Pros: Trendy design, comfy, portable, detailed forward mids, capable of engaging bass, clean treble, wide well utilized soundstage, non fatiguing
Cons: Closed in sound, no depth, very quiet bass and treble unamped, dull treble, blurry bass, little isolation
To be honest I’m usually a bit iffy about mainstream headphone. Not because they are inherently worse than their audiophile counterparts or are overpriced (case in point, the headphone I’m reviewing today) , but I generally don’t like the styling and typical sound signatures of such headphones. But with the aviators at 31 cad, I just couldn’t resist picking one up.
Pros:Carrying case with cloth, nicely designed box
Cons: Sleeves hard to take off
The packaging is pretty nice reminding me of beats packaging (say what you will about the sound quality of beats, but the presentation is pretty good). Taking out the outer cover/sleeve does take some effort, but then you’ll be greeted with the double door like cover, with the skullcandy logo cutout in the middle. Open that up, and unzip the carrying pouch that contained inside, you’ll get your aviators and a cloth to clean them.
Cons: Utter muffled garbage initially
Pros: Gets way better after that
If you’re the type to not believe in burn in, you’ll probably not give the aviators a chance. On first listen, the sound was to put it bluntly horrible. Muffled, slow and congested are the initial impressions I would give to them. But after even a few hours, the sound clears up considerably. Enough that I thought, hey they actually sound good!
Design and portability
Pros: Trendy looks, small and portable, folds, removable cable
Most mainstream headphone usually gets this part right, and so does the Skullcandy. Nice design with the ear cup design referencing aviator sunglasses (hence the name). The brown/brass colour scheme is pretty classy. Throw in the small foldable design and removable cable, and these are ideal for on the go listening.
Pros: Decently sturdy, reinforced with metal
Cons: Plastic parts are cheap, flimsy and slimy, doesn't stand too well against drops, meh cable
The build quality is a mix bag, on one head the metal reinforcements makes the headphones quite sturdy with minimal flexing and no creaking. But the plastic cup and rims are cheap slimy fingerprint magnets with one drop scratched the brass rims and opened a gap between the seam and the cup. I'd be careful with these.
Isolation and leakage
The aviators aren't great at this front. It’s far more isolating and leaks far less than your average open backed headphone, but it’s below average for a closed back. It only manages to muffle outside sounds and at loud volumes it leaks more than it should. However even at a crowded bus or subway you can still find a good volume level that block outside sounds but isn't loud enough for others to hear.
Pros: Very comfy with soft pads
Cons: It’s more on ear than over ear
These are very comfy and are easy to put on however, despite it supposedly being a over ear headphone, the wear more like an on ear, with most of the apd sitting on my earlobe. Not a big deal as the pads are very soft.
Wired unamped sound quality (no fi)
Pros: Mids!!, surprisingly wide soundstage
Cons: A bit flat sounding, quiet bass and treble, no depth whatsoever.
Plugged into my z ultra, my first thought was this could tuned any further form the typical mainstream sound. Where as most of these types of headphone has big bass sometime to the poit of muddying the sound. These are very mid forward. Vocals are a particular treat, smooth sweet forward.. The entire middle spectrum is particularly detailed, surprisingly so. The mis are at least in the $200 territory. The bass and treble however are IMO almost nonexistent. If the bass lines are already pretty quiet in a song, you’ll likely not hear them at all with the aviators. The high hats and cymbals fare a bit better, but are still pretty back in the mix. Moreover the relative lack of bass and treble leads to a sound without much body or air. Umamped it’s a decent choice for mid heads, but is not particularly well rounded.
The soundstage is not actually very wide in open standard, but for a small closed portable, it’s pretty impressive. And the imaging while a bit left/rightish still utilizes the width quite well. Just htat there’s no depth whatsoever.
With E07k dac/amp (low fi)
Pros: Same pros as unamped, with a more dynamic sound, engaging bass, cleanish treble
Cons: lacks air, blurry bass, dull and splashy treble
Honestly without an amp, I didn’t really like the headphone much at all. But amped via the e07k with full bass boost and level 6 treble boost fixed alot of the problems. The treble louder without being harsh. And bass got a lot more engaging. It hits decently hard and can rumble a bit when called for. It also remians pretty undistorted even at loud volumes. The sound now has a lot more weighty, dynamic and textured. However the treble is bit dull and splashy, and the bass are bit blurry or “one note” The soundstage is still pretty much the same, and is still pretty closed sounding.
With a Fostex HP-A4 dac/amp (mid fi)
Improvements :increased overall clarity, more forward mids, nice vocals, spacious sound,
Cons: less bass quantity
With a smoother mid forward amp and better dac the increase in overall clarity is noticeable. The mids get even more forward while the bass quantity is decreased but can still slam/rumble at loud enough volumes. The vocals while already good before is now something special. The treble remains the same but the overall soundstage has gotten lot more spacious, making the e07k a bit congested sounding. It’s not warm sounding either unlike the eo7k,
With WA6 amp and HP-A4 dac (high fi)
Improvements: More detailed, warmer punchier sound, slightly more bass quantity while keeping the same clarity
Con: Mids are less forward
Honestly my favourite right here (but it should be, considering how much the wa6 costs), it now warmer, bassier while being clearer and more detailed, offering the most dynamic sound yet. The mids are more inline with the rest of the sound which can be good or bad depending on your taste.
The conclusion is quite simple. Even at it’s typical street price of 50-100, it a good great headphone. Me buying it for 31 cad is just a bonus. If you like a mid forward presentation with a portable form factor at a low price, these should be on your radar. If you have an amp with bass boost, these can be great all rounders. But even with a high end amp and dac, don’t expect extended sparkly treble, detailed bass, big soundstage and an open sound.