I have enjoyed using the BackBeat Pro (first generation) headphones for years now. My only gripe with them is the freakish size and weight. Since the release of the Backbeat Pro 2 in 2016, I learned that Plantronics ironed out most the issues I had with the originals.
So what are the differences between the new and old model? Let’s dive into the comparison by starting with an overview of the features and controls each have.
Backbeat Pro 2
|Active Noise Cancelling||Yes||Yes|
|Wireless Bluetooth Connectivity||Yes||Yes|
|3.5mm Audio Input||Yes||Yes|
|Battery Life||24 hours||24 hours|
|NFC||Yes||No (SE Edition Only)|
|Active Noise Canceling||L||L|
|Battery Life Indicator||R||R|
|3.5mm audio input||L||R|
When I got my hands on these headphones, the first thing I noticed was the weight. Plantronics managed to shave off 50g and that may not sound like a huge change, but it does offer an overall improvement on comfort. However, I still developed a little discomfort after prolong use; just not as bad as bad as before.
The aesthetic has vastly improved in my opinion. It no longer has that bulky and awkward look. Even with questionable choices with the carbon fiber texture, silver and glossy back accents, and faux wood grain, the overall design feels more modern and less of an eye sore.
Earcups and Headband Have Changed
Different Control Placement
The next big difference between the two are the placements of the controls. It feels like Plantronics was trying to address the less intuitive operation of the original BackBeat Pro by better grouping the controls together.
I grew accustomed to the volume dial that was on the right earcup of the original. Since I predominantly use my headphones for listening to audio and video, changing the volume was the most common thing I did; and being right handed it was instinctual for me to reach up to turn a dial.
This has changed to a volume rocker on the left earcup and it took some time for me to get use to. It also feels awkward having to rock a fake dial to control the volume.
Next welcomed change to the track controls. The forward and back buttons are actual buttons now instead a rocker. This makes way more sense to me.
With how little I use the open listening feature, I often forget that I have to press and hold the mute button to enable it on the original. Now, with it becoming its own switch, I find it has become much easier to operate. I also noticed that enabling the open listening also pauses the music when it use to continue playing softly in the background.
Active Noise Cancellation
There is also a noticeable improvement on the active noise cancellation. It is still pretty mild in comparison to better performing products. But you should expect around 10 dB of noise reduction, while products like the Bose QC 35 II and Sennheiser PXC 550 can offer 20 dB or more.
Audio Cable is Different
The audio cable that comes with the new model no longer has an inline mic. So, if you want that feature, you will have to get one from elsewhere.
Range Is Still Good
I am still able to freely wander around an 800 square feet space through different rooms with no signal degradation.
To me, there was no noticeable difference compared to the first generation. But for the audio enthusiasts out there, I suggest you take a look at the detailed technical review from rtings.com
Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 is a solid upgrade and still offers a great set of features with decent audio performance at a price point that is hard to beat. At the time of this writing, you can score a pair for $150 CAD. So you’ll be hard pressed to find a comparable product at that cost.Check Price on Amazon.ca