How much is awesome sound quality worth to you while you’re blowing away your digital foes? Do you insist on crispy clear sound to hear every little footstep in your environment? There are many top end surround wireless headsets on the market that deliver this on all fronts, and if you’re the type to go all out and spend $400 on a great sounding headset, then spend away Daddy Warbucks, you deserve it. However, if you’ve been looking for a quality headset and wondered if there was anything out there with excellent sound for a more modest stack of clams, then the Skullcandy PLYR 1’s might just be your new weapon of choice! But get in quick, they’re getting hard to find.
The PLYR 1’s launched back in 2013 and they’ve managed to fly relatively below the radar all this time, which is kind of odd given just how good they actually are. Skullcandy have made themselves famous over the years for manufacturing affordable, decent sounding personal headphones, but what makes the PLYR 1’s so special is the fact that though the outer shell is designed by Skullcandy, the internal worky bits are all high-end Astro running gear. That’s right, the same Astro that make the popular A40 and A50 headsets that sell for over $400 at the top end. How did this happen? There was a corporate marriage of the two tech companies in 2012 and this fortuitous relationship gave way to Skullcandy providing the funky bassline to Astro’s solid groove. And the good Lord did hear this funk, and it was good.
And speaking of the Astro A50’s, in many side-by-side comparisons, the PLYR 1’s have managed to equal and in some cases surpass the performance of their bigger flashier cousins. Fat bottom end with a wide, crisp and clear soundscape, utilising the same 7.1 surround processing technology as the far more expensive Astro’s. Feature wise, they match any of the top end sets with simple to use balance controls, switch selectable EQ and optical audio pass-through on the base unit for pumping audio out to a sound-bar without the need to unplug your headset.
My favourite feature though – besides the awesome sound – is the bendable boom mic. Now, that in itself may sound as boring as beige boat shoes, but integrated into the boom arm is the easiest and most functional muting system I’ve ever come across. Rather than trying to fiddle around your head searching for an obscure button or toggle somewhere when you want to take a cheeky pee while playing (c’mon, we’ve all done it), you simply swivel the boom up into the vertical position and the whole rig is muted. So elegantly simple and a real luxury in this price bracket.
Wearing the PLYR 1’s for extended periods of time is not an issue either thanks to the lightweight and comfortable construction. If I had one gripe at all about the wearability, it would be that the ear cups are just a little too small. Not uncomfortable small, but they could have been just a tad bit bigger to accommodate the fleshier eared among us. The ear and headband foam inserts breathe well though for those long sticky days on the couch where you have nothing else to do but eat Doritos and take down Dragons in your undies.
Compatibility wise they can be wielded by PC, PlayStation and Xbox users of all flavours, but the poor Xbox users will have to have an audio cable connected to their controller for chat throughput. Not ideal. Worst of all though are the poor Xbox One players, as they’ll need to wear an extra cost on the setup by having to add one of those clunky and intrusive Xbox Headset Adapters, for around another $40. These ridiculous contraptions steal quite a bit of real estate at the bottom of the XBone controller, but the price point of the PLYR 1’s may still be low enough for you to put up with the annoyance and extra cost.
As you can see from the images, the base transceiver doubles as a convenient hanging stand for the headset while it’s charging. Nice and neat. The base is sturdy and nicely designed so it doesn’t look out of place on a shelf or cabinet. Another micronic annoyance for me though is that you have to plug the mini usb cable into the headset every time you want to charge the battery. It would have been awesome if there was a docking station of some description, but for the price, I’m more than happy to deal with it.
I mentioned at the very beginning of this review that they are getting hard to find; that’s true at least in Australia. Hardly any retailers here stock them anymore, and this is a huge shame. They are still available from Skullcandy directly via their webstore, but they don’t ship to some countries, including the land down under. I bought mine from Amazon where they are currently advertised at US $179. The kicker here is the exchange rate at the time of purchase. Obviously the better the rate the cheaper you will get them. Mine, with delivery, ended up being around $230 at the time. Still way out in front of $400 though and worth the effort in my opinion.
All in all, you cannot go wrong with the PLYR 1’s. Their bang for buck far surpasses anything else on the market for both sound and feature set. If you’ve wanted to upgrade but didn’t want to smash your poor little piggy bank to smithereens, you’d do well to check them out.