The last calendar year was huge for gaming-related audio accessories. There were a ton of great products that hit the market for all of your audio needs, be it stereo or surround sound. That doesn’t seem to be changing as we head into 2013. Just as the calendar was turning over to the new year (truthfully, a little bit earlier), Skullcandy wanted to make sure their name wasn’t left off of the list of contributors to this emerging market and brought out a new offering in the form of the PLYR 2 Wireless Headset.
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of the PLYR 2, right from the start, aside from its slick appearance, is its compatibility. The headset is designed to work with all three of the major gaming platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. It is ready to hook up to either your 360 or PS3 right out of the box, although PC gamers will need to find a 3.5mm cord (not included) to connect the audio out to their PC’s speaker jack. The headset relies on a small base that is wired to your console of choice that sends the wireless audio and chat signals to your headset.
This base has two separate connections: one for audio and one for voice. The voice functions as well as the power stream since the unit is delivered via USB connection on all platforms. In terms of the audio connections, the PC uses the aforementioned 3.5mm cord, which isn’t included in the box, and a standard pass through stereo connection on both consoles (red and white cords). This method of connection does bring up a little issue on the 360 and PS3, depending on the which connections you are using to connect them to your television.
Gamers using an HDMI connection, on either system, need to go into the audio setup of your specific system settings and separate the audio and video signals, since HDMI carried both by default. This is a small hurdle that may confuse some users who don’t have experience with doing so in the past, but thankfully the issue is addressed in the manual of the PLYR 2. The microphone portion on the 360 works with little to no setup, although you will be tethered to your controller as with most 360 wired headsets. The PC and PS3 chat functions are 100% wireless and transmitted via the signals to and from the base; although on both of those platforms you will need to address microphone settings in their system menus accordingly in order to activate the PLYR 2.
The base has a pretty decent range and doesn’t pick up any interference in my experience (including tests near both a wireless router and a cordless telephone base). While the setup for the base is relatively easy, I did find myself severely disappointed with the quality of the cables included. All of the cables, be it the audio connections or either of the USB cords (one for charging the headset and one for the microphone and power connection, are extremely thin. Basically, because there is really no other way to put it, they seem “cheap.” You may want to consider swapping out the included cables for higher-quality versions that you may have lying around.
As for the headsets themselves, the PLYR 2‘s are extremely slick looking. They utilize a sleek and modern-looking design, on par with most of Skullcandy’s products. I reviewed the yellow and black pair, although other colors are available. The physical build utilizes a nice layering effect, placing the dark plastic of the outer shell over top of the bright yellow underside; the result is a visually sharp-looking headset. There is a lot of detail put into the outer shell thanks to etching with the company's standard skull logo and various designs. It includes a flexible/padded headband which eases the strain placed on the top of your head during extended usage.
The PLYR 2 is incredibly lightweight and comfortable. Although designed as on-the-ear cups, the ear cups are large enough that they almost engulf your entire ear; this helps in both keeping the game sound in your aural area and eliminates a lot of background noise from your environment. However, the material used to construct the cups is less than desirable. Skullcandy uses more of a foam material for the cups, which unfortunately picks up a lot of sweat and can become itchy at times if you are using them for a marathon gaming session. They are well padded, and feel great in short spurts, but extended sessions slowly become uncomfortable. It would have been nicer to see them use either a leather-like design or cover on the actual foam to reduce this.
All of your audio controls are located on the right ear cup. You have your power switch as well as a toggle for one of three different equalizer modes depending on whether you are listening to music, movies or games. The volume control in particular has a nice design in the form of a miniature analog-like stick. This small toggle stick can be used to adjust both the media and the voice chat sound levels independently; it works really well and helps minimize the space needed for the control on the headset.
Sound-wise, the headset sounds absolutely great for a stereo headset. The wireless technology used delivers a crystal-clear audio signal with a great range, up to roughly 25 feet before I started noticing any degradation. It manages the treble and bass to great degrees, depending on the audio profile in use; the same quality is evident in the chat functions as well. The signal for voice chat has just as good of a range and is crystal clear.
Functionally speaking, I don’t have any complaints with the PLYR 2. It does exactly what it is supposed to and delivers as good of a stereo experience as any headset I have used. My only problem is with the quality of the materials included in the box. As I mentioned earlier, the cabling for the device are extremely low in quality and I have major concerns on their longevity. In addition, the lengths of the included cables are a little confusing. For example, the charging cable for the headset, which plugs it into the base is only three feet long; you can forget about using them while they are plugged in for power as the default cord isn’t nearly long enough. On the other hand, the cord included to connect them to the 360 controller is five feet long. This means that you are going to be struggling with a bit of loose wire when playing on the 360, which can be severely annoying. It would have made more sense had the lengths of the two cables in particular been switched. That is merely a personal annoyance however and in no way effects the performance of the headset as a whole
I am pretty happy with the PLYR 2 as a whole, at least for short gaming sessions. The sound of both the voice and audio is amazingly good for the signal type and the wireless technology utilized works very well. However, the material of the ear cups and having to deal with extraneous cords when using it to play online on the 360 cause me to resort to other audio options if I am playing for an extended period of time. Over time it just becomes less and less comfortable.