Plantronics Backbeat Pro5100 Review: Wireless Earbuds That Work Great for Phone Calls The Plantronics Backbeat Pro5100 has a good battery life, great sound quality and a snug fit. These earbuds are less well-known and we spent over 30 hours trying them out.

Plantronics BackBeat Pro 5100

Plantronics Backbeat Pro 5100

We like this

  • Quality calls

  • Amazing sound quality

  • Amazing battery life

The Things We Hate
  • Poor fit and finish

  • A little shaky set-up process

  • Firmware updates

These are true Bluetooth headset earbuds that offer exceptional sound quality and call quality.

The Plantronics Backbeat Pro5100 was purchased by us so that our expert reviewer could fully test it and evaluate it. Continue reading to see our complete product review.

The Plantronics Backbeat Pro 5100 true wireless earbuds are a lot more than just earbuds—they are earbuds that aim to put call quality top of their list. They are not the most elegant or sounding earbuds, but they are a good choice. Plantronics has a strong claim in the Bluetooth headset market. You'll likely be looking at their on-board microphones with great esteem. These earbuds were excellent for calling, although there are a few caveats that I will discuss later. You can read on for a review of how the earbuds performed in real-world tests over a period of about one week.

Plantronics Backbeat Pro 5100

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Design: Unimpressive, but not intrusive

The earbuds aren't very special. They look like a bunch of glossy circles, with the PLT logo at the end. The grille on the outside edges of the earpieces is small and shows some plastic, but it is clearly housing the plantronics four-mic array.

You might not expect a different look from the eartips. They have a flattened oval shape and are Bose-style. The eartips are actually built into the earbud housing higher up than normal, so the entire construction is a bit more complicated. It adds some unique features to the fit of the earbud, as well as giving it a distinctive look at the back.

It's somewhere in between an Apple-style case and the more casual matchbook style you find with Jabra. Plantronics doesn't make any statement with its looks, but instead chooses to be sleek/simple while still being functional.

Related Reading: Bose SoundSport Free Review: Excellent And Simple True Wireless Earbuds

Comfort is Better Than Expected

The physical fit of an earbud can make or break a wireless one. This is because you will not get sound isolation and the risk of the earbud falling on the pavement if it doesn't fit properly. Backbeat Pros use silicone ear tips that are not perfectly round. Instead, their eartips are shaped more like flattened ovals—a shape fans of Bose will recognize. Bose doesn't have an additional point of contact such as an ear fin or wing.

These earbuds are secure, however. The eartip is not attached to the enclosure at its edge. The grippy rubbery material extends higher up the housing than the liner to protect the area that touches your ears. The earbuds have a slight extra stability and are light at 0.2 ounces, which is a lot for most of the range. You can choose between a looser or tighter seal.

The best thing about the Backbeats' sound quality was their balance. Earbuds that have a high volume can sound distorted in the middle, which is what I experienced with many other earbuds.

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Build Quality and Durability: Excellent, but not great

The fit and finish are two areas where the Backbeats really suffer. It seems that Plantronics put more emphasis on function than style or build, as is often the case with many Plantronics products. The case is closed with a springy push-button clasp, rather than a magnet. This means that opening it takes a bit more effort.

The earbuds can be held in place by magnets, but because of the size and width of the eartips (and the actual earbuds) it is more difficult to align them properly. Although the case is made of plastic, it is not the best I have ever felt. The rubber eartips are more susceptible to dirt and grime being picked up than I would like. The earbuds have IPX4 waterproofing, which means that light rain and workouts shouldn't be a problem. These earbuds are not premium quality, but they will give you a luxurious feeling product.

Quality of Sound: Rich and full

I am astonished by the Backbeat Pros' large and perfectly round design. These earbuds have a 5.8mm driver. Although it may not sound like much, the driver is significantly larger than many of its competitors. A larger driver will give you a better bass response, and a fuller soundstage.

The best thing about the Backbeat Pros' sound quality was their balance. Earbuds that have a high volume can sound muddy and distorted. The Backbeat Pros sounded great whether I was listening podcasts or heavy bass music such as EDM or hip-hop, or just settling down to gentle folk songs,

Plantronics headsets are not known for their sound quality. This is why the good sound quality is so surprising. Plantronics WindSmart technology is a combination of four microphones and a certain amount DSP that helps isolate your voice while calling. I am happy to report excellent call quality. However, it is probably more detailed than one might think. Many people who spoke to me on the phone said that they received more information than usual on calls and this was somewhat distracting. The WindSmart tech also seemed to work hard in noisy places like subways, which caused some distortion. Overall, however I was very impressed.

