For years now, I’ve tried to integrate wireless earbuds into my life. Time and time again I’ve failed, with them ending up in the drawer, bedside table or car, uncharged and unused. For the past few weeks, I’ve been using a new set of wireless earbuds that have finally stuck. These are the Skullcandy Push Active Wireless Earbuds.
These earbuds offer a great mix of design, comfort, features, battery life and price. For me, I think it was the charging case and great Bluetooth pairing that finally did the trick.
While charging cases are nothing new, having a USB-C port for charging allows this to be moved throughout my life that is now surrounded by USB-C charging cables, making it ultraconvenient.
Next is the Bluetooth pairing with the phone. Not only was this easy the first time, but the ease at which you can remove these from the case, pop them over your ears and start listening to music, podcasts or other audio, is a matter of seconds.
This is in stark contrast to other wireless audio products that suffer from severe connectivity issues and it doesn’t take too many instances of that, for you to fall back to a reliable wired headset.
Now for a detailed review.
Curves in all the right places
When you first remove these earbuds from the case and position them over your ears, it’ll take a few seconds to work through, but once you do, you’ll realise just how comfortable they are. It feels like a watch, when you’re putting it on, you’re conscious its there, but very quickly after, you can’t even tell.
This over-the-ear style loop allows the earbud to stay securely in place regardless of the activity you engage in. Whether you’re riding a bike, running, or flipping on the trampoline, you can be confident these aren’t falling out, they aren’t being lost.
The earbud itself inserts in your ear and creates a pretty good seal, removing much of the worldly noises around you. Thankfully these don’t have the stems of Apple earbuds that look weird, instead, their microphones are integrated into the body of the earbud and despite being further from your mouth, really still do a great job with call quality and voice commands.
Personally, I love the way the earbuds slide into the charging case easily. One of my big frustrations with other wireless earbuds is the 3 minutes it takes to work out the correct orientation the earbuds need to be in, to slide into the charging case, where the charging contacts connect to pass power from the included battery to charge the earbud.
Thanks to the design of this case, it is immediately clear how you need to rotate the earbuds for them to successfully park in the charging case. When something is easy, humans tend to gravitate towards it and do that behaviour more often, which really explains why these are now a part of my life, while other wireless earbuds were not, that and the Bluetooth pairing which I’ll get to shortly.
How do they perform ?
The audio quality of these earbuds is great, offering a powerful recreation of your favourite tracks. While they block out a decent amount of environmental noise, there is no active noise cancelling to block out the world here, but they do use dual noise-reducing microphones, to minimise the outside world. This is important to keep in mind if you plan on using them during your daily commute on public transport, or to block out a baby screaming on your next flight.
In reality, these are much more targeted at people who are active, as the name suggests. With the over-the ear loop, these are supported and stay in place, whether you’re riding a bike, electric scooter, skating, snowboarding, and more.
Interestingly these are not marketed at corporate professionals, for all-day use on Teams or Zoom calls. This is a little strange, given I think they’d work quite well for in that scenario.
I am really impressed by the Bluetooth pairing available here. This can and often is, a nightmare to pair wireless earbuds and headphones, but Skullcandy makes it a breeze. When powered on, they show up as an available device instantly and pairing with them is a quick and easy process.
The real fun starts when you fire up the Skullcandy mobile app, which allows you to control things like the equalizer settings to switch between presets like Music, Podcasts, Movie, or Custom.
You also have the ability to confirm Voice control on or off. When enabled, you can simply say ‘hey Skullcandy’ to then feed commands to your phone. This feature works incredibly well, with the wake word being recognised 100% of the time for me.
Stand out features of this device
For a pair of earbuds, this product actually has an impressive list of features which I’ll break down below. Back in the good old days, we’d unbox a new phone and use the included wired headset (many don’t anymore), and we’d have access to an in-line control that offered just play/pause, volume up and down.
These earbuds actually have fewer buttons (just two), Skullcandy has done a great job of building a lot of functionality into those two buttons.
This feature allows you to access common playback or call operations, or request your phone’s default voice assistant which you can then issue a much wider range of requests. The point here is that you can often avoid having to stop what you’re doing, remove the phone from your pocket, authenticate to it, then launch an app to get the info you need.
Right now, you may not know anyone else with a Skull-IQ product. When you do, you can use this feature to share the audio from your device, with their device. This is the modern way of sharing headphones, but it is likely to take a while before this is commonplace.
