Price: $ 220
When you think of Plantronics, a company that is best known for call centers and aviation headsets may not be the first thing to think about.
Here's what we like
- Good sound
- Long battery life
- Can be used with 3.5mm cord instead of Bluetooth
And what we don't
- It cannot know exactly how much battery life lasts without connecting to another device
- Could not install Hub tool on Kindle Fire
- iOS version of Hub tool more limited than Windows version
Recently The company branched out with some excellent headphones and headphones. BackBeat headphones and BackBeat Pro 2 headphones with headphones offer great sound, albeit at an affordable price. The supplier's latest earphones are Voyager 8200 UC. These add to the product line instead of replacing Plantronics premium BackBeat Pro 2 headphones, the former top of the line.
My ears, not yours: A headphone review Primer
Before reading any audio review, whether it be headphones, speakers or any other piece of audio equipment, remember that everyone's hearing is slightly different. People tend to be more sensitive to certain frequencies, and not everyone has the same type of music. As a reviewer, I was able to use available measuring equipment and software to rate out the frequency response of the headphone. But a chart won't give you a clue what the headphones actually sound like or feel like wearing them for more than a few hours. To be informative, all audio reviews must be at least somewhat subjective.
Most reviewers have a list of tracks they use to test a set of headphones / headphones. Since my taste in music is probably different from yours, I will not list the tracks I used, just indicate that I spent several hours a day for a period of two weeks playing tracks in my Spotify playlist, which has a little over 600 songs currently. These range from Chicago and Texas Blues to the 60's Garage Band Rock. There is even a country there.
If you are interested in putting these or any other headphones through their steps, check out our guide to test out headphones. Also useful if you want to create your own test package, this site has a wide range of audio test files. If you want something super fast and easy, Spotify also has a self-propelled headphone test list that you can take for a spin.
As said, my preferences are more likely than bass than treble but I also listen to a balanced answer. After all, most audio equipment and applications have equalizer where you can set the answer to your preferences. As they used to say in commercials, your mileage may vary.
A step up from my credible Sennheisers
I have had many headphones over the years and my favorites have shifted because I have had the opportunity to test new ones. Amazingly, still one of my favorites is a pair of Sennheiser HD Pro 280 phones that must be nearly two decades old. They are equipped to be uncomfortable for a certain period of time, but still sound good.
Before testing the Voyager 8200 UCs, my Go-to-headphones were also Plantronics-BackBeat Pro 2. These offer great sound, very good battery life, and are comfortable to wear for hours at the end. The Voyager 8200 UC phones offer roughly the same positive features, plus a few more that make them better to use in the office while traveling and just listening to music or TV.
I will not list the data sheet for Voyager 8200 UCs here. It doesn't give you much of a "taste" of how they sound or feel. As you can see in the pictures, they come in black and cream and are large, which is pretty much all other earphones must be.
They have very comfortable memory foam pads on the ear and headband, a synthetic leather case on both, orange accents on the ear hooks and on a label attached to the headband and capital letters to indicate which ear is left and right. It's not quite as stupid as it seems because many headphones and headphones have small letters to indicate proper orientation.
A metal screen on both front edges of the ear cover hides the microphones used by the ANC (Active Noise Cancellation), another reason to have the right ear speaker in the right ears, and record your voice when using the phones in an office environment to make or answer calls on call. Plantronics designed these headphones to be comfortable to use when listening to music, traveling or working in the office. And they are shipped with a USB Bluetooth dongle as well as a 3.5mm cable that can be used to directly connect the headset to a music source.
Active Noise Break is a feature that both Plantronics headphones have in common, and they seem to work a little better on Voyager. There is a small slide switch on the edge of the left earphone. The whole way down and the ANC is off. Slide it to the middle position and some cancellation kicks in, but loud background sounds, like a doorbell, can still be heard. This is the attitude I used most of the time in the office during work. Finally, slide the switch to the upper setting and more ANC kicks in. There always seems to be some loud noises that make it through even at this highest setting, which is good. You want to be able to hear if there is a lot of noise. I couldn't test Voyagers in an airplane, but I would probably leave them in the middle setting so I could hear flight notifications.
On the left ear contact there are also volume controls using a volume wheel located in the periphery of the cup and controls used when playing audio tracks to jump forward or backward. The volume wheel is also used to control the volume of the microphone located on the front of each ear. By pressing the middle of the cup, you get access to voice control using Siri, Cortana or Google Now (a strange choice because Google has now ceased to benefit Google Assistant).
