Enter the Plantronics Backbeats Pro, which I got at my local Best Buy one evening about 6 months ago.
I'll call out the build quality on these to start. It's just not as nice as many of the other offerings that are at a higher price point. It's not bad, but they do have a plastic feeling to them instead of a solid feeling like other options do. This plastic feeling also contributes to a bonus for them, they're light on the head.
Even in the store the B&O headphones felt weighty on my head. I'm not sure if it would become uncomfortable, but it was certainly noticeable. In fact, out of all the headphones I tried in the store that offered noise-cancelling, the Plantronics were the lightest on the head.
The ear cups seal well around my ears and even after 5 - 7 hours wearing them, I don't have any discomfort with the headphones. They may not be the most comfortable over ear headphones I've ever owned1, but they're very comfortable.
On the noise cancelling front, they're decent. If the environment is very quiet already then you can hear a bit of a hum from the noise cancelling. But every time I've noticed this the environment has been so quiet already that I just turned off the noise cancelling and then it can't bother me can it.
In a louder environment like a coffee shop, the noise cancelling is quite good. It cuts all the major distractions and you can sort of hear that people are talking but almost never what they're saying2. I have been happy with the quality of noise cancelation, while acknowledging that it's not as good as the more expensive competitors.
The only measure of battery life I care about is, when I go to pick the headphones up do they have battery. After 6-months of use I can confidently say that if I charge them every couple weeks then they always have the charge levels I need to head to the coffee shop for an afternoon working session.
If you’re really concerned about monitoring the battery levels then they do report their charge level to iPadOS so you can just check to see if they have the charge you need. I’ve left them powered on sitting on my desk overnight and went out of the house for a full day of work and listening and they had lots of battery left to go another few days of listening.
The final thing to think about is the mic on the headset, is it decent for calls? Yes, I'd give it a decent rating. My wife can tell when I'm using it instead of talking into the phone. It does okay at filtering out noise in the coffee shop if she calls me quickly and I need to just talk without picking up my stuff to go outside.
Walking down the road, it works fine.
But my Trekz Air are better in this department. Wired headphones are better too.
If one of your big needs is a Bluetooth noise cancelling headset that is awesome for calls in noisy environments, this isn't the one you want. It will work, but no one will be impressed at the quality of your voice.
I did try a number of the other more expensive options in Best Buy, and while they did do a better job cancelling noise, and didn't have the slight hum the Plantronics do, I'm not sure that they were $100 better. I'd even say that the construction of the Bose, Sony, Sennheiser, or B&O headphones have a sturdier build, but is it a $100 more sturdy build?
I don't think so.
I find the Plantronics Backbeats Pro to be a great set of headphones. I use them in the home office when the kids are being crazy in the house and I want to block it out. I take them to the local coffee shop and they do a great job.
The never feel heavy, and the battery has never died unexpectedly on me. I am happy with my purchase and don't have any plans to upgrade them until the day they break and I'm back in the market for over the ear noise-cancelling headphones again.
The most comfortable over ear headphones I've ever worn were the Philips O'Neill Stretch Headphones. The ear cups fell off last year, but they are so comfortable. And they're super inexpensive now. ↩︎
Unless you're sitting beside that one guy talking loud on speaker phone. Why is it always a guy? ↩︎