Skullcandy makes some incredibly stylish and affordable headphones which are a popular choice amongst students. When I bought my iPod, I immediately grabbed a pair of low-end, in-ear Skullcandy Ink’d buds for $10 to replace the awful Apple headphones — money well spent. More recently, Skullcandy was kind enough to lend us one of their most expensive headphones, the SK Pro, and I’ve been putting them to the test. Coming in with a positive bias, I was quite excited to see how these sound. While they get the job done, there are some things worth mentioning.
The SK-Pro’s are available in two different color schemes. One model is as colorful and prominent as you would expect from Skullcandy: a bold emerald green with white lining. The other model is perfect if extra-flashy designs aren’t for you: a sleek and simple black with bright lime-green highlights. The latter will easily blend into a open office environment. It might be hard to pick your favorite with looks like these, though you can’t really go wrong with either style.
Build Quality ★★★✩✩
The plastic body makes these circumaural headphones look a bit cheap and toy-ish when examined up close. However, with plastic this thick and a build this solid, I bet it could take a beating and still last a few years. Even if I’m wrong, you could throw the SK-Pro’s into a tree mulcher and Skullcandy will still send you a new pair for half the price. The headphones fold up for easy storage and better portability while traveling. This mechanism can also be used as a vertical adjustment, which allows DJ’s to comfortably move one channel out-of-the-way while listening to another. It becomes pretty annoying when holding up your headphones while mixing, therefore the ability to fold up one side is a huge advantage. This feature alone might qualify the SK-Pro for the “DJ headphones” title. The headset also sports a thick spring-coiled wire with a gold-plated 3.5mm plug, plus a push-in adapter for 1/4″ jacks.
People with normal-sized heads say the SK-Pro’s are comfortable. Unfortunately, I couldn’t say the same since the SK-Pro’s couldn’t adjust laterally for my plus-sized noggin. The extra tightness creates a great seal, but it began to hurt my head after a couple hours of use. I can’t imagine why Skullcandy thought moderately plush foam wrapped in perforated vinyl would be the best choice for a cushion. It’s nowhere near as plush as $150 headphones should be, and induces sweating around your ears after prolonged usage. The tightness and extra sweat are common side effects of closed circumaural headphones, so it’s expected for the SK-Pro. I should note that the SK-Pro’s may look and feel like closed headphones to the listener, but they sound open to everyone else in the room. In other words, people sitting next to you on the bus can hear everything you are listening to. If you are looking for something a little easier on your ears (or your roommate’s ears), I encourage you to read this Consumer Reports article that explains the different types of headphones and decide which one is right for you.
Sound Quality ★★✩✩✩
The large 50mm drivers shake my skull during songs with a thumping bass. That isn’t an attempt at a “skull-candy” pun: these headphones have such a powerful bass driver that if you were to set them on a table while blasting hip-hop or techno, they may literally vibrate off the table. The lows are by far the most prominent characteristic. When the middles and highs aren’t garbled out by the bass, the SK-Pro headphones actually produce a deep, pleasantly bass-heavy sound. I like the sound these cans put out, but I’ve heard better for the $150 price tag. The SK-Pro’s simply don’t deserve the “Pro” title. Vocals and lead instruments compete with the boosted bass line, producing poor articulation. I can see the appeal for DJ’s and casual listeners, but if you are looking for clean sound that isn’t muddled by a pounding bass, look elsewhere.
Skullcandy has a very admirable warranty that covers all of their headphones. Like I said before, you can do anything to these headphones and Skullcandy will still offer a 50% discount on your next pair. If you have a defective pair, they will replace it for you at no charge. You can even swap it for a different color if you want. No receipt is necessary; you only need to fill out a form. While cost may have been negligible for my $10 buds, it’s not going to empty your wallet to replace an expensive model.
The Skullcandy SK-Pro DJ Headphones are fashionable, durable, and come with a fantastic NBD warranty. If you are a casual listener looking for stylish headphones at a moderate price, the SK-Pro’s are a great choice. If you just bought an iPod and want a step up from the unholy stock iPod buds, these cans are huge improvement, though a bit bulky. If you intend to use these headphones during strenuous activity or harsh weather, or you are what Skullcandy calls an “aggressive listener”, the Skullcandy warranty has your back. However, if sound quality is a higher priority for you than style, then check out the Sennheiser HD-280 Pro or the Audio-Technica ATH-PRO5MSA for better articulation in the same price range. You will lose the warranty and the Skullcandy looks, but the difference in quality is well worth it. If you are ready to grab a pair of the SK-Pro, it’s available for $150 from Skullcandy’s website and through other retailers.