We doubt that the Skullcandy Aviator headphones are for the retiring type. The large earpiece shells and the wire frames were finished in shiny chrome, the ear pads and the leather-look headband in black. The company's promotional literature talks about "a crossbreed of street-level swagger and sophisticated class".
But you can perhaps turn down the swagger by a notch by choosing the red, brown/gold or white versions. More encouragingly, the literature also talks about "focus on performance", and as we'll see shortly they do not disappoint on that front.
At a bit over 200 grams, these are relatively heavy units, but also amongst the most comfortable headphones we've ever used. They gripped reasonably tightly, but the soft ear pads took the sting out of it, and the underside of the headband felt like a soft kid leather, although it was probably something synthetic. The ear pads were fairly large, and rather than sitting on top of our ears, they tended to surround them so that our head — skull, rather — took all of the pressure.
And while they looked rather gaudy from a distance, up close the attention to detail is impressive, with fine stitching around the headband ear pads and stylised skull logos that look surprisingly tasteful.
The headphones adjust by means of the earpieces sliding up and down the wire frame. The range of movement seemed shorter than some other brands, so it might be a good idea to check for fit before purchasing. We had no difficulty in that regard. They don't fold up very compactly, but can be toted in the soft leatherette carry bag that's included.
The cable is detachable, with a standard 3.5mm stereo connection at the headphone end (it plugs in to the left-hand can). The plug at the other end is straight, rather than 90 degrees, so you should be careful that your portable player is in your pocket with the plug at the top. About 12 centimetres from the headphone end is a standard iPod/iPhone/iPad remote control and microphone with three buttons. These were styled in such a way that our fingers learned to use them reliably within minutes. In addition to volume, they allow pause, play, call answer, call hang-up, skipping forwards and reverse and fast-forwarding forwards and reverse.
The cable itself was a little more substantial than most: slightly thicker, and with the outer insulation in old-fashioned woven nylon. However, a 3.5mm to 6.5mm plug adapter is not provided.
It's unclear precisely what the "association" is, but Skullcandy has at least drawn the endorsement of Jay-Z and Roc Nation. Which, we will confess, filled us with some trepidation, since some rappers seem to have a predilection for limitless bass at the expense, sound wise, of pretty much everything else.