Skullcandy: It’s All In Your Head

Sometimes the best ideas surface at the most unexpected times. Five years ago, Rick Alden was riding in a subway in Asia when he witnessed what he later described as “a frenzy.” Most of the passengers were listening to music via headphones, and each time a cell phone would ring, there was a mad rush […]

Sometimes the best ideas surface at the most unexpected

times. Five years ago, Rick Alden was riding in a subway in Asia when he

witnessed what he later described as “a frenzy.” Most of the passengers were

listening to music via headphones, and each time a cell phone would ring, there

was a mad rush of people reaching for their phones, removing their headphones

and verifying whether their phone was the one ringing.


With phones constantly chiming, it was a nonstop flurry of

headphones on and headphones off. Surely, Alden thought, there must be a way to

combine headphones and cell phones and eliminate the pandemonium.


Today, Alden’s creation Skullcandy is a worldwide success

story, with their diverse products sold internationally and endorsed by top

athletes and DJs.


Their flagship creation is their headphones, which run on

Skullcandy’s unique LINK system, connecting cell phones to headphones via

input/output cables that allow users to simply switch from one medium to the

other and back again.


In short, you’re listening to music, your phone rings, you

switch circuits to put the music on hold, take the call, end the call and go

back to your music. Simple, logical and selling like crazy. Adding to

Skullcandy headphones’ popularity is their look. No more bland, generic

headphones—Skullcandy boasts graphic designs and neon colors, adding yet

another angle to their appeal.


Brad Williams (Senior Director,

Marketing and Business Development), recently gave us the heads up on

Skullcandy’s product line, their everyman accessibility, the reasons why DJs

love them and the scoop on their new Double Agent headphones. How does the LINK adapter system work?


Brad Williams: You can plug any pair of headphones into this

jack. You clip it on like a hands-free mic on your collar or jacket and the top

is a plug, a port, for any headphones with a 3.5 connection, which is standard

for headphones or iPods. The bottom has two cables coming out of the jack. One

goes into your music source and the other goes into your phone. The mic is

embedded in the clip.


When the phone rings while you have your headphones on, you

press the button on the adapter and it connects you to the phone. It switches

the input wire and you don’t hear music when you’re on your call.


We were the first company to introduce integrated snow

helmets for Giro, Burton and Session. We do 80 to 90 percent of their audio. If

you wear a helmet while riding, some people don’t like separate ear buds, so we

built the LINK technology into the helmet, and when you take the helmet off,

the audio stays as part of the helmet. Volume adjustment is on the cables you

plug into the helmet. LINK is in the helmet. The jack and mic are in the helmet

and the cable goes to the phone. Your products have taken off in the DJ scene.


Brad: On the high end, we make top-quality DJ headphones

that we approach from an aesthetic perspective in the club mentality,

especially for DJs: Everyone wants to be unique, and our SK Pro headphones are

cobalt blue with white leather pads, gold with white graphics, red, yellow, and

the quality is on par with the best of the DJ headphones you see in clubs. DJs

are such tastemakers in the fashion and music scenes. They have driven interest

in the SK Pro and Skullcandy brand.

 The SK Pro Who is endorsing your products?


Brad: Some of the top athletes in action sports. In

skateboarding, Stevie Williams and Steve Caballero. In snowboarding, Marc Frank

Montoya. Among DJs – Clinton Sparks, DJ Drama, DJ Irie, Junior Sanchez, DJ

Clever, a lot of club and radio DJs, like Nina Nine at XM and Geronimo on



A lot of them are into the SK Pro’s, like J-Period, Frankie Bonez,

DJ Skee, Hapa, Knucklz, and Johnny Juice Rosado of Public Enemy. Shwayze is

with us. We’re on the Vans Warped tour with Gym Class Heroes, and we have the

Skullcandy mix tent on tour, where Merz and Shwayze’s DJ will be playing. There

are a lot of artists with whom we’re in development. What is your product price range?


Brad: Earbuds are under $20. Lightweight headphones are

athletic and clean and in the $20 range up to the pro DJ headphones, which are

$150. We have a limited set with a detachable MP3 player for standalone use that

sells for $169. Skullcandy has grown to the point of offering

12 styles of headphones. How do they differ and, for a new customer, who needs



Brad: This is a really important question. It does make a

difference based on what you listen to and how you listen. The differences are

in price range, aesthetics, and suitability factor for different activities.

Earbuds are great if you’re outside sweating a lot or in the gym. They have

rubberized finishes and outer housing, they’re lightweight, water resistant and

come in crazy color waves. The Smokin’ Buds are $15 – $20.

 Smoking Buds – Rasta styleIn lightweight headphones, the Icon is in the $20 range.

That’s the headphone of choice for snowboarders and skiers because they’re

ergonomically shaped to wear over a cap, with goggles over them. They’re by far

the best because you won’t have one ear pulling out. They’re the most practical

and easiest to carry.

 The Icon

The Skullcrusher is a headphone with subwoofers in the earpieces.

It has four speakers, regular stereo speakers, and subwoofers powered by a

single AA battery in a case for extra bass or thump. It’s very unique and

popular with gamers because of the extra power of the subwoofers pressing

against your head to check out a little further from reality!

 The SkullcrusherThere’s a mic’d version as well, a multimedia version.

They’re amazing for gaming. The Skullcrusher has a built-in amp on the

headphone wire. Most headphones drive power to the speaker from a source device

they’re plugged into, such as an iPod or computer. The Skullcrusher, for

example, or any noise-canceling headphones that emit white noise, require more

power and a different power source.


We have a battery-insert amp on the cord at chest level. You

put the AA battery in and it activates the mini-subs. There’s a volume switch,

a dial, on the housing for the battery, a small chamber on the cable that plugs

into the iPod or MP3 player. It’s not overly cumbersome. It has a clip to

secure it to your shirt or pocket. What about weight, comfort and ease of use?


Brad: All of our products are really user-friendly. The

majority are straightforward, stand-alone headphones with no additional bells

and whistles—just plug and play. You have a new product, the Double Agent,

coming out in June. How is it the next step in Skullcandy technology and

product development?


Brad: It’s a really neat piece with an integrated player

that reads off of any SD card inserted into the side of the headphone. You just

press a button on the side. It’s rechargeable through a wall charger or

computer USB. It’s retro style and extremely lightweight, great for

skateboarding and being out and about. You’re not catching wires that get in

the way. The card can stay in all the time and become the player. You can cable

it from your headphones to your computer and drop and drag your music.

 The Double Do you have other new products our readers

should know about?


Brad: The earbuds and Icon model can plug into the

Blackberry Curve and the iPhone for hands-free calls. Now, because the music

and voice components have converged into the same device, you don’t need

separate calls for the phone. What’s next, headphones that drop and drag

for you?


Brad: You can tell the person who peels your grapes to load

your SD card for you!

Check out Skullcandy at the January ’08 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas


For more information, go to