Press Start, SLYR One – Skullcandy SLYR Gaming Headset Review
Having recently acquired headset manufacturer Astro Gaming, Skullcandy is attempting to break its own way into the gaming headset market. Although the Astro branding remains stamped on the company’s higher-end headsets ($200 and up), a new range of headsets with the famous stylised skull emblazoned on the earpieces is finding its way to market, aimed at the more budget-conscious gamer. The Skullcandy SLYR is one such example of these headsets, and coming in three different colour patterns (black, white and blue), it’s making a charge for your holiday gift list. Does this new kid on the block bring enough to the table to stand with the big (and rich) boys?
Honestly, when I first pulled the SLYR headset out of the box, I was a little disappointed. The materials feel a little cheap, with the plasticky feel of the headset build and the construction foam texture of the earpieces leading me to worry I was in for an uncomfortable few hours of testing; however, once I adjusted the sizing and slipped the headset onto my sizeable noggin, I was pleasantly surprised. The earpieces are incredibly soft, the headset itself is comfortable without being too snug or too loose, and even after a number of hours of wearing the headset, I didn’t feel even one instance of the itchiness or pulling of hair that I sometimes get with other headsets. Most of the time, I even forgot that I was wearing it, which could get a little startling for my girlfriend when I suddenly shouted at her from less than three feet away.
In terms of sound quality, which is the main reason that most people opt for a headset over traditional TV speakers, the SLYR doesn’t quite live up to its more expensive brethren, but it doesn’t embarrass itself, either. The bass levels are deep, precision noises such as footsteps and gunshots are clear, and background music is clearly audible without being overpowering. The only problem I did encounter involved loud explosions or collisions, with the resulting sound coming across as a little mushy, even on medium to low volume levels. Also, even with the large foam earpieces, noise-cancelling is a little suspect, particularly on the higher volumes, meaning that those who wish to play some sneaky late-night sessions might want to keep the volume low, for fear of being discovered.
One problem that I often find with a new headset is that the mass of wires and various connection points lead to an hour or so of confusion before I can even begin to enjoy my new purchase. One of the greatest strengths of the SLYR headset is that wires, boxes and other components are kept to a minimum and that you essentially plug the headset in, and away you go. All you need to do is piggyback your red and white composite cables into the jacks included in the package, plug in the USB lead to your console, and you’re good. One issue that does need to be highlighted, but is in no way the fault of the manufacturer, is that if you wish to use the headset with your Xbox 360 whilst the HDMI cable is attached, you’ll need to buy an official Microsoft connector to allow both the composite and HDMI cables to be attached at once (or you could perform some grey-area surgery on your composite cables, but let’s pretend you didn’t read that here, okay kids?). Otherwise, the SLYR headset is incredibly easy to set up, and within five minutes, you’ll be back to gaming.
In terms of design, the SLYR is quite impressive. We used the Black headset, which has yellow highlights on both the outside and inside of the earpieces, but there are also White (with black highlights) and Blue (with red highlights) to choose from. As the headset doesn’t come with quite so many features as its more expensive cousins, the earpieces themselves aren’t cluttered with inputs, making for a fairly minimalist look. What features it does have are activated or switched between using an in-line mixer on the headset’s cable, which glows with a cool blue hue. This switches to red if you have the microphone muted, meaning that there’s never any confusion over whether your fellow clan members can hear your mum calling you for dinner. You even use this mixer to change the levels of emphasis on microphone/chat and in-game volume, meaning that you can prioritise one over the other depending on the game that you’re playing.
Skullcandy’s SLYR headset surprised me, especially considering the negative first impression that I had when it came out of the box. For a ‘budget’ headset, this certainly belies its label, and the fact that it can also be used as a set of headphones for an MP3 player or cellphone only adds to its versatility. At a touch under $100 Canadian ($80 USD), the SLYR does enough to justify a purchase over the more expensive varieties – and it’s certainly a headset that I’m willing to use, going forward. For the late night players, those with a noisy household, or those who just want a truer sense of escapism, the SLYR headset is a viable choice that still provides comfort and good levels of sound, even after hours of playing.
The Skullcandy SLYR headset scores an audible 4.25 out of 5
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