Review: Value Gaming Headsets from Sony, Skullcandy, Sennheiser and PDP Page 2

Skullcandy SLYR gaming headsetSkullcandy SLYR

Skullcandy is best known for its customizable earbuds and music headphones, but the company also owns Astro Gaming — the Cadillac of gaming headsets. Skullcandy’s first line of gaming cans sold under their own name come in at $50 cheaper than the cheapest pair of Astros — the A30s — but is strictly a wired stereo headset. And you know what? That’s perfectly fine. The caveat with any wired stereo headset is you’ll need a special dongle for your HDMI connected Xbox 360 and a pair of composite cables if your PS3 is connected via HDMI, though.

The SLYRs come packed with a 15’ audio cable with an inline USB powered control module. It has three audio presets and a five-way thumb button handling volume level and audio/voice balance, and is backlit so it’s easy to see in a dark room but not too bright to be distracting. A built-in boom mic on the left earcup mutes when lifted out of the way.

The SLYRs are lightweight enough that I could wear them around my neck, almost forgetting they were there. The $80 price tag shows in the build quality, though. The hard plastic frame is a touch on the flimsy side and the earcups hang very loosely on the frame. Upon closer inspection, it looks almost as if the earcups are held in place by little more than adhesive foam. I could never get them to sit right on my ears, either. They had a tendency to slip backward and push my tragus (the hard piece of cartilage toward the front of each ear) over my external auditory meatus (earhole).

It’s unfortunate that the three EQ modes don’t sound much different from one another. I also noticed a hissing static that traveled from the left earcup to the right. Even after making sure all the connections were tight, it persisted. As an experiment, I plugged a 3.5mm cable from the headset into my Astro wireless transmitter. The noise was gone.

Plugging in the chat cable from my wired Xbox 360 controller into the Skullcandy control module produced a high-pitched noise that was annoying enough that my friends asked me to switch headsets while playing Spartan Ops in Halo 4, but I’ve had that happen with other headsets, too, so your mileage may vary.

Once I jumped into the level “Infinity” from Halo 4, I didn’t notice the static because I was too busy instinctively looking left and right as the jungle exploded around me. Shrieking and clattering from who-knows-what panned from left to right, and at one point I even got the drop on a Promethean who tried sneaking up behind me. It doesn’t matter that these are stereo-only — they do the job almost as well as my more-than-three-times-as-expensive Astro A50s.