Cardio is hell.
About the only thing that helps me put in a solid half hour is a good playlist, so a great pair of fitness headphones is an absolute necessity. Can Plantronics Backbeat FIT 305 make hell a little more bearable?
The Backbeat FIT 305 are Plantronics’ latest wireless headphones. Designed both fitness and everyday use, the in-ear, Bluetooth-enabled headphones are lightweight, sweatproof and feature an eartip-loop that’s designed to keep them in your ears.
Right out of the box they come with three different earbud sizes, a micro-USB charging cable and a mesh pouch for storage. They retail for $129.99.
I’d suggest that these headphones are more for running than ‘everyday use’ purely based on their design, but they do function well enough to use on the daily. The audio quality doesn’t compare to some of the more expensive wireless in-ear headphones, but for their price tag you get competent coverage across the mids and highs. Lows aren’t quite as beefy as I’d like but this prevents this mix from becoming too muddy - unless you really crank the volume, then you do lose a lot of fidelity.
Audio quality isn’t such an issue when you're running and you're usually confronted with the ambient noise of wind rushing past ears and feet constantly hitting ground. Being in-ear headphones, they do a good job of isolating noise and preventing any sort of leakage. In a way, they’re dangerously good at this: I run around my neighbourhood and the sound of passing cars goes totally unnoticed once I really crank the volume.
But my favourite aspect of the 305s is the oval-shaped eartip loop that is designed to sit inside your ear’s concha. I have obnoxiously large ears that seem completely resistant to in-ear headphones (even when I’m standing on the spot) so I was pleasantly surprised when the eartip loop prevented the headphones from falling out of my ears. However, there were instances where the bud began to slip out of my ear canal during prolonged running sessions and clung on only due to the loop.
The eartip loop sits inside your concha which prevents the headphones from bouncing around as you run
Battery life is rated for six hours, which doesn’t quite reach the heights of competing headphones in this space but is respectable. To my benefit, a half hour jog means I should only need to charge the headphones every 12 or so days and based on my testing this was almost there – the headphones conked out after their first full charge on the eleventh day.
While the battery life is good but not great, the charging aspect is slightly finicky. The 305s have a micro-USB charging port on the inline remote with a plastic cover to keep it from clogging up with dust and sweat. The rubbery cover just feels a little cheap and I feel like if these headphones are going to break anywhere, it’ll be there.
Beyond that durability is solid – I’ve been throwing them in my bag, on countertops or scrunching them up in a ball and putting them in their pouch for the better part of a month. Bluetooth connection was constant with only a few stumbles in the whole month of use.
Others have mentioned the size of the inline remote and while it certainly monsters the rest of the headphones, it isn’t inconvenient. Once you have the headphones connected and in your ears and you’re drowning in sweat, you forget it’s even there. It sits just below your right ear, so unless you’re swinging your head right and left I’m not sure it’ll be an issue. The cable sits across the nape of your neck and if you use the collar clip to attach it to your shirt, it becomes unnoticeable.
It's a small thing, but having that collar clip is a huge thumbs up for me, someone who routinely misplaces things immediately after putting them down. Once I've finished a jog, I just pull the earphones out and let them hang over my shoulders. These little touches add to the convenience of a pair of headphones like this and, for mine, justify purchasing fitness headphones in the first place.
I'm a firm believer that a good, motivational playlist will help anyone get up and active, but you definitely need the right kit in your ears to appreciate it. If sound quality is a major factor in your buying decision, you may want to spend a little more. I'd recommend looking at the Jaybird X3's or the Bose SoundSport. Both will cost a fair chunk more than the 305s but you'll be able to fine-tune your audio experience a little more.
Ultimately, the FIT 305s are a really attractive option geared towards the cheaper end of the fitness headphone spectrum. If you're after a solid audio performer that can take a beating, consider these guys.