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You're listening to music from your CD player, and suddenly your cell phone rings.

You have to pull off your headphones, talk on the phone, then replace your headphones again. This gets even more complicated if you want to (or need to) use a headset with your cellphone.

 
 
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The Skullcandy Link headset mixer

The Skullcandy Link is a fascinating and easily implemented solution to the problem of too many headsets.

It feeds inputs from both your cellphone and any music source to a single set of shared headphones.

 

 

Here's a simple, sensible and inexpensive solution to the 'headset clutter' that can be a problem when trying to both listen to music through a personal music player and occasionally use the phone, too.


What You Get

The Skullcandy Link is simply packaged in a small drawstring carry bag. Nothing else comes with the unit, but nothing else is needed. My review copy didn't even have an instruction sheet with it (full instructions are on their website if you need them).

The unit does not need batteries. It has a brief 90 day warranty, but the manufacturer seems to have no return policy. Fortunately, it is a simple product that simply works as you'd expect it to, so there's little need for a return policy.

Description

The Link connects a cellphone and an audio source, feeding both outputs into a single set of headphones. Typical audio sources might be a CD player or an MP3 player, or perhaps your computer at work or home.

In addition, it has a built in microphone so, when used with your cellphone, you can both speak and hear.

There are two controls on the unit. One is for volume - this adjusts the volume of the music that you hear through the headphones. Normally you'd have this at a comfortable listening level, and then, when a phone call comes in, you might turn the volume all the way down to 'off', or you might still leave the music playing quietly in the background. Whatever you set the volume level at, the person on the other end of your phone call can't hear your music, so the fact that you're listening to music as well as speaking to someone on the phone remains safely your secret!

The other control is a command button that some cell phones use. Sometimes a cell phone will use a press of this button as a command to answer a call or to start a new call - its use varies between different phone makes/models, and does nothing at all when used with my Motorola V66i.

The Link is available with three different headphone configurations : No headphones at all, just a standard plug into which you can plug any headpones; or with a set of lightweight over-the-ear 'backphones' designed not to fall off while you are engaged in 'active sports'; or with a set of small in-the-ear buds.

There are also five different model options depending on the type of phone connector plug you need. You need to decide which model phone you want your Link to work with, and, if you subsequently change to a different phone type that requires a different connecting plug, you would need to buy a new Link unit.

Functionality

The unit is brilliantly simple. Plug in your preferred headphones, your music source, and your phone. Start enjoying music. Take phone calls when they come in. Nothing is complicated or difficult.

There was no appreciable loss in sound quality by feeding it through the Link. And, using my Plane Quiet headphones, callers coming in through the phone sounded amazingly clear and much better than they ever would through normal headphones or the phone's own tiny speaker.

The microphone was much better than the microphones that dangle from most cheap phone headsets. A problem I invariably have with these other types of microphones is that, much of the time, they end up facing away from my mouth, rather than towards it! But because this microphone is on the front of the control box that one would normally clip to one's shirt or collar, the direction it faces in can be carefully controlled. Callers said that I sounded clear and close when I spoke in a normal voice.

There's something really rather fun about being able to listen to music 'secretly' while also speaking to another person on the phone. I love this little gadget.

Other Issues

A very long (4') cord runs from the control box to where it then splits into two short (8") leads to plug into the audio source and phone. The two leads are, alas, too short, while the 4' cord is often annoying long!

I typically have my cellphone in a pocket and my MP3 player located somewhere else, this is not easy with these two short leads. Or, when I grab my phone to dial a number, while the Link is also connected to my laptop computer, I end up ripping one of the plugs out of one of the devices.

The actual control unit is very light and small (2" x 0.75"). But it feels 'cheap', a perception aggravated by the phone control button which annoyingly rattles on it.

Of slight concern is that it seems impossible to contact anyone at Skullcandy.  I have tried to use their website's live support feature, but it is never on.  I have sent email, and left several voicemail messages, but nothing has resulted in a return phone call.  If you buy one of these otherwise appealing gadgets, you should figure on being very much on your own if you have any support issues.

Summary and Recommendation

Priced at either $25 (without headphones) or $30 (with) this is not a major purchase. It is an ideal gadget to give to someone who is already surrounded by other gadgets, or a great gift for yourself if you also fit that description!

It is simple, effective, and foolproof. Recommended. It can be purchased directly from the manufacturer's website.

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Originally published 5 Dec 2003, last update 19 Dec 2013

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 
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