If you access the mobile app, you’ll also have the ability to enable or disable a feature called ‘Stay-aware mode’. This allows you to hear more of the outside world, which could avoid shocks, like a runner or bike rider about to pass you from behind. When you enable this, it does sound a little over-amplified, in that I could hear cars much louder, that weren’t in my immediate proximity, making me question if they were something I needed to check for, or not. It’s a neat feature that I personally didn’t find a use for, but others may love it.
Like any good, modern hardware product, these earbuds can be updated via the Skullcandy App. During my time with the earbuds, I had two firmware updates, the last of which, version 4.5.0 improved the audio sharing and voice control features.
Up to 44 Hours of Battery Life
I managed to get in the behaviour of putting these back in the charging case (connected to USB-C to power), after each use (a few hours at a time), but it’s possible to get as much as 10 hours of battery life and an additional 34 hours when you leverage the power stored in the charging case.
This means there’s a massive 44 hours of total battery life possible with the Skullcandy Push Active earbuds. This could definitely get you through a weekend, even if you didn’t have access to a charging cable. Given how prolific USB-C is right now, I expect most of us would have access to a charging cable, be it in our cars, or for our phones.
USB-C Rapid Charging Case
The great thing about this charging case is that not only does it look good, but it’ll transfer the energy stored in its battery, to the earbuds, really fast. Just 10 minutes time in the case and the earbuds will be good for another 2 hours of use.
With auto-on and connect, these earbuds will automatically pair with the last device used. If they aren’t on, the device can work with the earbuds to turn them on, so you simply play audio on your device, pop in your earbuds and you’re away.
IP55 Sweat and Water Resistance
If you are in a climate where you sweat a lot, or regularly go on adventures like chasing waterfalls, then you don’t have to be concerned about the earbuds surviving. They have a IP55 sweat and water resistance rating and while you can’t swim with them, if you run past a sprinkler or just sweat after a good workout, you don’t have to be concerned with this damaging the earbuds.
Built-in Tile Finding Technology
I have reviewed Tile products in the past on techAU and it seems Skullcandy and Tile have worked together to help solve the issue of finding lost earbuds. If an earbud is misplaced, simply ‘ring’ it from the Tile app and any tiles in the area will communicate the location (or last known location if it is flat), of the lost earbud back to your phone.
Not everything’s perfect
There is really not a lot to complain about here, these earbuds offer a great set of features, for a very reasonable price.
The only behaviour I saw that I hope could be improved with a firmware update, was when I manually disconnected them from my phone, to have the audio come from the Pixel 6 Pro’s speaker, it would occasionally auto-connect back and steal the audio. Other phones may not have this issue, as many others let you switch audio output easily, regardless of the Bluetooth outputs connected.
PRICE & AVAILABILITY
How much and when can you get one ?
The Skullcandy Push Active Wireless Earbuds are available now for A$179.95 from Skullcandy.com.au and JB Hi-Fi nationwide. This represents great value for what’s on offer in the feature list, audio quality and design.
The earbuds are available in 3 different colours and come with a contrasting case colour. Their earbuds come in black with an orange or green case, while those white lovers match their other accessories or clothes with a white finish and a blue inner lining of the charging case. While the colour of the case doesn’t matter at all to the performance of the earbuds, these do offer some level of personal preference, although I would like to see these options extended.
After using many other wireless earbuds over the years, I was amazed at how these really stuck for me. I managed to routinely use them to listen to music, podcasts, clubhouse and YouTube, then always place them in the charging case. I move throughout many rooms in the house and at times had them on the bedside table, other times in the office, and other on the kitchen bench. This flexibility is achieved because I have USB-C chargers basically everywhere at this point.
What I also think contributed was the great usability, the simplicity in which the earbuds can be removed from your ears and placed in the charging case is logical and simple. Other earbud manufacturers should take a lesson from Skullcandy on this front, as I don’t enjoy spending 30 seconds figuring out the correct rotation required to get earbuds back into their case, every time they need a change.
Overall the features available really make these an easy product to recommend to anyone looking for a new set of earbuds. The ease at which these connect to your phone or laptop is fantastic, a great step forward compared to many others that I have waited and waited for them to show up in the available Bluetooth device list, but never show.
The audio quality is great, not breathtaking, but it also doesn’t need to be, it’s solid and enjoyable. They’re insanely comfortable to wear and I’d put them in the same category as a watch, after they’re on your body for a minute, you really forget they’re even there, which speaks to how light these are.
This product is a real credit to the designers and engineers at Skullcandy and their work with voice recognition is fantastic.