Plantronics may appear to be just another company that sells wireless communication products like audio headsets, but instead of creating just another “me too” Bluetooth sports headset, Plantronics latest BackBeat GO 3 incorporates several features that makes the headset a little extra special.
The BackBeat GO 3 is redesigned to look more flashy and premium compared to the BackBeat GO 2. Instead of a rubber flap to cover the micro USB port, it is now in plastic with glossy coat.
The in-line control is detailed with similar colour scheme. The earbuds are tilted at an angle so that it fits better in the ear canals and improves comfort.
Despite the redesign, the length remains largely similar. The earbuds still protrudes out of the ears.
Portable Charger Case
Plantronics continues to include the portable charger as an optional bundle. I like the new design where the pouch case is soft and opens easily by pressing the sides. The charging cable is inside the case so you can convenient charge it while the earbuds are inside the case.
The battery indicator outside the case shows the remaining battery amount of the charger when you touch – not press – the round panel. What’s more, it also tells you the battery level of the BackBeat GO 3 while charging so you know how much more to complete the charge, which I thought was really useful.
The BackBeat GO 3 can last about 6 hours with a full charge, and with the charge case, it adds to another 13 hours. It takes 2 hours to charge the GO 3. When the headset detects no active paired device, it will go into deep sleep mode that lasts 6 months. Even if it’s actively paired, Plantronics claims it can last for 2 weeks before requiring a charge.
Better Voice Prompts
While many branded headsets like Sony also has voice prompts for general functions like pairing, turning on and off, the BackBeat GO 3 has voice prompts when you change tracks. You can also easily check your remaining battery life when you press the volume button during standby mode. And instead of reading the battery level, it reads the remaining usage time, which is so much more useful.
The middle multi-function button is also extremely responsive. When you tap the button, the music instantly pauses, unlike other headsets where there is a lag.
Plantronics created an app that works only with BackBeat GO 3, and the app allows you to update firmware, switch paired devices, remove paired devices, change headset language, check remaining usage time.
The BackBeat GO 3 is tuned with brilliantly clear treble and subtle bass. The star is clearly the highs (no pun intended) so bass lovers may not get the gratification. While the treble is bright, it feels less fatigue than the Jaybird X2, though X2 offers better balance of clear treble and big bass. Under quiet listening conditions, I can certainly hear more subtle details on the high frequency than most other headphones.
It appears the custom SBC codec is more picky in delivering lossless wireless audio, as I find the high treble is prone to distortion when paired with some devices. And perhaps it’s because the GO 3 still uses Bluetooth 3.0. And oddly, even the pre-recorded voice prompts suffer from crackling tones. That kind of ruins the headset perceived high-fidelity quality. Perhaps future firmware updates could fix this.
Unlike the previous BackBeat GO 2, the GO 3 fit stabilizers are now moulded to the frame and not adjustable or removable. They have the right amount of rigidity to stuff into the ear cartilage comfortably. When I go for runs, they stay in place and I do not feel any strain.
However, I could hear heavy foot thumping sounds which affects my music listening. If you fit a smaller ear gels, the thumping sounds will reduce but it also means you enjoy less bass because the ear canals are not sealed. No worries about sweat, the earbuds are nano-coated with P2i technology.
Speaking of earbuds, they come in 3 size pairs and are not using the standard attachment. I’m not a fan of proprietary earbuds as it means I cannot fit other silicone makes to modify the sound signature, like what I did on the Xiaomi In-Ear Headphones Pro. When fitted with the correct size, I achieve rather good noise isolation, such that I am not able to hear any human conversation near me.
The BackBeat GO 3 is definitely one of the better-designed headsets. I like the thoughtfulness of the user interaction of the product, from the voice prompts to the built-in charger pouch with 2 indicators. The earbuds are more comfortable than the previous version, while audio quality is detailed and clear for treble lovers.
BackBeat GO 3 will be available in two styles—Cobalt Black and Copper Grey (this review unit). Retail price is SGD$169, and SGD$219 with charge case. You can purchase at retail outlets in Singapore.
Driver: 6mm custom dynamic
Frequency response: 20 -20,000 Hz
Noise reduction: 20dB passive
Sensitivity: 102 dBspl/mw @1kHz
Connectivity: Bluetooth v3.0, HQ customer SBC codec, Wideband audio (HFP v1.7)
Water Resistant Rating: Sweatproof nano-coating by P2i
Official product website: http://www.plantronics.com/asia/product/backbeat-go-3