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Skullcandy Navigator headphones review: Strong design, decent sound for $99

While they don't quite measure up performance-wise to some competing models in this price range, the Skullcandy Navigators score points with their eye-catching design and comfortable fit.

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David Carnoy
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David Carnoy

Executive Editor / Reviews

Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.

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2 min read

Skullcandy makes some very popular headphones, but I can't say I'm a huge fan of them -- I've always found them a bit "style over substance." But when the company sent me its new Navigator headphones, I was hoping they'd be different, and I'd finally make a love connection.

Skullcandy_Navigator_headphones_35558239_07.jpg
7.1

Skullcandy Navigator headphones

The Good

The relatively compact <b>Skullcandy Navigator</b> on-ear headphones have a slick retro-future design, offer a comfortable fit with decent sound for $99 headphones, and their detachable cord has an Apple friendly inline remote/microphone.

The Bad

Some headphones in this price range sound better; some of the inline remote features won't work with non-iOS devices.

The Bottom Line

While they don't quite measure up performance-wise to some competing models in this price range, the Skullcandy Navigators score points with their eye-catching design and comfortable fit.

Not quite. But I did like the Navigator, the $99.99 on-ear sibling to the bigger, over-the-ear Roc Nation Aviator, which editor Justin Yu reviewed positively.

Like that model, the Navigator, which comes in white, blue, and black, has a retro-modern look and an eye-catching glossy finish on the exterior of the earpads. Despite the fact that my black version had a tendency to show some fingerprints, it's a good-looking headphone, and I also liked how it folds to fit in the included not-so-swanky cloth carrying sack.

The Navigators have the same glossy finish as the larger Aviators. Sarah Tew/CNET

The headphones seem fairly sturdy, and while I don't like the fit of a lot of on-ear headphones, the Navigators are comfortable and snug, as well as being relatively compact and lightweight (they seal out a decent amount of exterior noise).

Another plus: The cord detaches and there's an inline remote/microphone for making calls. Since this is a "Made for iPhone" product, some the remote features won't work with non-Apple devices.

A cloth carrying case is included. Sarah Tew/CNET

As for sound, it's pretty decent. I didn't find the Navigator quite as aggressive a headphone as the Aviator, so it's slightly warmer and serves up a good amount of bass without completely over-accentuating it. Detail is good but not great.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly what's missing from the listening experience for me, but there's a weird little hole in the top end of the bass, so I didn't get that loving feeling. That said, I was willing to put up with it because I liked the fit and finish of the headphones.

If you're looking for something that sounds better in this price range, there's the Audio-Technica ATH-WS55. Also, the over-the-ear Creative Aurvana Live is a notch up in the sound department. However, neither of those models has a built-in remote/microphone.

The headphones fold up. Sarah Tew/CNET

Conclusion
While I've heard some very good headphones for $99, I usually don't expect too much from sub-$100 models. The Navigators sound decent for headphones in this price range; they're just not up to the level of the aforementioned Audio-Technica and Creative headphones.

But the Navigators are more comfortable than the Audio-Technicas and have an arguably slicker design. They also have a smaller form factor than the Creatives, which will be a plus for some people.

In short, though the Navigators allude greatness; there's enough to like here to make them recommendable.

Skullcandy_Navigator_headphones_35558239_07.jpg
7.1

Skullcandy Navigator headphones

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 6
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