leak much, so you won't distract anyone around you if you're listening to your music at moderate-to-high volumes, even in quieter environments.
The noise isolation of the BackBeat Pro 2 is decent. In the bass range, where the rumble of airplane and bus engines sit, they achieve 7dB of isolation, which is about average. In the mid-range, important for blocking out speech, they achieve 14dB of isolation, which is above-average. In the treble range, occupied by sharp sounds like S and Ts, they isolate by more than 36dB which is very good.
The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 have a good leakage performance. The significant portion of the leakage is between 500Hz and 8KHz, which is relatively broad. However, the overall level of the leakage is quite low. With the music 100dB SPL, the leakage at 1 foot away, averages at about 35dB and peaks at 47dB SPL which is just below the noise floor of an average office.
The integrated microphone of the BackBeat Pro 2 is below-average. In quiet environments, speech recorded or transmitted with this mic will sound noticeably thin and lacking in detail. However, it will still be intelligible. In noisy situations, they will struggle to fully separate speech from background noise in loud places, like a subway station.
The recording quality of the microphone is sub-par. The LFE (low-frequency extension) of 530Hz means speech recorded/transmitted with this mic will sound noticeably thin. The HFE (high-frequency extension) is at 3.6KHz resulting in a speech that lacks detail and sounds a bit muffled. The bump between 1.5KHz and 3.5KHz could make speech on this microphone a bit too sharp sounding.
The integrated microphone of the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 is decent at noise handling. In our SpNR test, they achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of 19dB. This means they are best suited for quiet environments, and they will also be able to handle moderately loud environments decently. However, they will struggle to separate speech from ambient noise in loud places.
The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 have an excellent battery life but a mediocre app. They lasted 30 hours on average when played continuously and only took about two hours to charge. They also automatically shut down when inactive for more than 10 minutes which conserves a lot of power and makes them a great headphone for road trips and long flights. Unfortunately, their app that doesn't offer as much customization options as some of the other headphones we've tested like the Sennheiser HD 4.50 or PXC 550 Wireless.
The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 have an excellent battery life. They take about 2 hours to charge fully but deliver up to 30 hours of continuous playback at moderate volumes. They also have a bunch of power saving features like; smart pause, audio while charging, auto off and complete passive playback when the battery finally runs out. This makes them good travel headphones, especially if you do not have frequent access to a power source.
The Plantronics Hub is a unique app that doesn't enhance your listening experience but provides some tools that may be useful to some. They provide a last position synced tracker and a find my headphone feature that makes them easy to find if ever you misplace them. However, due to the size of the BackBeat Pro 2, it's not always the most practical tool. On the upside, it also displays the battery information as a notification, so you can monitor how much battery you have left at all times.
The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 have an excellent wireless range and they support multi-device pairing and NFC. They also come with a simple audio cable that has no in-line mic which is not ideal for gaming but offers a secondary connection option if the headphones run out of power or to reduce latency when watching videos. Like most Bluetooth headphones, their default connection has a bit too much latency for watching movies and gaming but they do support aptX-LL (Low Latency) which makes them suitable for home-theater as long as you have the right transmitter dongle.
The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 do not have simultaneous multi-device pairing like the Bose QuietComfort 35. But on the upside, they do support NFC which makes pairing with smartphones a bit easier.
These headphones come with a simple audio cable with no in-line remote or USB adapter. This means they do not have a mic that is compatible with consoles. On the upside, they will provide audio with any device that has a headphone jack.
The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 do not have a base/dock. If you want a versatile headset with a base that you can also use wired, check out the Arctis 7 by SteelSeries.
These headphones have an exceptional wireless range. They will reach up to 250ft in direct line-of-sight and up to 55ft when the Bluetooth source was obstructed. It's more than enough for most casual uses especially if you keep your phone or bluetooth device on you, but you can also use them with a fixed source like your PC or TV and walk around in your home or office without having any major connection drops.
The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 have different values of latency depending on which codec you're using. With SBC or aptX they will have a bit too much latency to watch movies without any delay in audio, but with aptX-LL, they should be suitable for video content and even gaming. However, you will have to get a Bluetooth dongle that supports aptX-LL to take advantage of the low latency performance.
The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 are a well-rounded wireless headset that is more versatile than the BackBeat Go 600. They're comfortable, well-built headphones with an excellent wireless range and battery life. They have an exciting sound that packs a lot of bass without drowning instruments and vocals or sounding muddy and cluttered. They don't isolate as well as some of the more recent noise-canceling headphones but make up for it with a tough, durable build quality, a simple and efficient control scheme, and multiple codecs support that makes them suitable for watching movies and gaming. They're easily one of the most versatile over-ear headsets we've tested.
The Bose QuietComfort 25 are one of the best noise-canceling headphones we've tested. Unfortunately, they're wired, unlike the Bose QuietComfort 35, but they're also considerably cheaper. They block more noise than the Plantronics, and they have a more comfortable design with better-padded cups and a lightweight build. However, their lightweight build quality does feel a bit cheap for their price and isn't as sturdy or as durable as that of the BackBeat Pro 2. Also, since they're wired, they will not have the range and versatility of the Plantronics. If you really need the most isolation for your commutes, then they're a decent option but for every day casual use, get the BackBeat Pro 2 or the newer QuietComfort 35 II if you have the budget.
Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II are a wireless version of the typical Bose over-ear design but with no noise canceling. Like the QuietComfort 25 or 35, they are super comfortable over-ears, which you can wear for longer than the Plantronics. They're also a little more lightweight and portable to carry around in your bag with their good hard case. They have a more balanced audio reproduction but do not sound as exciting as the BackBeat Pro 2 since they do not pack as much bass. Also like the QC 25, their build quality feels a bit flimsy when compared to that of the Backbeats. The Plantronics, overall, are the better headphones with more features and a longer battery life. However, if you want the better-sounding option, then the Soundlinks are a decent alternative
The Sony MDR-XB950N1 are the noise canceling variant of the MDR-XB950B1. They are pretty much identical in performance to the original XB950B1 and look the same but have a slightly longer battery life. They have a durable build quality on par with the Plantronics, but they're not as comfortable and their sound quality is much worse. Their audio reproduction, though bass heavy, is poorly balanced and sounds muddy and cluttered compared to the rich and powerful bass of the BackBeat Pro 2 that still represents instruments and vocals well. The Plantronics are a more versatile and cheaper headset overall than the MDR-XB950N1, and they're even better suited for bass-heads.
The Sennheiser HD 4.50 are a good alternative to the Plantronics with a more customizable app. They do not sound as exciting out of the box as the Plantronics, but they have a decently balanced sound and a comfortable if slightly tight fit. They're also not built as well as the Plantronics, but their smaller size and more stable fit make them a bit more suitable to take to the gym. They also have a better isolation performance than the Plantronics but they're not as intuitive and do not have aptX-LL for home theater use like the Pro 2. The Sennheiser are the best alternative to the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2, especially if you need strong app support to tweak the performance of your headphones to match what you're listening to.