Skullcandy has made a name for itself as a company that excels at bang for your buck products. While they’re probably most known for their small, colorful earbuds, they’ve turned that into some really impressive audio products that are worth paying attention to. This brings us to the Skullcandy Indy true wireless earbuds. When these were first released I came away impressed, but how have they held up with time?
Editor’s note: this Skullcandy Indy True Wireless review was updated on Aug. 3, 2021, to reflect new testing methods and update best use cases.
Who is the Skullcandy Indy True Wireless for?
- People looking for true wireless earbuds for exercise can take advantage of the IP55 rating.
- Anyone looking to give a nice audio gift will be within a $50 budget when purchasing the Indy True Wireless.
- Anyone who needs inexpensive buds for Zoom calls or podcast listening
What’s it like to use the Skullcandy Indy True Wireless?
Before we get to the earbuds we should probably talk about the charging case that comes with it. The more true wireless earbuds I review, the more I realize that a product is only as good as its case. The original AirPods suck at a lot of things, but the small, smooth case makes it easy to pocket. The Skullcandy Indy follows in that theory with a small and rounded case that feels much better than the one that came with the Push. It’s also much easier to drop into my pocket. For more than half the price, this gives the AirPods a run for its money when it comes to portability.
The case flips open to reveal a cutout that the earbuds fit in, and as soon as it is: three small LED lights on the front of the case light up to let you know roughly how much battery is left. The earbuds are held in place by magnets, but I found that the case lid doesn’t close as easily as it opens. It seems to rely on resistance to stay shut rather than magnets, so if the ear tips are askew, the case won’t close properly which can be annoying. I wish there was a little more space under the lid to avoid this, still, it’s only happened once to me in about two weeks of testing.
Speaking of the ear tips, there are two here. The first is the standard ear tips that get inserted into your ear, and the second is more like a sleeve that helps to keep them securely in your ears by pushing back against the inside of your ear. The combination of the two makes this one of the best fitting true wireless earbuds I’ve tried (save for the Powerbeats Pro which has an over-ear hook). At least for my ears, the fit puts the AirPods to shame.
All that said, the Skullcandy Indy isn’t perfect. While the drop in build quality is only kind of present with the case, it is front and center with the earbuds. The whole thing is made entirely of cheap plastic and the touch-sensitive controls along the aren’t always accurate when you’re trying to control payback.
While the touchpads may not be the greatest, the actual touch controls are well thought out. One of the main reasons I don’t like touch-sensitive controls is because typically companies make a single tap responsible for pausing the music. It sounds like it makes sense, but I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve accidentally tapped a touchpad and paused the music unintentionally. That isn’t the case with the Skullcandy Indy because a single tap on either earbud only controls volume, so it’s lower stakes if the earbuds register an accidental tap.
In order to pause the music, you have to intentionally tap twice on the right earbud which is the master. This is where I felt like it was hit or miss at times. If you casually tap twice you’ll likely end up just raising the volume. You basically have to perfectly tap twice. Skipping between tracks is the easiest control and just requires you to hold your finger on either the left or right earbud to skip back and forward, respectively.
Since this review was initially published in mid-2019 the Skullcandy Indy, has been updated since then with some new features. Upon release, activating Siri or the Google Assistant has arrived with an update.
Does the Skullcandy Indy True Wireless stay connected?
The Skullcandy Indy is rocking Bluetooth 5.0. Assuming your next few devices are Bluetooth 5 compatible you should be able to enjoy a longer range and more data transfer. On my Pixel 3, I had a few skips when walking around with my phone in my pocket or even while doing some quick exercises, but it was nothing too distracting. Suffering from the effects of lag, our tests show a latency of 420ms. So the Indy probably won’t make the best choice if you really want buds for YouTube consumption.
My biggest gripe with these earphones is the re-pairing process, which is a mess. I say “re-pairing” because the initial pairing process is super easy. As soon as you open the case and take both earbuds out they enter pairing mode and are easy to find in the Bluetooth settings of your phone. That said, re-pairing to a second device or resetting the Indy buds is a process that involves following step-by-step instructions on its site.
You have to turn off Bluetooth on your phone, and manually reset each earbud by taking them out of the case one at a time, turning it off by holding your finger against the touch-sensitive pad for four seconds, and then placing it back in the case. Once you do this for both earbuds, then you can take them out to repair no problem. It’s a hassle.
How good is the Skullcandy Indy True Wireless’ battery life?
When it comes to battery life we managed to squeeze out 4 hours, 23 minutes of constant playback at an output of 75dB(SPL), but Skullcandy claims the charging case can up that to about 16 hours. So you can charge them back up fully roughly three times before you need to charge the case itself.
