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Skullcandy EcoBuds

Affordable, small True Wireless in-ears with a commitment to sustainability

In a nutshell

With the Skullcandy EcoBuds (€34.99 RRP), the US company offers very lightweight, wireless in-ears that support a high-quality audio codec with the AAC format, are equipped with three EQ modes for sound customisation and have a functional touch control. Thanks to this new, more environmentally conscious approach, these headphones should also have a 50 per cent lower carbon footprint than comparable products.

Pros:
  • Small, lightweight form factor
  • Comfortable fit
  • Fast charging function
  • Speech intelligibility when making calls (except in windy conditions)
  • Support AAC
  • Sustainability claim
Cons:
  • No multipoint connections
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In contrast to conventional True Wireless in-ears, the Skullcandy EcoBuds are not supplied with a charging case, but with a battery-free charging station. The manufacturer justifies this move by pointing out the fact that lithium batteries are one of the biggest climate offenders in wireless electronic products and that a deliberate change of mindset would make for significantly more sustainable devices.

The EcoBuds claim to contain 57 per cent less heavy metals and consist of 65 per cent recycled plastic, with the open housing design leading to a reduction in the consumption of plastic. The reduced use of materials naturally also has a noticeable effect on the weight of these earphones. The battery-free mini charging station is extremely light at just 15 grams, and this also applies to the comfortable and stable earpieces, which are four grams per side. The IPX4 water and sweat-resistant finish means that these in-ears are also suitable for use during sporting activities.

Battery life

The Skullcandy EcoBuds can achieve a listening time of eight hours per charge at a high volume level. If you need more time on the go, these in-ears can be recharged in the charging station via the integrated USB-C cable connected to your smartphone. A ten-minute quick charge provides extra capacity for two hours and 45 minutes. A full charge can be completed after 30 minutes, and this worked perfectly in practice in combination with a Nothing Phone. So we have to ask whether we really also need a charging case with a battery reserve? Whatever you think of that, I didn’t need any additional battery capacity during our test and I considered the alternative charging options for mobile use, such as using a smartphone, to be a perfectly practical idea.

Bluetooth specs

In addition to Bluetooth version 5.2, these headphones support both the standard SBC codec and the higher-quality AAC version. The wireless connection was stable enough to cross several rooms, while a distance of up to 25 metres could be covered in the garden. However, these in-ears do not allow you to make multipoint connections with two devices simultaneously.

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Operation

The Skullcandy EcoBuds, which can also be used in single mode, are paired as soon as they are removed from the charging station. In addition, the headphones can be switched on and off manually via the touch-sensitive surfaces; this is practical and well-handled. As soon as a Bluetooth connection is established, you use a simple tap to start and stop playback and answer and end phone calls. Track selection can be actioned with a double tap to skip forward and a triple tap to skip back. The volume can be adjusted by holding down the left earphone, which reduces the volume while increasing it is done by holding down the right earphone.

These in-ears have three EQ modes for sound customisation – “Music”, “Bass Boost” and “Podcast” – and you can switch between them by tapping the right side four times. A voice prompt informs you which mode is active. Finally, you can call up a voice assistant via the left touch surface, and overall, this worked reliably. However, in order for the device to correctly recognise the commands, the multiple taps should not follow each other too slowly.

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Voice intelligibility when making calls

These headphones performed surprisingly when it came to call quality, and they were at least as good as some higher-priced models. Both your own voice and that of the person on the other end of the line could be heard clearly and distinctly. However, you should avoid windy environments as wind noise was not recognisably filtered out, which made it difficult to communicate in strong gusts. Loud background noises were attenuated, and although they were choppy, they were transmitted much more quietly, meaning that your own voice remained in the foreground and was understandable. I also noticed that the person on the other end of the line’s voice was louder when in a noisy or windy environment, and the volume automatically adjusted to the surroundings when making a call.

Sound

The Skullcandy EcoBuds are tuned for fun, and this works well across all media and sounds harmonious. The powerful bass reproduction reached far down and reproduced modern music styles or action-packed TV series and blockbuster movies in a rich and appealingly defined way. The clean and clear mid-range also had a positive effect, so when listening to more complex productions, they did not seem muffled and details were brought out. This was especially the case as voices were already understood perfectly in music mode, which is the default setting. The sound was characterised by a warm, relaxed and good-natured character. In keeping with this, the reproduction in the upper registers was neither brash nor biting but never became too timid. Sibilants seemed softly rounded and were not perceived as intrusive, even at higher volume levels.

One advantage was that the bass range could be adjusted directly on the headphones, with the EQ modes covering a broad spectrum. If “Bass Boost” was active, the low bass in particular seemed more voluminous. However, the Music mode offered more powerful reproduction in relation to the likes of bass-oriented hip-hop, as the amplified bass seemed a little too powerful and uncontrolled for this sort of listening. Otherwise, a powerful bass output was available if required. The “Podcast” mode was tuned to be slimmer in the lower ranges, which gave the mid-frequency range more space and brought voices more into focus. The good-natured character of the sound was retained, allowing you to follow spoken content or film dialogue without strain, even over longer periods of time.

Conclusion

We recommend the Skullcandy EcoBuds as inexpensive, weatherproof all-rounders with a powerful sound reproduction that can be flexibly adjusted via the EQ modes. Apart from in windy environments, these comfortably fitting True Wireless in-ears also scored points with their impeccable speech intelligibility when making phone calls. They are characterised by a small, very lightweight design that uses a battery-free charging station, which boldly encourages you to rethink your energy use and offers alternative charging options via smartphones when in mobile use, thanks to the integrated USB-C cable. This is a welcome development that shows how the carbon footprint of wireless in-ears can be significantly reduced and could have a knock-on effect on the industry.

2 months ago by Maike Paeßens
  • Rating: 4.25
  • Sound
  • Handling
  • Price/Quality
  • Function

Technical specifications

  • Ear couplingIn-ear
  • Typeclosed
  • Transducer principledynamic
  • Weight without cable4 g each, case 15 g

What's in the box

  • Eartips in 3 sizes (S, M, L)
  • Battery-free charging station with integrated USB-C cable

Special features

  • BT codecs: SBC, AAC
  • BT version: 5.2

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