Slowly but surely, every major personal audio brand is releasing true wireless earphones, given its technological maturity. Plantronics, one of my favourite audio brands, joins in with BackBeat Fit 3100. It’s rated IP57 sweatproof and waterproof, and connects to devices via the new Bluetooth 5.0 standard.
True Wireless, Always Aware
The BackBeat Fit 3100 is one of the more unique zero-cable earphones, because of its Always Aware eartip design that allows wearer to hear surroundings naturally without digital ambient sound mode. Without any eartip pressing in my ear canals, the earbuds are supported by the earhooks behind the ears that do not fall off, achieving excellent comfort. This open-canal earbuds have a weakness: without earbud seal, audio quality will not have as much impact.
Interestingly, this weakness turns out to be its strength. I was able to wear them at lengths without listening fatigue or feeling isolated. I can still interact with my family and colleagues while keeping the music volume at reasonable levels.
The BackBeat Fit 3100 is able to provide bright open sound through the 13.5mm drivers. Under quiet environments, the bass is natural and open, the midrange is warm and full, the treble remains amazingly clear without harshness. You won’t feel fatigue listening because the eartips do not seal up the ear canals.
When listening at noisy environments, your ears fight for attention between the ambient sound and the music. Clarity of music depends on the volume rather than the delivery of details. Under such circumstances, the high treble pierces through, mid treble vocals are audible, the bass feel is sufficient to fill up the warmth. The midrange however, loses the details, turning into mere sounds. After all, this frequency range is the most contested with the ambient sound.
That’s not to say “Always Aware” eartips aren’t suitable for urban use. It’s all a matter of preference and comfort. These eartips are the best when listening to music as a companion to your daily routine, and not as an escapade from the bustling noise. The BackBeat Fit 3100 attains the best of both worlds: enjoying music while aware of your surroundings. This is the alternative to chunky open-back headphones. I never used true wireless earbuds at home as much, until I tested the BackBeat Fit 3100, because the “Always Aware” eartips lets me remain connected with family while indulging on my music. Listening with the BackBeat Fit 3100 allows me to hear my family while enjoying music.
The BackBeat Fit 3100 eartips offers some room for natural adjustments by altering the eartips position in the ears. If you push the eartips closer to the canal, you will get more powerful mid-bass, and if you loosen the eartips, you get brighter treble.
Connectivity and Operations
In terms of wireless connectivity, the BackBeat Fit 3100 is quite stable in normal environments. Since these earbuds are for urban running, it is unlikely to get much radio interference. When there are occasional disruptions, the recovery is very fast.
The earbuds auto power up when removed from the zip case, and recharges when re-inserted to the case. The placement is swapped around – left earbud goes to the right and vice versa. The 5-hour battery life is sufficient for extended use, and the case offers additional 10 hours of charge.
Operating the earbuds is an interesting hybrid: the left earbud is controlled by touch, while the right earbud is click-based. The left earbud operation can be personalised via the smartphone BackBeat app, which is quite useful, though I like to keep it as volume control. The right earbud operation is fixed to controlling playback and track changes.
The Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 is a pair of true wireless earbuds that intentionally do not isolate your ears from noises. Putting safety first, these earbuds ensure you stay connected to the world around you without compromising audio quality, convenience and durability. Thanks to the large 13.5mm drivers, the audio frequency retains clarity and airiness. I recommend this pair of true wireless earphones for sports people who hates the silent feeling of wearing earbuds.
Retails in Singapore at S$249.