Thanks to the FCC, we have some idea what’s inside the BackBeat Go headsets. It’s impressive that things have been miniaturized enough that it’s possible to cram everything required for Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR A2DP, battery, and the speaker drivers themselves into two small packages.

The two earbuds contain vastly different components. Inside the left module is the speaker driver, and a circular Li-Ion battery that takes up the rest of the volume.

The right module contains all the other circuitry required for the headsets, a small Bluetooth SoC, and a few other packages on a few boards, which in turn wrap around a center module. Unfortunately I can’t make out what controller or solution is at the center of this all.

The controller board is relatively basic as well, containing four switches and microphone.

It looks as though the BackBeat go antenna is in that right earbud module, and it’s a very small –1.8 dBi internal PCB antenna.

The BackBeat Go doesn’t support pairing to multiple devices. I’ve used the earbuds with my 2011 MacBook Pro, Windows 7 Desktop, iPhone 4S and countless Android devices (One X, One S, SGS3, Huawei Ascend P1) successfully, but you’ll have to forget and pair again to each new host device when you want to change.

 

The controller reports battery level, and on the iPhone you get the standard indicator with state of charge. There’s nothing really out of the ordinary about how the BackBeat Go pairs and works with Bluetooth host devices, other than that the usual split between A2DP and HFP/HSP remains, and you can’t use both functions at the same time (eg hands free operation alongside A2DP stereo audio). This means you can’t really use the BackBeat Go as a gaming headset and get stereo audio alongside the microphone, unless you fall all the way back to mono audio. At least, I wasn’t able to make this work on Windows 7 with CS:GO and my generic miniature Bluetooth dongle.


SBC Codec used

I spent a lot of time playing with the Bluetooth Explorer developer tool which is a part of Xcode on OS X. This exposes some conflicting information from the Plantronics datasheet, specifically that the core version is Bluetooth 3.0 + HS. In addition we can see the controller vendor is Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR) which isn’t a surprise at all considering their huge presence in the Bluetooth audio peripheral space. Unfortunately I can’t identify exactly what controller is inside beyond that.

That tool also allows one to enumerate all the different Bluetooth profiles that are available. Headset isn’t available despite the datasheet including HSP in the list, though HFP is essentially the replacement for that profile. Secure simple pairing also is present, which I’d wager basically everyone is familiar with. Again you can only pair the headsets to one device at a time, multiple host pairing is not supported.

While I heard good audio quality on Windows, iPhone, and Android devices, OS X left a lot to be desired, with frequent hitching and stuttering for some reason. A trip into the special options pane in Bluetooth Explorer allows one to increase the A2DP bitpool minimum, which resolved the problem.

Oddly enough it seems as though the defaults in Mountain Lion don’t include apt-X enabled out of the box, but checking this didn’t do anything for me, again, because the BackBeat Go doesn’t support it. I find it very curious that OS X has such strange defaults considering Apple’s continual push on device makers to support the maximum bitpool for iOS Bluetooth devices.

Exterior and Impressions Battery Life and Performance
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  • yyrkoon - Monday, August 27, 2012 - link

    $76 seems like an awful lot for a pair of earbuds. Suppose I would have to hear them personally to see if they were worth it.

    This is a type of product I was looking forward to, but with everything considered I think I would have to pass for now.
    Reply
  • xTRICKYxx - Monday, August 27, 2012 - link

    $76 for something that I shove into my pocket with my car keys is too much. I treat earbuds like crap! Reply
  • yyrkoon - Monday, August 27, 2012 - link

    I have a pair of skullcandy earbuds that sound great. Even they only cost me $20. But they're not wireless either.

    And yeah, even though I do not try to treat my earbuds like crap. They always take a beating . . .
    Reply
  • HisDivineOrder - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    The only earbuds I buy are the ones clearanced at Target. So... $1-4, tops. Wires aren't that bad and, as a feature, I get improved battery life by turning off Bluetooth.

    You're welcome.
    Reply
  • Haugenshero - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Do you think that possibly this isn't the product for you and that maybe your opinion has nothing to do with people that are interested in this product? Reply
  • Rizzy - Thursday, September 06, 2012 - link

    Ha, well said! $76 for a set of BT ear buds is extremely reasonable. I spent $100 just for my non-BT earbuds and $80 for my current set of BT headphones. Reply
  • johnpereyra - Saturday, April 20, 2013 - link

    Volume on this unit pluged into my iPhone5 is way tooooo lowww.....Do not buy!!! Reply
  • Mitch89 - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    $76, really?? Hardly outlandish... Reply
  • Samus - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    Reading through the whole review, I was thinking all along in the back of my head that there are worth $60. So $76 isn't too far off. I'm sure they'll come down in price in short time too. Shame they don't support Bluetooth 4.0 or newer codecs. Would improve battery life and sound quality. Reply
  • SimplePhotos - Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - link

    I bought a pair of these when I got my iPhone 5 back in March. I use them every day, in all life circumstances, including outdoor work as a photographer (rain & dust). I am able to have phone conversations while I take photos simultaneously on my iPhone using these things. I only paid $50 at RadioShack on discount, but I would recommend them up to $80. It's not often I find a product that is completely seamless and so reliable. At the gym, I leave my phone in a wooden locker and work out up to 50' away and never break signal. I am considering purchasing another pair off eBay for backup when the batteries run out (I generally get about 5 hours out of a charge). I don't write reviews often, but I really feel like some people are underrating this product here, and I want to share my view. For the freedom and reliability, a $70 price point is a bargain in my view. I absolutely hate 'cord snag' where buds get ripped out of my ears due to some movement... I never have to deal with that now. Hope this helps. Brian - Reply

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