Reviewed: Plantronics BackBeat 505

It might sound odd coming from a millennial, but I’m not really a fan of Bluetooth headphones. As an audiophile, I always want to have studio recorded and Hi-Fi beats right in my ears—hence the reason behind my preference for wired earphones. These headphones from the folks at Plantronics prove otherwise.

Design: 4.5/5

The BackBeat 505 leaves a premium impression at first glance. Its cushioned headband has a glossy “PLT” imprint above, complementing the headphones’ stylish, matte black body. These wireless on-ear headphones are physically identical to its predecessor, but bear a more subtle color. Memory foam pads are placed on both ear cups for comfort and sound isolation.

Control buttons such as play, pause, next, and previous are intelligently embossed and placed on the outer left ear cup. Its rear reveals the volume rocker while the bottom shows the micro-USB port and a 3.5 mm audio jack for wired connections. The right ear cup, meanwhile, bears a carved logo of the brand. It also houses the power and Bluetooth pairing controls, as well as the answer and redial buttons. Between these two controls is an LED indicator.

Built for casual listeners, it features a sleek frame and stylish design made from durable materials. You can fold the earcups flat and wear it on your neck or store inside your bag. It’s also lightweight compared to other standard headphones, weighing only 155 grams. The packaging comes with a music and charger cable, as well as a string pouch. Available in three bold colors, I got a test unit in dark grey.

Hardware: 4/5

Enclosed on each of its plastic-y ear cups are 40 mm speaker drivers equipped with Plantronics’ advanced acoustic technology. Its headband is mainly supported by two adjustable, aluminum rails that give it a classy look. The left ear cup is made of a rubber panel which complements its matte, plastic body.

According to the manual, the headphones feature multipoint pairing and DeepSleep hibernation mode for maximizing its connectivity and battery life. Taking and making calls are also made convenient through its built-in, wideband mic.

User Experience: 3.5/5

It may come in a small footprint, but the Backbeat 505 definitely delivers balanced beats. Its offers a warm, pleasing sound that works well from pop party anthems to mellow ballads even at high volumes. Thanks to its powerful bass and immersive audio, it was able to block out some of the outside noise while commuting and gave justice to EDM tracks and classical instrumental music. While it leaves a good bass impression, the headphones somehow mask the mids which makes vocal-heavy songs suffer a bit. And since it has a supra-aural design, the memory foam in-ear cups and headband are not enough to isolate noise. The audio quality, meanwhile, differs when used for video streaming. I watched several TV series and noticed that the sound depended on the video quality.

In terms of comfort, the BackBeat 505 falls short. The headphones become a hotbed of pain after streaming one episode of Shokugeki no Soma on my phone and wearing it for 30 minutes. As a woman who wears eyeglasses, the discomfort is hard to look past. It still fits too tight on my ears even if I adjusted the height of the headphones.

However, things are good in the connectivity and battery department. The headphones are set to default pairing mode for quick and easy setup. Should you want to explore more, there’s the dedicated mobile app for updating and finding the headphones. Among its remarkable features are the multipoint Bluetooth connectivity that pairs up to two devices simultaneously and connect 8 devices, and the DeepSleep hibernation mode that maintains battery life up to six months when your headphones are left on and out of range. Speaking of battery life, I was able to maximize the headphone’s battery up to 20 hours of continuous use.

Its responsive, on-ear control buttons make a lot of difference as well, providing convenience to its users. As for the range, the BackBeat 505 seamlessly streams music and videos up to 33 feet. A back-up cable that physically links the headphones to a source could be used, should you run out of battery.

Value: 5/5

Plantronics might still have a number of shortcomings, but for a consumer who’s currently in search of an affordable pair of Bluetooth headphones for short stints, the BackBeat 505 is a good choice.

Bottomline:

It’s a must-have audio gear for commuters who are tight on budget.

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE November 2018 Issue.

Reviewed by Jewel Sta. Ana

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