Skullcandy PLYR 2 Headset

Having a surround sound system in your gaming room is a great experience.  When enemies are coming at you from all directions, the sound can help tip you off where they are coming from by their footsteps or the bullets whizzing by your head.  However, after getting married and having kids, unless they can’t hear what is going on, you might be relegated to the sound of the TV speakers.  Having headphones can work, but they can get uncomfortable after long periods of time.  They also don’t work very well if you are using a Bluetooth headset with your PS3 or a headphone and mic combination on your Xbox 360.  Skullcandy, a leading manufacturer of all kinds of headphones and earbuds are trying to make a splash in the gaming market with the new PLYR 2 wireless gaming headset.

Inside the box of the PLYR 2 you will find everything needed to get the headset working.  It comes with the headset, a puck-shaped transmitter with the Skullcandy logo on it, a USB power cable, a USB cable for charging the headset, RCA audio extensions, and an Xbox Live cable.  Set up is refreshingly simple.  You plug in the RCA audio extensions and USB power cable into the transmitter.  The USB power cable plugs into your console or PC, and the RCA audio extension plugs into the transmitter on one end and into your audio device (like TV or stereo receiver) on the other when using a console.  The RCA jacks for your console’s sound plug into the back of the RCA audio extensions.  The Xbox Live cable plugs into the headset and your controller.  If using a PC, you need to purchase a 3.5mm audio cable that goes from your PC’s audio output to the transmitter.  I believe it can work with the Wii for the sound, but I don’t believe it will work with the voice chat option, with the few Wii games that support it.  Before using the headset, I plugged it into the transmitter to charge the battery fully.

The headset comes with a pivoting boom mic attached to the left speaker.  Flipping the mic up automatically mutes the mic, while putting it in the down position activates it.  It is simple and effective, and gets the mic out of the way whenever you don’t need to use it.  The power button is located on the right speaker, making it easily accessible while the headset is on.  A four-way input adjusts the volume and the balance between game and voice chat.  The USB charging port is on the back, along with a three-option equalizer.  The higher the equalizer, the more bass comes out.

A lot of thought went into making the headset comfortable and stylish.  The cushioning went around my ear without causing them to rub against each other.  The left and right speaker sizing adjustments are taught, making noticeable clicks when moved.  A wide range of head sizes should have no problem finding a comfortable setting.  The head band has a cushion on the underside, making it feel better than just a piece of hard plastic resting on top.  The yellow on the headset accents against the black, and the spiderweb pattern on each side gives the outside a texture instead of a glossy shimmer that can attract fingerprints.

While features are nice, if the speakers don’t sound good then there isn’t any reason to get the headset.  Fortunately, the speakers have a great range.  The equalizer does give a nice bass boost, but if you want to tone it down for playing some retro games the other two settings are suitable.  The headset volume has a great range, and I never needed to have the volume in the top half of its range.  However, little distortion exists as it gets louder, so you can turn the volume up as loud as you’d like.  That being said, this is a stereo headset and not a Dolby surround system.  It does make it a little less expensive, but if you need a surround experience, then you probably want to wait for the PLYR 1 which supports Dolby Digital 7.1.  It also doesn’t have any kind of pass-through for an HDMI input, so setting up the headphones can be difficult due to the lack of connection types.

The boom mic does a good job for voice communications.  The mic picked up my voice clearly, but is positioned far enough away that it won’t pick up embarrassing breathing from the mouth or nose.  If you’ve ever experienced this in an online game, then you know how annoying this can be.

I never had any issues with the wireless component of the headset.  The sound came through without interruption.  I went to all corners of my living room and it never skipped a beat.  You could probably go up a few flights of stairs and eventually get interference, but it uses 2.4 GHz technology, so you will have plenty of range to use with the headset.  As far as how long you can go between charges, the battery life lasted long enough that I didn’t have to worry about constantly having it plugged in when I wasn’t using them.

If you want to hook up this headset to multiple systems, you will probably need to be able to access the rear of your console easily.  If you have any multi-system cables or some kind of switcher, this would be a good use for them.  Otherwise you will need to unplug and replug the RCA audio plugs when switching systems.  You also need to do the same with the USB plug if you plan on doing any voice chat.  While this is annoying, it is not bad if you have a single primary system that you use most of the time.

After testing a wide variety of games against the headset, I can say that no matter what music and sound effects are going on, the sounds will come out crystal clear.  Being able to listen without worrying about wires to trip over or pull out is even better.  While this headset doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, it will run you $130, which is a fair asking price for what you get.  If you can live with the few drawbacks, you’ll find a great bargain in this headset.