Unfortunately, the charging case still uses microUSB which is surprisingly inconvenient considering most phones now use USB-C or Lightning, so you’re going to have to carry around another cable with you.
How well does the Skullcandy Indy isolate noise?
You won’t find any newfangled active noise cancelling on the Skullcandy Indy, so all your noise reduction comes from passive isolation. Low-frequency sounds, like the din of an airplane, will come through clear as day, but babies crying on the bus and clanging dishware will get dampened with the Indy. This all depends on finding a good fit, so if the included ear tips don’t sit right, you may need some aftermarket ones.
How does the Skullcandy Indy True Wireless sound?
Sound quality hasn’t always been Skullcandy’s strong suit. Sure, the earphones don’t sound bad, but they usually don’t sound good either. Unfortunately, this is still true of the Skullcandy Indy, which has a frequency response that looks like somebody forgot to add any bass. While the highs and mids reasonably follow our platonic ideal (seen above in pink), the lower mids and bass are so under-emphasized that it is difficult to recommend the Indy for anything besides podcasts or Zoom calls.
The mids and highs share some extra emphasis in those notes resulting in pretty clear vocals in songs and podcasts. Due to both the under-emphasis of bass, and auditory masking resulting from the highs getting a decibel bump, voices sound clear. A good example of this is in the song Girl Like You by Toro y Moi which has plenty of mid-heavy synths weaving in and out throughout the song, but vocals still come through loud and clear. Bass will suffer from the age-old game of trying to turn up your volume to hear it better, but just hearing more of everything else instead.
Of course, the Skullcandy Indy isn’t going to sound as clear as your favorite pair of over-ears, but if you don’t care about anything below 100Hz (where its reproduction of sound’s volume dramatically tapers off), for example, podcasts or phone calls, maybe it’s fine.
Is the microphone good enough for phone calls?
The microphone is decent, though it produces audio that makes most people sound a tiny bit muffled. However, considering how tough it is to cram a good microphone into true wireless headphones, and the fact that it needs Bluetooth to send your voice to your phone, it’s a bit of a miracle that any true wireless earbuds have microphones that work at all.
Should you buy the Skullcandy Indy True Wireless?
So where does the Skullcandy Indy True Wireless fall on the list of the best true wireless earbuds? It’s above average when it comes to usability, but it’s unfortunately not the best in any one category.
These days technology has refined to the point that we can demand pretty much everything in true wireless earphones. When the Indy was released, it offered a lot of functions for not much scratch, and everything was still getting compared to AirPods. Given that Apple AirPods is not the gold standard any longer for usability or connectivity, especially for Android users, we know you can do better. Frankly, better products have entered the market for similar prices.
The best use for the Skullcandy Indy is for the person who likes to work out while listening to podcasts, because the IP55 rating means the buds are safe, while the frequency response ensures you hear basically everything people say. Having an IP55 build gives the Indy that sweatproof stamp of approval that so many other true wireless earbuds lack. It’s a great alternative to AirPods, even if it’s not a direct competitor.
If you’re thinking of buying the Skullcandy Indy True Wireless, note that the price you’ll pay depends on the color you choose. Also, be sure to consider the best place to buy headphones from, as some retailers offer better warranties than others.
What other options are there?
Since the release of the Skullcandy Indy, there have been a number of other true wireless earbuds that are worth checking out. The most obvious of which are the AirPods Pro, which now comes with active noise cancelling and ear tips for a better fit. Of course, those are nowhere near the price of these, but it’s still one of the best options around and worth mentioning if you feel like you have the extra cash to spare. While we’re on the subject of other premium options, there’s also the Sony WF-1000XM4, objectively one of the best pairs of true wireless earbuds on the market. It also has active noise cancelling and a transparency mode, just like the AirPods Pro true wireless earbuds does.
If you don’t want to spend more than $100 USD, consider the Nothing Ear 1 noise cancelling earbuds instead. At a glance, the earphones look like a pair of transparent AirPods Pro buds, but has plenty to offer no matter your mobile OS.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Skullcandy Indy True Wireless features several advantages over the Apple AirPods (2019). The ear tips on the Indy True Wireless help create a proper seal with your ears, leading to improved isolation. In contrast, the AirPods forgo ear tips for a once-size-fits-all design, degrading its ability to block out ambient noise. The Indy True Wireless also features IP55 water and dust resistance, whereas the AirPods are not designed to withstand sweat or debris. Also, the sound signature of the Indy True Wireless is more neutral-leaning than the AirPods, which helps prevent bass notes from masking mid-to-high frequency sounds like vocals and guitars. On the other hand, the AirPods is still holds its ground when connected to Apple devices, thanks to its inclusion of the H1 Chip.