I’ve been a huge fan of Astro Gaming’s line of gaming headsets, so when I heard that Skullcandy (which acquired Astro Gaming), was working on a new 7.1 Dolby Digital wireless headset, I just had to check it out.
Skullcandy, which is a brand that is synonymous with style as it pertains to headphones, has already produced some wireless gaming headsets, but the PLYR 1 is the company’s flagship headset with full surround sound capabilities.
In short, I have the A50s (Astro Gaming) and I was told beforehand that the PLYR 1 would be very similar in audio quality, which I found intriguing, given the $179 price tag, compared to the A50’s $299 price. Suffice to say, the PLYR 1s actually do give the A50s a run for their money in the sound department.
First though, let’s talk design. The PLYR 1’s have some cool designs etched into the outside of the ear cups, along with the Skullcandy logo and a sort of analog stick for controlling the audio. That analog stick allows you to control the game’s volume, as well as the volume for voice chat, which is awkward at first until you get the hang of where to move it when you want to adjust one of the volumes. From a design standpoint, I would argue that the PLYR 1’s actually look cooler than the A50s. However, where the difference comes into play, perhaps especially on the price point, is that the PLYR 1 materials are a bit cheaper. You can feel the difference in the weight and the kind of plastic that’s used for the headband and the ear cups. Again, that doesn’t take away from performance, but when you get your hands on them, you can just tell the difference.
The headset also comes with a stand, which doubles as the main base, featuring optical in/out ports for surround sound, two USB ports (one for charging the headset and the other for power), the on/off button and the surround sound mode button – just in case you might just want to play in stereo for whatever reason.
Now going back to the headset, you’ll find an adjustable mic that mutes itself when you flip it up, as well as a power button on the side. Having played a couple of multiplayer games online, I found the mic to be pretty sensitive in that it picked up my voice quite well while also eliminating background noise. I tried turning on a loud fan and having some music in the background and my friends could not hear any of it, though obviously I didn’t crank up the music to absurd levels.
I must say I really dug the overall audio experience from the PLYR 1. In 7.1 Dolby Digital, the thunderous sounds of explosions and gunfire in Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel sounded fantastic, with dialogue coming in nice and clear. The higher-end frequencies of clips being flung to the ground was easy to discern, while throwing in some Resident Evil Revelations demonstrated an enhanced experience with the dark and moody music that was profound with the headset’s impressive bass.
Like its other headsets, Skullcandy’s PLYR 1 were also quite comfortable to wear and lightweight, as to not get intrusive with extended usage.
Without question, the PLYR 1 has impressive audio quality regardless of the type of game you’re going to play. If you want something cheaper than the A50s and can overlook the lower quality build materials, the PLYR 1s are tough to beat.
Final Score: 4.5 out of 5