The Skullcandy brand, historically, is one associated with attractive, lifestyle-centric headphones that deliver serviceable, if unspectacular, audio. The company aims to change that perception with the Skullcandy Slyr Gaming Headset, a reasonably-priced PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 gaming headset that looks to make a splash in the sub-$100 space. Featuring a slick, youthful design, surprisingly good audio, and multiple connectivity options, SLYR is a gaming headset that may change your perception of Skullcandy cans. Note: I reviewed two SLYR headsets. The first model’s connector tip broke off in my Samsung Galaxy Note II. The second model suffered no such fate.
SLYR, in terms of strict physicality, is an attractive gaming headset. My white review sample (which also comes in blue and black/yellow color schemes) garnered numerous compliments when I wore them in the wild. The clean, Apple-like white is interspersed with black highlights and cups — as well as a black headband cushion and Skullcandy logo — which gives the headset visual pop without being obnoxious. Oftentimes gaming headset makers go out of their way to create gaudy “gamer” cans that resemble the Las Vegas Strip more so than something that a person would actually want to wear outside the mancave. Skullcandy has done good here.
The expandable bands, on the other hand, aren’t quite of the same quality — they bend with little pressure. They lack the rigidness that you’d find in the likes of the high-end Astro A50 — a $299 premium gaming headset. That said, SLYR is lighter and less hefty, so if you despise bulk, this gaming headset is worth a consideration. Another nice touch is the EZ Stash Mic, a boom mic that stashes away out of sight when you flip it upward.
A small nitpick: SLYR lacks dedicated cup-based volume control. Skullcandy, however, includes its GMX In-Line Mixer which balances voice and game audio, and adds three EQ settings: Bass Mode, Precision Mode, and Supreme Mode. Bass Mode boosts the bottom end, but sometimes muddies the soundscape depending on the song; Precision Mode highlights treble; Supreme Mode is the sweet spot between the two extremes that provides the best balance. The mixer has both HDMI and Xbox 360 RCA cable ports, so you have flexibility in how you wish to use the headset. That said, hooking up the SLYR to a Xbox 360 results in an unsightly snakepit of cables much like the Skullcandy PLYR 2.
SLYR’s Supreme Sound technology delivers strong audio that should please most ears. I donned the headset to listen to my favorite podcasts, tune into Slacker Radio, and play Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The podcasts didn’t demonstrate SLYR’s audio muscle as they featured just a few people chatting — there wasn’t much audio depth.
Slacker Radio and Deus Ex: Human Revolution, on the other hand, was where SLYR shined. The bass line in Talking Heads’ “Cities” bounced with fresh energy, and the song as a whole sounded louder and fuller. Deus EX: Human Revolution‘s gunfire and explosions hit with more impact, but surround sound in any fashion would’ve further enhanced the audio experience. The headset performed well as a communication device, too. Friends that I chatted online commented that the sound quality rivaled that of a cell phone with good reception.
Skullycandy SLYR is a good first step at entering the gaming/lifestyle market, but it lacks the chops to snare the gamer who is serious about his or her audio. Still, if you don’t want to drop $200 – $300 on a set of cans for quality sound, the SLYR is worth consideration.
You can buy the Skullcandy Slyr Gaming Headset at Amazon.com for $69.99.