Plantronics BackBeat Sense review

Richard Easton
15 Oct 2015
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Plantronics BackBeat Sense teaser
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

Plantronics' BackBeat Sense packs in plenty of handy features, with decent sound and a very reasonable price


Media controls on the outside of the earcups let you play and pause your music in a more conventional way. I also liked the dedicated track skipping buttons, which is more convenient than integrating track skipping into the play/pause button through multi-tapping. The left earcup also has a volume adjustment dial, so a quick turn will change volume. While the controls are useful, I wasn't fond of the button markings, which detract from the overall clean design and look a little old-fashioned. That's a shame, as otherwise the Sense looks every bit the premium pair of headphones, whether you opt for the Black/Espresso or White/Tan colours. Each has a silver trim that almost sparkles.

Plantronics BackBeat Sense earpads

^Perforated earpads make it easy to tell which side is which

The BackBeat Sense pairs via Bluetooth and has some of the best wireless range I've seen from a pair of Bluetooth headphones. It is meant to be able to stay connected at up to 100m, but this is if you have a clear line of sight. In testing, It managed to stay connected to my smartphone even when I went two floors downstairs, so the wireless range was certainly impressive. The Sense can even connect to two devices simultaneously. Battery life, too, was very good, lasting close to the rated 18 hours during day-to-day use. Should the battery fail, you can still connect an included 3.5mm cable to keep on listening. The headphones charge over Micro USB and you can check battery level on the right earcup.

Plantronics BackBeat Sense buttons

With support for the less-lossy aptX codec, sound quality was very respectable from the 32mm dynamic drivers. I wouldn't say they stood up to particular critical listening, but as a day-to-day, commuter-friendly pair of headphones they did well. They're not going to block out outside noise, so listening on a busy underground train will require you to dial up the volume. They do seal your music in very well, however. The sound signature isn't particularly coloured in any direction, with a generally neutral sound. Bass is well controlled and not overly prominent in the mix. The mids could have had a little more emphasis, especially when you bring the volume up as the treble does begin to become a little bright. Otherwise, for the money, the BackBeat Sense produce a solid sound. 

In the end, at £130, the Plantronics BackBeat Sense actually becomes great value for its performance and feature set. Sound quality is good for the money and the headphones are solidly constructed, with a thoughtful travel pouch. Considering their light weight, I just wish they also folded down to a smaller size for even more portability and didn't have the button markings that slightly ruin the design. Up against a more expensive pair of Bluetooth on-ear headphones, such as the Philips Fidelio M2BT, the BackBeat Sense acquits itself very well for less money, earning them a Recommended award.

Looking for a different pair of headphones? Have a read of our headphones buying guide for even more options.

Headphones subtypeOn-ear Bluetooth
Headphones driverClosed
Active noise-cancellingNo
Power sourceLi-ion battery
Headphones sensitivityNot disclosed
Frequency response20-20,000Hz
Headphones impedenceNot disclosed
Plug type3.5mm headset jack plug
Inline volumeYes
Cable length1.2m
AccessoriesTravel bag

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