Been awhile since I saw the Backbeat Pro moniker on any of Plantronics products with them mostly focusing on their Go and Fit series of headphones. After Plantronics first entry into truly wireless last year with the Fit 3100 they have gone the premium route with the Backbeat Pro 5100. They are designed to give you some of the best sound coming from truly wireless buds even including ANC about how the price of its competitors. But how does it hold up?

Style

First thing to notice with the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 5100s is their very pocketable charge case. Weighting less then 40g (about 46g with earbuds) it’s one of the lightest I have dealt with this year. It’s made of plastic and features a push button to open the case and reveal the earbuds. On top of the lid is the PLT insignia while underneath is a microUSB charging port. Yea unfortunately no Type-C about this and they stated it’s still a costly addition. While understandable I think consumers may be interested in swallowing the cost for convenience. In any event the case itself is durable not picking up near a scratch whether in my bag or in my pocket the past month I been using the 5100s. The case itself is slated to give you 13 hours of additional power while the earbuds themselves hold 6.5. You can also get 1hr of power on a 10min charge. 

The 5100 earbuds are lightweight and are designed to go right in the ear. They are all black with a slight reflective press button on each earbud. Ear tips help keep the buds secure in the ear without much worry of slipping out.  Plantronics has these rated as IPX4 which means they have resistance to sweat, dust, and water. 

Plantronics BackBeat Pro 5100 comes with additional ear tips, charging case, and microUSB cable. 

Features / Sound 

Plantronics like a few others I seen this year is incorporating tech which allows each earbud to work independently rather than depend on each other.  You can decide to use both or one at a time or even pass one off to a friend.  Each earbud also has sensors so when taken out the ear music pauses and putting back in resumes where you left off. 

There are a few things PLT has put into the 5100s such as WindSmart tech which helps block out of wind and other noises around you.  These are noise cancelling true wireless earbuds by the way which I have seen very far and few but on Sony’s WF-1000XM3. 

The 5100s can utilize PLT’s BackBeat app which gives you access to “My Taps”. Basically, you can change the controls of the clickable buttons on the earbuds ranging from volume control to activating music playlists from apps such as Spotify. These different options can be programmed in one or two taps. 

On the audio side the 5100s sounded good as I would have expected from PLT. They have a nice crisp sound presence giving you a decent amount of thumping bass. I wish they maybe included just a bit more and sometimes even be a bit louder. 

Experience

Since using the Backbeat Pro 5100 for the past month I have been able to test it in various settings. My usual train commutes, taking a quick run and even a flight from NYC to LA. Noise cancelling was rather impressive in these scenarios blocking out a great number of outside occurrences. While the noise cancelling is superb it’s not quite up there with the WF-1000XM3. But then again, those cost around an extra $60 over the 5100s. 

In the battery department they have held up to its advertised battery life though I just wish it had Type C seeing as most of my devices I use now have it, so I must make sure there is a microUSB laying around. Comfort wise they felt good in the ear for long wear and never felt like they would loosen up or slide out. From the calls I have taken on them the quality has been fine and no complaints from the other parties hearing me. 

There are random times when I would connect where the prompts would repeat “connected” or “disconnected” various times before connecting. But audio wise walking around listening I never came across many drops offs or disconnects. 

Verdict

Plantronics has made some strides this year with their truly wireless headphones and the BackBeat PRO 5100s are a step in the right direction. You are getting your money’s worth for a pair of earbuds that have a great battery life and are active noise cancelling while also hovering under the $200 mark.