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


View All Comments

  • OCedHrt - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    That price is crazy though, but I think Sony is just gouging. I bought mine in Taiwan and it was about $60 retail (2000 TWD) with a hard case. I then lost it going through airport security and found myself another one online (with a soft pouch) for about the same price. I'm partially convinced the one I got online is a fake though, because I remember my original one having multi-point but the new one does not support it. I have to re-discover/connect every time I switch devices.

    Here it is for 1750 TWD (;... yet they sell it for $100+ on Amazon.
  • ScottSoapbox - Monday, August 27, 2012 - link

    Sony made these a few years ago (HBH-IS800). They were great until recently when their play time dropped to ~2 hrs from usage. Replaced them with the JF3 Freedom which I love even more for 3 reasons. 1) The JF3's are surprisingly light and comfortable. 2) Twice the play time. 3) Physical buttons on the earpiece are so much easier to use than ones dangling on the cord. Reply
  • Impulses - Monday, August 27, 2012 - link

    I enjoy these kinds of off beat reviews at AT, even if it isn't their core subject matter, AT editors like Brian still put more effort intro this kinda short review than most tech sites could ever dream of. Reply
  • cc2096 - Monday, August 27, 2012 - link

    I own these as well as a pair of Sennheiser MM400's. The Senn's have a much better audio quality, better battery life and are Multi-point compatible. But they are over the ear style phones and as such are big and bulky. I like the BackBeat Go's for just bumming around the house or working out. They are the perfect size and weight for that type of activity. If I really want good BT audio then it's the Senn's, but the BB GO are extremely good at what they do, even if it is a one pony show. Pro tip: Change out the stock tps for some Comply T/TS/TX-200's and you'll hear these in a whole new way. Reply
  • vexingv - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    I have a pair of these BackBeat go earbuds and their formfactor is perfect. I bought both these and Jaybird Freedom earbuds to try out mainly for using at the gym while I exercise. The Jaybird Freedom buds are bulkier and they also use a proprietary charging port/cable while the BackBeat Go uses a regular microusb charger and are sleek. The BackBeat Go also fit me quite well. I promptly returned the Jaybird buds. However, as I am writing this post, I'm also getting ready to pack the BackBeat GO and return them as they have stopped working. The buds no longer power on and I suspect that the sweat from gym use may have effected the wiring/circuitry. I may go back to a bluetooth 3.5mm adapter (my previous one also stopped working) or look at the Novero model. Reply
  • TechnoButt - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Has anyone tried replacing the foam to something that might seal better? I got a pair of Shure SL4C on the $80 deal a few years back, and have since ordered replacement 'large' memory foam ear pieces after one of mine 'broke' (ie, the foam separated from the harder cylinder in the center).

    Since I got 10 of them in the package, I've gone to putting these on compatible headphones and it's amazing what a simple change of the ear pieces has accomplished for various cheaper headsets, especially for sound clarity and low end response.

    My Shure set lives on my PC with a quality USB/DAC for gaming, since they are the best I have. But daily I use a set of Klipsch Promedia In-Ear (with the foam pieces purchased for my Shure set), and it takes a really good source to tell the difference (for me):

    I'd love to know how these sound with similar pieces for a great seal (and also if they'd stay in place better with such a good tight seal).
  • CrAkD - Saturday, September 08, 2012 - link

    How loud do these get? I like my music loud I got a pair of Novero Rockaways and like them other then the fact they just arent loud enough so now they are collecting dust. Ive been looking at the gos but I need to make sure they get loud enough before I drop more $. Reply
  • devildoc10 - Saturday, April 20, 2013 - link

    I am very disappointed in the earbuds. Iv only had these buds for only three months and they have already crapped out on me. I can't seem to recharge the battery even thiugh the light indicator is on. The on/off tone sound to simular so when I want to use the earbuds the battery has already been drained. I want to point out that the volume is not very loud for the the price I paid. I highly reccomend not to waste your mney on this brand of earbuds. This brand is not worth the money you will pay.

    Verry dissapointed
  • Glerm - Monday, June 10, 2013 - link

    I know theese can only pair with one device at a time. Problem for me is when i did a factory reset on my phone i can no longer pair with the headset and i havent found anyway to reset the pairing so i can reconnect them to another device! Ive been reading the manual and looked around here on the internet for hours with no luck! Anyone here that have figured out hot to a pairing reset on them? Reply
  • abhishekpurbey - Monday, August 05, 2013 - link

    Hi ,
    I just bought plantronics backbeat go . I am not able to add my headset with my laptop. I tried unpair
    the headset with mobile but still my laptop bluetooth is not able to find it but at the same time I am able to add this device to other mobile and other headset to my laptop.

    Please help in how to add the headset in windows 7 .

    Thanks in advance!!

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