Mini-Review: Plantronics Backbeat Go 2 Bluetooth Headset

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plantronics-bbtgo2After my adventure with the Nexus 4 and an LG Bluetooth headset last fall I had pretty much given up on wireless headsets for listing to music while out and about. I resorted to using my trusty Etymotic Research HF5’s with a Bluetooth audio transmitter. That combination overcame the fact of the failed headset jack on my Nexus 4. However, I had unwittingly left a BT headset on my Amazon wish list, which resulted in a Plantronics BackBeat Go 2 BT Wireless Headset under the Christmas tree.

In truth, trying yet another wireless headset has me once again wishing that I had a dummy head. No, no…not the head of a dummy…let’s not get snarky, ok? I mean a dummy head with reference microphones, like the Neumann KU 100, for properly measuring headset frequency response. Such tools are beyond the scope of even an advanced hobbyist.

Over the past few weeks I’ve made use of the Backbeat Go 2 while walking the dogs and working around the yard. I’ve listened to various podcasts (Marketplace & Escape Pod are favorites) as well as music via Amazon Prime. In general, I find the Plantronics Backbeat Go 2  completely satisfactory for listening to music.  To my ears they’re much better than the LG HBS series.

The Backbeat Go 2 are not as comfortable as the Etymotic’s. The in-ear portion of the Backbeat Go 2 are a little on the chunky side. They come with two sizes of ear bud tips. I prefer the smaller set to get a proper seal into the ear canal. The included documentation rightfully stipulates that a good seal is critical to optimal bass response.

Etymotic HF5 & Plantronics Backbeat Go 2

I find the dual and triple flange earpieces from Etymotic supremely comfortable and capable of a consistent, reliable seal in the ear. In fact, I wish that Plantronics would partner with Etymotic on noise reducing headsets or components. I think that the two companies strengths would be complimentary.

I recall hearing how much effort went into the coating on the flat wire that connects the ear buds. It’s supposed to be sweat resistant to accommodate active users. In truth, I don’t understand the appeal of the stout, flat wire. Logitech also started to use this sort of wire for their H570e & H650e USB headsets.

I’m more a fan of the kind of thin, flexible wire that was common to the Sony MDR NC Series Noise Canceling Headphones. The value of the design won’t be revealed until we see how the product lasts over time.

The other thing I’ve noted about the Backbeat Go 2 is that the battery life is less than ideal. That’s somewhat to be expected since the battery is wedged into the ear buds themselves. There’s simply not much physical space available. Plantronics makes an accommodation by providing a case with a built in auxiliary battery. The case can actually recharge the headset while it’s not in use.

This charging case idea is novel, but not entirely new. The Voyager Legend that I had for a couple of years has an optional charge case with a similar capability. I think that the implementation is a bit more elegant with the Voyager Legend. Connecting the short micro-USB cable in the case is rather fiddly.

Clearly, I’m picky when it comes to audio performance. Last year’s experience with the LG HBS 730 was a disappointment. My experience thus far with the Backbeat Go 2 has been pretty good. While my focus on BT headsets for listening to music is relatively recent,  and setting aside the few quirks noted, the Backbeat Go 2 is the best sounding Bluetooth headset that I’ve used.