Right in time to start availability before the holidays, Plantronics has released an assortment of wireless listening products for both casual listening and fitness. Here we will go over their latest product for my favorite listening style, the wireless over-ear Plantronics BackBeat GO 810. Going for an approachable $149.99, the BackBeat GO 810 uses the general silhouette of the Plantronics 2016 flagship BackBeat PRO 2. Yet, it strips away subtle features to make a more affordable variant of their active noise canceling (ANC) headset.
Is the Plantronics BackBeat GO 810 the perfect blend of performance and features for its cost? Let’s dive in and find out.
Build and Feel
The Plantronics BackBeat GO 810 comes in three color options: Graphite Black, Bone White, and Navy Blue. It is an over-ear headset housing 40mm drivers, a flexible headband with mesh cushioning, and leatherette cushioning for the ear cups. On the left ear cup, you have full media controls for movie and music tracks, volume controls, a micro-USB charging port, and a 3.5mm port for using the BackBeat GO 810 as a wired headset. The right ear cup holds your main power and Bluetooth pairing switch, and a button for toggling between the headset’s two EQ modes.
The BackBeat GO 810 is surprising light with a nice balance in tension. The headset maintains a fine grip on your head while not feeling too tight. The leatherette cushions are soft and comforting, forming an excellent natural noise-isolating seal around your ears. For two to three weeks now, I have worn the headset for entire 5-hour flights between Seattle and New York, practically full workdays in the office, and even for all of gym sessions in between. I have to say that wearing-fatigue was at an all-time low throughout all of my listening scenarios.
Basically saying, even after hours upon hours of usage the BackBeat GO 810 remained comfortable. Knowing that this is not fitness-oriented headset, I always take headsets to the gym to access the integrity of their grips. Even though my sessions got as sweaty as they should have, the BackBeat GO 810 hung on perfectly, with no indication of slipping off my hairless head. Not even burpies fazed the headsets’ surprisingly light-yet-sturdy grip.
Features and Performance
In terms of features, do not let my insinuation of a “stripped down BackBeat PRO 2” disappoint you. The BackBeat GO 810 comes armed with two levels of ANC,two EQ settings with toggling on the fly, and a BackBeat companion app for both iOS and Android devices. The battery life of the headset is especially impressive, touting 26 hours of usage, or 22 hours with ANC on, from a full charge. I charged the headset before our flight from NYC to Seattle to cover PAX West. On a single charge, the headset handled the duration of the 5-hour flights back and forth, three 1-hour gym sessions, and five hours’ worth of trips between home and office. It took all of this usage to finally force the BackBeat GO 810 to complain about low battery.
The BackBeat GO 810’s 40mm drivers, presenting Plantronics’ Signature Audio, continues to impress. The two EQ settings for the headset each offer a nice sound presentation that could appeal to many casual listeners. Balanced EQ offers as the name suggests, where bass comes across a bit more prevalent. Highs and mids still come across fine but I felt the bass take the center stage with this EQ. On the other hand, Bright EQ takes a bit off the bass to focus more on those highs and mids. What you end up with the Bright EQ is a clearer and sharper voice and percussion presentation.
If I were to choose between the two, I found myself enjoying the Bright EQ a bit more than the balanced one. As much as I love lows and bass, I appreciated how much clearer percussion and vocals came across in the Bright EQ as even the now-reduced bass was still plenty vibrant and present. Sure, bass was quite prevalent with the Balanced EQ. However, the Bright EQ felt like the sweet spot setting to go with. I dare to say that the Bright EQ setting would have been more aptly named as Balanced, while the Balanced EQ would have been closer to a “Bass Boost”.
ANC played a very interesting part in the listening experience. With the BackBeat GO 810 having two ANC levels, you get some control as to how much ambient noise you want to suppress. The low ANC setting sort of muffles background noise while still giving you a reduced sense of sound outside of the headset. The high setting, as you would expect, does a much better job at handling background noise. The high ANC setting perfectly cancels out airplane engine sounds as well as subway tunnel sounds while you ride a train car.
The ANC does wonders for background rumblings, but some spoken word will still be heard at times. Considering the importance of train and airline announcements, I did not consider this too much of a knock against the BackBeat GO 810’s. Background casual conversations outside of yelling were still well suppressed by the headsets’ ANC. The sound isolation from the headset’s ear cups helped here too. However, when ANC was active, I did feel some bass drop off, regardless of EQ mode. It did not destroy the quality of the listening experience as bass was still present. Yet ANC did force me to swap EQ modes back to Balanced whenever I had ANC active, just to get back some of that bass.
I did especially appreciate how BackBeat GO 810 worked whilst wired. When you connect the included 3.5mm cable while the headset is powered on, the headset automatically turns off Bluetooth. This allows the headset to continue to use its ANC functionality if you choose to use the BackBeat GO 810 in wired scenarios.
The new Backbeat app is also a nice addition. Designed for use with the bulk of Plantronics’ latest headsets, the Backbeat app gives you full control over your paired device’s features, where applicable. With the BackBeat GO 810, you can toggle the ANC modes, EQ modes, update the headset’s firmware wirelessly, or even just browse the manual for usage hints.
At $150, the BackBeat GO 810 is a homerun for anyone looking for a wireless ANC headset for a reasonable price. You get an enjoyable and solid sound performance across all listening scenarios with a headset that hits the mark on comfort. The BackBeat GO 810 is the perfect headset for long trips with a ridiculously long battery life that will outlast practically any flight. The even pairs to two devices for easy transition between audio sources without having to constantly re-pair.
As far casual listening headsets go, BackBeat GO 810 is so far the best bang-for-your-buck product that I’ve tried this year. Definitely take a look at the BackBeat GO 810 for yourself here…
† BackBeat GO 810 review unit and non-watermarked product images provided by Plantronics PR.