I was rather excited to hear that Plantronics has released an affordable pair of headphones. Its BackBeat PRO series are quite popular and the audio tuning of deep sub-bass and hyper-clear highs is likable.
The new BackBeat 500 series extends the popularity of Plantronics headphones to the masses. At S$139, the on-ear headphones fold nicely flattened for ease of storage in the synthetic cloth bag included in the retail package.
The earcups are relatively small and the cushions are not exactly the plushiest, so noise isolation is weak on this. The headband size that extends two-thirds to the max is just right for my head, which makes the BackBeat 505 more suitable for young adults or children.
My favourite aspect of the BackBeat 505 is the placement of the buttons. What I like is that the buttons have only one function and do not require any sort of “hold for secondary function” which is often a hit-and-miss. For a start, the power button is a slider so it will power on or power off with certainty, no need to press-and-hold and wait for the confirmation, in case you didn’t press long enough and fail to power on or off. To enable Bluetooth pairing, just slide the power switch further, again no need to power off and on again which is often the case for other headphones.
All the playback controls are location on the left ear. The volume and next-previous buttons are separated, thank goodness, which means you will not have the mistake of skipping track when you actually wanted to adjust volume. The next button is towards the front of the earcup when worn, which is a logical placement although it appears to be opposite when removed from the ears. This is a common mistake by headphone makers where Plantronics got it right. The phone button is sized generously and located on the bottom of the right earcup. The position mimics the in-line remotes that are commonly located at the right cable.
Unlike the premium-priced siblings, the BackBeat 505 does not auto-pause when removed, but it does come with Multipoint technology which allows concurrent connection of 2 Bluetooth devices. You can listen to music from one device and answer phone calls from another.
Audio quality is less exciting than the BackBeat PRO 2, but offers merits on its own. Sound is tuned to be full and warm, strong fat bass, forward midrange, sufficiently clear treble that easily gets drowned by the lows. It goes well for listeners who do not like bright treble, and for that, the Backbeat 505 provides a comfortable analogue experience that makes modern pop genres rather listenable for older generations like myself.
BackBeat 505 lacks the technological features of the BackBeat PRO. But at a fraction of its price, it satisfies the price-sensitive consumers who still deserve good sounding headphones. I love the operation of the headphones control, which is intuitive and responsive. The headphones is available in Dark Grey, Grey (with Green), and White (with Red) for S$139 at selected Plantronics authorized retailers in Singapore or Lazada.