Plantronics Backbeat Pro 5100

Battery life: is more than capable

The emphasis is on quality calls, with four microphones, advanced digital signal processing, and the addition of four more, means that the battery onboard must be capable of handling large power draws. The earbuds have 60mAh batteries, which is more than what you would expect to find in wireless earbuds. Additionally, the case contains a huge 440mAh battery.

Plantronics estimates that the time spent with only the headphones and the 13 hours included in the case takes approximately 6.5 hours. However, the description lowers the estimated 6.5 hour to just 4 hours of phone talk time. These estimates were a bit too conservative for me as I was able to listen to the standard audio on my earbuds. This is quite impressive considering true wireless headphones, since even AirPods with a gold-standard design provide approximately 24 hours total listening time.

This is especially impressive considering the high quality sound the Backbeat Pros produce. I would assume that they might have a shorter battery life. One other quick note is that, though the battery case connects via micro USB and doesn't give you an insanely fast charging time, Plantronics has optimized the case to give you about an hour of listening with a 10-minute charge—a fact that's helpful if you're rushing out the door and forgot to charge them up.

Setup and Connectivity:

It takes some effort to set up Plantronics Backbeat Pro5100 earbuds. They were still not fully charged when I received them, so they had to be plugged in prior to pairing. It is crucial that both the earbuds have enough charge to enable them to pair automatically at the beginning stage. The Bluetooth connectivity works well once it's set up. It is comparable to other Bluetooth earbuds that I have tested.

These earbuds have Bluetooth 5.0 and the most recent hands-free audio profile to match the majority of Plantronics headsets. However, I did find that they were susceptible to skipping and interference in areas with high traffic.

Unfortunately, this is a side effect of wireless earbuds. Bluetooth connections are required between the earbuds and your smartphone/computer. Then another connection must be made to move from the main earbud into the second. Plantronics is not faulting this handoff as it can often lead to problems. These might cause some issues if you live in areas that have a lot of moving objects and wireless connections.

Plantronics estimates that the time spent with the headphones alone and the case takes approximately 6.5 hours. However, the description lowers this to 6.5 hours for phone calls.

Software and Additional Features: Most everything you will need

It was quite a surprise to find such a beautiful app with my Backbeat Pro 5100 headset. There was no accompanying app for a couple of other Plantronics headphones that I have owned. The Backbeat app is certainly not the most full-featured software out there— that crown goes to Sony. The app offers some customizations, including the ability to change each earbud’s tap function and a "Find My Headset" option. The battery life numbers are very detailed, which I like. There aren't any EQ options or transparent listening modes like other competitors.

There are a number of 'extra features,' such as voice DSP to make phone calls and sensors that detect if the earbuds are in your ears. The sensors will also allow you to pause/play music according.

The last thing I regret is the fact that the Backbeat app keeps asking me to update my firmware, but I never was able to do this. While this doesn't impact the performance of the buds it does require you to take out and re-pair your earbuds using Bluetooth. Plantronics should solve this problem as it does not allow for great user experiences. Overall I am satisfied with what the Backbeat Pros offer, even though they don't have any flashy features like transparent listening or noise cancelling.

Price: Not a bad deal

Wireless earbuds are still considered a high-end product. You will need to be realistic about the price of true wireless earbuds. They are priced at $169, which I believe is a fair price for average consumers.

The more affordable Bose SoundSport Free headphones cost around $200. They have a shorter battery life, but produce a slightly better audio quality. The Backbeat Pro 5100 is a reasonable price at $169, considering their sound quality. However it's not a cheap deal.

Plantronics Backbeat Pro 5100 vs. Jabra Elite 65t

Jabra recently launched an updated 65t version (the 75t), but I believe the older model is more compatible with the Backbeat Pros. Both earbuds have call quality, four-mic array and voice DSP as their core functions. The battery cases are both substandard and lack any special finishing. Although the Jabra Elite 65t does offer transparent listening options, I prefer the Backbeats. The 65t earbuds are currently $20-30 cheaper than the Backbeat Pros (see Amazon).

Final Verdict

Wireless earbuds that are truly wireless for calling.

The Backbeat Pro 5100 wireless earbuds will give you a lot of pleasure if call quality is your top priority. They aren't the flashiest, fanciest, or best designed out there, but they hold their own in call quality (as expected) and sound quality (perhaps not as expected). Plantronics's offering is great as long as it doesn't require a premium brand.

Specifications

  • Product Name BackBeat Pro 5100
  • Plantronics is the product brand
  • Prices from $170.00
  • Oct. 2019 Release Date
  • Product dimensions 1 x 0.66 x 0.0.6 inches
  • Color Black
  • Range wireless 40M
  • Audio codec SBC, AAC
  • Bluetooth spec Bluetooth 5.0

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