Wireless earphones are a dime a dozen, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to choose one. On the contrary, making sure that you nab a hit instead of a miss can take some know-how. We’re hoping that we can help on that front with our headphone coverage.
I was glad to accept one such promising headset from a company who knows wireless communication – Plantronics. That name may be more recognizable with the Voyager Bluetooth earpieces, but if you weren’t aware, Plantronics also makes some solid headphones.
Today, we’re taking a look at a brand new release, the BackBeat GO 3. Plantronics has had some time to refine the line, so let’s find out if they’re the perfect pair for you.
The BackBeat GO 3 isn’t a departure from the typical wireless in-ear method, especially the sport-ready ones. It’s two earpieces bridged by a short cable, which is meant to route around your neck.
We studied the human ear to create earbuds with a natural stable fit that also seal in bass and block out noise – Plantronics
But the similarity ends when you gander at the earpiece design. The housing has the common capsule shape, but the eartips are oriented at a sharp angle. There is also a peculiar loop at the top. This is Plantronics’ method for a better fit. You insert the earpieces at an angle, so that the eartip follows the orientation of your ear canal. The loop (flexible) rests against your inner ear to help support the fit. These are designed with active use in mind, and it would be a shame if they fall out.
The GO 3 have a little more style than their predecessor. We’re still looking at a plastic build, but you’ll get different cap finishes to choose from: Cobalt Black, Copper Grey, Granite Black. Our review unit is the Cobalt Black. The colored part is a smooth glossy finish, while the black portions are a rubbery-like material.
A nice thing is that the GO 3 have a sweatproof nano-coating. But be careful, because this isn’t the same thing as being waterproof. Plantronics says it’s resistant against light rain, humidity, and of course sweat. A drawback is that the finish catches lent like no tomorrow. I tried my best to keep them clean for this review.
The cable is 2 feet in length and has this semi-flat shape. It’s a rubbery material as well, and really nice feeling in hand, but it’s a little on the thick-side for me.
You may be wondering how to charge these little puppies. There’s a notch on the right earpiece’s cap which pops it off. When you plug it in, you’ll see a glowing red LED to indicate that it’s charging.
Something neat and unique that Plantronics offers with the BackBeat GO 3 is a charging case. Although, it’s not included and costs an extra $30, but I think it’s pretty valuable. It has a nice, weaved construction and its own charging cable within.
An indicator on the front can tell you how much charge the case and the earphones have left (tap on it to get a three-tick indication). To charge the case’s battery, there’s a microUSB port on the side.
The BackBeat GO 3 come with a standard array of silicone eartips: small, medium, and large pairs.
Once you find the right eartips, the earpieces are really easy to don. The angle of the stems guides you and makes the tips go deep in the ear canal. This helps with the seal and sound isolation. I give these guys a thumbs up for fit.
I wasn’t as fond of the cable in use, though. It’s a little stiff/thick, so if there’s slack (like in my case), the cable touches your face when you turn your head. I found that if you can collapse some of the cable together behind your head, then it’s fine. Only thing, Plantronics doesn’t include a clip to do that. Other than this complaint, the fit was secure. The earpieces don’t go anywhere with movement.
The setup was super easy. Merely power the GO 3 on (by holding on the middle remote button) and it starts up in discover mode. Then just find it in the mobile device’s Bluetooth settings and viola. The remote has your typical volume up/down and play/pause buttons. But you can skip/back the track by holding on the volume buttons, or toggle Google Now with the middle button. There’s also a microphone, to take calls.
Plantronics pegs the GO 3’s battery life about 6.5 hours of playback, which is somewhat average. To compare, the Jaybird X2 (that we also reviewed) bests it with 8 hours. But, if you spring for the charge case, you have an advantage. The case has enough capacity to get the GO 3 through two full charges.
Plantronics says that the GO 3’s acoustics are delivered by custom dynamic drivers a custom audio codec, resulting in vivid, high-res tunes. Is it as good as it sounds?
That depends where you’re coming from. Most users, who buy sub-$100 headphones, should be plenty satisfied. As advertised, the GO 3 does pull a good amount of detail. The whole spectrum also has a fantastic balance. All the frequencies play their part and don’t shyly hide from view.
It’s just, when you focus on the details of the delivery, you can nitpick. For instance, there’s a lack of sub-bass (that low frequency, deep bass), so you’re missing some impact when those notes hit. The mid-bass does have a nice delicate punch (if that makes sense) that helps it along. I think the mid-range could use some fullness as well.
But don’t get me wrong, everything certainly sounds good. I was particularly impressed by the soundstage. It satisfyingly surrounds you. I’m just not feeling the music’s impact or depth as much as I would like.
Plantronics certainly built a solid pair of Bluetooth earphones here. They’re not perfect, but I would definitely put them among the top wireless earphones to recommend. A lot of that has to do with the price. The BackBeat GO 3 go for a pretty competitive price of $99 (without the charging case). For what they are, that’s a good value to me – the design/build is great, the fit is impeccable, and battery life is decent. I think that Plantronics can do a bit better in the sound department, but it’s acceptable at the price-point.