Monday, October 29, 2007

Skullcandy "Smokin' Buds" Ink'd

What a terrible name for a consumer electronics company..."Skullcandy". What a horrid company logo...a SKULL! What ugly, blue, green headphones! I didn't expect much when I saw the "Ink'd" earbuds on sale at Staples yesterday (10/28/07) for 12.99! But I love earphones, and love finding a bargain, so I thought "what the hell".

The first thing I discovered was that the rubber tips that come fitted were perfect for my reason to try the two other sizes which were supplied. So I inserted the plug into my Sandisk Sansa E250 mp3 player, running a customized version of the Rockbox operating system (this version allowing "bookmarking" of MPEG video files, and allowing starting video files at any point simply by entering the time...other than that, it's pretty comparable to the current build of Rockbox. More coming on this player, and Rockbox firmware).

The first thing I noticed was that isolation is near total. It would be hard to hear someone standing next to you, even if they were SCREAMING! Time to listen to some music! First up, "Forget about it" from Alison Krauss....featuring her whisper-quiet voice at it's sweetest. I immediately noticed something quite different from the vast majority of earbuds...the midrange and highs sounded RIGHT! Voices didn't sound hollow, bloated, nasal, or any of those other nasty things that earbuds usually do to them. The timbre was pretty much spot-on! Highs were also clean and extended, without obvious emphasis or peaks! Then the song reached the chorus, Alison's voice soared, the bassline sank, and my jaw dropped. These 'phones are unbelievably full, and extended on the bottom-end...going clean to the "bass-ment". Yes they're on the "warm" side of neutral "down there", but not bloated or "one-note" in any way. Everything was clean as a whistle. WOW! I suddenly came to realize that these were among the best headphones or earphones I'd ever heard at ANY price...and that includes multi-megabuck Stax electrostatics, high-end Sennheisers, BeyerDynamics and others. I just heard more detail! A case in point was a tune from "Windham Hill Sampler '86" that I bought new during the Reagan Administration. I've listened to this disc countless times, but never noticed accents on snare drum on this one particular track ("Dolphins" by Mike Marshall). WOW! That's the very definition of high-end gear...allowing you to hear deeper into a recording, bringing you closer to the music. And this extra clarity wasn't the result of an over-accentuated, soon-to-be-fatiguing high end. Not on your life!

Are there faults? Of this, and every other audio product. But they're too few, and too small to mention. Ok...I'll mention one...left and right channels are not labeled. I labeled them by wrapping a piece of freezer tape around the cord of each channel at the dividing poing of the "Y", and color coding the one for right red, and left black with "Sharpie" pens. That's it. Buy the damn things! Hell, buy two pairs of 'em. I'm going back for a spare!


Anonymous said...

Amen! These are the greatest earbud headphones I've heard, and I've had opportunities to try Bose and other high-end headphones. And this quality for that sort price is unheard of.

AppleFanboi said...

Just got these yesterday.. greatest purchase ever... I'v enoticed that a lot of people at my school have these.. partly because of the price, partly because of the looks(they're pretty appealing to teenagers), and partly because of the sound. Love em.