by Andrew Ross Collins
Headphones are one of those things many of us seem to use, and there is a huge variety of different types and models to choose from. What makes a good set of headphones is a unit that combines all of the key criteria – rather than outperform at one and miss on another. For example I use a great pair of mixing and mastering headphones that cost just shy of $1500, and they sound amazing as you might expect – but they come in their own pelican case and if that does fit into your carry-on luggage then good luck trying to get anything else in there. Also there’s little chance of them staying on your head while you hold a downward dog, and when your teenage kids ask to borrow them because they’ve gone through yet another pair, then the answer is likely to be no. So yes, amazing sound quality is important but there are other factors that make for a good headphone, and these are comfort, size, design, functionality, durability and price.
Headphones split into different types; in ear, on ear and then over the ear. The Skullcandy Grinds are on ear headphones, which means you get full sound and good bass, yet they aren’t too bulky which has the advantage of you not looking like a helicopter pilot. In terms of comfort the Grinds sit really well over the ear and are nicely padded. The bit that tells me that someone was really thinking intelligently when they designed these headphones is the metal construction of the headband – the part that goes over your head and holds everything together. How many times have I attempted repairs with scotch tape when a plastic headphone has broken ? Like an improvised repair to an old favorite pair of sunglasses, it isn’t a good look and it won’t last. No fear of that with the Grinds. The metal also has a natural spring to it – which means that the headphones stay in the right position; not too loose and not uncomfortably tight either. These look like they’ll stand the test of time and heavy use.
The design is smart too; compact, minimal and functional. And compact is good – i’m appreciating the extra space in my laptop bag. The suede finish gives them an upmarket look. Skullcandy have also done away with the need for a cable which is a nice futuristic touch. Instead you can pair them with your iphone or computer using Bluetooth. As with all Bluetooth audio connections you do lose some quality if you use this function. Skullcandy also have integrated a microphone into the headset which is a neat function that allows you to take calls when paired with your phone. You can also control volume and skip forwards and back with tracks using Skullcandy’s Tap Tech buttons on the headset.
So far we are doing well, but how do they sound ? Here at YogiTunes we listen to music all the time and what we’re looking for is a good reference and enough volume to compete with ambient sounds in the listening environment. None of the previous criteria that we’ve examined matter in the slightest if the sound isn’t good, and the Skullcandy Grinds sound great; crisp, deep, plenty of bass and active mids.
Any downsides to all this? Yes indeed… parents watch out – your kids are going to be borrowing these! You may even need to get them their own pair. But at the price [$89], this isn’t going to be a hardship 🙂