I’ve reviewed a lot of headphones to the point that I compiled a big list of my top recommendations. However, plenty of big brands both old and new remain on the playing field and a good number of them aren’t sitting still. Brands can always find their way to a certain group of consumers because a single particular pair of headphones will never cater to every individual. Even if you narrow the category down to wireless earbuds, you can still expect a plethora of choices. In this review I’ll look at the newish Skullcandy Push Active sport headphones –a budget-friendly offering. I’ll share the features they have that set them apart from their competitors – including the surprising addition of dedicated voice control, talk about the sound quality, price and whether or not I can recommend them for you.
Skullcandy Push Active earbuds
A good balance between features and prices. These earbuds are secure, water/sweat resistant, and fit well for active people, while retaining decent sound quality. Some might find these earbuds a bit large.
- Secure, fit well for runs and workouts
- Water and sweat resistant
- Decent sound quality for the price ($99CAD/$79US)
- Long battery life
- Stay-Aware feature to capture surrounding ambient noise
- Audio quality could be improved
- Case size and earbuds are both quite large
What’s in the box?
Inside the Skullcandy Push Active headphones box is just about what you’d expect from any modern wireless earbuds product. You get a rather large charging case which houses the Push Active earbuds, which are themselves a bit bigger than average thanks to their hook-shaped loops which are supposed to help keep them in place during more vigorous workouts. Also in the box: a USB-C to USB-A charging cable, and separate pairs of small and large ear tips just in case you need to swap preinstalled medium ear tips. Also included is a user manual and a quick start guide which helps you set up the Push Active headphones with the Skullcandy app.
My hands-on video review
Design and Color Variants
Skullcandy is known for their stylish and flashy products yet while the Push Active takes a subtler approach compared to their other offerings, the two-toned color schemes and iconic Skullcandy logo give the earbuds some flavor and personality. You can choose between the Black/Orange and Light Grey/Blue variants. The second color serves as an accent adding a small splash of color to the multifunction buttons on each earbud and is more prominent in the inner lid of the charging case. The lip of the charging case has four light indicators to show the current battery level.
Fit & comfort
The Skullcandy Push Active is easy to identify because of the hooks built into the buds. These are very useful since it adds an extra securing point to keep the earbuds from falling out even if you do all sorts of vigorus activities. This does make the earbuds less compact but does make them easier to spot if you drop one.
The hook is actually a very soft, pliable piece of rubber and it’s got plenty of flex so it should stay comfy on all types of ears. I found if did help keep the buds in place and was comfortable to wear. I will add buds are actually quite chunky and do stick out of your ear farther than most earbuds. This helps to keep them securely in place so it never feels like they’re going to tip out, but they are a little bulkier and more noticeable, for what that’s worth.
Pairing and SkullCandy IQ app
Pairing is quick and easy, since the first time you pull them out they will be in pairing mode. If you miss the boat, a long press on the multifunction button will restart that process. I was paired in seconds.
Several features of Skullcandy Push Active are tucked away in the Skullcandy IQapp. Once you install the app and pair your mobile device with the earbuds via Bluetooth 5.2, you can start doing things like adjusting the equalizer settings or playing with some of the other toys in here, like using your earbud as a trigger to snap a photo with your phone. You may also use the app to customize the function of the buttons on the earbuds. We’ll get to a few of the other features coming up…
But first let’s get to the meat in this sandwich… or the mushroom if you’re vegetarian…how do these headphones sound? The sound quality is pretty decent. I say decent and not great, since these are meant to be budget sports headphones. The audio is a bit dull sounding and leans to the high end somewhat. When it comes to the bass you do get lots of boom, but it’s missing some of the resonance. Saying it out loud it sounds a bit more negative than I was going for overall… so let me wrap it up by saying while these headphones probably won’t please audio nerds, they will please just about everyone else.
Water / Sweat Resistance
The IP55 rating is par for the course for active wireless earbuds. This means you can use them worry free under a bit of rain or just working up a sweat but you don’t want to dunk them.
