THE FIRST TIME I wore the Plantronics BackBeat Fit earbuds was on a three-mile trail run on a brisk, breezy fall day. I put them in and started running, but then had to take them out. Put them in again, took them out again. Yes—there it was. The earbud’s distinctive rubber loop, which braced it inside my ear, was picking up the air blowing past my head, making an annoying whooshing sound. It was like wearing two miniature conch shells over my ears.
A beanie solved the headphones’ only quirk, blocking the wind-catching loops. Over a week of outdoor and indoor workouts, these light and sturdy Plantronics outperformed my expectations at every turn.
There’s no better way to say this—these headphones sound amazing. Beyoncé’s vocal fry was as intimate as if she were singing over my shoulder, and Mariah Carey’s bat-whistle solos were so pure. With workout headphones, I appreciate a bigger bass presence, and I doubt I’m the only runner whose playlist resembles that of DJ’s nightclub set. The headphones also blocked ambient noise so well I took to wearing only one sometimes, so pedestrians and cars would stop sneaking up on me.
Clear sound. Outperformed advertised battery life and Bluetooth range. Durable and secure. Easy to use. Fairly priced.
As a safety feature, the reflective cord is pretty much useless and obscured by clothes and hair. Ear loops can make noise depending on the shape of your ears. Find My Headphones feature is of dubious utility.
Wind-catching conch shells aside, the silicone earbuds fit securely. Three different sizes were available, and the smallest didn’t require the usual fiddling that I’ve had with other workout in-ear buds. They didn’t fall out while running, doing sit-ups, or lifting.
They were tough enough to shove into a pocket or gym bag, even without the protective mesh pouch, and they didn’t flinch when doused with sweat and rain. The Bluetooth range was astonishing. Plantronics advertises the range as 33 feet, but I placed my iPhone at one end of an empty studio and paced off 50 feet while the music continued to play. My jams remained clear with the phone placed next to me during studio workouts, and I was also able to freely move around the kitchen while my phone was charging.
The battery life also outperformed the listed specs. Plantronics states that one charge has up to six hours of wireless listening, but I got a little over seven hours off one charge.
Operating these buds was surprisingly easy. After charging, simply hold the power button until the indicator light blinks alternating red and blue to pair them. The inline controls are a cinch to find, even while moving. It’s easy to distinguish between its controls by touch and it takes some effort to press them so that you don’t accidentally skip tracks.
It was easy to make and accept calls via Bluetooth, and the person I was talking to heard me clearly on the other end. If you do have any operational questions, Plantronics has an app with a manual and list of FAQs, which I found convenient to reference while I was testing these headphones.The app also has a Find My Headphones function, which might be less useful than you think.
Upon opening, it warns you that if someone is listening to your headphones when you ping them, it could damage their hearing. But when you do ping it, you can’t hear the beeping unless the volume is already turned up to a volume that would be unbearable for in-ear listening.
With the headphones turned to comfortable listening volume, I took them off and put them in my backpack and pinged them. It was impossible to hear the sound, let alone pinpoint it. In the event that losing your headphones wasn’t making you feel sufficiently incompetent, the app also comes with a timer. Congratulations! You just wasted two minutes and fifteen seconds of your life!
At $80, these headphones aren’t dirt cheap, but they’re durable and offer great workout performance at an accessible price. Just don’t go out running in a tornado—which is good life advice, whether you’re wearing wireless headphones or not.