Some people prefer earphones that blend in so much that no one can tell they're even being used, while others like their gadgets to stand out from the crowd. If you fall into the latter crowd, the Skullcandy iCon Soft headphones might be right up your alley. This on-ear model lists for $34.95 and Skullcandy's typical eye-catching design. The earphones offer some nice extras, but the fit and sound quality won't impress many users.
In fact, even the design is something only a teen could love, which isn't necessarily a bad thing as the iCon Soft headphones are probably made specifically for that target audience. The dead giveaway: rather than a case, the package includes a black and gold Skullcandy bandana. You know, so you can coordinate your neckerchief/do-rag with your headphones. Most adults will not be able to overlook the ridiculousness of it. The earphones themselves come in three color variations--black/green, brown stripe, and the glaringly bright CMYK--and each version includes two sets of earpiece "plates" that snap onto the outer side of the earcups. The adjustable headband is wrapped in a coordinating leatherette strip that gives the headphones more of a standard headband look. As per the Skullcandy tradition, each nylon earpad features a skull logo.
Descending from each iCon earpiece is a color-coordinated Y-cable that terminates in a gold-plated straight plug. The wire is coated in cloth and exceptionally thick, meaning the cord is probably exceptionally durable--an impressive feat for earphones in this price range. Also, the left cable features an inline mic and call answer button for using the iCon as a stereo headset with the iPhone and other music phones. This is a nice feature to have, but we'd appreciate it more if the headphones fit securely. As it stands, the thickness of the headband prevented it from laying flat against our head, so it tended to slide around quite a bit.
More of an issue, though, is the sound quality. The Skullcandy iCon Soft headphones just don't deliver on the audio front. Bass is practically nonexistent, certain tracks come across muffled and fuzzy, and music sounds thin and anemic overall. The upshot is that some songs come through clear with no distortion, there's no noticeable background hiss, and the call quality through the mic is decent.