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Plantronics 855 Stereo Bluetooth Headset Review

The new Plantronics Voyager 855 is probably the most comfortable, lightest and innovative A2DP stereo Bluetooth headset that I have had the opportunity to test to date – it’s the first that feels and acts just like a normal Bluetooth headset but with the added benefit of being able to listen to wireless stereo music on the go.

Plantronics 855

The Plantronics 855 is actually a very elegant 2 in 1 solution as it is BOTH a standard mono Bluetooth headset AND/OR a Stereo Bluetooth headset.  The ingenious way this works is that when you specifically want to listen to music a “Stereo plug in cable” (above left) can be attached to the main body of the headset (detail below left) to create a simple but effective stereo headset.  Then when you only want to make calls with the mono headset you just plug the cable out and either pop the headset straight in your ear or attach one of the included ear loops.

 Plantronics 855 - Stereo plug in cable Plantronics 855 - Stereo plug in headset

Although the Jabra BT8010 (see my review) was the first to apply this 2 in 1 concept, the newer Plantronics 855 offers great improvement as it is a considerably smaller, lighter (about 15 grams versus 35 grams for full stereo unit) and thus more comfortable and easier to use solution on a daily basis.

Plantronics 855 - Accessories Kit

The Plantronics 855 accessory kit (above) is also very complete with an included wall charger, three sets of two ear gels (S, M, L) as well as two excellent black foam ear buds which offer nearly 100% noise cancellation when listening to stereo music, two spare ear loops and a small pouch to keep all of these in.  The only thing frustratingly missing is a USB charging cable but since the connector is a standard microUSB you should be able to easily find one.

Plantronics 855 headset

In terms of performance, I found inbound and outbound audio quality to be very good thanks no doubt to Plantronics’ AudioIQ technology which digitally enhances sound quality on both sides of a call.  There’s also the fact that you can seamlessly switch between making calls and listening to music (when you receive a call the music pauses and the phone rings in your headset then the music resumes when you end the call).

The sliding boom (image above) lets you be heard more clearly by positioning the microphone closer to your mouth and it can also conveniently be used to answer and end calls.  Also, thanks to the great ear buds you’re able to “seal out the noise, seal in the sound” and enjoy full-spectrum stereo sound with rich, balanced bass.  Additionally, buttons on the headset allow you to easily control music Play/Pause, Next/Previous track and Volume.

Finally, the Plantronics Voyager 855 offers up to a very good 7 hours talk time, 6 hours listening time and 160 hours standby time from a single charge.

 Plantronics 855 - Right Ear Plantronics 855 - Left Ear

Please Note: currently only the Windows Mobile powered Treo 750 and 700w|wx smartphones support native A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) and AVRCP (Audio Video Remote Control Profile) required to use the Plantronics 855 stereo functionality.  Nevertheless, thanks to a software called Softick Audio Gateway you can add A2DP and AVRCP functionality to your Centro, Treo 680, 755p and 700p as well.

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Posted by Andrew on January 14, 2008 at 01:51 PM

Treo Bluetooth

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Comments

1
by Aerich | Jan 14, 2008 6:05:16 PM

This sounds like a great product! I wonder if someone could provide a clarification for me from Andrew's write-up...

Due to a neurological condition, I can understand what I'm hearing twice as well if I can here it in both ears. So, I would like to know if I answer a call with BOTH EARBUDS CONNECTED, will I hear the call in both ears?

(FWIW: Yes, it's hard for me to understand what I'm hearing when I use my bluetooth Jawbone. Typically, I sit in a very quiet room. Also, my landline phone has a "dual-mono" headset.)

2
by Sorian | Jan 15, 2008 1:00:10 AM

This sounds like a great product, but doesn't go into much about the call quality. Is there any background noise canceling? If there is, about how well did that work?

3
by JayC3 | Jan 15, 2008 6:42:36 AM

Nice review Andrew. I do have a question, can you use the plantronics 855 to listen to mono music using only the main BT earpiece without the earphone cable? I know it is only mono and defeats the purpose of stereo, but can it work this way? Thanks.

4
by Travis Phipps | Jan 15, 2008 10:02:37 AM

@JayC3: Per messages on treocentral, yes you can listen to audio using just the one earpiece.

Andrew: Can you compare the audio quality to a jawbone? I know you really like your jawbone and was wondering how the phone audio quality of this headset compared.

5
by Andrew | Jan 15, 2008 10:25:44 AM

Aerich - yes, when both ear buds are connected you will be able to make and receive calls in stereo with sound coming into both ears.

Sorian, Travis - although the call quality is very good the fact is still that the Jawbone offers _far_ superior noise cancellation technology. For standard calls in a normal environment the Plantronics 855 will work great but in noisy environments the Jawbone remains unbeatable.

I hope this helps.

Cheers, A.

6
by tek | Jan 17, 2008 1:12:32 AM

Last time I checked this phone doesn't show up as supported on Plantronic's website. Does anyone know why this is? Was this phone tested on a Treo? If so does it happen to be a 700wx (because that's what I have and I want one :)

7
by Kyenta | Jan 20, 2008 3:18:56 PM

Hi there

I understand that sound using bluetooth headphone can only be heard in stereo on the Centro, Treo 680, 755p and 700p with added software. Could you confirm if I will need the same software with my 650 if I want to get the Plantronics 855?
Thanks!
Kyenta

8
by Andrew | Jan 21, 2008 3:55:30 AM

Kyenta - yes, the Treo 650 also requires Softick Audio Gateway to use the wireless stereo functionality.

