Skullcandy makes good headphones—that's not in dispute. While their headphones typically favor style over sound quality, they're reasonably priced and you can't really go wrong with a pair of anything they have to offer.
To share an anecdote, my friend Moriah says her Skullcandy earbuds have lasted her over three years of constant use, and the only thing wrong with them is that the paint's started to chip off.
Skullcandy has since branched out to cater to gamers with a new line of headphones after its acquisition of Astro Gaming, well respected for their A30 and A40 series of gaming headphones. Their new headphones include the SLYR, the PLYR 2 and the PLYR 1. We'll be covering the SLYR in this review.
The SLYR is the most inexpensive option of Skullcandy's gaming lineup, and it should be compared to other headphones in the sub-$200 price range. Priced at a mere $80, the headset comes with a pair of decent cans and a serviceable microphone. Both items share a single connection that plugs directly into a portable USB mixer.
For the purpose of this review, I tested the SLYR on Borderlands 2 for the PC and Halo 4 for the Xbox 360.
Both the sound and music came through the speakers loud and clear, and I could hear my teammates voices through the gunfire thanks to game's ability to lower the game volume during conversation. Despite this feature, there were moments when my teammates would've been difficult to comprehend on my surround speakers, but I had no problem discerning their speech on the SLYR.
Likewise, my teammates could understand my voice just fine, and the built-in microphone—while certainly not on the same caliber as an Apogee microphone—served its purpose a lot better than any Plantronics headset I've ever used, which typically had teammates complaining about how "tinny" I sounded. The built-in microphone is compact and stays well out of the way, and it can also be folded into the headset when not in use.
For the Xbox 360, I had to plug the portable mixer into the Xbox 360. The mixer comes with a whole lot of wires, and my only qualm with that I wish the headset were wireless—but for $80, that's not really a possibility and not something I have any complaints about. Thankfully, the wires are long enough that I didn't have any trouble while using the SLYR despite sitting several feet away from both the TV and the gaming console.
As I mentioned before, the SLYR comes with an in-line mixer that serves as a portable sound card. You'll need it to use the microphone as the headset only contains a single audio jack, and it comes with a volume function and three equalizer options. There's Bass, Precision, and Supreme. Precision makes the sound tinny, while Bass just makes it difficult to hear your teammates. For the best audio quality, the settings are best left on Supreme. It's not a feature that lends much to the whole package as the headphones sound fine without these bells and whistles.
Make and Materials
The SLYR's made out of hard plastic that doesn't feel cheap, and is comparable to what you might find on Sennheiser's much more expensive HD598 headphones.
The cups are made of soft fabric that remain cool and comfortable on the ears after long periods of wear. They're also a lot more durable than the pleather usually found on other headsets, which tend to flake off after a couple months of heavy use.
The only potential problem with the SLYR is its cable, which isn't heavy gauge. The wires are noisy, so the SLYR isn't a good option for outdoor use. Thankfully, the wires aren't built into the headphones so you can swap them out for heavier replacements should you need to.
Unless you're willing to pay more for a headset, the SLYR does little wrong for its price. Clear sound, a decent microphone, and problem-free functionality regardless of platform make it a good headset for any gamer on a budget.