There is no question Skullcandy has quickly emerged as a heavy hitter when it comes to gaming headsets. Turtle Beach, Tritton and Astro headsets appear to lead the pack, but Skullcandy (who is owned by Astro) is making a name for itself by delivering affordable gaming headsets that not only look slick but sound fantastic as well. Over the course of the past year I had a chance to play with the Astro A50 7.1 surround sound wireless headset and the Tritton Warhead 7.1 surround sound wireless headset. Both deliver exceptional sound and comfort but both come in at a hefty $300 dollar price range. The Skullcandy PLYR 1 headset on the other hand has a $179.99 MSRP yet also delivers 7.1 surround sound. So how does the PLYR 1 stack up against the big boys? Read on to find out.
Before I get into the sound and comfort aspects of the PLYR 1 headset I will just give an overview of what you get out the box. When you first unbox the set you will notice you get a little plug and play guide that shows you how to hook up your headset and GMX Dolby Transmitter to any Xbox 360, PS3 or PC. In a nutshell, setting up the headset was simple and I encountered no difficulties. That being said, I would have preferred a longer USB charging cable so that I could sit back and continue wearing the headset while it is charging. So unfortunately if your headset dies on you while you’re playing you will need to shut it down until the headset recharges. Also included in the box is a USB power cable and an optical cable that plugs directly into your Xbox 360, PS3 or PC. While the headset is advertised as “wireless”, the fact remains you will need to hook up the Xbox LIVE cable from your headset to the controller. Not to mention you need several wires to plug in your transmitter. Yet the headset itself is wireless and charges when you plug the USB charging cable into the transmitter. You should get approximately 10-hours on a single charge which is not too shabby. It does however take more than a few hours to charge up the sucker which is somewhat of a let-down.
The headset itself is sharp looking and has nice design to it. The headset I reviewed was white with black trim but there is an all-black model also available. The PLYR 1’s are surprisingly light; however, when compared to A50’s or the Warhead they do appear somewhat cheap, but this is to be expected when you consider the price discrepancy. Although they look pretty good I have to admit that there is just a little too much plastic for my liking. I question whether the set will be durable over the long haul or withstand the inevitable occasion when I launch them into a wall after a Madden loss. Bottom line, I would have preferred a metal chassis and bigger cans.
Comfort wise, the PLYR 1 feels pretty good. They are a little on the smaller side but they do hug your head nicely. The cushioned ear cups and foam on the bridge of the headset provides all the necessary comfort you will need. The cans snug right onto your ears and I never felt like they would fall off even if I jerked my neck back. I noticed that they do not block out the outside sounds as much as I would like but admittedly I am comparing them to other high end headsets. I should mention the headset is also adjustable and should fit any size melon as I had no problem fitting them to mine. The trademark Skullcandy “skull” branding is everywhere and even inside the ear cups but it is by no means an eye sore. The headset transmitter is also equipped with a handy dandy little stand which is perfect for storage and something the PLYR 2 and SLYR headsets do not offer.
Just like the PLYR 2 and SLYR Skullcandy headsets, the PLYR 1 has three EQ sound presets: Bass, Supreme and Precision Mode. The EQ switch is located on the right ear pad and in the form of an adjustable slider. There is also a small 4-way joystick on the headset as well that adjusts game volume and microphone chat volume. I found at times the joystick was unresponsive but after exercising a little patience I was always able to get the volume where I wanted it to be. Muting chat can be performed by simply pivoting the boom mic up. I certainly preferred this method of muting as opposed to fumbling around and searching for a mute button.
When it came to the EQs three settings, I preferred the Bass mode but I am the kind of guy that loves booming sound and explosions that rattle my ear drums. The Precision mode however is more ideal for shooter games when you need to hear footsteps behind you or shell casings falling to the ground. I am told the Supreme mode is what game developers prefer you to play in but in all honesty I never noticed much of a difference between Precision and Supreme mode.
Overall, I was incredibly impressed with the sound of the PLYR 1. I played Madden 13, Far Cry 3, Metro Last Light and Black Ops 2 when testing the headset and in all cases the sound delivered. The headset really seemed to shine in the game Metro: Last Light as the narrator could be heard crystal clear and the sounds of nasty enemies approaching from a distance made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I just found all the noises rich and I am certain any die hard audio tech guy will be equally impressed. Do they sound as good as the A50’s? Well not quite but pretty darn close. I was equally impressed with the mic. Granted I did experience some echoing while playing Madden 13 but this could likely be due to the internet connection. When playing Black Ops 2 online not only could others hear my voice with no issue but I received no feedback, no static noise, and no echo. The mic worked as it should.
In terms of any other static or technical issues, I experienced none with the PLYR 1 headset. The 7.1 Surround Sound delivered precision sound with strong booming bass. The headset easily rivals my home theater setup and I envision myself using this headset for quite some time as being able to hear every sound makes gaming so much better.
At the end of the day, when you consider other high end 7.1 surround sound wireless headsets can cost you around $300 bucks, the Skullcandy PLYR 1 is fantastic bang for the buck. Sure they may lack the high-end drivers and overall quality of some of these more expensive sets, but on their own they are excellent value for the money given their features and the fact that they deliver great sound quality. If you are looking for a less expensive wireless 7.1 surround sound wireless headset, then look no further then the PLYR 1 as it may just be right up your alley.