The Plantronics Voyager 8200 UC stereo Bluetooth headset is one of the most well-rounded, active noise-canceling headphones I have tested. For this review, I have compared the Voyager 8200 UC against the older Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 (SE) and the Bose QuietComfort 35.
Plantronics Voyager 8200 UC Review
- 24-hour battery life
- Sweat- and moisture-resistant coating
- OpenMic button
- Good microphone for calls
- High retail price
- Thin padding on the headband
Audio and Sound Quality
The Plantronics Voyager 8200 UC headphones produce a rich and immersive sound with a sufficient but not overwhelming bass for a pleasant listening experience. Like most of the other wireless headphone manufacturers do as well, Plantronics uses Qualcomm’s aptX audio technology to achieve a true Hi-Fi sound.
Overall, I like how the headphones sound, but I’m missing the ability to customize the sound profile via an equalizer that’s lacking in the, otherwise, feature-rich mobile app.
|Wireless||Bluetooth v4.1 with a roaming range of up to 98 feet (30 meters)|
|Battery life (Wireless playback, ANC on)||24 hours|
|Battery life (Wired playback, ANC on)||24 hours|
|Battery life (Wireless, only ANC on)||N/A|
|Battery life (Wireless playback, ANC off)||N/A|
|Charging time||3 hours|
|Microphone||Four with DSP|
|Playback controls||Buttons, Dial|
|Material of earpieces||Synthetic with nano coating|
ANC: Green = Excellent (25db+) | Yellow = Good (21 – 24db) | Red = OK (20db)
MIC: Green = Good | Yellow = OK | Red = Poor
Active Noise Cancellation
Plantronics offers a dual-mode, active noise cancellation (ANC) technology in the Voyager 8200 UC that you can control via a switch on the left ear cup. The available settings include:
- ANC Off
- ANC Mid: Recommended for an office
- ANC High: Recommended for an airplane
Since Plantronics doesn’t offer a detailed explanation on how each mode operates, I reached out to their product management team and received the following information:
“ANC is a feature that reduces noise that the user would hear in their environment, and that works in all states (other than powered off). This typically reduces HVAC noise, or airplane noise, etc. The amount of noise cancellation created by ANC completely varies depending on the type of noise, and how loud the noise is. In low noise conditions, it will effectively do nothing. In higher noise conditions, it will cancel noise up to about 20dB, depending on the frequency range or band.”Plantronics
Speaking of updating this review – I have not yet had a chance to take the Voyager 8200 UC aboard an airplane, so I don’t know how effectively these headphones cancel engine noise.
The only tests I could do was using airplane sounds from iTunes, and in those tests, the Plantronics Voyager 8200 UC performed good but were less effective than the Sony WH-1000XM2 or the Bose QuietComfort 35. Stay tuned for tests in real-life conditions!
While the Plantronics Voyager 8200 UC offer generous padding on the ear cups, I feel like the headband could use some more. The Bose QuietComfort 35 I have used over the past few years have, maybe, 1/4″ more padding on the inside of the headband, but that makes a difference, at least on my skull.
I admit that I’m likely more sensitive than others when it comes to the comfort of over-the-ear headphones, and, as a result, your mileage may vary.
Don’t get me wrong, I could comfortably wear the Voyager for a few hours without any issues, but for a 10-hour flight across the ocean, I’d develop pressure points on the top of my skull.
On the bright side, Plantronics uses a sweat- and moisture-resistant nano-coating for its headphones to improve the comfort if you wear them over extended periods. That’s unique and a welcome feature that I would like other headphone manufacturers to add as well.
With a full charge, you get 24 hours of battery life out of the Voyager 8200 UC, which is sufficient for even the longest flights I have been on. To completely recharge the batteries, it takes approximately 3 hours, which is the average recharge time of all the noise-canceling headphones I have reviewed.
