Skullcandy Smokin’ Buds 2 Review Facts
Although they aren’t as well-liked in recent years, headphone manufacturer Skullcandy enjoyed an impressive status in the past as one of the most popular brands of headphones and earbuds for the youth. With their low-profile design and an appealing logo graphic, Skullcandy’s Smokin Buds were a common sight on any high school or college campus roughly 10 years ago. Although their status as the quintessential youth listening device has been usurped by Beats in recent years, Skullcandy has remained a part of this industry and continues to build upon their most popular designs.
The Skullcandy Smokin’ Buds 2 is a true sequel to the original in the sense that they offer more of what people enjoyed from the first one while also providing new features that improve upon the previous model. The most notable addition to this design is its wireless functionality, although the microphone and inline remote are also new additions. This new version of the time-tested earbud design also boasts noise isolation properties and a removable neckband, providing a solid earbud offering at an extremely reasonable price.
When the original Smokin’ Buds were released, their low-profile design consisted only of two small earbuds and a long, thin, and flat wire. This shape made these earbuds ideal for use in a variety of physical activities, although the durability of this thin wire was suspect. In this second iteration of the Smokin’ Buds line, the wire has been shortened, an inline remote has been added, and a neckband is included for housing the superfluous wiring.
Because of these additions, the range of activities
in which these headphones can be used has expanded greatly. While the originals were able to handle running and cycling without any concern, the thin and fragile cable could get in the way when performing other exercises, such as weight training or calisthenics. Fortunately, this wire has been removed from any high-impact zones and further protected due to the removable neckband. Because of this, virtually every form of physical exertion that doesn’t involve being submerged in water
can be accommodated gracefully with the Skullcandy Smokin’ Buds 2.
Much like their original version, the Skullcandy Smokin’ Buds 2 is comprised of two small pods which are placed in the wearer’s ear so that they can listen to music
. These two pods come with attached ear tips that can be replaced with larger or smaller versions, included in the product package, for the comfort needs of individuals. In order to enhance its functionality with smartphones, these earbuds also come with an inline remote and microphone that can adjust music and call volume.
The most noticeable change in the Smokin’ Buds 2 from the original is its wireless functionality. Instead of connecting to the wearer’s listening device via the headphone jack or Lightning port, these Skullcandy headphones pair to any compatible device with Bluetooth. While some individuals may be disappointed by this change, since it prevents legacy MP3 players and iPods from being compatible with them, the vast majority of customers won’t be affected if they plan on listening to their music through a smartphone. Additionally, these wireless earbuds offer a conveniently long battery
life, meaning that charging this product is less of a hassle than some customers may expect.
Among the other upgrades, Skullcandy made from the first version of their Smokin’ Buds to this iteration was the addition of noise isolation. Unlike some of the more expensive wireless
earbuds on the market, this nonessential is passive rather than active. What this means is essentially that the design of the earbuds themselves are what isolates outside noise, rather than any complicated hardware that analyzes background audio and negates it. This does mean that the Smokin’ Buds 2 isn’t as effective at isolating noise when compared to products with active noise isolating technology, but it’s still passable and saves the customer a substantial amount of money
Aside from this, the other advanced feature of this product is its neckband. This small plastic band is meant to wrap around the back of the user’s neck and can house any excess slack from the earbud wires in a safe and protective manner. Some earbuds that have a neckband like this will use it to attach powerful electronics for the purpose of noise isolation, but the lack of these superfluous features means that this product’s neckband is completely removable without any loss in audio fidelity or functionality.
When it comes to sound quality, Skullcandy delivers a level of fidelity that is adequate without being particularly impressive. Listeners will be able to hear the full range of highs, mids, and lows without any choppy or muddy impairments, but it isn’t on the same level as something from Bose or Beats. Unlike many of these other brands, the Smokin’ Buds 2 doesn’t come with any sort of companion app that enhances its sound or introduces EQ settings. Additionally, the noise isolation provided by these earbuds is passive and won’t generate the same effect as more expensive offerings. For casual listeners who are simply looking for a pair of earbuds to wear while they work out, the Skullcandy Smokin’ Buds 2 will suit their needs without any issues; however, audiophiles and bass lovers will ultimately be disappointed by the quality of this product.
While the majority of Skullcandy products connect to the user’s listening device through an ordinary headphone jack, the Smokin’ Buds 2 can only connect via Bluetooth. This shouldn’t be an issue for most casual users since just about everyone uses their smartphones
to listen to their music these days. However, anyone who enjoys listening to music on older listening devices such as a legacy MP3 player or CD player won’t be able to connect with this product. Furthermore, some individuals are frustrated with Bluetooth functionality and consider it to be a confusing and finicky form of wireless connectivity. It’s true that some people can have issues with Bluetooth pairing if there’s a lot of interference or if their smart device is faulty, but these issues are rare and shouldn’t be a major concern.
