Most people have heard of Skullcandy. They are the audio drug of every high school skater, novice hipster, and extreme sports chasing teenager out there. For a while back in 2009, I kept seeing Skullcandy everywhere, specifically on ads that had “40% OFF!” written somewhere on it. Eventually, my empty wallet collided with a need for new headphones and a perfect storm brewed which tempted me into the Skullcandy hype, twice. The first was for a pair of FMJ earbuds that committed suicide under gentle use, and the second was for these over-the-ear Ti headphones. I’ve been using the Ti for over two years now for varying things like international traveling, gaming, and working. At this point, I love them and I hate them.
Since the Ti model has been replaced with the Skullcandy Gi headphones in the Skullcandy lineup, this is going to be an abbreviated R3 on how the Ti version has performed for me.
I actually bought these with no research, other than checking some star-rated reviews in under 5 minutes. They came on sale for $34 on Whiskey Militia, so I just bought them. At the time, I didn’t have a pair of over-the-ear headphones, so I just developed some interest in them in the heat of the moment. I figured this would be a good entry-level model to play around with before moving up to audiophile-grade headphones.
Over-the-ear headphones are generally designed for cushy-cush comfort and good quality sound. The whole point of the speaker being designed to go ‘over’ the ear is that the ear is encompassed by a cushion that physically creates a space between the ear and the hard plastic parts of the speakers. This allows your fragile pink little ears to remain untouched with any surfaces, providing maximum comfort for extended periods of time. On the audio side, over-the-ear headphones increase sound quality and bass response through better speakers and increased air volume. With this design, the user gets more of an ‘experience’ than they would with earbuds, which are designed strictly for size.
That’s the idea that Skullcandy was chasing with the Ti at least…
As I said, if you want to get a pair of these, you will be hard-pressed because they have been discontinued. However, the newer (readily available) model is called the “Gi” and is almost exactly the same, with some woven cordage and different designs. The Gi models run about $52 on Amazon, while the endangered Ti is costing around $60 wherever you can find them online.
Don’t wait around for them to come up on WM again, it’s been 8 months since they last appeared there. However, if you are savvy with The Clymb, the Gi is on sale for $35 as I write this, while they last.
Getting down to it, there is really nothing special about the Ti. It’s got average sound, the design is fashionable (sometimes), and that’s about it. Here is what happens when you get these:
You put them on, and they are the coolest thing ever. They sound decent right away, and then, they…still sound decent. Then, the person next to you will tell you to turn it down because when the headphones are at 50% volume, it’s at 40% volume for your neighbor. Not to say that these headphones get exceptionally loud, but they just don’t contain the sound waves at all. You’ll eventually put on the song that you nicknamed “Sub Grub” because its bass is so deep it blew your college dorm subs up, only to find out the Ti doesn’t know what bass is. You won’t give up yet, because these things look like they were built for business. So you wear them for 45 minutes, cruising through your playlists trying to find the Ti speakers’ sweet spot. Then you will start to really feel what you had been ignoring all along, your ears.
As it turns out, these “over” the ear headphones are more hands-on than you would think. I do not have big ears by any standard, yet the Ti speakers literally push up against my ears. If Skullcandy had increased the faux fur padding, it wouldn’t exist. Or if they had put more cushion directly on the speakers like 0n-ear headphones it would be better, but the only speaker padding on the Ti is a hair-thin piece of cloth. Unfortunately, after about 45 minutes, the Ti speakers provide too much physical agitation to be comfortable to wear anymore.
The excitement will be wearing off at this point, and your criticisms will notice the short cord is too short, and the extension cord makes it too long. The “R” and “L” to define the stereo are concealed behind fur so it turns out you were wearing them backwards the whole time. You’ll eventually take them off to put them away. You’ll fuss with them for some time, trying to twist the ear cups around and compact them down to fit in your bag, before realizing that these don’t fold up like average headphones. In fact, it doesn’t look like they were meant to fold up any further than this awkward jumble:
So, you’ve got what you’ve got, and they were so cheap that they aren’t worth the shipping cost to send them back. You settle with a bit of buyer’s remorse, purchase some proper Bose or Sony headphones, and then something magical happens. One day, you eventually go to pack a bag, and you go for the Ti. One day, you put on the Ti because the Ti is 10 feet closer than the Bose set and that’s ok with you. One day you find that the small cord on the Ti works perfectly with your super small MP3 player that clips on your shirt sleeve.
So, you come to terms that these headphones are less than special, but you continue to use them. Why? Because it is the car you park in the super small spot because you don’t care about door dings. It’s your “don’t-care-pair” that you can use and abuse as much as you want and not get your feelings hurt if they get busted or stop working. You can throw them in your bag and not cringe as you watch from your airplane window as that bag gets dropped onto the jetway from 8 feet up by a clumsy handler. Instead, you’ll just lay back and relax as you remember that your Ti carries the official logo of “it’s ok if it breaks because it will break eventually anyway.”
So, even though I have accumulated better headphones in the past 2 years, the Ti often gets picked over higher-end options. Although you can get far better headphones for just a slightly higher price point, the Ti fulfills a consumer gap like a crash test dummy. Don’t get me wrong, I use and enjoy higher-end headphones much more than the Ti, but the Ti is my go-to when I know there is a chance for abuse.
This might not sound like a lot of praise, and it shouldn’t, but when I need headphones to go with me into questionable territory, I reach for the Ti. They get the job done without going above and beyond, and that’s all they were really intended to do.