Communications specialist Plantronics has made quite a name for itself as the purveyor of wireless earbuds for sports and outdoor use, and while it continues to hold a fine reputation in that segment, it is also expanding its range with more premium designs, like the BackBeat Pro 5100 here.
Promoted as an all-day urban companion, it features 6.5 hours of playback time and the compact carrying case holds an additional 13 hours of battery charge. While not a true sports headphone, the buds do have a water resistance rating of IPX4 and are sweat resistant as well.
Besides promising better fidelity audio reproduction than sports-centric designs, it also has four Windsmart noise cancelling microphones whose only job is to let you answer phone calls with complete clarity.
The earbuds are very compact and fit well when equipped with the correct sized eartips. They rely entirely on passive noise isolation during playback, and actual isolation from external noise is not as good as some of the competition, but this is sometimes a good thing. As the 5100 is marketed as a device for urban use, you will need to be situationally aware of your surroundings and still hear the train announcements, and if you’re running outdoors, it’s important to always be aware of traffic.
The 5100 is not marketed as a true sports headphone, though we’d say that in practice it can be used as one. It is so small and light that after ten minutes or so you might even forget that you’re wearing them.
The audio profile is reasonably neutral with none of the artificial bass-boost that is so prevalent in other ‘sports’ earphones, and if you appreciate this level of clarity in your music playback then you may find the 5100 quite pleasant to listen to.
Like many other current Bluetooth earbuds, the left and right earpieces pair individually to your phone, so initial setup is a little more involved, but this allows you to use just one earbud if so inclined. Stereo music will be routed to the active earbud in mono mode, so you still hear all the details.
Controls are mounted flush on the surface of each earpiece, though the experience of jabbing into your ear to press the button is still uncomfortable. You might prefer to just control music playback from your phone.
The other small drawback of the 5100 is that charging is still accomplished through a micro-USB connector, instead of the increasingly common, and arguably more robust USB-C connector. On the whole though, it’s still has a great premium feel and good audio quality, along with great comfort and versatility.
Available at S$269 at authorised retailers and online stores.