The main reason why some people prefer headphones to earbuds is that they find them more comfortable. Individuals with sensitive ears are likely to choose listening devices that go over their ears rather than rest inside them in order to avoid pain. Skullcandy’s earbuds contain tips that are made from a very soft silicone material that avoids causing discomfort or pain for most listeners, even after using them for long periods of time. The Smokin’ Buds 2 even comes with different sizes of tips that can be swapped out in order to enhance the listener’s comfort. However, some people may still find this style of headphones to be too uncomfortable and will want to use over-the-ear or bone conduction headphones instead.
Another comfort-related amenity introduced to this version of the Skullcandy Smokin’ Buds is a neckband. This small plastic band wraps around the back of the wearer’s neck and can contain any excess cable that would otherwise hang past the wearer’s shoulders. While this feature is comfortable enough to not cause any issues, the manufacturer designed it to be removable in case any issues do arise with it. Because of these aspects, the Smokin’ Buds 2 can be considered some of the most comfortable earbuds on the market.
Before Beats, the most stylish and popular earbuds on the market were Skullcandy’s Smokin’ Buds. As early as ten years ago, these could be seen on the ears of many teenagers and young adults listening to music on their iPods and Zunes. The low-profile design, aesthetically pleasing skull logo, and a wide range of colors were what sold their status as the quintessential accessory for trendy music lovers.
While their status has since faded in lieu of Dr. Dre’s popular headphones and earbuds, Skullcandy has kept up with modern design trends while still retaining the features that made them stand out. The multiple color options are still present, as are the small earbuds adorned with their familiar logo. However, the inline remote and neckband are more in line with modern headphone design, since they provide extra protection and smartphone functionality. The inline remote is small enough to not cause much concern for most wearers, but the neckband can come across as somewhat tacky. That’s why Skullcandy
stresses the fact that this portion of the Smokin’ Buds 2 is removable, stating on their website that it’s “low on the nerd factor.”
When comparing the overall durability of headphones and earbuds, headphones usually come out on top as the sturdier device. Despite usually having more intricate parts that can be susceptible to breakage, many of the primary components are built with additional protective reinforcements that improve their longevity. On the other hand, earbuds like the Skullcandy Smokin’ Buds 2 are made up of only a few small parts that don’t devote much effort to enhancing their resilience to the elements. In the case of these wireless earbuds, the manufacturer does make an effort to improve its durability by providing a plastic neckband to house some of the excess cables, but this is lightweight and flimsy enough that any serious impact can break it. Because of this, wearers of these Skullcandy headphones will want to exercise caution when performing any physical activities that introduce the risk of high impacts, such as weight lifting or trail running.
Ease of Use
For the most part, customers don’t want to spend more than a minute setting up their headphones for listening to their music. The entire purpose of these products is to provide convenience to the customer, so any product with convoluted steps will inevitably detract from this experience. The Skullcandy Smokin’ Buds 2 avoids some of the accessibility pitfalls that afflict other wireless headphones since it doesn’t require a companion app in order to function properly. However, they are still wireless with Bluetooth connectivity, which means that they will need to be charged and paired before using. These two setbacks are relatively minor and shouldn’t concern most customers, but individuals used to simply plugging in their headphones
and listening to their favorite tunes may be frustrated by these extra steps.
As previously mentioned, these wireless headphones require an electric charge in order to function. This is because they aren’t connected directly to their listening device, so they are unable to draw power in this way. The Skullcandy Smokin’ Buds 2 comes with a small Micro USB charging cable, which can be easily connected to any computer, power brick, or wall outlet with an adaptor. It isn’t as convenient as the old-fashioned way, but it’s convenient enough to satisfy most people.
While these earbuds don’t provide some of the interesting additional features offered by Bose, Sony, or Beats products, the major benefit to Skullcandy’s simplistic design is their pricing. Aside from the style factor, one of the reasons why Smokin’ Buds were so popular among the youth is that they were extremely affordable. Despite having some modern features, the Smokin’ Buds 2 come at a similarly affordable price point. When compared to the cost of some wireless earbuds that can exceed $200, these wireless earbuds are far and away the most affordable option at roughly ¼ the price of entry.
- Detachable plastic neckband for carrying extra cables
- Wireless design with Bluetooth connectivity
- Approximately seven hours of battery life
- Multiple colorways to choose from
- Different sized ear tips for customizable comfort
Wearing a pair of Skullcandy headphones simply won’t cause the same effect as they did a decade ago. These are no longer the coolest pair of earbuds on the block. However, their impressive features, excellent comfort, and appealing price make the Skullcandy Smokin’ Buds 2 an excellent pick for anyone looking to rock some wireless earbuds that won’t get in the way of their running or training.