Thanks to the built-in microphone, the Push Active offers a few more handy features that you can configure through the app. Although the Skullcandy doesn’t market the Push Active as a noise-canceling earbuds, wearing them does isolate the sounds a little, something we call sound isolation, which is really just a factor of creating a tight seal with the ear tips. To counter this, you can use an option in the Skullcandy app called “Stay-Aware” to let the mic capture ambient noise happening around you, and carry it through to the earbuds effectively amplifying your hearing and giving you a de-facto ambient mode.
If you’ve heard of HearThrough or Ambient Mode, you’ll be familiar with what Skullcandy is offering with Stay-Aware mode. This feature is used with the app and allows some ambient noise to penetrate your cone of silence, in case you need to keep an ear on the kids, dog or a flight announcement. It’s adjustable so you can let lots of sound in, or almost none. What comes through does sound oddly hollow but it gets the job done.
Built-in microphones also pave the way for hands-free operation and Skullcandy took full advantage with its Skull-iQ technology. Think of Skull-iQ as a mini voice assistant where you can issue basic voice commands like adjusting the volume, playing or pausing, or even calling up your proper default voice assistant where you can go all out with your voice commands. The small catch is that you have to say “Hey Skullcandy” which is a four-syllable phrase but at least it’s better than nothing.
I have to say this is very welcome technology and it means there’s no need to remember complicated multi-tap sequences for buttons. Just ask for what you want and the earbuds are smart enough to figure it out. In my testing it worked really, really well so a big high five to Skullcandy.
Skullcandy claims a total battery life of 44 total hours which includes the battery life of the buds themselves plus the amount of juice the charging case can provide on a full charge. Here’s how it breaks down: Fully charged Push Active earbuds should last around 8 hours and you can add about 2 hours of battery life just after 10 minutes of fast charging in the case. The case stores the other 36 hours and because it uses a Type-C USB port, the case will charge quickly as well.
It’s becoming more common for headphones and earbuds to have some kind of tracking support available. It just makes sense since these items are often small and easily misplaced.
In this case the tracking support is courtesy of Tile, the same folks who make tracking tags for lost keys and luggage. You can download the separate Tile app and set up the Push Active earbuds as if it was a Tile tracker, effectively bringing it into the Tile network fold. This means you can track the location of the earbuds on the map or remotely command the earbuds to ring if you can’t locate them. I’m glad to say getting them set up and connected to the Tile app took just a minute or two and I was able to see them on a map and initiate a ‘chirp’ feature to track them down in my house.
One connection only
It’s not possible to pair your Push Active to more than one device. To shift them from a phone to a laptop for example, I needed to have my phone ‘forget’ the Push Active, and put them into pairing mode each time I’d want to use them with my laptop. Same procedure when I was reverting back to the phone.
Since Skullcandy doesn’t say these are for multiple devices I’m not deducting any points here, but it’s just something to be aware of if you often swap devices.
Share Audio feature
I was intrigued by the Share Audio feature, thinking it would allow me to move sound across devices, but this feature is actually simply a way to share streaming audio from a single source (your smartphone for example) with a friend who is ALSO using compatible Skullcandy headphones. Since I had not second pair, I didn’t test this feature.
Overall review: Skullcandy Push Active Headphones
Overall Skullcandy has packed a lot of features into these budget earbuds.
On the pro side, they’re secure and fit well for runs or workouts, and they’ll keep most sweat and light water at bay. The sound quality is decent for the price, which I’d say is another pro. At just $99CAD/$79US you get a great nexus between features and price. Plus the battery life is outstanding, and the addition of Stay-Aware is actually really helpful for headphones that make such a good seal
On the con side, some sharper ears may find the audio quality lacking, the case is quite large because the buds are too. But it’s hard to crack on these for much. That’s why I can definitely recommend the Skullcandy Push Active if you’re looking for an inexpensive but feature-rich pair of sports earbuds.
**A note about Affiliate Links: TechGadgetsCanada & TechGadgetsInternational is supported by our readers. Occasionally I will include affiliate links in my reviews. I do this partly for convenience of the reader (since I’ll almost always include a link to the company website or similar anyway) in case you want to read more or purchase, but I also may get a small commission from the click, which helps me keep the blog running. If you choose to use this link I thank you greatly for supporting the blog. There’s no obligation or cost to you for using these links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.