Skullcandy Smokin’ Buds Review

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Skullcandy Smokin Buds
Reviewed Sep 2011

Details: Aging Skullcandy earphone with a familiar form factor
Current Price: $14 from amazon.com (MSRP: $29.95)
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16Ω | Sens: N/A | Freq: 18-20k Hz | Cable: 4′ I-plug
Nozzle Size: 5mm | Preferred tips: generic single flanges
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear

Accessories (2.5/5) – Single-flange silicone tips (3 sizes) and soft carrying pouch
Build Quality (3/5) – The plastic housings are similar to those found on the VSonic R02ProII and Grado iGi. The rubber strain reliefs are long and soft but the cable itself is thin and plasticky. An in-line volume control is present below the y-split
Isolation (3/5) – More than adequate for an entry-level dynamic-driver earphone
Microphonics (4/5) – Low with cable-down wear; nonexistent otherwise
Comfort (3.5/5) – Typical of a lightweight straight-barrel in-ear and similar to the other IEMs utilizing the same housing

Sound (3.1/10) – Like the lower-end Ink’d model, the Smokin sounds decent but hardly impresses even next to the age-old JVC Marshmallows and MEElec M2s. The bass is reasonably impactful but tends to sound boomy and has poor depth. Detail resolution is average – about on-par with the MEElec M2. The M2 sounds warmer and fuller, however, so it is more difficult to fault for not offering up much detail.

Bass bleed into the midrange is minimal but the Smokin’ can hardly be called ‘controlled’. The midrange boasts mediocre clarity and a fairly thick veil but isn’t particularly bothersome on the whole. The top end is similarly inoffensive but again neither the clarity nor the detail impress. Overall balance is decent. Noticeable top-end roll-off leads to a darker overall tone and a slight lack of air. The soundstage is small, causing congestion. Though not fair from a price perspective, there is really no comparison between the presentation of these and a decent entry-level set from a Hi-Fi brand, such as the Sennheiser CX300 or Ultimate Ears 350.

Value (6/10) – One of Skullcandy’s first in-ear models, the Smokin’ was originally slotted above the Ink’d in the lineup but has since dropped to a similar price point, more in line with the quality of sound it produces. With proper strain reliefs and a generic, reliable housing design, the Smokin’ is better-built, better-isolating, and less microphonic than the Ink’d. The sound is a bit more colored but at this level it really doesn’t matter – there are worse earphones out there and there certainly are better ones.

Pros: Low cable noise, lightweight and comfortable
Cons: Mediocre sound quality


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About Author

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.

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