Based on the documentation I have read, using the included audio cable doesn’t seem to extend the battery life, despite that Bluetooth automatically turns off while the cable is connected. But even without Bluetooth enabled, you can still use ANC.
Quality of the Microphone
Plantronics added a total of four microphones to its Bluetooth headset, and they support digital signal processing (DSP) and wideband audio. In my tests, the microphones worked well in both quiet and noisy environments, compared to the other noise-canceling headphones I have reviewed.
Of course, the Voyager 8200 UC headphones were no match for my beloved Plantronics Savi 745 office headset, when it comes to the audio quality and clarity during phone calls. Plantronics offered the following information on the noise-cancellation capabilities of the built-in microphones:
The “transmit” noise cancellation is similar to what our long boom headsets with noise canceling microphones would do, which is when you are on a call, environmental noise, including nearby talkers, is not transmitted to the person you are talking to (far end listener). The two microphones on each side provide about 3 to 4dB of noise reduction. Additionally, the headset then compares each side and that noise filtering removes another 3-4 dB for an 8-10 dB of noise reduction overall. The mic array gets you to about 8 dB, adding the noise filtering is close to another 10 dB. The caveat to that is any noise at 0 degrees (in front of you) is reduced to perhaps 10 dB, but off to the side, can be as high as 25dB.Plantronics
Below is an embedded audio file with some test recordings I have done in the office.
If the embedded audio file doesn’t play in your web browser, you can download the file directly from here.
The Plantronics Voyager 8200 UC offer intuitive control buttons, dials, and switches on both ear cups.
The right ear cups features an on/off switch, an OpenMic button and a large call button to answer/end/hold/transfer calls or to redial the last number you dialed.
The left ear cup features an ANC switch (off, mid, high), playback controls and a volume dial. What’s unique about the two track-changing buttons is that you can scrub forward and backward by holding them pressed while music is playing.
To summon a digital voice assistant, you can also press and hold the play/pause button for two seconds. More information on all the available playback controls is available in the online manual.
The red OpenMic button on the right ear cup temporarily opens the microphone so you can hear what’s going on around you. That is particularly useful if you’d like to have a conversation with someone while ANC is on.
Imagine you’re aboard an airplane wearing the noise-canceling headphones and the flight attendant asks you if you’d like to something to drink. I have been in such situations numerous times and always had to take my Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones off, or at least, move one of the ear cups off my ear to better hear what the person, who was trying to talk to me, was saying.
With the Plantronics Voyager 8200 UC, I only have to push the OpenMic button to hear ambient noise, instead of taking them off. For both the WH-1000XM2 and WH-H900N, Sony has implemented a touch gesture that opens the microphone when you cover the right ear cup with the palm of your hand.
That’s arguably easier and quicker than having to push a tiny button, like on the Voyager. However, if you want to have a prolonged conversation, doing so with your hand covering the ear cup of your headphones not only looks weird but is also uncomfortable.
For such situation, the button approach of Plantronics is the more convenient solution.
In other words, the app doesn’t make use of the full vertical screen space, which makes it look outdated. Beyond that cosmetic issue, the Plantronics Hub packs a ton of useful features, including:
- Displays the headphone status (Battery level, wearing status, and firmware release)
- Ability to find lost headphones (requires you to turn on location services)
- Ability to change headphone settings and update the firmware
Among the many settings you can tweak using the PLT Hub, you can:
- Enable/Disable certain types of alerts and tones
- Announce the Caller ID
- Enable/Disable the mute reminder
- Enable/Disable Headset Sensors
- Extended Range Mode (PC)
- HD Voice
- Streaming Audio
- Anti-Startle (G616)
- Noise Exposure Level
The Plantronics Voyager 8200 UC headphones offer a few unique settings that I thought are worth exploring further.
For example, the Mute Reminder warns you if you are talking while on mute. That’s particularly helpful for phone calls. I have been on plenty of conference calls where either another participant or I talked while on mute.
