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Skullcandy PLYR 2 Review

Skullcandy PLYR 2 ReviewWhile pampering the eyes with an oversized, high-definition television is now a common indulgence for most gamers, our ears often forgo a similar spoiling. For those who don’t live in apartments, dorms, or share their space with a significant other or roommate, the solution is simple: invest in a sound system capable of delivering ear-coddling fidelity. For the rest of us, a quality gaming headset allows players to enjoy the aural opulence that sound designers toil over- without initiating an argument prompted by the steady staccato of machine-gun fire.

Back when Turtle Beach dominated the marketing, choosing a headset was relatively uncomplicated. Now, gamers are faced with a multitude of options. From the extravagance of the $300, 7.1-pumping, A50 wireless set to the economy of a tethered, off-brand set of cans, choices abound. Following their acquisition of Astro Gaming last April, headphone and audio accessory manufacturer Skullcandy has entered the heated gaming headset battle. While the company’s high-end devices will continue to flaunt the Astro moniker, the new SLYR, PLYR 1 and PLYR 2 lines are aimed at the midrange market. Each offers a slightly different blend of attribute and affordability- while collectively delivering superior sonic output.

PLYR 2 (3)At an $80 price point, the SLYR is Skullcandy’s most basic headset, offering notable sound quality, albeit through a corded connection. Alternatively, the $180 PLYR 1 nearly converges on the Astro market, delivering enchanting wireless 7.1 Dolby Surround Sound. Situated between these two selections is the PLYR 2, which sacrifices the directional fidelity of its brethren, but retains wireless functionality. Considering the unit’s solid build quality, pleasing aural performance, and a reasonable $129.99 MSRP, Skullcandy’s headset is worthy of consideration.

As the succinct trifold manual suggests, setting the unit up isn’t particularly complex. Although the headset is designated as wireless, two physical connections must be made between the console and the GMX Transmitter- a small device which beams sound between a console and the PLYR 2. Included in the box are two RCA pass-through connectors which split the audio, as well as a USB cable that powers the transmitter. Those with a lack of unoccupied AC outlets should appreciate that the device doesn’t burden players. One piece of hardware which would have been welcome is mini-stereo connector cable, for those who have use an HDMI connection or have access to an auxiliary audio input.

PLYR 2 (2)As the Skullcandy marketing indicates, the PLYR 2 can be connected to an Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 or PC. Although unpublicized, the headset can receive output from nearly any audio source, allowing players to receive sound from their Wii, Wii U, portables, iPhones and Android phone and tablets- although they won’t be able to utilize the PLYR 2’s built-in microphone.  Regretfully, a few blemishes can detract from the overall experience. PC output is inexplicably constrained to monaural delivery, while the headset’s microphone lacks sensitivity. In execution, I ended up having to talk much louder with the PLYR 2 than with the Tritton Pro+ set I normally use for gaming.

Although Skullcandy’s Supreme Sound technology seems like strategically ambiguous ad-speak, in execution it means the PLYR 2 delivers a rich sonic output. Grumbling low frequencies articulate the bombast of an exposition without distortion, while the set’s highs are perpetually crisp. More importantly, the headphones don’t subsist in the mushy midrange, contributing vibrant timbres from across the sonic spectrum. For those who want to tweak their sound, the bottom of the PLYR 2 hides a three-position switch, allowing for a bit of variance in tonality.

PLYR 2 (4)Complementing the headset’s solid aural fidelity are a number of savvy decisions designed to maximize player comfort. Beyond being able to adjust the aperture of the headset, the ear cups swivel on the vertical axis to accommodate nearly any size cranium. Both a cushion pad at the top of the headset as well as the padding around each air is constructed with soft fabric, which might turn out to be a welcome reprieve from the typical vinyl padding once temperatures increase. The downside of the cloth ear cups is that that permit a bit of noise leak; not only do they fail to soften ambient noise, but sound can be heard by others in the adjacent area. The PLYR 2’s deftest choice is to allow gamer to mute their headset by putting the boom in an upright position. This method sure beats fumbling around for an in-line controller.

Pleasingly, the charging duration for the PLYR 2 is blissfully short, while life for the embedded rechargeable battery is better than expected- lasting about 20 hours during our tests. Range shouldn’t be an issue for gamers with the largest homes, the 2.4 Ghz wireless transmitter was able to reach over a hundred feet before signal quality degradation set-in. During at last 40 hours of testing, the headset demonstrated no signs of interference from devices using neighboring bandwidth. PLYR2 Box ShotsConsidering that Dolby Surround Sound on a set of headphones is often a dubious design choice, the $130 Skullcandy PLYR 2 headset commendably bridges the gap between functionality and affordability. If the manufacturer can correct a few blemishes such as middling microphone quality and mono PC output, the gaming headset could be given an unreserved recommendation. As it currently stands, the PLYR 2 is comparable and in some cases superior to its similarly priced peers.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

36 comments

  1. I’m really concerned about Skullcandy’s build quality. I’ve had a headset and earbuds from them. Neither lasted more than a year.