There are several additional monitors on the side of the right ear cup and a micro USB socket on the bottom of the cup to charge the battery and a 3.5 mm socket to use the headphones in the plug-in position. Along the front edge of the earpiece is the mesh covering one of the two microphones, a sliding switch that turns off the microphone and the switch, which has three positions on and off. Connecting the headphones with Bluetooth gives you a wireless range of nearly 100 meters, so you can wander around a room or office and remain connected. 8200 UC can also be connected via NFC (Near Field Communications). Instead of the wheel on the left ear body, the center of the right ear cup is a switch. Tap it to make, answer, or end a call.
And for travel, the ear couplers turn inwards so that the headset is flat and can fit into the soft suitcase packed with the phones, which also has a zipper compartment for USB and 3.5 mm audio cables included. This ability to put in a flat pack makes it easy to include 8200 UC in your luggage.
Huba Huba: Software Based Control
Plantronics adds the Hub software as a useful add-on. I found it true most of the time. While the Android version refused to install on my Kindle Fire HD, which I usually listen to music, it was well installed on both Windows 10 and iOS. In order to get the Windows 10 version to work, I had to install the USB dongle that came with the headphones. Both versions allow you to adjust the settings for call and volume settings and both give you the amount of connection time left on battery charge.
The options available on the IOS version of the tool were very sparse compared to the Windows version. "Finding my headset" worked perfectly and sent a high note to the headset that would definitely help find the phones if you were within 5 to 10 feet of them. Directly under the label of the connected device (Plantronics Voyager 8200) are connection status messages, in this case Connected and a display of remaining talk / listening time. The Settings menu is where the most useful features are located, but whether you actually think they are useful is a matter of meaning. I did not find any settings I would like to use.
There is a feature that you may want to install the tool to have. It is the choice "How do I do", which has extracts from Voyager's user manual. That and the message about the remaining chat on the tool's opening screen are enough to justify the free tool, even though the features beyond that seem pretty sparse.
Good sound, good features
Easy-to-use controls and helpful tools are nice, but the bottom line of any piece of audio equipment, and especially headphones, is how they sounds, both when they listen and when the headset is intended to be used to also make and receive phone calls, talk. I could use the Voice Control button to give commands to Siri, but couldn't get Cortana to recognize commands. Voice quality in phone mode is excellent, perhaps a legacy from Plantronics many years that produce phones for the office and headset for aviation.
Listening to music was equally rewarding. An advantage to listening to the same track over and over with different headsets is that after a while you usually get subtle differences in the sound. A headset can have some muddled bass or shrill treble. The Voyager 8200 UC has almost exactly the same sound characteristics as the BackBeat Pro 2s I've been using for years, with a noticeable difference. The Voyager 8200s seem to have lower sound levels at the same settings on the device to which it is connected. This was not a problem. I simply used the volume wheel on the left ears to increase the volume.
Otherwise, the answer is exactly what I have come to expect – smooth bass and sharp, but not sharp treble. Intermediate tones are clear, and on many tracks there is a noticeable sense of presence. It is also reflected when I use the headset to listen to the TV. Voice is much more discernible than when the TV plays through speakers and background sounds, such as telephones calling in the background, coming through when wearing the headset but not while listening through The TV's speakers. And the Voyager 8200s are comfortable enough to carry for hours. I haven't traveled with them, but it's not uncommon for me to wear them for three or four hours at a time. The Voyager 8200s have a sensor in the ear buttons that pauses music or audio playback when you turn on the headset, which is great if you interrupt while using them.
Plantronics claims up to 24 hours of talk time for Voyager 8200s. I didn't get that long, but when it was fully charged, the Hub software showed that I had 21 hours and 40 minutes left on the battery. When you turn on the headphones, you are greeted with Power High, Power Medium, Power Low or a Refill Headphones message. These messages are accompanied by the lights on the right ear hook. When fully charged, five lights illuminate. which goes down to three lights for medium and a single light for low charge. When charging, the reverse is true, the lights go from one light on through two, up to five at full charge. Charging from a fully discharged state took about the three hours that Plantronics says it should take.
Should you buy them?
While the list price of the Voyager 8200 UC headphones is $ 319, in many cases you can get them a little over $ 200 the price we have here, $ 220, is the current price point on Amazon and a fairly consistent one. For that price, they represent a good buy. If you really prefer earplugs to earplugs, the Plantronics Voyager 8200 UC headphones are truly worth a look with a good combination of comfort, high quality sound and user-friendly features.
Here's what we like  Good sound
And what we don't
- not knowing exactly how much battery life remains without connecting to another device
- Could not install Hub tools on the Kindle Fire
- iOS version of the Hub tool more limited than the Windows version