Plantronics 590A Stereo Bluetooth Headset Review

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Introduction
In our search for music headphones we are going through all the market-available manufacturers: starting from the small to the big ones, and vice versa. The goal of our research is to find out a device that can play our kind of music at high-quality sound; however, other properties are indispensable as well - convenient prolonged usage, good sound in both directions during conversation, and, naturally – they must be wireless. We are only testing Bluetooth headphones capable of connecting to different devices, but solely in their capacity as mobile telephone accessories, supporting A2DP, or stereo sound via Bluetooth.

Of course we decided not to miss on one of the models that is rather pricey, but including quite an impressive set with numerous items – virtually everything one can want to go with such headphones. This is Plantronics Pulsar 590E. There is another modification on offer – 590A, but so long as it features a smaller set, we are testing the higher class version. The mere size of the unit’s box makes a strong impression – it is enormous. Among the number of pictures and information there, we notice some specifications as well: while playing music (according to the manufacturer) they can reproduce the sound frequency range from 20 Hz to 20 KHz. The neodymium magnet 28 mm speakers equipment is a serious claim – and we are prepared to hear the respective sound.

The set includes:

  • Plantronics 590A
  • Rechargeable Universal Adapter
  • USB Charging Cable
  • Protective Travel Case
  • Desktop Charging Stand
  • Charger
  • In-Flight Cable



Infact the difference between the 590E and 590A sets is not that significant –what is not to be found in the latter is a universal 3.5mm Bluetooth adapter,which helps to ‘endow’ any music system with a Bluetooth transmitter. The onlyother extra is that the charger can be used on both the earphones and adaptersimultaneously.




The whole kit is accommodated in a solid heart-shaped case with thePlantronics logo – it is of quality manufacturing and can contain all necessaryitems when you are on the road – with the exception of the charging cradle,which, however, is not intended to be taken away from home – its normal placebeing on your desk.




The phones charging cradle is supposed to stand on the desk beautifully– this opportunity is a lot more stylish and classy than simply plugging thecharger in, though not offering any other advantages. It is comparatively lightand not very stable, but on the other hand – usable.



We are doing a research on a group of earphones, belonging to the ‘on-ear’ (supra-aural) design group; all the previously tested ones were designed for securing behind the neck, which is not the case with the present model – Plantronics 590 feature an adjustable head-band that rests upon our heads, just like most of the home-usage headphones. This has both positive and negative sides – weight is evenly distributed on a larger part of the head, which is supposed to contribute for a lighter ‘feel’, but on the other side there is the clearly seen band on the head instead of the ‘invisible’ behind-the-neck design. To add to their portability when not in use, the former can be folded – their left and right parts going to the inside of the head-band.



The silver and grey-black color combination is used here, too. The headphones have some additional coloring due to the shiny metal details such as the decorative rings on both earpieces and all the buttons - located on the right one.

All of them are on the right side, as with Nokia 601, and not on both, like Jabra BT620. As mentioned above, the four of them are situated in a circle: on the front and on the back, opposite one-another, are the Volume up/down; similarly at the top and bottom there are Next/Previous, also serving for Fast forward/Rewind. The remaining two are Call and Play/Pause, one above the other below the round surface. Despite the fact that they do not take up the entire place as with BT 620, their slight groove enables easy finding and pressing. The four buttons on the ‘circle’ are not so convenient, but still usable - the whole ring is a bit protruding at a slant, which should render it easy to find; however, pressing each of the ‘directions‘ exerts certain force upon the whole unit and makes it move in the respective direction. This causes discomfort – when pressing, you do so upon your head.

In addition there is a two-position on/off switch – we salute this because it makes it possible to either turn them off for saving battery power or in case you do not want to listen for a while; and do that or switch them on, fast at that, without having to do the tiresome job of holding a button for minutes on end, as with the rest of the headphones we have tested.

Like the other headphones, the on-ear loudspeakers are covered with soft material. However, we consider it strange that there is no such on the head-band and thus the plastic that it is made of (which is not compact) is in direct contact with your head. We, and in our view most of the users, would like to have softening material here as well.

The service light is also located on the right speaker and is in the form of a circle that is lit either blue or red. During operation it flashes in blue and, we should think, with a rather strong and unpleasant light at that – very much like Jabra BT 620, but while it can be turned off on the latter, using Pulsar 590 will doom you to constant winking.


The two earpieces are round, but the right one (we can assume that it is the ‘main’ because of its functionality) has a minute bulge on the lower front with a small transparent tube sticking out – this is the microphone and the tube is telescopic, so that one could pull it towards the mouth for better incoming sound quality during conversation.



Functionality:


As usual, before starting to use the Bluetooth device, one has to pair it with a telephone or another unit (the universal adapter, music player, computer); so long as Plantronics 590A relies on an on/off switch for putting into operation instead of holding a multifunctional button, the procedure here is somewhat different from the standard one. In order to enter the mode you have to do the same as with other on/off switch Plantronics models (Voyager 510, M2500) – turn the headphones on and then immediately hold the Call button for a short time. The light will flash in red-blue, indicating the pairing mode. Then you start searching for the phones from your device and eventually find them as ‘590 Plantronics’; entering 0000 serves for authorization and you are connected.

It is very easy to use your phones with the universal adaptor so long as they have been paired at the factory. But yet, in case the do not connect after turning on, consult the manual.

We consider it strange that you cannot connect the headphones simultaneously with a telephone and another device – a music player or any A2DP unit; this was possible with Nokia BH 601 and Jabra BT 620.

The options to control the phone thru the headset profile and the music player thru A2DP are standard.


Performance:

We have been seriously disappointed by the unit’s sound when used for listening to music. Reproduction is distorted, without dynamics and detail. Vocals are ‘flat’ and emotionless; everything is somewhat muted. Only sound power is sufficient, actually -quite high.

During conversation 590A gives a very good performance with high-quality sound and medium volume. If the microphone has not been pulled out you will be heard a bit ‘distantly’ and unclearly, but after placing it right a distinct audibility is achieved. You can also hear the other side strongly and clearly, despite the little ‘sharpness’ of the voice.

The 10 and a half hours of continues talk time are fine but cannot be compared with the leaders, which scored 50% more. This is 5 hours more!

The Range in which the 590A is usable is excellent for a Bluetooth headset and good when compared to the other Stereo Headsets.

Comfort:

For all our remarks about the headband, Plantronics Pulsar 590A are comparatively convenient headphones. Depending on the size of your head they can feel a little tight. The adjustable (extendable) head-band will definitely help you be more comfortable with the device on. Yet, we prefer to take them off for a while after some time of using (2 – 3 minutes at the most in an hour), so that the head can ‘have a rest’; but that is what we do with all other headsets. As a whole they are convenient, but the upper head-band will not allow for wearing (at least comfortably) a hat or a small-sized hood.


Conclusion:

As a whole Plantronics 590A is a rather decent headset compared to its ‘competitors’ – it is distinguished by an exquisitely rich set with a lot of accessories and promising specifications; it is comfortable to wear and its sound during conversation – one of the best, with very good audibility on the other side thanks to the extendable microphone. Music reproduction is powerful but, unfortunately, it does not meet our criteria.

Pros

  • Very good sound during conversation
  • Powerful and comparatively good sound at playing music

Cons

  • Inconvenient buttons for sound control and next/previous track
  • Absence of headband soft cover
  • Lights cannot be switched off

PhoneArena Rating:

7.5

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