It's not all bad news, however. We like the braided cables, as the covering not only adds a little durability, but also reduces their proneness to getting irrecoverably tangled. The covering on the earpads and headband may be plastic faux-leather, which isn't quite as pleasant to the touch as the real deal, but there is plenty of padding. If you don't have overly large ears, the cups fit entirely around your ears, giving the Aviators a very comfortable fit - something that some of the aforementioned competitors don't necessarily offer. However, despite being closed back earphones there's almost no noise isolation, which is a little disappointing. Thankfully the largely metal construction for the main headband and earcups mounts means the phones overall feel well suited to a life on the road.
On the audio front the results will probably strike you as good if you're coming from the fashion headphone world, but compared to similarly-priced products from (arguably) less style-conscious manufacturers the Aviators simply don't cut it. The low end has a decent kick and the mid-range offers reasonable clarity, but the high end definitely lacks detail. And the more complicated the music gets the more closeted the soundstage becomes, such that vocals lose definition, and instruments become a crowded mess.
Throw some fairly simple hip-hop at the Aviators and they sound okay - there's little enough going on in a track such as Jay-Z's Empire State of Mind or Run This Town that the thumping bass line underscores the verse without overwhelming it. Uncomplicated rock tracks - The Strokes' Machu Picchu, for example - aren't too disappointing either. Even so, you'd have to have a very limited experience of other headphones to think that the Aviators are doing a particularly great job - it might sound good, but the like of the Sennheiser HD598s sound leagues better.
This gap only widens if you listen to tracks with more to them than just a rapper and a drum machine. To say that the Aviator's failed to do justice to a rendition of Beethoven's 9th would be akin to describing Bernie Madoff as 'a bit of a con man' - true, but far from the whole story. Listen to the same orchestration through a pair of Grado SR125s and you'll be picking out not just individual instruments, but where the musician playing them was standing relative to the microphone; conversely, the Aviator's make it hard to even tell the difference between a violin and a cello - the bare minimum level of audio fidelity we expect at this price point.
The Skullcandy Aviator headphones come with endorsement by Jay-Z's Roc Nation, and that's as close to musical greatness as they get. Although we can accept their styling could be appealing to some, the audio quality falls far short of our expectations at this price point. Cheaper alternatives from Grado, AKG, Audio Technica or Sennheiser will serve you better.