YBLTV Review: Skullcandy Venue Noise-Canceling Wireless Headphones
Founded in 2003, Skullcandy has established itself as a purveyor of accessible audio accessories and audio equipment over the last fifteen years. Forever entwined with the fantastic journey that defined my musical tastes, Skullcandy was the first pair of low-profile, “cool” earbuds I ever owned and marked a very distinct move from my cassette player and eternally-skipping portable CD player (the former for audiobooks, the later for music). I distinctly remember my first pair of Skullcandy Ink’d earbuds bought in the mid-2000’s, specifically for my first iPod (specifically, the ProductRED Nano that was so cutting edge). From there on, I became a lifelong Skullcandy fan. My obsession followed me to college with my first Bluetooth speaker and my first pair of headphones that gave me a taste for full-bodied bass, and I have continuously recommended Skullcandy as a tried-and-true brand. They had a great sound, cool look, and the customer service has been fantastic since that first pair of wired earbuds.
My point? I may not be an audio expert, but I have built my adult life on a graveyard of headphones and audio products that easily spans fifteen years in various forms and styles. I have loved, I have lost, and I am better for it because all of it put me right here to share some insight with all of you on, possibly, my favorite product of 2018 – the Skullcandy Venue.
Launched at the end of September 2018, the Venue headphones are, in my opinion, one of the most “grown-up” steps Skullcandy has taken to set itself up as a major player in the high-end headphones market. While I have long favored Skullcandy’s ability to obtain full-bodied sounds in their audio accessories, they seemed to market themselves primarily for teenagers and young adults with a particular emphasis on skaters, snowboarders, and surfers, which definitely established an “us versus them” mentality when comparing Skullcandy to other manufacturers – the other guys were big on sleek, future-esque styles that incorporated a lot of metal or monochrome palettes and not much diversity. While this was a great selling point for younger consumers, older shoppers were looking to brands that catered to that sleek, tech-focused style often seen on international flights and in high-end cafes.
After two weeks of using these headphones, I can definitively say these have been my best everyday audio experience within the last year and a half. To give you some background, Skullcandy’s Venue Headphones are over-the-ear Bluetooth headphones with large, soft ear cups for extended comfort while listening. One of the most interesting things that Skullcandy continues to do – and for what I respect them for – is to include an audio jack into their headphones, even if marketed primarily as wireless. While many phones are phasing out the audio jack in favor of increased screen and speaker real estate, I still use a wired connection when listening to music on my old laptop or to eliminate potential signal drop-off between my phone and headphones. The fact that this is even still being considered in the design is wonderful and opens up the market to a number of buyers who may not have considered a solely-wireless setup. The Venue Headphones take a micro-USB charge, but can utilize RAPID CHARGE to provide 5 hours of battery life in a ten minute charge, and comes in a very attractive carrying case.
I have so many things to say about the Venue Headphones, but let’s start at the top – the fit. If you’re new to my articles and reviews, you may not be aware of my extremely large head and the trouble it has caused me. While I’m not disproportionate and it’s not debilitating, my head has caused a number of annoyances over my twenty-five years. First are hats, but a close runner up has been headphones. When I made the transition from earbuds to headphones, I felt so cool and edgy – that is, until I kept them on for more than half an hour. I have had consistent problems with the fit of most headphones – the cups are either hitting me at the very top of my jaw because they’re too large or the band that runs across the top has rubbed and dug into my head that I end up getting headaches. This has made the recent trend of wireless headphones becoming necessary for phones a struggle. However, my first major pro of the Venue Headphones are the FIT. These headphones fit like an absolute dream – the ear cups are cut in an oval shape versus a typical circle, which means there’s less cup to hit the back of my face and less to rub against the front. I personally love this fit and often times find myself walking around having forgotten they’re still on. I also really like the smooth, minimalist look they’ve incorporated for the exterior of the headphones, as the combination of matte black hardware and clean lines really makes it feel like one whole unit instead of segmented sections of a whole piece. The aesthetic look of the buttons neatly integrated along the edges of the headphones with soft touch and soft, response lighting keeps any one part from distracting or taking away from the entire design.
