The Plantronics BackBeat 903+ Bluetooth headphones are designed for those who like to listen to music while working up a sweat. The S9-HD's behind-the-ears design places a flexible band behind the head, and the earbuds have been redesigned to prevent sweat from leaking into seams. However, there are significant concerns about the fit of these headphones. They can't be adjusted, and critics warn that they might not be comfortable for everyone. There are reports of the headphones slipping off people's ears.
When it comes to music, audio quality is said to be among the best available in a Bluetooth headset. Critics report that the mid and high frequencies sound good, and the low end sounds decent too, although some complain that the bass sounds a bit weak. Reviewers concede that true audiophiles won't be happy with the sound quality, however. The BackBeat 903+'s "OpenMic" mode pauses music playback and streams ambient sounds into the headphones so that you can talk to others without removing the earbuds. Critics say call quality, on the whole, is lacking; although incoming voices sound great, user voices sound weak and tinny as a result of Plantronic's decision to place the microphones in the earbuds. If you want a headset that won't perform quite as well with music, but that has much stronger call performance, the LG HBS-700 (*Est. $50) are worth a look.
We found a good review of the Plantronics BackBeat 903+ at CNET. Overseas testers at CNET (Australia), Gizmodo.com (Australia) and Britain's TrustedReviews.com also chime in with testing-based reviews.
Nicole Lee's experience with the Plantronics BackBeat 903+ didn't start off on a high note; the one-size-fits-all headphones continually fell off her head. Music sounds clean and clear, she reports, and while the bass adds some richness, it lacks the power of headphones with noise isolating features. After testing outgoing sound quality, she reports that Plantronics' decision to embed the microphone in the earbud results in users' voices sounding weak and static-filled during calls.
Review: Plantronics BackBeat 903+ Headset, Nicole Lee, Feb. 16, 2011
2. CNET (Australia)
Although the Plantronics BackBeat 903+ is mistakenly called the Plantronics BackBeat 903 -- an older, discontinued model -- throughout this article, the review itself is thorough. Hands-on testing is conducted, though not noted in detail, and Hanlon reports that "the BackBeat 903 does a great job of pumping out music." Hanlon says setup is easy, although he, like Nicole Lee at CNET, had problems fitting the headphones. Also like Lee, Hanlon found the sound quality of users' voices disappointing. "Everyone we spoke to while connected with the 903 complained about the volume and clarity of our voice during calls."
Review: Plantronics BackBeat 903, Joseph Hanlon, Sept. 1, 2011
This review of the Plantronics BackBeat 903+ is the longest one we could find, although it focuses more on the design of the headphones than hands-on testing. Reviewer Niall Magennis gives a brief overview of the A2DP profile technology that makes streaming music over Bluetooth possible -- then explains that those restrictions make it impossible for any Bluetooth headset to sound truly outstanding. "Despite this, the BackBeat remains one of the better sounding stereo Bluetooth headsets we've had in for review and while it doesn't exactly deliver high-end hi-fi audio quality, it does its best to make your music sound as good as possible under the circumstances," Magennis writes.
Review: Plantronics BackBeat 903+ Review, Niall Magennis, March 9, 2011
4. Gizmodo.com (Australia)
Reviewer Nick Broughall doesn't save the best for last; he tips his hand in this review's title. He enjoys the physical design of the Plantronics BackBeat 903+ and says "Audio quality is fantastic – there's really good range in both the low and high ranges, with the mid range performing well too." Broughall also likes the OpenMic feature. He doesn't touch on call quality, however, but he notes that the earbuds can become uncomfortable after prolonged use.
Review: Plantronics BackBeat 903+ Bluetooth Headphones Are the Best on the Market, Nick Broughall, Dec. 3, 2010
More than 200 users chime in with their opinions of the Plantronics BackBeat 903+, and like many of the professional critiques we've found, the results are mixed. Music sounds very good, users say, although some found the bass boost feature decreased audio quality. The ergonomics of the one-size-fits-all headphones are more hit and miss; some people praised its comfort, while others had trouble getting it to stay on their heads or complained of pain after extended use. Several owners say their heavy sweating caused the BackBeat 903+ to die or malfunction, but overall, the positive reports outweigh the negative ones.
Review: Plantronics BackBeat 903+ Headset, Contributors to Amazon.com