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Skullcandy Headphones Rock Your Cellphone

Have you ever been listening to music on a portable CD or MP3 player and gotten a phone call? Did you have to take off your headphones to answer the phone?

Worse, if you use a headset for the phone, too, you have to quickly put it on before it stops ringing?

Well, if this is something you deal with (or wish you could) then Skullcandy has a great tool for you - it's a set of headphones that work for your music AND cellphone at the same time.

The unit we had looks like a regular set of over-the-ear headphones (the new back-of-the-head kind that don't muss your hair - they call them "Backphones;" "Earbuds" are also available), with a little "remote" on the cord, as many headphones do these days. The difference is in and below the remote - in addition to the usual volume control, it also has a microphone and a button, and the device end has two, count 'em, two cords - one for the phone and one standard 1/8" jack for the music device.

The set comes in four flavors, with the difference being the plug for the phone end. The unit we received had the block end that only works on Nokia phones, but other models are available, including the fairly universal mini-jack.

My initial worry was how to switch between the two sources, but the approach taken is wonderfully simple. The two sound sources are simply mixed and played simultaneously, so there is no switching at all.

Now this does bring up a couple of points: first, the volume control on the remote only controls the music source, so the phone volume has to be adjusted on the phone end. Second, it can be hard to hear the phone ring if you're playing the music too loud.

Then again, when is that not the case?

It quickly becomes apparent, though, that this arrangement works quite well.

Say you get a call in the middle of a song, but you don't have time to pause it. All you have to do is turn the music down so you can hear the caller. You can even continue to listen while on the phone (the music isn't transmitted through the mic, so the other person won't hear it... you can crank Rage Against the Machine while talking to your boss and mentally raging against the machine).

I must admit it seemed strange hearing a phone conversation through both ears (which is unusual, when you think about it). The "LINK console" button (which is supposed to be the universal button that many cell phones use) didn't seem to work with the phone we used, but it could well be that either I don't know how to use it or that the phone doesn't support it.

Audio quality through the headphones is pretty good. Granted, we don't listen to headphones much these days, what with good home and car stereos, but a head-to-head comparison with two other sets showed the Skullcandy to be the best of the three. One of the other headphones was a Sony bud-style set, and the other was the vertical in-the-ear style. The sound wasn't quite as open on the Skullcandy as the vertical style, but that could've been because of the indirectness of the vertical speaker's orientation. The bass was the best on the Skullcandy, as was the soundstage. Well worth a listen.

The sound did tend to distort when the CD volume was at max with the bass boost on, trying to use the Skullcandy's volume instead. I wouldn't recommend that mode of operation - either use that volume as secondary or disable the bass boost on the CD player.

The only other thing I could note is that I found the hard plastic stalks over the ear pinched ever so slightly. Perhaps my skull is bigger than average (Editor's note: no kidding!), or maybe I'm just not used to wearing this style of headphone.

For anyone on the go who wants a headset for both music and cellphone, this is a great product. At $30US, it's less than you'd probably pay for separate headsets and far more convenient.

Manufacturer's Info


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January 31, 2006