    • I know I’m going to sound like someone who works for Skullcandy, but you have to love them for having a lifetime warranty: http://www.skullcandy.com/warranty

      “If your headphones broke for no good reason, like sound suddenly stops coming out of one ear, then it may be a manufacturer defect. Tell us what happened and we will set you up with 100% of the current MSRP value in the form of a coupon code. Manufacturing defects generally appear within the first year of ownership.”

      If you break them, then they give you 50%. Very cool. IMO.

  2. Occasionally Sennheiser’s go on sale on Amazon or other e-retailers like that. Those are the cans I go with. Great sound. Never had a problem.

  3. How long does the battery last?

  4. I need to get a set of cans. The wife is always telling me to turn it down. Damnit, It’s my ear to ruin! ;)

  5. I was using a pair of Beats for portable gaming for a bit, the improvement was good enough that I want to score a gaming headset for my home systems.

  6. I always though Skullcandy’s looked cool, but they didn’t sound all that great and weren’t made all that well.

  7. That Dancing Turtle

    Newegg had Sony Pulse 7.1 wireless headset for $99.99 a few days ago. If you just play on PS3, that’s the way to go.

  8. These were sounding supa-sweet until I read that PC out put is mono only, dddeal-breaker =/

    • Yeah, that is a bit crap. And the weak mic.

      • You just need to use a 3.5mm male-to-male to get stereo on the PC. Using the 3.5mm cable also improves the sound quality drastically if you’re using any sort of decent soundcard. I was really upset by the USB-only sound, but the 3.5mm+USB sound is impressive. I warn you though, as this surprised me: the 3.5mm cable is NOT included.

        The mic is indeed lacking, at least on the PC. I’m not sure if there is any way to remedy it. I can get it working fine on ventrilo, where I can adjust my own volume, but I have to set the non-push-to-talk sensitivity to 1, and it only goes into double digits if i breathe or shout into it. I’m not quiet to anyone because of the volume modifier, and the sound is good quality, but I have issues getting the mic to work in some games because I can’t volume-modify myself any higher than my windows settings, so I think the game has difficulty determining whether or not I’m talking. This sucks for playing with strangers in games with built in voice chat, and I’d appreciate if anyone found a solution, let me know!

        • To clarify, the 3.5mm connects your PC and your skullcandy wireless transmitter. You aren’t required to wire the headset in any way.

        • You can also use the 3.5mm cord to connect the transmitter to an aux out if your TV has one. For people that use HDMI this is a big help.

        • The one you’ll need to do in do into the Control Panel, then Sound, and disable the SkullCandy if you’re using your computers USB port for power.

        • Ok, Im back on the wagon, but Im also confused as to how set it all up :P

          • I think what Nostra50X is saying is that you need to set your default sound device to your usual soundcard/speakers in order to get it to work properly with the 3.5mm cable.

            How I set mine up is: Connect the Wireless Transmitter to the PC with both a USB and a 3.5mm cable. I use the headphone jack on the front panel of my computer for the 3.5mm cable because it’s wired to my soundcard, so I can just unplug it if I want my speakers to become the sound source. This should be how it works on any PC with a working headphone jack on the front panel. Then in your Sound options you’ll see a tab with your playback devices. Make your usual soundcard/speakers (mine says “Speakers – ASUS Xonar DGX Audio Device”) the default device instead of the “Skullcandy GMX Stereo Transmitter”. This will tell your computer to send the signals through your soundcard and through your headphone 3.5mm jack instead of using the USB sound of the Transmitter. The Transmitter will then be getting its signals from your 3.5mm jack and sending them wirelessly to your headset! That’s really all there is to it. The headset comes with a USB cord to attach the Wireless Transmitter to your PC, but you’ll need to pick up your own 3.5mm cable to connect the Wireless Transmitter to your PC. I really have no idea why they didn’t include one. I personally think this headset is very disappointing without it, and I don’t understand how the reviewer didn’t notice the awful sound quality using only USB.

            I’m still looking for any help with making the mic more sensitive or something, so if anyone has any leads, I’d appreciate it!

          • He did mention it was mono only twice, but is the sound worse than that? (Garbled, distorted)

            On the PS3 you can adjust mic levels. Did you try boosting it?

          • Thanks for the info. Hopefully, Skullcandy can offer a downloadable patch so you can enjoy USB sound without the extra cable.

  9. The white pair looks pretty cool. But the black and yellow will make you look like a giant bumblebee.

  10. A bit of Skull candy hate here. Let me just say I’ve had two pairs that have held up very well. And I don’t exactly take great care of my things.

  11. Retailers really need to have demo cans. As much as I trust this review sound is pretty subjective and depends on what you listen to and play.

  12. I have to second the Sony cans. They cut no corners with those.

  13. So in the transmitter rechargeable or does it come with a AC adapter? How can you use it with portable devices?

  14. Thanks for the review. Good write-up and discussion.

  15. Newegg has the Pulses on sale again for $99.99. Guess Sony is running a deal on them.

  16. So can the headphones plug into a sound source for when you don’t need to go wireless (traveling, etc) ?

  17. Turtle Beach is still the best. Don’t even bother messing with the rest.

  18. Hi there i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anyplace,
    when i read this paragraph i thought i could also make comment due to this
    brilliant post.

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