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Hands-on review: BackBeat FIT 6100 Wireless Sport

The BackBeat FIT 6100 Wireless Sport has quite a few developments in both aesthetics, ergonomics and performance. The textured headband is the first thing to be brought to my attention. Designed for those of us who like to do our shoulder presses and sit-to-stands while listening to our currently trending music, this is a headset that will accentuate your cool while you generate all that heat in the gym.

My friends at Plantronics were keen to know how I thought the 6100 compare with the 605's I've been lovingly cherishing for quite a while now. When Spock's katra was reinstated after he regenerated on the Genesis planet, McCoy asked him what it had been like to be dead. He responded that it was impossible to explain without a common frame of reference. At the time I thought that statement was a bit of a copout, until I got asked to explain the difference between the sound experience of these two headsets.

Some of the differences are quite subtle, and some are blindingly obvious. Singing voices seem to come at you from different angles and are generally really crisp and clear. Bass tones are somehow more accentuated without being too over the top.  But really, you need to experience the sound.

I still love my 605s, but in comparison, they have been well and truly overtaken. One of the very subtle differences is that on the 6100, all the controls are to be found on just one earpiece. When you press play or hold, there's a very reassuring “beep.” I've kept the plastic label attached until I'm comfortable with the controls.

Oh, and the 605s don't have the noise-cancelling functions that the 6100 possesses. When I close my eyes, I can imagine that I'm sitting in a nightclub, listening to Aretha singing, “I say a little prayer for you,” and it feels like I'm sitting directly in front of her, with the band surrounding her in a semi-circle.

Whether listening to music or a voice, you'll be impressed by the “bass” sound quality of the FIT 6100. I don't mean the nausea-inducing thumpity thump of the boy racer next to you at the lights. It's more of a rich timbre added to the music, giving clarity which is seldom achieved. It's so good and discernible, that I was able to pick up John Lennon with two voice tracks on one of the Abbey Road songs. The clarity induces many neck-hairs to stand on their ends.

On Kehlani's song about breakups, apportioning blame, and that both have faults, she sounds great, with all her potty-mouth lyrics coming through so clearly that no-one will have to ask, “WHAT did you say?

I've used the devices on Mac, Windows, iOS and Android devices. The sound quality when making phone calls was very clear, and the noise cancelling technology meant that the sound of the fan pumping deliciously cool air into my feverishly hot back was not audible. I spent quite a bit of time making test calls to Skype just to I could hear my voice played back to me.

The news gets better and better. Built into the very comfortable cushioning is a lanyard, referred to as “dual adjustable headband” on the box. Pulling on this will give you an even more secure fit during the really energetic parts of your workout.

I should add here too, that for the image-conscious, the BackBeat FIT 6100 will have your peers looking twice. Along with the very comfortable texturing on the underside, they have aesthetically pleasing texturing on the top, with the dual adjustable band fitting in quite discreetly.

Priced at under $300 according to PriceSpy, they represent very affordable high-quality sound experience.  I've struggled immensely to find the language to describe the listening experience, but those oft-quoted words of Keats came to mind, when he said,

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
(from, On First Looking into Chapman's Homer)

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