In the past, when someone wanted to buy a decent pair of headphones, it was an investment that needed some thinking into. As time went on, the variety increased while affordability also came down to earth level. While the two points did seem like good news to start with, people soon realised the compromise that had been made to make the headphones affordable. Most of the cheaper headphones were found to die out in a few short months, causing a steep rise in frustration among users. While most people thought that the era of affordable headphones was at an end, in came Skullcandy and its armada of affordable, high-performance headphones, which, not only gave people more than their money’s worth, but they also looked good while doing it. This brings us to the topic of review today, the Skullcandy Smokin’ Buds 2 Wireless.
When you see a pair of earphones priced at $59.99, the first thing on your mind is that the pair won’t last the long run. Skullcandy aims to change this very thought with their new pair of Smokin’ Buds earphones. Yes, the name might sound a bit odd, but considering that weird names is Skullcandy’s forte, it should hardly come as a surprise to existing users. But the name’s just about the only thing that can claim to be the oddity in this rather bass-heavy pair of earphones. Skullcandy earphones have built their reputation on the fact that their earphones/ headphones dish out arguable the best bass output in the bracket of budget earphones/headphones. The Smokin’ Buds 2 carry forward this legacy with apparent ease, as the moment you plug in this pair, you are exposed to surreal levels of bass which, at the expense of overall balance in the lows and highs, leave you begging for more. Simply put, the Smokin’ Buds may be cheap, but don’t think for a second that is mild performers.
Now that you have a brief gist of what the earphones are all about, let’s go a bit deeper and examine the various aspects which make up the Smokin’ Buds 2 –
Table of Contents
The Skullcandy Smokin’ Buds 2 are wireless earphones, which means no hassle of long wires which tangle up quicker than you can tie your shoelaces. Skullcandy has always had a knack for making their products as versatile as possible, a philosophy that has been continued into the Smokin’ Buds 2 as well. The earphones feature a removable neckband, ( or Flex Collar, in Skullcandy terminology ). Now, this gives you a choice. You can either choose to wear the earphones along with the flex collar. This way, the collar wraps gently but firmly along your neck, giving you a comfortable fit. The second option you have at your disposal is that you can choose to abandon this flex collar altogether and use the earphones in a behind-the-head sort of way. Either way, you will not have to worry about tugging at the earphone wire every once in a while.
Coming to the colour options, Skullcandy is offering the Smokin’ Buds 2 in three colour options – Black/Red, Black/Chrome and White. Usually, looking at Skullcandy’s colourful history, I did expect a few more colour variants for this model, but it looks like these are all we are getting from them at the moment.
As far as functionality is concerned, the Smokin’ Buds 2 feature a full-fledged control panel near the left-hand earpiece. The panel comes loaded with a three-button remote control. While the middle button does the major job of handling calls, Bluetooth pairing, power and play/pause functions, the upper and lower buttons control volume and track navigation, depending on how long you keep them pressed.
The earphones will ship with only two sizes of ear tips, which seems like a small speed bump as it becomes more of a custom for earphones to come with at least three different sizes of ear tips. This way, users can rest assured of the earphones fitting in their ears. In the case of the Smokin’ Buds 2 however, users who fall in the medium ear level category will have to arrange for ear tips suited to their use, as the included ear tips may or may not fit their ears. Other than the ear tips and the earphones, the only other thing that comes in the package is the micro USB charging cable, which is responsible for charging the earphones. Now, Skullcandy claims that the Smokin’ Buds 2 will do 6 hours on a trot, but the real battery efficiency will depend on how loud you play your music.
Coming to the performance, the Smokin’ Buds deliver exceptionally powerful bass, which might be too much for the average listener, but it’s not atrociously high either. When it comes to the percussion effects, drums, for example, the ideal expected effect is that the drums should sound full, but not thunderous. The Smokin’s BUds 2 however, give you a heavier experience, which might not be to everyone’s liking.
Guitar strumming comes through in a crystal clear fashion due to the boosted highs. The area of concern however is the low mid, low and sub-bass presence which make the overall track tilt towards the lows, so much so that even the high-frequency sculpting can’t overcome this scenario.
If you are someone who listens to HIp-Hop, you will be pleased to the knowledge that the Smokin’ Buds perform near perfectly to Hip Hop tracks. The Kick drum loop’s attack gets just the required amount of high- mid presence to maintain its sharpness, while the low-frequency loop seems just as powerful. The overall track, however, tilts towards the lows yet again. The vocals don’t get pushed deeper into the mix. Rather, the vocals float on top of the pecking order clear enough to give you a decent overall performance.
In conclusion, I would say that the Skullcandy Smokin’ Buds 2 Wireless earphones are bang on target to win the award for best wireless earphones in the under $70 range. They may have their little flaws here and there, but they are all at a cosmetic level. when it comes to performance, Skullcandy has tried its level best to pack in as much as it could within the budget constraints. While there are a few other alternatives in the market such as the Samsung Level U wireless, or even the Jabra Rox series, its Skullcandy comes out on top here with the promise of high-quality endurance, surreal bass, and versatility. Definitely a must-have for those looking for a pair of affordable earphones.