Skullcandy's cheap gaming headphones have no right to sound as good as they do

Listening to music with Skullcandy's new premium headphones sent shivers down my spine

Skullcandy amplifies gaming experience with THREE new, multiplatform compatible headsets
(Image credit: Skullcandy)

Skullcandy recently re-entered the gaming headphones market with its value-for-money gaming headsets. Initially, I wasn't sure what to expect from the cans, especially as I don't consider myself a 'gamer' (I do like video games, but I haven't got much time to play them). Still, I was blown away by how brilliantly they fit and, most importantly, how amazing the sound was. The Skullcandy PLYR caught me completely off-guard.

That's not to say I wasn't cautious at first. I'm not the main guy who tests the best gaming headsets at T3, so I thought I would hold fire until I read David's Skullcandy PLYR review. I regularly try and review the best running headphones and even Skullcandy cans (e.g. Skullcandy Crusher Evo review), but not gaming accessories.  

I was relieved it wasn't just me who thought the PLYR sounded great, as David said, "The audio the PLYR produces is rich and nuanced, with no signs of distortion at the higher volume levels and plenty of detail and crispness when the sounds get quieter." I wasn't wrong in thinking the PLYR is quite something else!

Skullcandy PLYR Street Fighter Anniversary adition gaming headset

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

"Skullcandy has always been interested in the gaming industry as it fits with our brand and is in our DNA", said Matthew Western, Gaming Peripherals Product Development Manager at Skullcandy, when I asked him why Skullcandy decided to relaunch its gaming headset division, "We have a long history of gaming headsets." That's all dandy, but what makes the PLYR stand out from the crowd, and why does it sound so good?

"Compared to other headsets in the market, we use what's called the Enhanced Sound Perception (E.S.P.), a spatial sound technology that's tailored to the player's hearing", Matthew explained, "And 50mm Skullcandy Supreme Sound Engineered Drivers to provide next-level sound. There are many EQ presets in the Skullcandy app for an even better audio experience while gaming, listening to music and movies."

When I first read about the preset modes (e.g. MMO, FPS, Podcast, etc.), I was sceptical, but once I tried them (after setting up E.S.P.), I realised I was wrong to be so judgy. Interestingly, I found classical – or at least instrumental – music to sound the best on the Skullcandy PLYR; violins, in particular, sound gorgeous. The fact that I can game and listen to music/podcasts simultaneously is the icing on the case.

Skullcandy PLYR review

(Image credit: Matt Kolat/T3)

I wanted to know more about E.S.P., so I asked Matthew how it worked. "E.S.P. takes both the physical aspects of hearing and how your brain interprets sound, adjusting audio so you can hear details and depth that you have never been able to hear before, giving you that competitive edge you've been looking for or the exact immersive experience the game developers intended", he said, "All the details you and only you as an individual are supposed to hear."

Of course, one can argue that E.S.P. changes the sound, so the Skullcandy PLYR aren't audiophile-level cans. And that's fine—they aren't. Whoever thinks they can get those types of headphones at this price range needs a reality check. But even though the sound is changed, at least you can hear and enjoy it better, and that's what you need when you consume content online, especially when you play video games and watch movies.

The Skullcandy PLYR gaming headset is out now and available to buy directly from Skullcandy US (opens in new tab), Skullcandy UK (opens in new tab) and Skullcandy AU for a recommended retail; price of $130/£130/AU$250.

Matt Kollat
Fitness Editor

Matt is T3's Fitness Editor and covers everything from smart fitness tech to running and workout shoes, home gym equipment, exercise how-tos, nutrition, cycling, and more. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar (opens in new tab) and Fit&Well (opens in new tab), and he collaborated with other content creators in the past, such as Garage Gym Reviews (opens in new tab). When he isn't working out, he loves roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment, including microphones, cameras and more.