Moreover, the sensors in the Voyager can detect if you are wearing your headphones or not and automatically mute/unmute the microphone or start and stop playback. If you don’t like that, you can turn the sensors off using the Headset Sensors switch.
A few of the settings directly impact battery life, and that’s why you can turn them off, including Extended Range Mode, which, as the name implies, extends the wireless range of your headphones when paired to a PC or Mac.
HD Voice enables the wideband audio support of the microphones for better audio quality. If you use the headphones only for noise cancellation or for making phone calls and you don’t stream audio from your devices, you can turn Streaming Audio off to conserve battery life further.
One feature I think is cool is “Find MyHeadset,” which mimics Apple’s Find My iPhone. For “Find MyHeadset” to work, you have to enable Location Services and give the PLT Hub access to your location at all times.
However, doing so potentially impacts the battery life of your mobile phone, and that’s why I usually give apps only access to my location while I’m using the app. There seems to be a bug in the latest version of PLT Hub that causes the location request dialog to appear everytime I launch the app, regardless of what option I click.
That’s a minor nuisance and hopefully something Plantronics will fix in a future update.
Beyond that, the only thing I’m missing from Plantronics’ mobile app is equalizer settings to fine-tune the sound of the Voyager 8200 UC.
The MSRP of the Plantronics Voyager 8200 UC headphones is $379.95, which is relatively high, and more expensive than some of the other premium noise-canceling headphones I have reviewed. Fortunately, you can pick up a pair of the Voyager 8200 at Amazon for significantly less.
What’s in the Box?
The Voyager 8200 UC come in a cloth storage pouch that has zippers for two separate compartments. The main compartment can store the folded headphones, and the smaller pocket on the side provides a secure place for the included micro-USB and audio cables.
Additionally, Plantronics includes a USB adapter so that you can pair the headphones to a PC or Mac.
Plantronics Voyager 8200 UC vs. BackBeat Pro 2
On the surface, the Voyager 8200 UC is a newer model of the BackBeat Pro 2, and both headphones feature similar specs in many areas. But there are also a few key differences, some of which I have outlined in the table below.
|Voyager 8200 UC||BackBeat Pro 2||BackBeat Pro 2 SE|
|Battery Life||24 hours listen, 20 hours talk; 1-month standby||24 hours talk and listen; 6 months standby||24 hours talk and listen; 6 months standby|
|Controls||Playback, OpenMic||Playback, Open Listening||Playback, Open Listening|
|Bluetooth||4.1 with 30 m/98 ft range||4.0 with 100 m/330 ft range||4.0 with 100 m/330 ft range|
|Connect to||Mobile, PC/Mac (Simultaneously)||Mobile||Mobile|
|Microphone||4 with DSP and HD Voice||2 with DSP and HD Voice||2 with DSP and HD Voice|
I’d probably be fine with the BackBeat Pro 2 (SE) because I don’t use noise-canceling headphones in the office and I do not need the app integration. What I don’t know is how much better the active noise cancelation (ANC) works in the Voyager 8200 UC vs. the BackBeat Pro 2.
Assuming they both perform on a comparable level, I’d lean towards saving a few bucks and getting the older BackBeat Pro 2. Of course, if you want to use your headphones for making phone calls, and thus need excellent microphones, or if you’d like to connect them to your PC or Mac, the Voyager 8200 UC are the way to go.
Plantronics Voyager 8200 UC Review
I hope you have enjoyed reading this Plantronics Voyager 8200 UC review as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Overall, the Plantronics Voyager 8200 UC are excellent noise-canceling headphones that pack a ton of useful features.
They are comfortable to wear but could use some more padding on the headband. Active noise cancellation seems to be working well but not as good as on some of the other headphones in my test. But I’ll hold my ultimate judgment until I have had a chance to test these headphones aboard an airplane.
If you have any questions or concerns about this review, please don’t hesitate to ask by leaving a comment below.
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