Easily the largest earbuds of the three, the BackBeat Fit 3100 has a sporty design with prominent ear hooks to keep them in place while you run. Plantronics markets them as being “ultra-stable, sweatproof and waterproof”, and the earbuds were certainly comfortable; staying in place throughout our testing. Given that you’re meant to be wearing these while running outdoors, Plantronics has also fit these with their Always Aware ear tips, so you can still hear your surroundings.
The earbuds also come with Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, potentially giving it better throughput and improved range. Battery life is respectable at five hours on a single charge, with the carrying case able to provide two full extra charges, allowing you to get a total of 15 hours of listening while on the go. It’s nice to note that the earbuds come with a quick charge feature, so you can get an hour of listening pleasure from just 15 minutes of charging.
Connecting to the earbuds for the first time was fast and easy, and there’s a supporting app for your phone you can use to adjust settings as well as shortcuts for the earbuds. There’s a range of actions you can assign to a single or double tap, such as starting a stopwatch function or selecting a particular playlist. Handy when you can’t afford to dig your phone out.
Unfortunately, when testing the earbuds in our office, we experienced frequent dropouts from both earbuds when connected to our DAP – the FiiO M7. Switching over to an iPhone improved things somewhat, but occasional dropouts would still occur.
Finally, it’s worth noting that the BackBeat Fit 3100 retails for just S$249.00, making it one of the cheaper true wireless earbuds we’ve tested to-date.
In terms of audio performance, we thought the BackBeat Fit 3100 performed well for its price point, delivering decent performance in the highs and upper mids. On a recording of the unplugged version of Hotel California by The Eagles for example, the strings rang out nicely, and ear buds delivered a nice rendition of the intro riff. They also have a pretty good attack, and so work well with faster moving pieces like Far East Movement’s Like a G6, which the earbuds delivered with good energy.
Ironically, the design of the Always Aware tips means it’s difficult to get good bass with these earbuds. Pressing the earbuds against your ear to close the seal will bring some of the bass back, but that goes against the design ethos, and is impractical to do while working out; so that can’t be considered as a fix. For example, when listening to a recording of Rebecca Pidgeon’s Spanish Harlem, we could barely hear the opening bass beat so it seemed like there were several seconds of silence before the track began. Not quite the experience this piece is supposed to bring to say the least.
We’d probably stick to listening to pop pieces and instrumentals with these earbuds, focusing on tracks that have a heavy bass beat.