All products featured are independently chosen by us. However, SoundGuys may receive a commission on orders placed through its retail links. See our ethics statement.
Skullcandy Push Active
September 28, 2021
Original: $79.99 USD
95g (case and earbuds)
Released alongside the Grind Fuel earbuds for everyday listeners, the Skullcandy Push Active is a new pair of true wireless earbuds for fitness enthusiasts. With voice control integration, strong durability, and great battery life, these earbuds are built for adventure and exercise. Should they be the next thing you toss in your gym bag? We spent two weeks with the Push Active to find out.
Editor’s note: this Skullcandy Push Active review was updated on May 8, 2023, to add the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC to the alternatives, and to update formatting.
Outdoor fitness enthusiasts looking for lightweight and water-resistant true wireless earbuds with a secure fit will enjoy the Push Active’s design and durability. Athletes will appreciate controlling their music hands-free with the simple “Hey Skullcandy” command that can do just about anything directly from the headset.
What is it like to use the Skullcandy Push Active?
Is bigger really better? Skullcandy seems to think so, with both the earbuds and charging case taking up a ton of space. The charging case struggles to fit into pockets, especially when sharing the space with a phone or wallet. Similarly, the earbuds are quite bulky, with the thick rubber ear hooks wrapping all the way around the ear.
Built entirely out of plastic, nothing about the Skullcandy Push Active design feels overly premium. Instead, these earbuds focus on durability. An IP55 rating means the buds are safe from water and dust, so you can take the Push Active from the gym to the trails. There’s even a flap that seals off the USB-C charging port on the case. The company put some focus on comfort too, with its selection of three differently sized ear tips.
The Skullcandy Push Active is best for outdoor adventure enthusiasts
Opening the charging case puts the earbuds in pairing mode, so connecting to your device is as simple as a tap. Connecting to the Skullcandy app unlocks Skull-iQ hands-free voice control. Stating “Hey Skullcandy” lets you control music playback or answer phone calls. You can also use the Skullcandy voice assistant to access Siri or Google Assistant for full voice control over your device (send a text, make a call, set a timer, and more).
How do you control the Push Active earbuds?
A small button on each earbud adjusts audio using the following default controls. You can also customize these controls within the Skullcandy app.
|Left earbud||Right earbud|
Play/pause, answer/end call
Play/pause, answer/end call
One tap and 1s hold
Power on, Spotify Tap (requires Spotify)
One tap and 3s hold
Share audio (Skullcandy app required)
Double-press and 1s hold
Automatic ear detection is absent from the Skullcandy Push Active, so the earbuds won’t automatically play or pause your music when you put them on or take them off.
Should you download the Skullcandy app?
The Skullcandy app packs in a surprising amount of bonus features that elevate the Push Active earbuds above the competition. Firmware updates keep the earbuds safe and secure, while a five-band custom EQ fully adjusts the sound of the earbuds.
A stay-aware mode amplifies surrounding sounds for better awareness. Joggers will certainly appreciate this feature when going for runs along busy streets. If you aren’t a fan of software-powered awareness modes, you can also use either earbud in mono mode to hear your surroundings.
The Skullcandy app is packed with bonus features
Other features include the ability to take a photo with a click of a button on the earbuds, sharing audio between Skullcandy headsets, and finding the earbuds using Tile tracking technology.
Spotify Tap is also supported, which instantly launches you into a recommended Spotify playlist with a simple tap or voice prompt.
What Bluetooth codecs does the Skullcandy Push Active support?
The Skullcandy Push Active supports just the standard SBC Bluetooth codec, so you won’t get especially high-quality streaming to either iOS or Android devices. This isn’t a huge loss though, seeing how these earphones are for adventurous and sporty listeners, rather than audiophiles and sound engineers. You might, however, notice some audio-visual lag when streaming videos because the Push Active has a 360ms latency measurement.
The earbuds have Bluetooth 5.2, which permits fast pairing and efficient power consumption for extended battery life. You don’t get Bluetooth multipoint here, which is expected at this price point.
How long does the battery last on the Skullcandy Push Active?
Battery life on the Skullcandy Push Active earbuds is quite impressive. In our testing of continuous playback at 75dB(SPL), the earbuds lasted 8 hours, 8 minutes on a single charge. When you’re out of juice, pop the earbuds in the case for 10 minutes to get 120 minutes of playtime.
The massive charging case provides an additional 34 hours of battery, so it is easy to make it through an entire week of normal use without having to worry about plugging the case in. That’s a big plus, given the case doesn’t support wireless charging.
How well does the Skullcandy Push Active block out noise?
If you want to tune out the world around you, the Skullcandy Push Active is not the best option. The earbuds don’t feature any active noise canceling (ANC), and the silicone ear tips struggle to block out ambient noise. You’ll hear pretty much everything going on around you, though it will isolate you from some incidental sounds like distant chatter.
Since the earbuds rest on the outside of the ear using the hooks, the actual ear tips aren’t inserted very deep into the ear canal. Without a tight seal, it becomes easy for ambient noise to leak in. If you like to block out all distractions at the gym, you might want to look for a pair of noise canceling earbuds instead. We especially like the Beats Fit Pro, though it’s double the price of Skullcandy’s earbuds.
How does the Skullcandy Push Active sound?
