Style over durability

Nov 29, 2011 (Updated Nov 29, 2011)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Audio Quality for Value
Improved style
generous return policy

Cons:Noise Leakage
poor build quality
low durability
slow/unresponsive customer service

The Bottom Line: Think about what you have in store for these headphone before your pay out.


This review has been updated based on some much appreciated feed back. I've included additional information and changed the format to better present the different categories of information.


The skull candy GI over-ear headphone line is definitely not a new comer to the skull candy product line, but it has been tweaked over the years since the previous reviews. As such, I think it is appropriate for an update.

I first purchased a pair of these stylish (and winning-est, no Soldier has ever lost while wearing them after all!) over-ears back in 2008 during my college years. I have since purchased another pair, for reasons I will get into below. I will be reviewing the current incarnation of the product, with some highlights as to what has changed, and what hasn't.

So here we go...

Features:
These over-ear “DJ” style headphones come with a soft drawstring storage pouch and a removable minijack (1/8”) to ¼” jack adapter. A pair of 40mm 20-20(20Hz-20KHz) drivers provide the headphones with their punch and a soft set of ear pads keeps the hard plastic off your ears.  The ear pieces are also 90 degree articulating, which Skull Candy bills as ‘DJ articulation’.
You’ll find about 4 feet of nylon braided cable to work with, but in a departure from the previous models, there is no inline volume control. Though I rarely used the feature, I did enjoy having the option to quickly silence my device without needing to fumble in my pocket or get to the volume control on the PC, depending on the application. This kind of feature has been more prevalent so it seems strange to drop the feature at this point.
Also notable is the lack of bottle opener hidden in a pocket on the head band, which wasn’t ever a selling point (hopefully), but for full disclosure, I wanted to lay it out.
Style:
The headphones have gotten a bit of stylistic rework done over the years, which in my opinion produced a cleaner looking product. The original GI's I owned were the standard color option, sporting black ear pieces with an urban-eque camouflage pattern over the top, which I personally didn’t care much for. Today, they've done away with the patterns on the standard color option and have gone to a cleaner black on black design with only a few symbols on the head band that I couldn't discern the meaning of. Skull candy's signature skull logo still adorns the ear pieces in a contrasting light grey, so if letting everyone know whose gear you’re wearing is your thing, you can rejoice.
There are also a number of other color schemes available, from bling’ed out gold, Rasta color theme, and sneaker inspired designs, all the way over to an ironic Boy Scout style.
Build Quality and Comfort:
I’ll be honest up front. The biggest con for these headphones is that in some ways, they haven't changed a bit. As I stated above, these are my second pair, specifically because the yoke on my initial pair (the yoke is the y shaped piece that holds the ear piece to the head band) snapped off the ear piece, with only desk use and transport under its belt. And by transport I mean back and forth to class, no whipping down the slopes at your local ski/boarding resort and taking the short cut over the table top.
The build quality hasn't been addressed or changed with the updated product. They haven't fallen apart on me yet, but I'm no more confident in the product than I was the moment I pulled my old pair over my head only to have the ear piece come away still in my hand. The ear pieces are entirely composed of plastic which, given the 90 degree articulation, always concerns me. Relying on plastic construction for small hinged components is not a best practice, any though I haven’t seen this product fail at that particular location, I believe that’s only because there is an even weaker link at the yoke.

These headphones are just not made for any of skull candy's primary demographic they seem to market to. I can only imagine how many pieces the product would be in after any kind of sporting accident.
Audio Quality:
If you are an IPOD user and left desiring better sound quality, I assure you its not all the headphone's fault. I found the equalizer on my ipod touch (4th gen) to be wholly inadequate to produce quality audio feed, and after purchasing a third party equalizer off the app store, the quality of these headphones can really shine. This application allows you to custom tune the equalizer, and my comments below are based on utilizing this feature...
Sound quality has remained fairly positive. I always find that the low end base is usually lacking in headphones, but this pair offers a respectable punch. Tremble also rings pleasingly, but has a tendency to begin distorting at high volume.  This can be mopped up with your EQ settings, but will cause problems if you’re using a flat profile. For the cost of the headphone, I am fairly pleased.
Despite being sealed drivers, these headphones have a horrible time both isolating outside noise as well as keeping your music in. At low to moderate volume you will be contending with background noise unless you are in a quiet location. As a result, you’ll find yourself boosting the volume to cover up ambient noise, and at that moderate to high volume you will be sharing your tunes with everyone around you.
One last annoying audio quality issue, these headphones are VERY susceptible to vibration transmission through the cable. If you’re at low to moderate volume and your cable is sliding across your jacket, collar or zipper, you will hear it in the left ear piece.


Comfort:
Comfort is another issue with this product. The original pair I owned began to cause a numbing ache (sounds contradictory, but if you’ve ever worn a tight helmet you can probably relate) in your ear. This has been improved somewhat with the new model I have, but I have yet to fully break in the new ear pads. I expect once the pads have deflated a bit I will experience the same discomfort during longer use. That is purely speculation, though.

SUMMARY:

These headphones are alright, but they just don't hold up well to rough use or any use involving sports or the likes.

I also want to touch on customer service, which I'll do here as I don't really know if its deserving either a pro or con... Their responsiveness has improved over the years, but if you go the email route and wait for results, you have a better chance of playing the lottery to recoup your loss. Always follow up with a phone call. I have found the staff is much more pleasant and responsive to work with by phone. They also seem to be aware of their products braking for no reason, as there have been no questions any time I return broken products claiming material defect (I have had other products from them break as well). They also offer 50% back even if you broke them due to your own negligence, which seems like a poor business model, but a positive for the consumer.

All in all, these are by no means audiophile quality, but a solid choice for perhaps a dedicated desk set at work or elsewhere. Don't expect much from these if you're looking for a set of over-ears to accompany on the slopes or at the skate park. They may fit the look you're going for, but only if they're still on your head. They won’t give you cred when they're in pieces on the pavement.


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