When you think of active noise cancelling headphones you probably think of companies like Bose or Sony, but what about Plantronics? They’ve made great noise cancelling headphones before and the Backbeat Pro 2’s even made our best list for a while. Now the company is back with another pair of cans dubbed the Backbeat Go 810 which have a new design and a much lower price tag. So how good are they?
Who are they for?
- Commuters. While there are better options for active noise cancelling headphones out there, finding some at lower price points is difficult (though not impossible).
- Anyone sitting at a desk. The range on these is truly impressive so whether you’re going to be typing at your desk all day or walking over to the coffee machine for some more fuel, you probably won’t be out of range for whatever you’re listening to. I even used these on a conference call perfectly thanks to Plantronics extensive knowledge of microphone quality.
- People who hate charging things. The battery life on these lasts almost exactly 24 hours, so if you hate plugging in your gear to charge every night these might be for you.
How are the Plantronics Backbeat Go 810 built?
As you might expect, the build quality here is not as premium as some other headphones here. The Plantronics Backbeat Go 810 are made primarily of plastic which isn’t too surprising for portable headphones trying to keep the price down. What is surprising are how many squeaks and tweaks you have to deal with when you’re wearing them. Pressing the volume buttons results in an audible “click” that you’ll hear through your music, and if you adjust the headphones while you’re listening to music you can hear every little bit of stress you’re putting on the headphones. My first impression was not great, but the more I used them, other parts of the headphones began to shine through the annoyances.
For one, the ear cups perfectly fit my ears and the metal headband gives me a little more confidence that these won’t be completely destroyed in my backpack. The ear cups also rotate 90 degrees which is great for when you’re not listening to music and just want to let them hang around your neck. It’s worth mentioning that these don’t have hinges for folding which is unfortunate as that’s a pretty useful feature for anyone who’s traveling or commuting. While I was able to make due by just sliding them down into my backpack, being able to fold them up and chuck them in is always preferred.
This all might seem somewhat negative, and that’s because it is. I definitely expect a better build from a company like Plantronics that has years of experience building audio products, but I can forgive most of it here because of the affordable price tag. At least they’re not overcharging. The Backbeat Go 810 headphones are also surprisingly comfortable thanks to plush memory foam in the ear cups. These aren’t going to give you Bose QC35 levels of comfort, but they have just the right clamping force to stay on your head for long-ish periods of time without hurting. I was able to get through almost an entire workday without feeling like I needed to let my ears breathe. Your mileage may vary but I had no issues whatsoever. My only note would be that I could see my ears getting extremely warm if it was summer or if I lived in a warmer climate just because the ear cups aren’t that breathable.
What about connectivity?
As far as connectivity goes, the Backbeat Go 810 headphones are fantastic. While writing at my desk connected to my iPad about five feet away from, I had no issues with dropouts whatsoever. I even made my way downstairs to serve myself more coffee (a distance of about 50 feet with three walls and a floor in the way) and the music didn’t skip a beat. Even adjusting volume and skipping tracks worked fine at that distance. What is a little weird is watching YouTube videos. I got mixed results during testing, with some videos being synced up perfectly and others being just slightly off. Thankfully, it never got to a point where watching a video was unbearably annoying, but it does jump in and out of sync slightly, and it happens often enough that it worth mentioning here.
The left earcup is where you’ll find the playback controls for pausing or skipping between tracks, and there are buttons for volume control along the rim of the earcup as well. On the bottom of the left ear cup is the 3.5mm input and a micro USB for charging, while the right earcup has a single switch for Bluetooth pairing/power and a button to switch between two EQ presets. One of them is called “balanced” which is for different types of music, and the other is “bright” which boosts vocal clarity for podcasts. Before you get too excited, you should know that you can’t make your own presets which is a bummer. You’re stuck with just the two presets to choose from.
The Plantronics Backbeat Go 810 supposedly has a battery that will last you an insane 22 hours of constant playback, and after hours of testing, we can confirm that it’s even better than that. We were able to squeeze a full day of listening out of these with a final playing time of exactly 24 hours and 2 minutes (yes, we really do test down to the minute).
Even more impressive is that was with ANC turned on, which is great. The only downside I find is that these still charge via micro-USB. That meant that while testing, these headphones were the only items in my backpack that required the older port so I needed to carry a cable specifically for them. Luckily, you probably won’t need it much since the battery life is amazing, but USB Type-C would’ve made these much more futureproof.
How do they sound?
The Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 are active noise cancelling headphones, and while they’re not as impressive as some other models they definitely get the job done on the bus or in the coffee shop.
While the sound quality of the Plantronics Backbeat Go 810 headphones won’t blow you away, it gets the job done. I wouldn’t recommend these for anyone who prefers the flatter responses of studio headphones, but most people don’t want that anyway. If you want bass, these won’t disappoint. The don’t emphasize as much of the lower notes when compared to something like the Beats Studio3 Wireless, but it clearly puts a little extra on bass notes. You can really hear this in the song Frank, AB by The Rural Alberta Advantage.
The thumping basskicks throughout sound fine at first when there isn’t much going on, but when the other instruments join in during the chorus around the 0:37 the bass kicks still remain front and center. They tend to mask some parts of vocals which is a not-great trend that continues into the next verse, especially when the strong bassline kicks in.
Highs were just fine in my experience. Some of the resonance in the bells throughout Generator ^ First Floor by Freelance Whales were missing here, but at least they never became harsh at any volume, which is really the most important part. The last thing you want is your headphones blasting piercing notes through to your ears.
While the Plantronics Backbeat Go 810 headphones didn’t blow me away in any one category, they were pretty solid all-around. The natural isolation of the earcups combined with the ANC does a good job at getting rid of some background noises, but don’t expect the complete isolation you get from the likes of Bose or Sony. Similarly, connectivity is great with basically no skips and a great range, but watching YouTube videos is hit or miss.
There’s also the creaky, annoying build you have to worry about, but on the flipside the battery is great. It depends what you consider a deal-breaker, but as an overall package, the Backbeat Go 810 nail the important parts of what makes a great pair of wireless headphones.