Skullcandy has made quite a name for itself in the headphones world, thanks largely to its focus on funky and durable designs aimed at extreme-sports enthusiasts. The company is not known for subtlety, and the Skullcandy Smokin' Buds earphones are no exception, with an in-your-face name worthy of their loud design. As we've come to expect from the company's earbuds, these earphones aren't terribly impressive in terms of sound quality, but they do offer a solid array of compelling features for the price. Teens will no doubt be more than satisfied with this set, available for about £18.
The Smokin' Buds wouldn't be Skullcandy earphones if they didn't come in a plethora of crazy colour combinations. You can choose from 22 varieties, including a relatively mild, all-black version and a Jamaican flag-worthy Rasta configuration. It's worth noting that the cords are cloth-coated and exceptionally thick, earning the earphones points in the durability arena.
A short way down the left cable, you'll find an integrated mic with a call answer/end button for use with the iPhone or other music phones. Skullcandy also includes a volume slider further down the cord, which is another welcome offering at this price point. There's also a drawstring pouch in the package for storing the earphones.
The earpieces of the Smokin' Buds are fairly typical: rather small and made of cheap plastic, with a 'C' hook that attaches the 'buds to the arm. One 'bud features a skull logo, while the other spells out the brand name in its entirety. Skullcandy includes three silicone ear sleeves in a variety of sizes to help with the fit, but we had some problems. The smallest size didn't form enough of a seal with our ear to produce the desired low-end response, and the medium size was too large and didn't fit comfortably.
As for audio quality in general, the Smokin' Buds aren't going to blow you away. Clarity and high-end detail suffer the most, and, while the mid-range has reasonable warmth to it, it's far from the rich response we really crave. The stand-out feature is the bass, and even that's mostly underwhelming, at times suffering from distortion.
The audio quality of the Skullcandy Smokin' Buds leaves something to be desired, but they are only £18 or so, and they do sound better than stock earbuds. They offer a durable, funky design that's suitable for their active audience, and we applaud Skullcandy for offering a built-in mic at this price point.
Additional editing by Charles Kloet