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, Aldens 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
Skullcandys 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, youre 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
headphonesSkullcandy 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
Skullcandys product line, their everyman accessibility, the reasons why DJs
love them and the scoop on their new Double Agent headphones.
AllHipHop.com: 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 dont hear music when youre 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 dont 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.
AllHipHop.com: 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
AllHipHop.com: 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 Pros, like J-Period, Frankie Bonez,
DJ Skee, Hapa, Knucklz, and Johnny Juice Rosado of Public Enemy. Shwayze is
with us. Were on the Vans Warped tour with Gym Class Heroes, and we have the
Skullcandy mix tent on tour, where Merz and Shwayzes DJ will be playing. There
are a lot of artists with whom were in development.
AllHipHop.com: 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.
AllHipHop.com: 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 youre outside sweating a lot or in the gym. They have
rubberized finishes and outer housing, theyre 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.
Thats the headphone of choice for snowboarders and skiers because theyre
ergonomically shaped to wear over a cap, with goggles over them. Theyre by far
the best because you wont have one ear pulling out. Theyre the most practical
and easiest to carry.
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. Its 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 SkullcrusherTheres a micd version as well, a multimedia version.
Theyre 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
theyre 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. Theres 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. Its not overly cumbersome. It has a clip to
secure it to your shirt or pocket.
AllHipHop.com: 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 whistlesjust plug and play.
AllHipHop.com: You have a new product, the Double Agent,
coming out in June. How is it the next step in Skullcandy technology and
Brad: Its 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. Its rechargeable through a wall charger or
computer USB. Its retro style and extremely lightweight, great for
skateboarding and being out and about. Youre 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 AgentAllHipHop.com: 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 dont need
separate calls for the phone.
AllHipHop.com: Whats next, headphones that drop and drag
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 www.skullcandy.com