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Plantronics BackBeat 903 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones

Before I reviewed the Plantronics BackBeat 903 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones, I honestly didn't believe that you could find headphones that sound good, are comfortable and are somewhat stylish.

Read on for the full review!

What’s in the box

Accessories are few. In addition to the headphones themselves, you’ll find a micro-USB charger and a manual.

Plantronics BackBeat 903 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones

Fit and finish

Unlike some Bluetooth headphones, these were surprisingly comfortable and provided a secure fit. The ‘phones support themselves by resting on top of your ears. The tips of the headphones aren’t invasive, resting immediately in your ear as opposed to being inserted into the canal, resulting in virtually no physical fatigue from wear. For optimal comfort, there’s a high degree of adjustability in that the earpieces can be adjusted 3 different ways.

Not only are the ‘phones comfortable, but the fit is secure enough to allow you to run and bike with them.

 

The ‘phones themselves are well built, even down to the combination volume rocker/transport control, and while made of plastic and rubber, they never feel cheap. They’re not as compact as a pair of buds, but they’re nearly as pocketable and they don’t look terrible when worn.

Controls

The controls are intuitive, easy to access and operate, and give a nice visceral “click” when pressed. Many of the controls are dual function: pressing and holding the play/pause button engages bass boost (a quick tap of this control pauses the music and pipes sound in from the outside world using the microphone – great for joggers), holding the volume rocker will change tracks, and holding the phone button will bring up the dialer.

Plantronics BackBeat 903 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones

Sound

I was pleasantly surprised by the sound quality, and unlike many products in this category, there was good tonal balance. Highs came through well without being fatiguing, the midrange had good presence, and bass was articulate without being overblown. There is a “bass boost” (read: loudness switch) mode that, while engaged, makes anything coming through the headset sound like garbage with overly exaggerated bass, no midrange, and piercing treble – it’s best to leave this feature off. Don’t expect miracles in terms of sound staging, as you’ll be getting the typical “between the ears” presentation lower end headphones offer.

The headset added a noticeable “compressed” sound to the music, which was more evident in lower bitrate MP3’s and streamed music from programs Pandora and Slacker Radio.

Performance

Battery life was great – I was able to get nearly two days off of a single charge with fairly heavy usage, and pairing was a snap. Performance when taking and making phone calls was good – people on the other end of the line reported that my voice came across clear, and voices came through the headset clear and in glorious faux stereo.

The connection was strong and interruption free indoors, but I experienced frequent 1 to 2 second pauses in playback while walking/running outdoors. This persisted regardless of where the phone was on my person. This isn’t a show stopper by any means, but it’s something that bears mentioning.

Wrapping Up

The great fidelity in combination with the easy to use controls and comfortable fit make the Plantronics BackBeat 903 a solid buy at $99. While they may not sound as good as wired sets in the same price range, being able to cut the cord, make phone calls and control volume and tracks from the headset make the trade-off in fidelity (which isn’t huge) a worthwhile one.

Read the user guide here.

The Plantronics BackBeat 903 can be found, of course, in the PreCentral accessory store.