Skullcandy - Skullcandy Riff Wireless


Skullcandy Riff: the Bluetooth headset in its most refined form

Aprox. 39€ - see price -

The Skullcandy Riff arrives with a very simple promise: to offer an efficient and unadorned Bluetooth nomad headset at a very low price (launch price: € 50).

Our review


The Riff plays the card of the sleek design. These over-ear headphones rest on a chassis made entirely of plastic which gives it an extreme lightness (only 161 g). It therefore does not have the same claims as other models in terms of solidity. We immediately realize this by handling it a bit (shells that sound “hollow”, lack of flexibility ...).

However, the hinges allow the earpieces to lie flat (90 degrees, pads outwards) and above all to fold inwards. The Riff thus easily finds its place in a small bag or in a large pocket. We would have appreciated even a carrying case to protect it, but nothing is provided apart from the USB cable for charging.

If the headband does not benefit from any cushion, the atria host on their side a very thick and soft foam cushion covered with imitation leather. It does not particularly memorize the shape of the pavilions, but the feeling of comfort is not really affected. The extreme lightness of the helmet, the generous pivot on the horizontal and vertical axes of the hinges and the construction of the pads give a very convincing result in use. The Riff can be worn without worry during long sessions of use, even if you wear glasses or are not particularly fond of on-ear designs. The pressure points are distributed homogeneously. There is no exaggerated clamp effect and the helmet remains correctly in place on the head. A very honest comfort experience in short.

We cannot however say that the Riff is a model of insulation, far from it. Even with music in the ears (at a reasonable volume of course), you can still hear the surrounding sounds. Certain sounds (car / motorcycle engine noises, noisy public transport) will mask what you are listening to from time to time: practical for staying aware of your surroundings, much less for putting yourself in a sound bubble.

Simplification is also the watchword in use. Indeed, this model communicates exclusively wirelessly via Bluetooth 4.1 (no details from the manufacturer on compatible codecs, but it seems that only SBC is supported) without the possibility of simultaneous connection to a second device (no multipoint). The 3.5mm mini-jack input is therefore completely absent, which is a great shame when you run out of juice or just want to connect your favorite device without Bluetooth. Speaking of autonomy precisely, the Riff goes further than its promise of only 11 hours of use. In practice, we have repeatedly gone beyond 16 hours of use, which remains very low, even for a helmet of this type. Charging takes place via the micro-USB port located on the helmet.

The Riff has a trio of buttons on the back of the right ear cup, which is directly accessible with the thumb. It is not always extremely easy to activate them (the rubbery surface does not really facilitate handling, especially when you have to press the central button several times), but the controls are complete and responsive. It is possible to manage listening volume, music playback, calls, navigate between tracks and invoke the smartphone voice assistant. A few voice and audio indications are there to guide the user. A LED is also present to facilitate handling when the helmet is not worn.

As on almost all mobile wireless headsets, a hands-free microphone kit is present on this headset. It does not work miracles, but it does its job very well in most cases. The voice is warm and intelligible when you are indoors or on a quiet street. Things get complicated in particularly noisy environments (street with a lot of traffic, wind ...) because the microphone does not really filter the surrounding sounds. In this case, the voice is easily masked by certain sources (engine noises from vehicles passing nearby, etc.) and also becomes muted, more difficult to understand. It is therefore better to go directly through your smartphone so that your contact can hear you better.

Communication latency is slightly below 150 ms: an average result for Bluetooth headsets. In practice, this is enough to follow a video on a mobile phone very well with applications that natively apply a certain amount of latency compensation (such as Netflix, Youtube), even during the dialogue phases. It is more difficult outside of these cases, but not insurmountable either.



The Riff has some small qualities to assert in the field of performance, but certainly not that of offering a faithful rendering. As our measure clearly shows, he has a very pronounced inclination for low extremes and for highs.

The bass, more precisely the extreme bass, is very generously highlighted. The rendering is very flattering, with a seat and a feeling of impact exacerbated. The membranes keep a very good behavior in the reproduction of this zone: the precision is very correct and the readability is always a minimum guaranteed, even on very demanding pieces in this zone (bass drum attacks and very fast and very bass notes close together, for example). However, this signature is still excessive on certain mixes / songs already very generous in bass, as is often the case in Hip-Hop and Electro, and hearing fatigue happens faster than expected. In addition, the bass is not really defined or present: the feeling of proximity, the warm aspect of certain sources, especially on female voices, is in retreat.

Measurement of membrane reactivity: square waves at 50 Hz (left) and 500 Hz (right)

The intelligibility of the voices is fortunately not called into question, just like the sound presence. The Riff does not deliver a cavernous rendering. It remains impactful and sharp. The mediums are correctly defined and detailed. The restitution in the treble would have deserved better homogeneity. Even if our measurement is a little more generous with the peak located around 8 kHz than what we see when listening, we do perceive an abundance of treble in this area. This behavior emphasizes the metallic aspect of certain elements, in particular the cymbals, and sometimes the whistling of the voice (“sss” and “fff” sounds). The width and depth of the stereophonic field are far from impressive, but the job is guaranteed. We identify the different sources correctly on the horizontal or vertical plane, but it will really be necessary to listen - and be in a very calm environment - to perceive the most discreet and distant effects.

The Riff is not the most exemplary Bluetooth headset when it comes to managing distortion. However, the latter remains at very acceptable levels across the entire audible spectrum.



The Riff largely fulfills its mission. It offers a correct use and listening experience for a tight budget, as small as possible. However, you shouldn't expect too much. Unlike many others, it is impossible to use it wired or passive and the duration of use with a full charge is not incredible. If this is a critical point for you, take a look at other references, like the Move Wireless for example.