Skullcandy is one of the best-known value for money headphone brands in the market. The brand has won a following for its funkily designed headphones. Its bass heavy sound might not appeal to purists, but is loved by more mainstream users. Well, the Skullcandy Venue sees the brand try to appeal to a slightly more upmarket audience — these are headphones which come with Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) and at Rs 18,999 are definitely on the expensive side, especially when you consider the general Skullcandy crowd.
They certainly do not look like your regular Skullcandy headphones either. The design is very subtle and nuanced, and at first sign you will not think these are Skullcandy headphones. The Venue seemed designed for a much more upmarket audience and have the traditional Skull logo only on the band. They are well designed and comfortable enough – built using “premium materials” (high-quality plastic) and are lightweight for their size. They will cover most ears completely and feel solid enough, and are adjustable, although the fit is a little on the tight side.
In terms of build and comfort, they are not quite in the class of the Bose QC 35 and Sony RX 1000, with whom they will inevitably be compared, but are nevertheless very good. Well, let’s face it, they do cost a fair bit less than those two. Both headphones cups have control buttons at the base (similarly to the Bose QC 35 II), which can take some time to getting used to, but are reasonably easy to use once you get the hang of their location. Speaking of location, the Venue has a very handy feature up its sleeve called Tile which lets you track your headphones from a connected phone, and it actually works.
But what of the REAL job of the Skullcandy Venue — the sound? Well, let us get one thing clear: if you are looking for thumping bass, then the Venue is not for you. The headphones offer very balanced sound generally with a slightly soft tendency which we think makes them very good for those who prefer to hear rock, folk and classical music. Those preferring techno, heavy dance or underground music might find the Venue sound a little too tame for their liking, especially given Skullcandy’s reputation for deep rich bass at the lower segments.
However, chances are that those willing to give the price of a Venue would be seeking more than just a whole lotta thump and we think that while the volumes of the Venue are a tad on the lower side, the sound quality is very good indeed, although we suspect it will appeal more to hardcore music lovers rather than casual listeners.
Then there is the matter of active noise cancellation (ANC). No, it is not in the class of Bose and Sony, but it is nevertheless very effective and should be more than sufficient for anyone who wants to drown out aircraft sound on a journey or just the murmur of a crowded area.
However, do not expect the Venue to kill ambient sound the way a QC 35 II does. The headphones do have a rather neat Monitor mode that pauses music and lets you hear external sounds when you hit a button. A neat touch. Calls can be handled from the headphones but call quality is not the greatest. These are headphones designed more for hearing than for calling.
The strongest point of the Venue however, is its battery. The headphones can easily last close to twenty hours on a single charge and careful handling and switching off ANC can easily double that time as well. If you do run out of battery, there is a cable that can let you use the headphones as normal wired ones. And there is one more trick — the headphones come with rapid charging that lets you get close to five hours of listening time when you charge it for just ten minutes. And yes, the headphones come with a very good carrying case too, something whose importance we cannot overstress.
All of which makes the Skullcandy Venue a very good option for those who want a pair of headphones that deliver decent sound and have very good battery life. We are not going to put them in the highest class of sound quality of even ANC, but they punch well above their weight and at Rs 18,999, deliver decent value for money. They will not give Bose or Sony sleepless nights, but are an excellent starting point for anyone who wants good quality sound with active noise cancelling. And are proof that Skullcandy can mix it with the best.
Traveller’s Tip: You can read more about active noise cancellation here, but in simple terms, it is a method by which headphones produce sounds to offset ambient sounds to ensure that you get to hear only what you wish to hear.