Some of us might wonder as to why Apple bought Beats Audio, and I think the answer is quite simple, as with their other products – wireless audio. That thought of mine didn’t come to me until I bought the Skullcandy PLYR 2 off Amazon.com (with free shipping to Singapore!) when my old SteelSeries 5H V2 broke, and I was surfing around for a wireless headset with good audio quality, and has an audio jack for connecting to my existing Sound Blaster X-Fi.
The Skullcandy PLYR 2 is a shining example of wireless (gaming) audio done right – decent (gaming) audio quality, pleasant looking design, and worth the money for its price.
First off, the design of the box screams “gaming equipment”, and the rear of the box is rather normal-looking. However, the top of the box bears a very interesting UV-coated printing design.
The headset itself feels sturdy and has the same cup and overhead design as the SteelSeries – uncovered cushioned cups, and a cushion at the top. They are not plastic-wrapped foam cushions, and are made of a felt-like material. The inner portion of the cups feature the skull design as well.
The overall design appears to be organically geometric, as though inspired by spider webs and fractal designs.
On the left of the headset is the flexible microphone, and can be folded up when you don’t need to use it.
The right side of the headset carries the power button, volume and voice/game balance controls. The volume and voice/game balance controls is sadly controlled by an analog stick of sorts, which I don’t really like, though I can see the point in that choice, as it is easier to feel for in the middle of a game session and push/pull on a stick, rather than fiddling around with four buttons.
Between the right ear cup and the right outer “cover” of the headset, is the charging port and a switch to choose which EQ setting – Bass, Superior and Precision (from the top).
To top it off, the Skullcandy text is emblazoned across the overhead support, giving it some sort of status and balancing out the plain design of the top with the two ear cups.
The transmitter connects to the PC, and the skull on the transmitter lights up when it has power.
The transmitter has a mini USB port for power, an audio jack for connecting to your sound card, and a pass-through USB port. Why Skullcandy chose to use the mini USB connector instead of the more ubiquitous mini USB is beyond me.
The cover of the manual is nicely designed as well, but the instructions are somewhat confusing.
The instructions on how the headset behaves during charging is alright, though.
The experience with a wireless headset is amazing – I now have the freedom to freely move my arms without getting in the way of anything, and also I can simply walk over to the kitchen to get a drink without taking off my headset! As for the range, when I place the transmitter near my router, it reaches everywhere in the flat, except for in the kitchen, and the toilet in the master bedroom, as shown below.
Finally, there are some quirks with this headset. Due to the behavior of the transmitter, upon plugging in to the PC, it “overrides” your default sound card settings, and thus the effects and settings that you’ve set on your sound card is lost, especially for those that use a discrete sound card from Creative or Asus. All is not lost, though, as I’ve figured out how to get it to work.
Open Control Panel, and click on Sound. In the Playback tab, right-click on the Skullcandy GMX Stereo Transmitter, and select Disable. Remember to find your original playback speakers and set it as the default device for audio playback!
Next, go to the Recording tab, and repeat the same procedure – this time, set the Skullcandy GMX Stereo transmitter as the default recording device.
Another minus is that the headset isn’t Bluetooth-compatible, although it uses the same 2.4GHz frequency as Bluetooth and Wireless b/g. It would make for a really cool-looking thing to carry around, though!
Overall, I am pretty much pleased with the Skullcandy PLYR 2, and it comes highly recommended as a decent replacement for the SteelSeries 5H V2.