Cheers, A.

9
by manu | Jan 21, 2008 3:02:26 PM

can i access internet through a wireless modem in my house on my treo 600..... please if any one knows let me know ... thanks a lot

10
by sing | Jan 21, 2008 4:52:36 PM

------URGENT PLEASE HELP------
i was playing with some omniremote software application on my treo 600 when all of a sudden it just froze on me .... can any one please help me with this ..... please please n thanks

11
by Skizzlizzit | Feb 5, 2008 9:01:06 AM

I've had this headset for a week now and I'm very impressed! I've gone through three other bt stereo headsets (Jabra, Motorola, and Best Buy's brand) and this one is the best out there so far. I've even worn the set throughout the whole day to see if it eventually became uncomfortable like the other three did and I felt just fine by the end of the day. The sound and volume are great! I have had a couple of complaints from friends about how well they could hear me but I have yet to find a bt earpiece that could provide the same output quality that the phone mouthpiece provides. It's also very nice to be able to walk through a store while listening to music without having to cover both ears. If you're looking for the best stereo headset out there, this is a must buy!

12
by LArry L | Feb 27, 2008 3:00:01 PM

I bought the 855 based on this review(700P user) I couldn't get it to work as a phone. With SAG it played my pocketunes stuff, but not Audible books. Called Plantronics to ask how to get it to work--it pairs successfully, but doesnt perform phone functions. They said that the 855 is incompatible with any Palm OS Treo. What is going on?

13
by Andrew | Feb 27, 2008 3:13:21 PM

LArry L - as the bottom portion of my post clearly states the Plantronics 855 is NOT natively compatible witht any PalmOS Treo such as your 700p. Currently the _only_ solution available to partially enable your PalmOS Treo is a software called Softick Audio Gateway [ http://software.treonauts.com/product.asp?id=5536 ]. This may help explain the issues that you're experiencing.

Cheers, A.

14
by Bernie0013 | Mar 25, 2008 4:37:57 PM

Andrew, I bought the Voyager 855 partially based on your review. I wanted a unit that would allow me to listen to music in stereo through bluetooth. I find everything you said about it to be true except 1 small issue. THE SOUND QUALITY SUCKS!!! I get better audio out of my cheap wired headphones than out of this thing. I expected a lot more for the price! It sounds like I am listening to music through a tin can.

15
by DanO | Mar 28, 2008 11:24:35 PM

Andrew, LarryL on 27 Feb said he had SAG, which I assume IS Softtick Audio Gateway. I'm about to spend a lot of money on SAG and this stereo A2DP BT headset, based on review etc, but you haven't answered Larry's question clearly. He could not make it work with the 700p and SAG. Your bottom line was it should work that way. I'm anxious to hear what is correct. Dan

16
by Bogdan | Apr 11, 2008 1:49:39 PM

Andrew,
I want to know, in your opinion, witch is better? The 520 model or the 855 model? (even 815).
I am not interested in music, i just want to have a clear sound when i call somebody.
Thanks

17
by sai | Apr 12, 2008 1:57:05 PM

helpppppppppppppppp!!!!!!

Does this device work with Sony Ericsson W580i Model...will i be able to listen music with this bluetooth headset...????

18
by martin | Apr 16, 2008 1:23:25 AM

I want to know, in your opinion, wich is better? The 520 model o the 855 model? (even 815)
I am not interested in music, I just want to have a clear sound a the other end and visiversa.

19
by Kayo | Apr 25, 2008 7:49:04 PM

The mono is not true mono. It is the right channel of the stereo signal that you will be hearing when you remove the opposite plug in ear piece.

20
by kendall | May 6, 2008 11:40:36 PM

I purchase the Plantronics 855 to go with my Samsung M520 and it works ok, I seem to have problems with the sound quality when talking to friends, the volume is not loud enough and when you listen to music sometime it gives you a little skip, but I like the fact that it's small and you can also listen to your music mono if you like.

21
by Hicks Williams | May 27, 2008 7:10:18 PM

Good afternoon, could the Plantronics 855 head set work with my Sprint/Nextel IC902 cellphone?

22
by Hellow | Jul 3, 2008 8:07:56 PM

Don't expect sound quality from a bluetooth stereo headset! Just expect the convenience of not having wires getting in your way! Which is why I use this primarily for gym use as well as now, use it while driving since I live in California!

23
by tim | Jul 31, 2008 11:21:51 PM

has anyone tested the plantronics voyager 855 on the Lg cu920 (VU) how was the audio on it?

24
by TAC | Aug 12, 2008 1:49:53 PM

I'm confused...
The Plantronics website states that the 855 is NOT compatible with the Treo 700W but this review states the exact opposite. Has it been tested with the 700W and do all of the features work as expected?

25
by steve | Aug 18, 2008 9:27:04 AM

I'm using the Plantronics 855 with my Treo 755P. It paired up fine at Verizon and I could hear my phone conversation through both ears. After using the Softick software, the Ptunes songs play great in stereo, but I can't get the headset to play through both sides when on a call (only the headset ear piece works).

The phone also crashes more now because the amount of memory that the Softick Audio Gateway software uses...is it time for an iphone yet?

Happy to be able to listen to stereo wire free because I went through $150 worth of wired headsets (broke two, lost two because the wires get pulled when taking keys out of pocket).

So far, in spite of the technical difficulties, I'm happy that I bought it.

To anybody that's curious if it works, go to the store and try it out. Verizon has a thirty day return policy. My service is with SprintPCS.

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