Skullcandy has been a company best known for their unique and stylish earbuds. As they have expanded from earbuds to full headsets and even to a clothing line, Skullcandy has maintained their signature look and style. One such product line expansion has been into the gaming headset scene. The current entry-level offering, their SLYR Gaming Headset packs plenty of high-end features. But is their first entry into the market worthy of being your next gaming headset?
All the features and build of the SLYR Headset scream quality as much as style. The heavy-duty plastic that comprises the headband of the set indicate substance and durability while remaining surprisingly light. The thick rubber cord not only feels durable, but it is extremely long allowing for almost any room configuration. While the ear cups might be on the smaller end for some users they remained comfortable after hours of use during testing. Their unique use of a swivel hinge that allows each cup to move independently at almost any angle allows them to conform to nearly anyone. When not talking with friends or yelling at opponents, the SLYR maintains it’s stylish look with an easy to miss hide-away microphone.
If style alone could determine the best headsets the SLYR Headset would rocket to the top of any list.
Style isn’t everything though, what matters most about any headset is the sound and with this in mind the SLYR is definitely the bass-lovers headset. This was obviously such an important component that the in-line controls have dedicated selection slider just for bass. The EQ3 slider offers the choice of from minimal to over-powered bass, but honestly even with the lesser of the settings the SLYR puts others’ bass to shame. Listening to games or watching a movie with tons of explosions exemplifies the strengths of this headset; the booming is jaw shakingly spectacular. Thanks to the comfort of the design – especially the swiveling cups – it’s possible to listen for hours on end while having to deal with only a slight heat build-up due to the the small cups.
Sadly, The GMX in-line mixer doesn’t come with too many features besides the bass settings. The single button is used to select and adjust in-game sounds and microphone volume separately. The SLYR plays in 5.1 surround sound rather than 7.1 surround like many headsets in their price range, but still allows for accurate positional audio in games. Once the optimal setting is found there is little need or desire to adjust these settings afterwards. It’s a slick and minimalist design well suited to entry-level users.
When buying a headset for gaming the sounds going in are just as important as those coming out. This of course, referring to microphone and speech communication. If the same care had been applied to this area as with the bass, all the speech going through the microphone would be smooth and clear. Unfortunately, this is where the SLYR Headset falls short of it’s otherwise exemplary goals. Getting the headset to work with my laptop was an exercise in drivers and patience despite being USB powered with a 3.5mm input jack. The composite inputs for the consoles fared better, though there was still an occasional echo. These two issues are by no means a deal breaker when it comes to the performance of the headphones though, but hamper the overall package of the SLYR.
The Skullcandy SLYR Headset is an interesting mixture with it’s quality and comfort well above the competition and plenty of flair. While it would be preferable to have HDMI inputs, especially with modern gaming consoles, the composite and USB combination are in-line with competitors for it’s $79.95 price tag. If booming sounds and a bass to rattle your cage have been lacking in your headsets before, then this is by far the best, even for more pricey options. Unfortunately, it’s the lackluster speech that holds the SLYR back. A gaming headset is defined by the inclusion of a microphone, the issues involved contradict the nature of quality shown just about everywhere else in this equipment. We simply wish that Skullcandy would have considered the balance in sound needs for gamers that tend to want a headset to tackle a “jack of all trades” aspect in their everyday lives.
For an entry-level headset with big booming sounds and the style and design that every headset should come with, the SLYR is at the top of it’s class. It’s an impressive first offering from Skullcandy, and despite it’s flaws gives hope for some of their latest iterations. There are elements found in the SLYR that should should give the big players in the industry pause even if only for a second. With more balance of the audio factors they could have given them more reason to start shaking in their skulls.