There’s not a lot to write home about when it comes to the frequency response of the Skullcandy Push Active. The earbuds sound pretty similar to other consumer earbuds in this price range and deliver sound most people should find enjoyable.
There are EQ presets within the Skullcandy app for listening to music, podcasts, and movies. If you don’t like how any of these presets sound, you can dig into the custom five-band EQ to tweak the earbuds to your exact preferences.
Lows, mids, and highs
Unlike workout headphones that go crazy on bass, the default frequency response of the Skullcandy Push Active retains a pleasant sound throughout the bass, mids, and highs. There is still a slight bump around 100-300Hz that adds extra oomph to bass lines, but it is not enough to result in masking that often ruins the clarity of vocals other instruments.
The Skullcandy Push Active is enjoyable to listen to across most genres of music. In the chorus of What’s Love Got To Do with It by Kygo and Tina Turner, the piano doesn’t sound overly aggressive due to the slight dip in mid-range frequencies on the Push Active. The kick drum and bassline in the drop at 1:16 sound slightly louder than they would on studio headphones, but it is not to the point of overpowering the vocals and piano.
Hold up! Something’s different:
This review contains microphone demos using our old system. We have since purchased a Bruel & Kjaer 5128 test fixture (and the appropriate support equipment) to update our testing and data collection. It will take a while to update our backlog of old test results, but we will update this review (and many others!).
We’ve made a big improvement to how we demonstrate the microphone performance of products we review. We now use a standardized test setup that plays back pre-recorded phrases from a calibrated artificial mouth in our test chamber, either with or without simulated background noises, simulated reverberant spaces, or artificial wind. This means that samples from every product can be directly compared, which makes it far easier to make meaningful comparisons between products in terms of the raw speech quality or the product’s ability to reject noise.
These new mic demos will be made obvious in each new sample which begins with the phrase, “This is a SoundGuys standardized microphone demonstration …”
Thank you for bearing with us, and we hope to see you again once we’ve sorted everything out.
How good is the microphone on the Push Active?
Microphone quality on the Skullcandy Push Active is underwhelming. We don’t expect crystal clear calls from sub-$100 earbuds, but it is still important for the person on the other end of the line to hear what you say. Since the microphone struggles to block out background noise, these aren’t the best earbuds to use if you plan on taking a lot of calls on the go.
Skullcandy Push Active microphone demo (Non-standardized):
How does the microphone sound to you?
As of March 2023, 19% of respondents have rated the microphone as “Awful” or “Bad”. This is below average for true wireless earbuds, but not terrible considering the price of these earbuds.
Should you buy the Skullcandy Push Active?
For only $79 USD, the Skullcandy Push Active packs a well-rounded workout earbud experience. The earbuds fit comfortably and securely, and have great battery life for all-day adventures.
The Skullcandy Push Active is best for outdoor adventure enthusiasts who will take advantage of the impressive durability and stay-aware mode. A lack of isolation and ANC means frequent gym-goers should look elsewhere. Those working out in crowded rooms also likely won’t be too eager to say “Hey Skullcandy” to command the voice controls.
Aside from the bulky design, there aren’t any obvious flaws here, besides the microphone’s somewhat subpar quality. The Push Active sets a baseline for what affordable workout earbuds should be, with good sound and some bonus features sprinkled on top.
What are some alternatives to the Skullcandy Push Active?
While the Jabra Elite 3 doesn’t offer ANC, it has superior isolation to the Skullcandy Push Active. These earbuds are also much more portable and feature the high-quality aptX Bluetooth codec. Despite a much sleeker design, the earbuds don’t cost any more than the Skullcandy offering and retain an IP55 durability rating, $59 at Amazon.
The Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) deliver better all-around earbud performance. ANC and Alexa integration is a nice step up from the Skullcandy Push Active. A much better value than the Skullcandy Push Active, $119 at Amazon.
Gym fiends who like the added security offered by over-ear hooks on the Skullcandy Push Active, might prefer the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC. As suggested by the name, these earbuds are aimed at physical activities with an IP66 rating and impressive noise cancellation. Topped off with good sound, it’s a great alternative for a fair price ($89 at Amazon).
Listeners who really don’t want to spend a lot of money might like the JLab GO Air POP, which retails for $19 USD. You get touch controls, an IPX4 rating, and over 11 hours of playtime on a single charge. Unlike Skullcandy’s earphones, you get AAC support with the GO Air POP too, $24 at Amazon.
Frequently asked questions about the Skullcandy Push Active
Bluetooth 5.2 potentially provides many advantages to earphone users. Notably, there’s low-latency LC3 Bluetooth codec and LE audio support. It is dependent on the particular manufacturer’s implementation and upcoming firmware updates, however, if these upgrades make it to the Skullcandy Push Active and other Bluetooth 5.2-enabled devices.
Like all models of earbuds, the Skullcandy Push Active is limited by physics in terms of how long its battery will last. Long story short, there’s just not a lot of space in earbuds to keep a big battery, so their life cycle is inherently limited. There are some steps you can take, however, to ensure they last as long as possible.
The Skullcandy Push True Wireless has been discontinued. The Push Active is the successor model, and boasts a more secure ear-hook design plus an improved IP55 rating versus the IPX4 rating of the previous model.
The Beats Studio Buds are a big step up from the Skullcandy Push Active, but that coincides with an increase in price. With the Beats, you get active noise canceling and transparency listening modes, a better microphone, and a more streamlined design.