Headphones Have Never Looked So Good

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NBA SOUNDS

Check out these headphones. Custom-built and snazzily designed, the NBA Skullcandy Mix Master is the brainchild of soundmasters Skullcandy and design whizzes Colorware. Essentially the Skullcandy Mix Master Black with NBA colours, the design studio allows you to choose your favourite team and to wear their colours in style.

THE RAPTORS NEVER LOOKED SO GOOD

To design your headphones, you get into the driver’s seat at Colorware’s online design studio. When you choose your team, you see a preview of the headphones in your team colours. The team logo is displayed on the outer pivots, just above the cups, and they’re tasteful little logos, and look great. Then you can change the headphones to your specifications.

With ours, we went with the Raptors. We added a black headband in lieu of the default all-red design to shake up the look and add some contrast. And since the headband was black, we changed the inner pivots to red, for a darker, stylish look.

Once submitted, the headphones are custom built and shipped out to you. It doesn’t get much better than that.

But design aside, how do they sound?

SOUND QUALITY AND MOBILITY

The Skullcandy tech is more than up for the job, delivering a crisp, multi-layered sound, with the kind of bass that immediately justifies the whole experience.

Another neat feature: I’ve got the headphones plugged into my phone, I’m listening to some Bratmobile, and my friend calls me. I squeeze down on the little skull on the volume control on the cable, and the call is answered. And with a mic in the cable, I’m set to take the call, pretty much hands free.

Speaking of Bratmobile, it’s obvious that lo-fi punk doesn’t get across the capabilities of these headphones. It goes without saying that the better the production value of your music, the more you’ll get out of your Skullcandys. Listening to something heavy on production is a bracing experience. This extends considerably to tracks with a Wall Of Sound production, which is like dropping a blanket of sound onto your whole body.

And while obviously the presence of some excellent bass means that you’re going to want to reach for the brostep, that doesn’t mean your lo-fi garage music doesn’t also get dressed up. The channels are warmer and clearer, for an overall better listen.

And if you’re a DJ or ever wanted to pretend to be a DJ, the Skullcandy Mix Masters come with swivel cups and a professional-grade coil cable. These swivel cups also are a boon in the recording studio, allowing you to hear different channels in each ear. The Skullcandys are definitely a step above your average headphones.

LISTENING COMPARISON


Speaking of average headphones, how does our pair of Raptors Skullcandy Mix Masters stand up against them? I compared the Skullcandy with a pair of Sony MDRXD200s, an ugly but workmanlike pair of headphones that I think everyone has owned in their lifetime, or one like it.

From a design standpoint, there’s no way the Sony can stand up to the Skullcandy, with a lengthy cable that is easily snapped in half, and a headband that starts to feel uncomfortable after a short while. But listening-wise?

While the bass is more immediate on the Sony headphones, like a hammer hitting your brain, it’s colder, and less involved. Some of the channels are very buried, which sometimes makes you feel like you’re losing half the song.

The bass is less distracting on the Skullcandy, and much warmer, which makes for an overall better listen. You can also hear the channels clearly, which means the song isn’t buried under the bass and vocals.

DURABILITY

The headphones have a few design features that further justify the price tag. Removable and replaceable 3.5mm cables mean that your headphones will never suffer the fate of so many garbage headphones. Ditto the replaceable and interchangeable ear pads. That means the Skullcandy Mix Master will last you a while.

DRAWBACKS

Not too many, actually. The 3.5 mm cable was a bit finicky for me, and I had to make some adjustments with it before I could hear clear sound. The headphones were also a little constrictive themselves at first, but there are enough steps in the adjustments that they can be made to feel comfortable fairly easily.

The headband is quite wide, which means more comfort, but looks a little unbalanced , but that’s entirely subjective (I mean, I own the MDRXD200, which has one of the ugliest headbands on the planet).

Other than that, Skullcandy and Colorware have done a bang-up job with the Mix Master series, and with the NBA colour scheme.

TECH SPECS

  • Ear-cup
  • Wired
  • Response 20-20000 Hz
  • Impedance 20 Ohm
  • Neodymium magnet
  • Mylar driver

BOTTOM LINE

With a sleek, compelling design, beautiful NBA colourway, and technology more than up to speed with the rest of the high-end headphones industry, the NBA Skullcandy Mix Master series is an extraordinary addition to anyone’s collection.

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