Skullcandy’s new wireless gaming headset has a quirky design and Tile integration
You’d be forgiven for forgetting, or just not knowing, that Skullcandy once had some skin in the game of putting out gaming headsets. The company owned Astro Gaming throughout most of the 2010s, which it later sold to Logitech in 2017. It’s been relatively quiet on the gaming front since then, but Skullcandy’s now back with a new lineup of headsets. There are three, ranging in price and functionality — each accented with a slightly different-looking printer color test page pattern on their sidearms (my interpretation, not Skullcandy’s). There’s the $59.99 wired SLYR, the $99.99 wired but more feature-packed SLYR Pro, and finally, the $129.99 PLYR wireless headset, pictured above, that has the full range of bells and whistles.
Skullcandy sent over the PLYR for me to test. It’s the only one in the lineup that supports Bluetooth connectivity for phones and other gaming gear like the Nintendo Switch. Skullcandy is positioning this one as its flagship model that can connect to one device wirelessly and another wired via its 3.5mm port, with merged audio. The company calls this a “multiplatform” headset, which I suppose it qualifies as but in the least sophisticated definition imaginable. Sure, it can plug into controllers from various consoles. But it’d be better if it could connect to two wireless sources simultaneously. Or, at the very least, it should have included the USB-A wireless transmitter referenced in its own instruction manual that allows it to connect wirelessly to PC or PlayStation consoles. Sadly, it’s a separate purchase that costs $24.99.
The PLYR and SLYR Pro each support the Skullcandy (or the new Skull-HQ) Windows desktop app for customizing numerous preferences, though only the PLYR’s Bluetooth connection allows for support with the excellent and handy mobile app. It’s a surprisingly well-made app that offers easy access to the headset’s main features, including equalizer settings, a game / chat audio slider, and an in-depth hearing test that customizes the sound profile based on your results to make it easier to hear crucial in-game sounds, like footsteps, voices, or other sound cues that can give you the advantage. The app also highlights a feature that could go unnoticed by some people: Tile integration. It was easy to add the headset to my Tile profile, and its speakers play a surprisingly loud chime when you tap “Find” within the Tile app.
I haven’t been able to put Skullcandy’s 24-hour battery life claims to the test, but I’ve been able to use the PLYR headset for a couple of hours. It’s comfortable, with a soft mesh lining the ear cups, and I appreciate the bungee-style headband that rests gently on my head (this isn’t present on the cheaper models). The out-of-box sound profile left a lot to be desired, but I was surprised how much of a difference (in a good way) that tweaking the equalizer made.
I need some more time to test these out, but satisfactory performance, a solid app, and a quirky (if not divisive) design aside, it’s hard not to be a little disappointed that Skullcandy’s version of multiplatform support with this wireless headset relies heavily on a wire to achieve it. It’s also a whiff that it doesn’t include that wireless transmitter in the box. Also, like the Astro A30 that I just checked out, it can be inconvenient that the only way to adjust the game / chat audio on the PLYR is to open the PC or mobile app. But if your expectations for a $129.99 headset are in the right place (and if you’re cool with the design), the PLYR might be a good fit for you when it launches in October.