Plantronics BackBeat SENSE – The future of portable audio

Cables are on the way out, and wireless headphones are where it’s at. Why would you want to be tethered to your device when you could be walking around freely with no hindrance on your movement? The dark days of wired headphones would often see me throwing my devices to the ground after accidentally catching my hand on the cable. Unfortunately though, there have always been two problems that have plagued wireless headphones: they either provide bad quality sound, or are simply too expensive for the average consumer. You will find neither of these problems with the new BackBeat SENSE by Plantronics.

Plantronics last attempt at consumer-friendly headphones came in the form of the BackBeat Pro, which provided remarkable sound quality but were heavy and held a heftier price tag. The new BackBeat SENSE headphones offer up style and comfort whilst still maintaining that same level of quality.

Plantronics BackBeat SENSE - The future of portable audio


From a design perspective these are a very unique pair of over-ear headphones. As well as looking the part, they are also incredibly light at only 141g. There is soft padding on the headband which adjusts itself perfectly to your head height and, when combined with the light weight, offer up a truly luxury level of comfort. I have worn these headphones for a whole day without any discomfort, sometimes even forgetting they were on my head. The only downside to this lack of weight is that they feel as if they could fall off with any sudden movements. We tested this by running around for a minute whilst wearing them and they only shifted around slightly, so no major concerns there.

Just like the headband, the memory foam ear pads are covered in a smooth brown leather. Because the pads rest on your ears without encompassing them, they also don’t burn your ears to a crisp after five minutes. One of the smallest but greatest design embellishments are the unique sound holes on each pad, which spell out ‘L’ and ‘R’ on their respective sides – a much neater and more stylish way to orient them to your head.

If you have used any Bluetooth headphones in the past then the music and volume controls on the BackBeat SENSE headphones will be familiar to you. On the left ear cup you have a play/pause button, advance/back buttons and a ring control to adjust the volume. On the right ear cup you have a call answer/hang-up button. The icons for each control are embossed so that it’s always easy to find what you’re looking for by hand.

Plantronics BackBeat SENSE - The future of portable audio


The BackBeat SENSE headphones have a unique range of features which make them stand out from the competition. To start with, the SENSE know when you take them off your head and will automatically pause the music, only to resume it again when you put them back on. You can also connect two Bluetooth devices simultaneously and switch between them at the push of a button. One of my favourite features is a simple red button which pauses the music and lets you hear the outside world via a built-in microphone – very useful when you’re working in an office environment. This same microphone also allows you to make hands-free phone calls, but unfortunately I found that the microphone didn’t offer amazing quality for calls.

Sound quality

Arguably the most important aspect of any headphones is the sound quality, and the BackBeat SENSE do not disappoint. They offer some great bass power with impressive low-end sturdiness, but manage to match that with a balanced and clear sound which brings out the depth in almost any song we tested them with. Add into that the smooth treble which brings out the clarity in songs, and you’re onto a winner.

My favourite test for these headphones was the remastered version of The Beatles: Abbey Road (1969), as it offered a great range of vocals, instrumentals and synthesizers. Despite the ear pads being moderately sized and simply resting upon your ears, the sound they create is entirely immersive and makes live performances seem so expansive – as if you were actually there. This can become a very surreal experience whilst you’re enjoying your morning commute on the train.

BackBeat SENSE by Plantronics


Although still a newcomer to the consumer headphone industry, Plantronics have created a very capable and stylish pair of Bluetooth headphones with the Backbeat SENSE. They are lightweight and portable, offering the most comfortable listening experience I have ever had on the move.

They are intuitive, easy to set up and provide an outstanding sound quality for the price. If you were thinking of purchasing some wireless headphones at some point, I would stop thinking about it and invest in this pair. The Plantronics BackBeat SENSE retail at £129.99, and you can find out more information about them and where to buy them on the Plantronics website.

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