Skullcandy – not content with producing flashy looking headphones, are now producing gaming-centric headsets. The PLYR 1 Gaming Headset is a product made for most gamers, whether you’re into your PC gaming, or any of the main consoles, including the PS4 and Xbox One. If you read my recent review of their SLYR product, I mentioned the quality that Skullcandy’s acquisition of Astro Gaming introduced to their range. Here’s a little more context.
SkullCandy PLYR 1 Review
Astro Gaming was one of the US’s fastest growing companies when Skullcandy bought it, and today it’s the sole bright spot in Skullcandy’s corporate existence. Now, after the merge, we have an affordable Wireless Dolby 7.1 Surround Gaming Headset in the form of Skullcandy’s PLYR 1.
The PLYR 1 includes 40mm Neodymium drivers, an impedance of 29 ohms, frequency range of 20hz – 20khz, and distortion of less than 0.1%. Those specs alone mean business.
Add to this 2.4 GHZ wireless, and Dolby 7.1 encoding, and proprietary custom EQ3 settings, and you have a serious feature set ready to deliver top-quality sound to your ears.
The slide-out box contains all you need to get into your favourite gaming sounds and includes a USB power cable which connects directly to your chosen device, another smaller USB cable which charges the headset, an optical cable to bring pure digital signals, and a 2.5mm cable which provides chat functions for the Xbox devices.
Also in the box is the hub stand. This unit contains the various connections as well as being a charging stand for the headset.
Connections on the base unit include the USB’s for power and charging, optical in / out (which means you can use this unit as a pass-through to say, a sound bar), and a 3.5mm input to connect your portable media player.
This unit is natively compatible with PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and requires the Controller Adaptor (around $40) for use with the Xbox One.
Oh, and here’s a pro-tip for Xbox One gamers. If you do buy the Controller Adaptor, when you open the package and take out the adaptor, DO note that there’s a 2.5mm – 3.5mm converter and a USB/mini USB cable under the cardboard insert. These two essential components won’t work if you happen to throw the packaging into your home fireplace! Luckily I managed to source a 2.5mm – 3.5mm cable which is actually a better solution, but cost me an additional $20 (and some wife-points).
The quality of sound delivered from this headset is extremely high. Sound processing is done via clever software in the base unit which is transmitted to the headset using the 2.4 GHZ wireless technology. The unit decodes digital signals entering from the optical connection into simulated Dolby Digital 7.1 digital surround.
For the listener, this means that you get a rather large soundstage that really immerses you into the game. I tested the headset on both the old, and new generation Sony and Microsoft consoles, and the immersion is quite something to behold. With simulated Dolby 7.1 on, it’s like the soundstage exists a few feet around your head. This means that you can pick direction really well, and in-game music completely surrounds you. My general reference game is Skyrim, and having this extended soundstage really draws you into the game – more than any other headset I’ve tried.
Skullcandy also offers its proprietary ‘Supreme Sound’ feature which offers three different equalisation modes – Bass mode, Supreme mode, and Precision mode. I enjoyed using all of the modes, and was especially impressed with the distortion-free bass on offer – another hint at the quality of this headset.
The switch for these modes sits on the headset itself which makes it really easy to change, depending on the mood you want at any given time.
Also on the cup of the headphone is a volume balance thumb controller which allows you to mix the balance between game sound / chat to suit your current gaming situation, as well as adjusting the overall volume. This feature is really handy, and after a bit of fiddling, the control became second nature.
However I do wish the unit could have provided a bit more volume. Every now and again, its great to really turn things up, but in this case the maximum limit was not quite as loud as I wanted – not a biggy, but worth noting nonetheless.
The chat output quality is very sharp, with gaming mates able to discern even my breathing clearly, demonstrating the local sensitivity of the mic, but without picking up background noise. When you’ve had enough chat, just flip up the mic boom, and it automatically mutes.
In addition, If you connect your portable media player to the base unit using the 3.5mm connection, it’ll decode the signal into simulated Dolby Pro Logic IIx, which provides an enhanced soundstage whilst listening to your favourite tracks.
Design and Comfort
The PLYR headset is made of hardened matte plastic which has a quality feel. The cups are comfortable and fit snuggly in place. It’s actually hard to notice them on, which I found added further to the immersion factor.
As well as being really comfortable, the headset looks great too. They have a modern, slightly aggressive look, and the hardened matte finish, along with textured detail provide a look of deserved quality. The included base includes all of the connections, as well as acting for a stand for your headset whilst it’s charging.
SkullCandy PLYR1 Headset Review: Final Thoughts
Skullcandy now make quality gaming headsets, and the PLYR 1 is their top of the line unit providing pure optical digital 7.1 surround sound delivered wirelessly to a quality set of cups.
If you remember that these are around half the cost of the traditional ‘big boys’ equivalents – then you’ve got some great value to go along with high-quality 7.1 surround sound gaming.
If you’re thinking of getting into surround sound gaming, then this headset is easy to recommend.