“The Venue Headphones show that you don’t have to compromise excellent sound for the sake of cutting edge technology, nor do you have to give up a good-looking, well-built design for competitive bells and whistles” – Katie Hernandez, @khernandezybltv YBLTV Writer/Reviewer
Another reason I’ve been seen walking around with the Venue on and no music is the NOISE-CANCELING feature. The Venue are the first pair of active noise-canceling (ANC) headphones I’ve owned, and I’m so disappointed I waited until 2018 to find out what the fuss is about. The Venue’s noise-canceling feature make enjoying your music extremely pleasant, but I have also enjoyed using these with podcasts and white noise apps while studying. Even when I’ve been wearing the Venue during the walk between my last class and my car, the strength of the noise-canceling capabilities is obvious when you take them off. All ambient noise comes flooding back in, and you really have to take a second and appreciate how pleasant the isolated sound was. I’ve also noticed that, even with this feature on, I don’t have a noticeable problem with leaking sound that I’ve had in the past with other headphones. In addition to the noise-canceling, you also have the option to toggle between this feature and the MONITOR MODE, which allows you the ability to hear others around you, even with the Venue headphones still on. I found this extremely handy when ordering coffee or when speaking with people when my hands were full or on the go. While you might wonder why I didn’t just take them off, I have found that I somehow always have the problem of too many things in my hands. Typically, taking off headphones means holding them somewhere and I often don’t have anywhere to easily hold on to them. Some brands have made headphones with swiveling cups that lay flat against your collarbone so you can take off the headphones, wear them around your neck if needed, and then be off. I’ve never been comfortable with using headphones this way, as it feels similar to being choked– so being able to keep the headphones on and still hear things if needed is a huge plus.
While the Venue headphones can do almost all of the same things most other brands offer, such as music controls, answering and ending calls, checking battery life and easy indicators for pairing, one of the absolute best features of the Venue has to be the partnership with TILE TRACKERS. I own a tracker for almost all of my devices, keys, and wallets, so having a pair of headphones that can not only be located by ringing but also operate on the Tile map and can be located if lost is an absolute miracle. At first, I was a little unsure of how well the Tile function would work. First, the Venue headphones emit a fairly loud whistling sound that I can hear in quiet and ambient settings. Secondly, I had my mom take the headphones with her to work (about 30 minutes from our house) and turn the headphones on once there. As soon as she turned the headphones on, Tile utilized that wonderful map of other Tile users and notified me that my headphones had moved since my last use. I couldn’t believe that I received such a quick response with such a specific pinpoint location. It’s an extra point of relief to know you can always track your Venue down, especially if you’re considering spending the $195 USD on these bad boys.
My final highlight of the Venue headphones is the VOICE ASSISTANT feature. Since integrating fully to the Google ecosystem this year with my Pixel 2, I have come to depend on my Google Assistant for reminders, alarms, calenders and even easy things like sending messages and searching for things online. Google Assistant is easily one of my favorite things to use daily as well as having the ability to access it through my headphones instead of the Pixel Active Edge. I like being able to check my calendar and do small searches while on the go. While this may not be my absolute favorite addition, I really do consider it to be one of the most functional additions to the Venue Headphone design.
- Tile Tracker/Alert
- Fit/Comfort is High Quality
- Beautiful Design/Build is Sturdy
- Noise-Canceling and Monitor Mode
- Rapid Charge
- Easy Pairing/Controls
- Convenient AUX Jack Integrated
- Travel Case (Hardshell) is Included in Purchase
- Available in Black/Black or Red/White
- AUX Cord and Charging Cord Included
- 2 Year Warrenty Guide
- Very Light-Weight
- $179.99 (can be pricey, but for an equitable version from another brand, this still seems like a very good price)
- Sound was a bit sharper than what I was previously use to with lower-end headphones, so the sound may seem off at first.
Skullcandy’s Venue Headphones are the perfect mix of “Cool Kid” meets “Next Gen.” While I will always love the original Crushers and Hesh headphones, the Venue Headphones speak to the adults in the room who never let the funky little alt rock nerd from high school die. The Venue Headphones show that you don’t have to compromise excellent sound for the sake of cutting edge technology, nor do you have to give up a good-looking design for extra bells and whistles. I love that a brand that was such an integral part of my adolescence has come with me into my adult life, and has only gotten better with age. So, if you’re looking for a great set of good-looking, solidly-built, noise-canceling headphones that will support the easy listening of an audiobook, show, or podcast while also standing up hours of music both new and well-loved, I would highly recommend Skullcandy’s Venue Noise-Canceling Headphones.
Disclosure of Material Connection: YBLTV Writer / Reviewer Katie Hernandez, received Skullcandy Venue Noise-Canceling Wireless Headphones from Skullcandy in consideration for a Product Review.