Audio

Tune out unwanted noise with these

The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 5100 has four noise-cancelling microphones which tune out wind and background noise during calls
The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 5100 has four noise-cancelling microphones which tune out wind and background noise during calls

Another day, another pair of true wireless in-ear headphones.

It is becoming a trend that no headphone-maker can ignore. And the BackBeat Pro 5100 is the first such pair of headphones in Plantronics' (PLT) BackBeat Pro line-up.

The Pro 5100 comes in black - from its charging case to earbuds to silicone ear tips.

You will not draw attention wearing them, unlike with the Apple AirPods Pro, for instance.

Its charging case is shaped like a dental-floss case, with smooth curved edges and the PLT logo engraved on its top. Push the small button in front of the case to open the lid.

On each earbud is a circular, clickable surface. Three pairs of differently sized ear tips are provided.

An accompanying app - called BackBeat (available on Android and iOS) - allows you to pair the headphones with devices, update firmware, assign an earbud as the primary one and enable its smart sensors.

The smart sensors detect your usage and intelligently make decisions based on your activity. For example, if you are listening to music, taking out one earbud would stop the music.

By default, the right earbud is the primary one. Clicking the right earbud answers or ends a call, while clicking and holding it activates your smartphone's voice assistants such as Siri or Google Assistant.

  • FOR

    • Affordable

    • Lightweight and comfortable

    • Good battery life

    • Great call quality


    AGAINST

    • No active noise cancellation

    • Flat audio quality

    • Charger does not support wireless charging

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $269

    DRIVERS: 5.8mm

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth

    WEIGHT: 5.8g (each earbud), 38.6g (charging case without earbuds)


    RATING

    FEATURES: 3.5/5

    DESIGN: 3.5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3.5/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3.5/5

    OVERALL: 3.5/5

To increase the volume, tap the left earbud. To decrease it, tap and hold on. Using the app, you can change these taps to perform custom functions such as check the battery status or tell the time.

The app does not allow you to customise the equalizer settings, though. This is a bummer because the bass lacks punch, while the mids and highs both sound pretty flat.

Even for a non-audiophile like myself, it lacks the oomph factor.

There is also no active noise cancellation, though it has four noise-cancelling microphones which tune out wind and background noise during calls.

In this aspect, the Pro 5100 excels. During a call I made while walking along a noisy stretch of Orchard Road, I was told my voice sounded clear at the other end.

Its water-resistance rating of IPX4 means it is resistant to water splashes, drizzle and sweat.

The 61/2 hour battery life is better than the typical standard of four hours. The charging case adds another 13 hours of listening time.

On the downside, the charging case uses a microUSB port for charging, which is slower than a USB-C port.

However, it is relatively affordable compared with the AirPods Pro and the Sony WF-1000XM3.

Its value proposition is even better if call quality is important to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 13, 2019, with the headline 'Tune out unwanted noise with these'. Print Edition | Subscribe