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The Skullcandy Casettes are supremely versatile, and can be as comfortable as your hat or hoodie.

Comfort is a rather strange thing to discuss with this particular set of cans, because the comfort of these headphones depends almost entirely how you wear them. If you use them with the band, you’ll notice a little bit of clamping force, but not enough to elicit a cry of pain or anything. It only gets better if you drop them into your Skullcandy beanie, or compatible helmet, as the fabric and removal of clamping force makes for a softer experience. Users looking for headphones that will last them an entire day of bombing down a mountain should note that while ear buds that stick into your ear canal can have some rather nasty and painful consequences should you hold an impromptu yard sale on the mountain, these will sit outside your ear and be generally unobtrusive.

The comfort of these headphones depends almost entirely how you wear them.

The Skullcandy Cassettes have a regular, albeit boring, 3.93-foot long Y-shaped removable cable that uses 1/8th inch plugs to connect the speaker elements to the source. The cable is punctuated by a remote and microphone. These headphones are extremely portable, as they are small, light, and are designed to fit into places most headphones could never go. Needless to say, these are getting top marks, because very few headphones (save for in-ears) are as portable as these.

Opposite their versatility, the Skullcandy Casettes are poor performers and isolators.

Well, here’s the tradeoff: somewhat bad audio quality. While the lower frequencies are somewhat flat, there’s a gigantic overemphasis of some of the mids, and then an extremely erratic high end. Additionally, there’s a massive drop off at about 90Hz, so bass lovers will really hate these cans.

Bass lovers will really hate these cans.

It’s pretty much inaudible, but there is a 1% level of general distortion with the Skullcandy Cassettes. Not enough to ruin your music, but enough to sink the score a bit. For most of the range of audible frequencies, there are no prominent issues with channel preference, so you shouldn’t really notice much in the way of one side being louder than the other at any point.

It feels a bit disingenuous to tell you that these headphones don’t attenuate noise well, because that really depends what you put them in. That being said, we did test them using the included ear pads and band. Additionally, the attenuation is much better when you put them into a helmet’s headphone slots, but because that’s a non-standard use of the headphones, we did not score them based on that.

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Skullcandy's Casettes are incredibly versatile, but at the cost of poor audio quality.

Before opining on just how good or bad the Skullcandy Cassettes are, it’s important to note that there are headphones out there that fill a niche role that most people are unwilling to touch. For the segment of the population that rides a skate or snowboard, listening to music is essential, but there aren’t often good ways to get headphones under your helmet’s ear pads. Enter Skullcandy, a headphone company that goes out of its way to cater to boarders of all stripes.

In order to appeal to the segment of people who use a snowboarding helmet, or those who use Skullcandy’s line of beanies and hoodies with speaker pouches, Skullcandy needed a set of cans that can accommodate this strange need. The Skullcandy Cassettes fit this niche role perfectly, though they do have tradeoffs due to their price: namely audio quality.

The dirty little secret about headphone reviews is that headphones will almost always appeal to somebody no matter what their limitations, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you want a set of headphones that can go to the ends of the earth and be used in the ways outlined above, the Skullcandy Cassettes are a great pickup for $50. If not, there are plenty of other options in the world.

The Skullcandy Cassettes are a story of give and take. They are some of the most versatile over-ears we have ever tested; the removable band and various Skullcandy accessories—such as hoodies and hats—mean that you have a myriad of very comfortable ways to wear, use, and store them. Yet the drawback to this versatility comes in the form of performance, as the Cassettes did not live up to our standards for audio quality. They're not terrible for $50 cans, but they've got some problems, and the science page is here to explain them.

We found a queerly huge over-emphasis on mid tones.

The Skullcandy Cassettes tested with what is essentially a poor frequency response. Their reproduction of bass frequencies at 100Hz is weak, and while it evens out closer to 200Hz, everything below 100Hz will be even harder to hear, so bass lovers should avoid these cans. There's also a massive 20dB boost in emphasis between 1kHz and 2kHz, so upper mid frequencies (harp, the highest notes on a guitar and violin, piccolo, flute, oboe, clarinet) are going to sound almost four times as loud as they should, drowning out bass and sub bass frequencies. Needless to say, this is a very poor result, and in extreme volume situations could result in bizarre presentation of hearing loss.

Your isolation results depend entirely on how you use your Cassettes.

The Skullcandy Cassettes are unique in their versatility. Because they can be removed from their band and dropped into a boarding helmet or a Skullcandy hoodie, their isolation—their ability to attenuate noise—sort of depends on how you use them.

However, if you're just using them in a "standard" fashion with the included band, resting over your ears, etc., their isolation abilities are pretty poor. They don't really block out any ambient noise below 1kHz, so all outside bass and most midrange frequencies are going to be audible. Above 1kHz, they really only start to substantially dampen noise between 3-8kHz, which means high pitched noises (like a tractor trailer exhausting its air brakes) will be muffled to a degree. As far as isolators go, though, the Cassettes are not our first choice.

Meet the tester

Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas

Staff Writer, Imaging

@cthomas8888

A seasoned writer and professional photographer, Chris reviews cameras, headphones, smartphones, laptops, and lenses. Educated in Political Science and Linguistics, Chris can often be found building a robot army, snowboarding, or getting ink.

See all of Chris Thomas's reviews

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