Believe it or not, what you're looking at above is a set of headphones -- let's explain. It's no secret that Skullcandy has been working to improve its tattered repertoire with headphone junkies for the past two years. Nowadays, it's not uncommon to hear generally favorable opinions about its Jay-Z-endorsed Roc Nation Aviators ($150), and the company has apparently taken notice. Aiming to build on the success it's had blending sunglasses with headphones, it's now ready to let loose a "smaller sibling" into the lineup -- and we've been able to get an exclusive first look and listen.
Without further ado, say hello to the Navigator. Priced at $99, it features a similar aviator-esque style to Jay-Z's model, albeit in a petite on-ear package -- we'd say the design direction this time is even better looking, too. The cans have collapsible earcups with flat earpads and metal construction (just like you'd find on sunglasses), with a faux leather-wrapped headband and a flat tangle-resistant cable (detachable) which houses an iDevice-compatible three-button remote and microphone. Skullcandy is being light on technical details at the moment, but we do know that the headphones will come in a choice of black or black with blue
lenses earcups. Interests piqued? The Navigator will officially land at Apple stores tomorrow, where they'll be an exclusive offering until the end of the month -- in the meantime, join us past the break for our initial impressions.
Skullcandy Navigator on-ear headphone hands-onSee all photos
We've gotta say it, the build quality of the Nav is right on par with that of high-end sunglasses, and the earcups adjust into position along the headrails with secure and satisfying clicks. That said, the earcups have almost no articulation, and we had to actually bend the "frame" into shape a bit before we got a useable fit. Sure, this is normal for actual glasses, but needing to torque a brand set of headphones into position did feel disconcerting. We still haven't been able to the get the fit just right, but we're optimistic that we'll get there with a bit more patience and tweaking. Aside from that, the plastic "lenses" on the outsides of earcups pick up up fingerprints ultra quick, but they don't standout too much thanks to the black finish-- we'd imagine it might be easier to see on the blue model.
The Navigator to feels very lightweight on the head, and the earpads do a fairly good job of keeping things cushy. This editor did experience cartilage cramps near the backs of his ears after an hour or so of wearing the cans, however -- a niggle at best. We'd have no issue using these for short commutes, but for longer listens we'd probably advise you to go for the larger Aviators if you're heart's set on this style. We never dealt with the cable tangling up or transferring loads of cable noise into the earcups, and we're very impressed with the feel of the inline remote. It's very tactile, allowing for operation without fumbling or accidentally hitting the wrong button.
You may have noticed that the Navigator's box has the phrase "Supreme Sound" on it. As we touched on earlier, Skullcandy's been using this as a motto to highlight its focus on better audio quality -- and not just making fashionable headgear. That in mind, we're happy to report that the cans sound solid for the price point. The voicing is expectedly on the slightly muddy side of things with a very narrow soundstage, but the tonality is mostly smooth (read: not extremely harsh or fatiguing). Better yet, the drivers don't seem to distort aggressively with the volume jacked up. It's not boom-heavy sound by any means, but the highs are definitely a veiled due to the bass emphasis. If you like dubstep these will do the trick, all while maintaining just enough bite so that the throaty top-end of bass lines -- like that of Mike Dirnt's on Green Day's album Dookie -- don't get totally drowned in the mix. The headphones also provide a fair amount of isolation, so they'll spare you the need to crank the volume excessively in the likes of subways. Speaking of, we had no issue driving them with our iPhone 5, and found they were slightly louder than Logitech's $99 UE headphones at the same volume setting. For perspective, Logitech's offering does sound a bit more balanced with clearer highs, but from a usability standpoint the Navigator is a more compelling option for day-to-day use (the UEs don't fold up, for example). Of course it'll take more listening to make a definitive call, but we don't think you can really go wrong with the Navigators as it stands, so long as your expectations are in-line with the price -- and try not to confuse them for your shades.
PARK CITY, Utah –October 8, 2012 – Skullcandy, Inc. (Nasdaq: SKUL), a high-growth,
performance lifestyle audio brand, today announced the launch of the Navigator - a
streamlined sibling to the brand's iconic Roc Nation Aviator-packed into a sleeker, more
refined form factor. Offering a perfect blend of style and performance, the Navigator is the
answer for consumers that have fallen in love with the Aviator that are looking for their Supreme Sound to be delivered in low profile package without sacrificing their style. This new on-ear
headphone launches exclusively at Apple stores nationwide today, October 8th,where it will be
displayed on listening stations for consumer demos.
The Navigator is the next generation of a highly successful concept from Skullcandy. Featuring
the brand's custom styled drivers and highest-grade materials, these on-ear headphones push
the Attacking Bass, Natural Vocals, and Precision Highs consumers have come to expect from
"The new Navigator offers the perfect balance of premium audio performance and unmatched
style in a convenient and portable package that you won't find anywhere else," said Nate
Morley, VP Marketing Skullcandy. "To add to that, we've included a range of innovative
Skullcandy Supreme Sound features like to create an all-encompassing experience for any
Featuring the Mic3 functionality, users have full control of volume, pause/play, tracking and
the ability to have clear, crisp phone conversation direct through the unit. Additional features
include an ergonomic design designed specifically to fit the shape of the users head and ears,
soft leather touch ear pillows for optimal comfort and detachable cable input to eliminate tangled
For more information about Skullcandy, please visit: www.skullcandy.com