Technophile

Riff Wireless: Quite a thump

Mala Bharghava | Updated on: Jan 09, 2019
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Plastic meets sculpted sound in Skullcandy’s on-ear headphones

Skullcandy’s Riff Wireless headphones turn out to be more plastic-y than most. It’s that hard kind of plastic that doesn’t feel premium to the touch. It also feels brittle enough that you can imagine it snapping if it’s pulled too hard apart. Although I saw a demonstration of a Skullcandy representative yanking the two ear-cups apart, I can’t say I’d bank on that. For now, if you move about the ear-cups (they swivel on the band) you can also hear the sound of moving plastic parts.

But that said, they sound rather good, which is why we considered them at all.

You get the Riff Wireless in black, white and grey. Despite the plastic, they do have their own style. The ‘skull’ of Skullcandy’s logo is prominent and looks quite cool and attitude-filled. There are some shiny accents around the ear-cup and on the top of the band, but somehow that doesn’t look too bad. Contrasting with the hard plastic, we have ear-cups that are very soft. They are coloured on the inside and over them is a soft mesh through which the accent colour shows. Our unit was a grey with blue-green accents.

The ear-cups are the most comfortable part of these on-ear headphones and that’s as it should be, but there’s a total absence of any padding on the underneath of the head band. How this will feel depends a bit on one’s head shape. I like wearing headphones tight because they often slip off if I happen to look down, so the hard band makes its presence strongly felt throughout a wearing session. That wasn’t in the least comfortable. I even considered slipping in a wad of cotton underneath! There is enough play to adjust the headband though and the ear-cups articulate as well and in fact, fold up, except that there’s no case provided to put them in. I guess you get what you pay for. In the box is just the headphones and a micro-USB cable for charging. You can’t listen to these headphones using a cable. Not that you really need to, as they sound pretty good even on Bluetooth.

On one ear-cup are the absolutely simple controls for power and pairing, play and pause and skipping tracks, and of course volume. You can also use the middle button to trigger the assistant (Siri or Google) and take calls.

There’s absolutely no noise isolation whatsoever and you can hear every sound from the outside of those headphones. Not just that, if you touch the headphones you’ll hear that sound loud and clear on the inside. Loud music isn’t enough to shut out noise either. But then everyone isn’t looking for noise separation.

Coming to the sound quality: It’s really surprisingly nice for something so light and seemingly flimsy. There’s powerful bass, which is boosted to be of the level that young people like but purists frown upon. I have to admit to finding it most enjoyable. The higher frequencies are sculpted to stand out and not be muffled out by the bass or mids. Overall, the sound is really great, especially for the form factor of these headphones. If you like a bit of thump in your music, as I do, you’ll find these rather fun.

Battery life is slotted at 12 hours but the headphones support fast charging so you can get two hours of juice with just 10 minutes of charging.

Price: ₹5,999

Pros: Great bass-filled sound, lightweight, soft ear-cups, fast charging

Cons: Plastic build, uncomfortable for some, seems vulnerable to ripping and damage, no case provided

Published on January 10, 2019

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