The Good The Plantronics BackBeat Go is a compact wireless stereo headset that sounds decent, is attractively designed, and is reasonably priced.
The Bad Battery life isn’t great (4.5 hours); buttons on the inline remote are small; and the LED that indicates when the device is on or in pairing mode is tiny.
The Bottom Line There’s a lot to like about the BackBeat Go wireless stereo headset, but some notable shortcomings temper our enthusiasm.
It’s hard to design really small wireless Bluetooth earphones because you have to cram a battery and some extra electronics into a compact housing the size of something that’s not much bigger than, well, an earbud.
That’s a challenge Plantronics has endeavored to overcome with its $99.99 BackBeat Go wireless stereo headset, one of the smallest and lightest stereo Bluetooth headsets out there, which features two slightly oversize earbuds joined by a flat, fettuccine wire that’s designed to cut down on tangles.
First, the good. The BackBeat Go is attractively designed and offers a pretty comfortable fit. I was able to get a tight seal with the largest of the included silicon eartips and while I used the optional “wings” that are supposed to help keep the earphones securely in place, I didn’t feel they had much of an impact on the fit.
As for sound quality, it was decent for a Bluetooth stereo headset and the performance of the headset was good (callers said they could hear me well). Overall, the sound was pretty balanced and didn’t have a harsh edge or overemphasized the bass (there’s not a ton of bass, but it’s ample so long as you get a tight seal).
On a more critical note, I did feel the sound was a bit restrained (most likely because of the earphones’ small size — they have 6mm neodymium drivers) and I could have used a bit more volume when I was outside on the noisy streets of New York.
Editor Brian Bennett, who also tried out the product, said he didn’t have an issue with the volume, but he wasn’t in love with the Backbeat Go’s fit.
For those new to stereo Bluetooth, it’s worth noting that Bluetooth does compress audio files and has a tendency to flatten out your music, leaving it sounding less dynamic. That was the case here as well, and this model does not feature the aptX codec, which can offer improved Bluetooth sound quality with mobile devices that also feature aptX (the iPhone 4S does not have aptX, but some Android models do).