WILL the BackBeat GO from Plantronics leave you in state of aural ecstasy or defile your ears? Leon Saw reviews.
Considering the BackBeat GO wireless headphones are from Plantronics, an electronics company which started out in 1961, manufacturing wireless headsets for National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronauts to use in space, it isn’t too much of a surprise that the headphones come in a package that, quite frankly, looks like something from out of this world.
The BackBeat GO allows you to wirelessly listen to music on a Bluetooth enabled player, and functions as a wireless headset for other similarly enabled devices. Although its two ear buds, linked by a 22 centimetre tangle-free cable, are slightly larger than conventional headphone ear buds, the whole setup weighs only 13 grams. There’s also a control node on the cable, closer to the right ear bud, which doubles up as a microphone for phone conversations. The headphones runs on an internal battery which is charged via a Micro Universal Serial Bus (USB) port neatly concealed under a rubber flap on the right ear bud. When fully charged, the pair of headphones promises at least four and a half hours of active operation.
Setting up the BackBeat GO was a relatively short and simple process. Just mere seconds after powering up the headphones, it was detected by my Bluetooth enabled mobile phone and ready to use.
Operating the control node on the BackBeat GO however, was somewhat underwhelming. It had four small rubberised buttons which seemed to be made for exceptionally tiny fingers only. And while the node was more or less adequate for switching songs on my mobile phone’s music player and adjusting its volume, using it to operate the phone function was a rather bewildering experience.
Despite there being four buttons on the node, most of the commands were bound to just one of them. Pressing the button once answered or ended a phone call, or held an active call and answered a new one, or executed some other arcane command. Pressing it twice redialled a phone number which didn’t go through. Holding the same button down for two seconds swopped between calls. Performing the same action until a tone sounds activated my phone’s voice-control mechanism. So as you can probably imagine, juggling multiple phone calls while trying to not accidentally terminate any got quite confusing after a time.
Still, the BackBeat GO’s primary feature was pretty sound (no pun intended). The audio emanating from the headphones was intricately detailed. Music sounded like I was at the studio as it was being recorded, and voice calls were crystal clear. The level of bass was adequate and not overwhelming.
However, the headphones’ audio quality was subjected to my head movements. Because the ear buds couldn’t be securely positioned within my ears, simply turning my head caused the headphones to be partially dislodged and the sound quality to degrade. The problem was rectified somewhat with the included stabiliser accessories, but not entirely eliminated.
Also, moving my head caused the cable connecting the ear buds to rub against the collar of my shirt, producing a distinctive noise which was annoyingly audible even with the sound from my mobile phone at maximum volume.
At AU$120, the BackBeat GO may be a bit too pricey for some international students in Australia. However, if you’re after a pair of wireless headphones with decent audio quality and are willing to make a sizable investment, the BackBeat GO shouldn’t disappoint. They’re ideal for listening to music while in a bus or train on your way to classes, or while studying at home or outside – without the tangle of wires and cables. Just be mindful of the potential drop in the headphones’ sound quality if you’re going to use them for activities like sports.