Dual Pairing Headset 

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Everybody enjoys their private moments and the next product allows you these moments when listening to your favourite music.

The latest set of headphones to be added to Plantronics catalogue of audio device bears the title of BackBeat Pro.  This all-black headset is of the over-the-ear type and comes with promises that include 24-hour listening, fold-flat capability, connection to two different audio sources for easy switching between them and noise-cancelling functionality.

Attractively packaged to suit its Pro status, this kit consists of the headset unit with a Ballistic Nylon Travel Sleeve (this is marketing speak for a soft lined pouch with Velcro fasteners for transporting the device when on your travels).  You also get a micro-to-standard USB lead for charging and linking to a computer, a 3.5mm jack plug audio lead with built-in volume adjustment controller plus a small Get Started booklet.  Unfortunately the volume adjustment controller failed to work on any of the Android devices nor the iPod Touch at my disposal. 

Charging this headset can take up to three hours as the left ear piece is linked to a mains power source.  A series of five blue LED lights on the right ear piece will flash during this process and then are automatically turned off once charging is complete.  The headset is then ready for use with 24 hours of playback.

Having just mentioned the right ear piece, it seems appropriate time to mention how the ear pieces are identified.  Whereas many headsets, which I have checked over, feature the “L” and “R” markers on the head band or, occasionally, on the back of the ear pieces, this Plantronics model places the markers inside the cups that fit over the ears.  It certainly makes for easy identification when placing the headset on your head.

The well-padded metal headband can be expanded by 3.5cm at each end while the ear pieces allow full adjustment in any direction to ensure the headset fits comfortably on various head sizes.  Both ear pieces are also well-padded and feature a control wheel and an outside plate that is used to activate a particular feature. The wheel on the left side is for controlling track selection with the wheel on the right side allows you to adjust the volume level of the audio.  The circular plate on the left acts as a NFC (Near Field Communication) area and it can also be used to switch between devices when two are paired.  The right plate allows you to accept, decline, end of call, and ring back the last call if the connected device has phone capabilities.

Other options available on the left ear piece are a button to activate or deactivate the ANC (Active Noise-Cancelling) feature plus attach the USB and lead leads.  The right ear piece houses the on/off button.  There is also an Open Mic feature that, once activated, allows you to adjust the volume level of the outside noise that you receive.  This feature is achieved by the reduction of the volume level of the music so that you become more aware of any outside distraction such as the ringing of a doorbell or perhaps a reminder that it is your turn to replenish the food snacks and drinks.

Normally when you remove a headset, for whatever reason, the music will continue to emanate from the headset and could cause a distraction.  However this is not the case with the Plantronics BackBeat Pro headset.  Sensors inside this headset detect when it has been removed and will pause the music playback from the attached device.  Replace the headset and the same sensor will restart the music playback for your listening pleasure.  From my tests I presume the sensor is located in the left ear piece.  I could move the right ear piece with no reaction but if I moved the left ear piece then the music would be paused. 

As mentioned, the BackBeat Pro headset can be paired simultaneously to two devices.  A slightly different approach is required for each pairing.  For the first device, this is achieved when the headset is first turned on and it automatically goes into pairing mode.  You can then activate pairing from the chosen device.  To pair a second device you need to press and hold down the Call button on the right ear piece until LEDs flash red and blue.  You can then activate the pairing process from the second device.

For some of the headset’s functions, such as Bluetooth pairing and switching between devices, a female voice will provide an announcement to acknowledge the action.  According to Plantronics you can change the language from the default English but I have not tested this feature.

The Plantronics BackBeat Pro headset is comfortable to wear for longish periods (maybe not the full 24 hours at one go) while providing well defined audio.  You also have the ability to switch between two paired devices and the useful pause feature when the headset is removed for a short period.  This is an excellent headset that is priced reasonably considering its feature list and quality of performance.  Currently Amazon has this product listed at £183.15.

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OverallPlantronics BackBeat Pro rated 92 out of 100
Highly commended product

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