For active tech users, wireless Bluetooth sport headphones have been a huge step forward for listening to music or podcasts at the gym or on a run. Losing the wire from your smartphone or device, to your headphones can provide mobility and convenience to your next workout. A brand-new entrant into the field, the BackBeat FIT 350 headphones from Plantronics are the latest in sport-focused in-ear headphones to hit the market. How do these headphones stack up? I have compiled my thoughts below after using these new headphones over the past few weeks.
Plantronics BackBeat FIT 350: Design
What’s in the Box?
The Plantronics BackBeat FIT 350 come with a few items out of the box. The headphones (available in three different colours: grey, blue and black) come packed with a very short Micro-USB charging cable (with no power adapter), two additional sizes of ear tips, a mesh carrying case and a quick start guide. I wanted to give a small shout out to Plantronics for the simplicity of the packaging. The footprint of the box is quite small and the headphones are secured with a PaperFoam® recyclable container.
Physical Design of the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 350
The headphones themselves are quite small; they are comprised of a reflective sport-weave cable connecting the two earbuds. The cable houses a few smaller product features; first, attached to the cable is a movable clip that can help either cinch the headphones or secure them to your shirt.
Second, the cable houses the inline remote control. This inline remote is easily the bulkiest part of this very sleek device and my least favourite part of the unit overall. The device is incredibly lightweight overall at 15 g (or 0.5 oz). Given that the headphones weigh only 15 grams, you will forget that you’re wearing them some of the time. However, you absolutely need to use the built-in clip for aerobic workouts or running. Without it, you will occasionally feel the right side of the device tug on your ear because of the the inline remote makes the right of the device a little bit heavier than the left side.
Fit & feel: Plantronics BackBeat FIT 350
How do they feel on your ear? The headphones are a combination of an earbud connected to a flexible hard plastic clip that secures to the back of the outside of your ear. On the ear tips, there’s a small wing that secures the headphones into the ridge inside your ear canal. It may sound a little bit intrusive, but it works quite well. Personally, I have very small ears, so the ear tips that came included on the device inside the box were too large for my ear canal.
After playing with them for an hour, I decided that it was time that I changed the ear tips. You do not have to worry about losing the ear tips as they are well secured to the device, but they are also very easy to switch out if you need a new size. In terms of durability, I’m not sure how long these soft silicone ear tips will last for, but there was no discoloration or change in fit during my testing.
In my opinion, these headphones (and many others in the category) are not meant to be worn for extended periods. If you’re planning to use these headphones for 60-90 minute workouts, you will face very little need to adjust them. However, if you plan on using these on trips or to study, you may find yourself needing a break from them at about the 90-minute mark.
Plantronics BackBeat FIT 350: Sound quality
Overall Sound Quality
When I began to use these headphones, I immediately noted that the BackBeat FIT 350 isolate sound very well. This is largely due to the passive noise-canceling that is inherent to the design of the headphones; each earbud will isolate most of the sound from your surroundings with the fitted ear tips. Once they are well-fitted (which can take a little bit of time to get used to), the sound quality was surprisingly good for the price. With their small 6mm drivers, they pack a surprising amount of bass in its small package. In addition, higher frequency sounds also sound good in these headphones.
I have a few go-to tracks to test the different sound qualities of headphones: I started with a bass test to Lil’ Wayne’s “A Milli”. The headphones did not disappoint; no muffling at higher volumes. Channel balance was good too (songs with instruments isolated to individual channels like Queen’s “Who Needs You”, fared well too). These headphones won’t blow you away, but for sub-$100 headphones with a fitness-orientation, they are quite good.
If you take a call with these headphones, you will note that quality is no different than many other Bluetooth headphones on the market. Both call audio and the voice captured from the inline microphone are perfectly acceptable.
Plantronics BackBeat FIT 350: Other Features
A Few Additional Considerations
Now for the best of the rest. First, setup of these headphones was a breeze and I experienced very few issues with the Bluetooth connection. I do wish that you could change the names of the devices that your headphones will dictate to you, but this issue is minor. Your smartphone’s personal assistant is usable on the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 350 as well (Siri, Google Now, or Cortana).
Second, the battery life is pretty standard for this headphone style. On one charge, they will last you 6 hours. If you forgot to charge them and you are in a pinch, the device comes with a quick charge feature that will give you one-hour of listening with a fifteen-minute charge. It’s the perfect amount of time for a standard workout.
Third, these headphones come with an app. Beyond providing a “Find MyHeadset” feature that will send out the location of the device and a tone when you misplace them, the app is fairly feature-less. It is not really a selling feature of the device, just an added bonus. Finally, the device boasts an IPX5 rating, meaning that it is protected from sweat and moisture if you’re running outside, for example.
Plantronics BackBeat FIT 350: Overall Impressions
The Plantronics BackBeat FIT 350 is a very serviceable sub-$100 pair of Bluetooth headphones designed for fitness. I would not recommend them for long study sessions, but for mixed-use and the gym, they fit the bill. These headphones may not replace my everyday headphones, but they will have a loving place inside my gym bag for any future workouts I decide to endure.
For more information about these headphones and others, check out the headphones section of the Best Buy Canada website.