Plantronics BackBeat Fit

by Volker Weber

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Since many people seem to be looking for good Bluetooth headsets, I am trying as many as I can. This BackBeat Fit isn't new, there are just a few new color options.

The BackBeat Fit has an interesting profile: other than most sports headsets it does not block you ear canal. It's not worn inside the ear canal, but inside your ear lobe. The wings push the eartips into your ear canal, but they don't completely block it. At first these headsets seemed to be too uncomfortable but I wore them without my glasses and noticed the discomfort had gone. Now I put the headset on first, and then wear my glasses over them.

Max has tried both the Trekz and the BackBeat and he prefers the Trekz because they keep the ears completely open. I prefer the BackBeat since they sound rather well while the Trekz ... Although it is unsealed, the BackBeat Fit headset is rather loud and delivers a punch. I cannot play it on full volume since it is just too powerful.

As a sports headset it is IP57 rated and has an additional sweatproof nano-coating. The battery is rated for eight hours and the headset speaks to you with easily understandable status messages. There is a companion app that helps you switch the headset between multiple paired devices.

The only thing that took a little bit of learning are the manual controls. Tapping on the volume button raises the volume, holding it lowers it. Same thing for the audio button: one tap means pause/play, double tap means next track, holding the button means back to start of track, holding it twice means previous track. Before I learned these awkward controls, I used the Apple Watch as a controller.

Although I like the headset, it does not earn the editor-refuses-to-give-it-back award. When I wear a headset, I want to block out the environment. By design this headset does not try to achieve that. I have to mention it has a microphone for taking phone calls, but there is no Plantronics wizardry that so amazes me with their professional headsets.

Comments

Volker,
Plantronics has the right headset depending on the main purpose it is designed for. Remember all their other great headsets you have already covered here.
The Backbeat Fit excels in any kind of sports activity where you actually don't want to block out the environment. I use it for cycling, and I can wear both a helmet and bike glasses in addition without any problem. Listening to music works great and with good sound quality, and you still hear approaching vehicles which is vital.

You can only conduct phone calls as long as you don't move because it doesn't filter out any wind noise. In addition, you might not hear the phone ringing when you move because the ring tone is pretty low volume. However, you do notice it when you listen to music and it gets interrupted by a phone call.

You can also use it as a phone headset with good call quality in a quiet place.

Wolfgang Bosch, 2016-09-19 09:26

@Wolfgang: I fully agree. I'm using it daily (ever since it came out) during bike rides to and from work and it works exactly as you wrote. Great fit, great battery life, designed in a way that you can still hear what comes out of the headset even at higher speeds (one wouldn't believe how much wind noise certain other headsets generate). To me it's absolutely crucial that the headset I'm wearing on a bike (God beware!) lets the outside noise (!) in.

Markus Dierker, 2016-09-19 12:30

I agree with Markus and Wolfgang. I don't like in-ear headphones, luckily Plantronics makes one of the few bluetooth headphones with regular earbuds. I've been using the Backbeat Fit for over a year now, works well for my needs.

Kudos to the Plantronics support. The rubber on the neck piece started to come apart after about a year of daily use. They sent me a replacement (full retail package) within a few days, no questions asked.

Sadly the phone quality is mediocre at best, as Wolfgang already mentioned. I'm looking forward to trying out the AirPods.

Jochen Schug, 2016-09-19 20:01

Lost two of these after they fell off my neck when I forgot I was wearing them. You really have to keep these on your ears to avoid losing them, which limits their social acceptability. Previously I was a big fan of the Backbeat 903 series. I've now switched to the LG Tone series as I value phone call voice quality over maintaining a connection to the ambient sounds. With these backbeats I would be shamed into muting during conference calls if I was in my car. The LG Tone, and indeed event the BMW (2013 335i) speakerphone work much better for this purpose and folks never complain about background noise.

Where these backbeats work great is any environment where you might need to answer a call but need to stay "present", such as when chasing kids at the playground or around the house. They are a little too bulky for bike helmet compatibility, and as stated if you need to actually *talk* as opposed to just answer a brief call or hear message notifications, they fall short.

So it seems that the current best compromise for me and apparently quite a few others is to use the newer LG Tone retractable style headsets and only have only one earbud in if you need to hear the phone AND your environment. My LG Tone Ultra (B810?) fits discreetly under my shirt collar (dress or casual), and I just wear it all the time.

Oh, and two other benefits of the LG Tones over the backbeat: 1) you can actually sleep with the earbuds in your ear, and 2) wear earmuffs in the winter.

Kevin Pettitt, 2016-09-20 15:07

This already became a series :)
Humble request for next test specimen of "sporty" headphones, if possible (i.e. the company providing a test sample): Powerbeats
I'm not generally fond of Beats after having had a Beats Solo HD with terrible build quality. But the coming Powerbeats3 should have the W1 chip.
Would be interested to know if they can work as an all-round headset with light phone usage + using with the Apple Watch for sports.

Tobias Hauser, 2016-09-20 21:58

Tobias, look at Jaybird

Volker Weber, 2016-09-21 00:05

Jaybird looks interesting, thanks Volker. Eagerly waiting for your review

Tobias Hauser, 2016-09-23 23:25

Well, I don't really think they will be sending a kit. And I am not asking. I have way to many headsets at this time.

I looked at the Jaybirds at IFA and they have an interesting feature set. The Freedom is very, very tiny. It does not even have a MicroUSB connector. Instead you get a dock that has its own battery. You can attach it while you wear the headset and it will recharge it. Then you take it off and recharge it via a cable. Of course you can attach it to the cable and the headset at the same time.

Jaybirds seal your ear canal. We talked about the pros and cons of that design.

Volker Weber, 2016-09-23 23:30

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