Skullcandy Push Active Wireless Sport Headphones: Review

Headphones have become a commodity, and it’s very easy to find cheap headphones and over-ear models for less than $80. The category is now measured in billions of dollars and it eclipses the high-end audio industry by a considerable margin. skull candy is one of the biggest brands in its category and it’s fair to say that you can find its products almost anywhere.

Products like the Skullcandy Push Active Wireless Headphones are popping up at gas stations, 7-Eleven, airports and discount retailers which is probably not a good thing for the true wireless category as a whole in terms of consumers thinking there’s no reason to spend more for better quality.

Skullcandy recently sent in their latest aptly named Push Active in-ear gym model for review. Skullcandy has been around since the mid-2010s and has focused on budget models for the teen market and sports market starting first with over-ear models and more recently adding in-ear models to their catalog.

The Push Active is firmly aimed at the gym/sports market with large ear hooks to aid retention, a large solid build and an IP55 rating so a little water shouldn’t be an issue. These aren’t small ears, but the main body sits over the ear rather than in the ear, which makes fitting a little less daunting for those with small ears. The control button is on the bottom instead of the face which surprisingly worked great and didn’t move the earpiece like I had thought. With nearly Autonomy of 10 hours, the headphones will probably outlast your workout anyway, but the case still adds two full charges and a third partial charge before you need to plug it in. The case has a covered USB port on the back and takes around 3 hours to fully charge. Four LED charging indicators show the charging status of the case just below the raised cutout on the front of the case. Wireless charging is not an option. The earbuds support a quick charge feature where 10-15 minutes of charging time equals 2 hours of listening time. My particular pair is Skullcandy’s classic black and orange color pair with the inner case cover, USB port cover and button on the ear cups in orange and the exterior case, docking bay and body of the matte black ear cups. Additional color combinations are also offered with Navy with Mint highlights and Gray with Light Blue accents also available.

Skullcandy Push active charging case closed
Skullcandy Push Active Wireless Earbuds in Charging Case
Inside the Skullcandy Push Active Wireless Headphones

Internally, the Push Active uses a single dynamic driver, but Skullcandy chooses not to disclose many details about impedance, sensitivity, etc. Skullcandy lists Bluetooth version 5.2 in the ad copy for Push Active but not AptX or AAC support. I attempted to force both AAC and AptX based on the Bluetooth 5.2 specification, but failed to establish a connection in either test. I was able to pair both an iPhone 13 and a Samsung S21, but it should be noted that you will need to install the Skullcandy app to successfully use Push Active from Android or iOS devices.

The app is where Skullcandy has obviously put in a lot of effort and incorporates many features that you won’t find in competitors’ offerings at any price. Together they are called “Skull-IQ”. It’s worth noting that not all devices support all of Skull-IQ’s features as the custom tuning options available on the Grind Fuel haven’t found their way to the Push Active (yet?). There are the common EQ presets and custom settings, Spotify Tap, “Hey Skullcandy (digital assistant), Share Audio, and a “Take Photo” option.

For me, the most interesting thing is that Skullcandy chose to develop its own digital assistant just to control the headphones. No, “Hey Skullcandy” won’t tell you jokes or update your calendar, although you can use it to activate another digital assistant to do those things. This is to control the headphones. Yes, the same functions can be done by touch, but if you’re like me, you never remember if its two or three clicks or if it’s press and hold left or right. I resent having looked at too many different models but, in fact, I wouldn’t remember them even if I had only had one, so voice activation is a nice feature.

Tap Spotify is exactly what it sounds like, the ability to toggle Spotify on and off with the tap of an earbud. And Audio Sharing lets two sets of Skull-IQ compatible headphones listen to the same device simultaneously. To use it, the sharer configures the source and activates the sharing function. The share-e then pairs its headphones to the source and has an independent volume control. I found it worked well if the two pairs of headphones and the source were kept about 15-20 feet apart in an open space.

Skullcandy Push Active Wireless Earphone

Photo capture is also a great feature, but may not work with all devices, so test yours before heading out into the field with it. The idea is to use one of your headphones as a Bluetooth remote for your phone or tablet camera. It’s a great way to put the phone down and take a group photo without leaving someone out or take a selfie without the weird angle you normally see when holding a phone handy.

And finally, Skullcandy has teamed up with Tile to add find my skullcandy at the earpieces. There is a setup routine and you need the Tile app installed in addition to the Skullcandy app to enjoy this feature. If you drop an earbud, you can beep it through the Tile app to help you find it. The sound is not loud enough to be heard from 20 meters away, but if you know the approximate spot where you dropped the earphone, just find one in the mulch or tall grass if you work outside and certainly enough to find one hidden between the couch cushions. .

Pair of Skullcandy Push Active Wireless Headphones

Sound

The Push Active retains Skullcandy’s typical V signature with big bass and an almost equally big treble peak and a dip in the middle in between. The bass hits are big with good depth and amount of under-bass and the kick drum hits show mid bass power, which is a good setting for gym users where a steady pace and a bit of lift bass helps keep the user moving. Tunes like “Burning down the house”, Talking Heads have enough clarity that the vocals come through nicely while the bass remains the star of the show.

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Guitar-centric tracks like Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Joe Bonamassa have good clarity and growl and the bass doesn’t overshadow the guitar like it can a bit on the Talking Head track. The upper range is boosted to a lesser extent than the lows and keeps the Push Active from feeling too closed, but can be a bit harsh on some tracks.

Skullcandy Push Active Front Wireless Headphones Set
Package: Push Active XT and Push Active (without XT) are identical. The XT version is sold at Walmart

Conclusion

Thus, the Push Active has high points and low points. The lack of aptX and AAC is a little disappointing, but the connectivity was solid nonetheless. They have good battery life although they lack wireless charging which is appearing on many newer models. They have a popular V signature and offer setting options to change it according to users’ preferences and they benefit from the myriad features of the new Skullcandy Skull-IQ app.

They make a compelling case for outdoor enthusiasts and younger users who may need the extra durability they offer and the Tile feature to track down a lost earbud. My kids would definitely have benefited from it and it would have been a selling point for me when they were younger. Ultimately, Skullcandy is improving in both sound and functionality and will soon challenge much bigger names if they continue at this rate. For now, there’s plenty of competition at this price point and the Push Active is probably only a top pick for those for whom build quality, durability and waterproofing are top priorities.

Or buy: $77.99 at Amazon

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