Review of INK’D earbuds by Skullcandy.
Availability: Most electronics and music stores
Skullcandy makes a variety of headphones ranging from full studio sets to in ear buds for MP3 players and portable listening. This review takes a look at their INK’D line of ear buds which are also their most affordable.
Skullcandy built its brand on its unique designs and bold logo placement on its products. They market mainly to artistic and athletic types. Audiophiles, known for their keen obsession with perfect audio levels have in the past blasted Skullcandy for designing based on style and image and less on audio quality. This review seeks to balance the debate out a bit.
We’ll get this one out of the way right away. For the money, you can’t buy a better pair of earbuds. Really. While they don’t come close to the performance of high end earbuds coming in at over $100, they easily beat out most earbuds in the under $50 range.
The bass is very pronounced with INK’D earbuds, sometimes it can be a bit too much…but a volume adjustment can balance this out a bit.
The highs are a little lacking at times but the mids come in and make up for it. In other words, these earbuds give a well rounded audio experience for most listeners.
Some reviewers say these are better for rap and bass heavy music, but I’ve found they are awesome when it comes to creating the feeling of being in the middle of more complex music. Electronic music shines with these earbuds and acoustic music is stunning. I’ve discovered notes and instrument pitches that I’ve totally missed on other speakers and earphones. Pretty much every type of music comes through good, metal and rock can at times sound muddled due to heavy bass but again for the price, this is a small issue.
Sound wise INK’D buds aren’t tinny in sound and the balance is good enough to give most music listeners a more than satisfactory experience. Plus when fitted properly, they block out nearly all outside noise.
A note about sound: you can tell the difference between a highly compressed music file and a FLAC lossless or less compressed audio file. Low quality audio is going to lower the quality of sound coming from the earbuds, rip your CDs or purchase digital music at higher kbit/s for the best experience.
The INK’D buds come with 3 sizes of removable flexible gel covers for in ear fitting. You’ll want to try all 3 to get the best fit for your ear canal. Some users might find them a little too tight and snug, but the good seal is ideal for blocking outside noise and hearing deeper lows in the music. Most users won’t even notice them in their ears after a while.
One word of caution: The earbuds when exposed to sweat can slide out or move around causing a squishy kind of sound over the music. Also the cable vibration is very noticeable in the sound when moving, therefore I don’t recommend these for exercise activities unless you don’t mind some wire rubbing sounds.
The INK’D line comes in a wide range of colors with the removable gel covers matching the plastic band of color around each ear bud. In addition the outer sides of each bud feature a circular logo of the Skullcandy skull with a background color that matches the gel cover colors.
They are small enough to be discrete in most situations but depending on the color chosen, they can accent an outfit or be standout fashion accessories.
This is one area where the INK’D line falls short. One, if you lose the ear gel covers you can order more, but the earbuds are useless without them. Secondly, the jack can be extremely fragile, I had one pair that broke quickly because the wire going into the jack bent and snapped the gold connector in half.
Finally the cables are a bit thin and if you wrap them around your music device over time small tears in the cable rubber can appear causing the wires inside to wear out quicker.
For the price, you can’t beat these earbuds. The sound at this price point is outstanding and still compete with earbuds double the price. The fit and comfort level is great for earbuds and the style is different enough from other brands to be noticed as Skullcandy brand.
While the lifespan of these will vary widely based on use, you aren’t putting out a lot of money in the first place for these. Stores such as Radio Shack often offer 1 year replacement plans for only a few dollars, meaning they will replace Skullcandy headphones once in a year due to damage or defects…no questions asked.
If you want a pair of decent in ear headphones for under $25 and want to listen to a range of music styles at more than adequate quality; INK’D are a great buy. Since ear buds see a lot of use and can get damaged easily, you can get decent sound at a decent price and not be too upset if you lose or break them.