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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Skullcandy 50/50 earbuds review

My daily wear earbuds recently died (I often refer to them as "disposable", as I have rarely kept a pair functional for more than a year) and I decided that a replacement was in order. I do have a pair of over the ear headphones at home, but due to their very "open" design, sound leakage is a significant problem (well, to be honest, it's not really a problem for me but rather for those around me!). For those looking to purchase new earbuds, the choice is literally astounding today. The real problem is finding an earbud that sounds good; specifications provided by the manufacturer don't tell the whole picture.

The previous pair of "disposable" earbuds I purchased were from Skullcandy and as I had been quite satisfied with them, I decided that I would look at other models from the company. Now I am aware that Skullcandy products are not the best that can be found on the market. But as they are easily available, usually pretty decently priced and fairly durable, they are usually a good solution for daily wear earbuds. Looking over the various models on sale at The Source (yes, I still shop there once in a while!) I saw the Skullcandy 50/50s in a separate display.

I looked over the package to see the specifications on these buds, set at almost double the price of other Skullcandy products in the store:


Speaker Diameter: 11mm
Magnet Type: NdFeB
Frequency Response: 20-20k Hz
Impedance: 16 ohms
Max Input Power: 100mW
Cable Type: TPE
Cable Length: 1.3M
Plug Type: 3.5mm Gold Plated
Nylon Mesh Carry Case

But specifications are not always what they appear to be. The real test is in the listening and I can safely say that these earbuds are quite good, considering the price point and the mass production aspect of Skullcandy. One of the pleasant surprises was to find a carry case in the box; one of the primary causes of damage to earbuds is incorrect (or improper) storage and a carry case can really help in this regard.

So far, I am quite satisfied with the sound, although I suspect that a break-in period will only be a benefit that far too many users forego. If you are using an iPod Touch or iPhone, there are several applications that are designed specifically for this purpose. For users of other devices, simply create a varied playlist and use that as your break-in sound source. Nonetheless, these were quite good, right out of the package, which is very surprising. The comfort level is quite high and the finish is also quite good.

If you are in the market for a new pair of "disposable" earbuds, do yourself a favour and see what's available at multiple price points; you might just find a new set that makes your music new again!

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