Plantronics BackBeat FIT 6100 headphones review
With new levels of adjustability and durability, the BackBeat FIT 6100 headphones are perfect for those who want over-ears that won't compromise their workouts.
Quick verdict: Featuring a lightweight, durable design and additional tightening on the headband, the 6100s are perfect for gym-goers who prefer over-ears to in-ears. While the audio quality doesn't quite stand up to some higher-end headphones, for a sports model under $300, you can't really go wrong.
Where to buy them: rebel, Plantronics and JB Hi-Fi.
- Flexible and durable
- Adjustable strap keeps headband stable during workouts
- Long battery life
- Sound is a little distant and not as high definition as some other brands
- No case included
Renowned for being both comfortable and high quality, Plantronics BackBeat FIT range has been popular with sports lovers for some time. Like most brands on the market though, fans of over-ear headphones have largely been left out when it's come to creating a design with the same sporting capabilities as the in-ear range. That is, until now.
Designed to bridge the gap that currently exists for those who prefer over-ear headphones but also want something durable, sweat-resistant and stable, the BackBeat Fit 6100 headphones are sure to impress. While they can't quite compare to some higher-end lifestyle headphones on the market, the ease of use and ability to be tightened during workouts for increased stability definitely make them worth a look in.
- Flexible and adjustable headband
- Soft memory-foam ear cushions
- No travel case
Stability and durability
Probably the biggest concern regarding over-ear headphones for gym-goers is the stability of the product. While there are plenty of over-ears on the market that are fine for jogging or light to mild exercises, the challenge is getting them to stay put when completing more-rigorous workouts.
Plantronics has sought to overcome this obstacle by giving the 6100s a unique new sport-fit headband. After sliding the headband as you usually would to adjust the fit, an additional strap above the right ear cup allows you to further tighten the band for an ultra-stable fit that is extremely snug against the head. While I didn't personally have a whole lot of use for this function, the promos show users doing everything from climbing ropes to box jumping without any interference.
Given that I have quite small ears and often find a lot of over-ears to be quite large on me, I wasn't expecting the tightening function to work very successfully for me. However, while it was probably a little looser than intended, it definitely had a much stronger grip than I had originally anticipated. Though I won't be doing handstands in them anytime soon, I feel perfectly comfortable running or lifting weights with them, without having to worry about them moving around or sliding off of my head.
The 6100s are also extremely comfortable to wear with a super lightweight fit and soft memory-foam earcups. The earcups are perhaps not as snug as some lifestyle over-ear models, which surprised me as they are designed to fit as close to the head as possible. On the one hand, this does make them slightly less hot and sweaty but, on the other, makes them miss out on achieving that really immersive sound experience that you can get with some other models.
Most importantly though, the headphones are both sweatproof and IPX5-rated water-resistant. Where other over-ears engineered for sport still haven't really mastered being entirely sweat-resistant, the 6100s take it in their stride and are easy to swipe down and clean after your session.
In terms of design, the aesthetic is friendly enough with three colour ways of black, camo and grey available. With a chunky headband and metal detailing, they do perhaps lean a little towards the stereotypical "men's style", but they are basic enough that anyone can wear them.
The 6100s don't come with a case, which seems odd for over-ears, but the brand's reasoning behind this is simply that they don't need one. The ear cups are connected by a metal wire headband which has the ability to be twisted to a point where I thought that I was going to snap them completely. I didn't, of course, and you won't either because they have been engineered to be thrown off between workouts and tossed into your gym bag without incident. While this is definitely reassuring, I still would have liked a case to make sure that they aren't scratching up other items in my bag either.Back to top
- Easy touch controls
- External awareness mode
- Adjustable EQ
- Easy-to-use app
While touch controls are becoming the norm for over-ears, the 6100s have taken the technology and improved on it by making it work well even with sweaty hands. The right earcup serves as the touch pad, which lets you answer calls, adjust volume, play and pause music and skip tracks. An open mic button also allows you to activate awareness mode, while a final button operates as both the power switch and Bluetooth connectivity button.
Awareness mode and sound quality
Similar to previous models, the 6100s feature an awareness mode which opens up the mic to help you hear your surrounds more clearly. I personally prefer quite an aggressive level of noise cancellation, but this feature actually makes a lot of sense when you consider that they are made first and foremost for the gym. Whether you need to talk to your coach or hear announcements being made, the 6100s will allow you to do what you have to without needing to constantly pause your music or take your headphones off.
When it comes to sound quality, the 6100s are impressive, but not perfect. The headphones have been designed to help you create your own perfect listening experience with three levels of EQ, which are adjustable through the accompanying app. While listening to your music, you can toggle between a Bass mode which features emphasised bass, a Bright mode which boosts treble and enhances clarity and a PLT Signature Balanced mode which tunes frequencies to suit multiple genres.
Despite the EQ adjustments though, I did still find it difficult to achieve my ideal sound. No matter how much I played around with different songs and EQs, the music still sounded a little distant to me. This could be because I am so accustomed to my Bose 700s, which have a very full sound, but it was still something that bothered me. It was noticeably less of a problem with acoustic tracks, which actually sounded quite clear, but for tracks that are on the heavier side, some parts sounded a little muddy.
Accompanying apps are often where headphone brands are brought down a notch or two. From connectivity issues to headphones that aren't even able to function without their app, setting up and using product apps can often be a bit of a headache. That's why I was both surprised and impressed at the ease of use of the Backbeat app.
Not only did it find and pair with my headphones within seconds, but it also only features functions that you really need. As well as displaying your remaining listening time, the app will let you adjust both your EQ levels and toggle the Awareness mode. You can also add any other Backbeat headsets you might have, which is a nice change from brands like Bose that require a different app for just about every different product.Back to top
- 24 hours of battery life
- Micro-USB connection (cable included)
- 15-minute quick charge = 6 hours of listening time
Possibly one of the most impressive features of the BackBeat FIT 6100 is the extensive battery life. With 24 hours of play, they outdo even high-end over-ear models like the Bose 700, which boast an already massive 20 hours.
The quick charge option also outstrips Bose, which gives you 3.5 hours of use on a 15-minute charge. By comparison, the 6100s will give you a full 6 hours of play time on a 15-minute charge. This means they won't run out of battery halfway through your workout or even on a long-haul international flight, which is definitely something to be pleased about.
When it does come time to do a complete charge, the headphones reach full battery capacity in just under two hours. You can charge the headphones using a Micro USB cable, which comes included with the headphones. While the decision not to opt for the increasingly popular USB-C cable seems a little odd, the brand has said it feels more users have access to a Micro USB cable than a USB-C cable. Whether true or not, the included cable at least means that you won't have to worry too much about it.Back to top
Should you buy them?
- Durable and adjustable fit for increased stability
- Awareness mode
- Exceptional battery life
With a flexible, durable, sweatproof design, the BackBeat FIT 6100 is definitely made for those who are serious about their workouts. The addition of the extra strap to increase stability also makes it possible for those who enjoy over-ear headphones and rigorous exercise to get the best of both worlds.
While there are arguably better lifestyle headphones on the market, the 6100s will do the job just fine if you don't want to invest in multiple pairs of headphones for the gym and home. They may not be for avid audio buffs, but for the asking price, they're definitely worth a look in.
Pricing and availability
- Product name
- Plantronics BackBeat FIT 6100 headphones
- Bluetooth 5.0 Headset/Hands-Free Profile HSP 1.2 and HFP 1.7
- 40mm driver unit
- Battery life
- 24 hours
- On-ear touch controls for call, voice assistant, media and volume
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Images: Lauren Chaplin