[Editor's Note: This review is written by Adam Bullock]
When I received the email offer to review these buds, I was quite literally entangled in wires from my daily headphones, trying to take a call, listen to a podcast and read my emails..
The opportunity seemed fortuitous and timely.
Skullcandy INDY buds are the first of this generation of wireless buds I've sampled, and just like that- the progression from vinyl LPs, to tapes, Walkman cassette, CDs, , digital mp3s -earbuds, brings the experience of sound hardware ever closer to the wetware of the body architecture. Though even now, the ‘new’ technology seems dated, anticipating an even more integrated sci -fi, hi-fi , device implant.. Maybe I've watched too much Black Mirror on Netflix.
While the desire to have everything wireless nowadays affords us ever simpler access and yet ever more complex systems of time management. Skullcandy INDY also delivers many features that potentially allow greater independence from the phone device. Play/pause, track skip, volume, take/reject calls, all made active by merely touching the pods for the prescribed hold down time. This can be a little tricky to navigate for a new (old person) user, as the pods can be a bit difficult to seat and touching them to adjust in the ear will at times power them off or skip track, etc.
On that note (!), they do take some time to get comfortable with. For me, the removable ’stability gels’ got in the way, though with or without them, I found the buds easily came loose outdoors and fell into the garden bed (dust resistant -check). Comfort-wise, they are stable enough for the sedentary lifestyle that makes up my groundhog indoors experience, but out in the field, in the mildest of dynamic movement, they soon dislodged.
This puts the product in a tricky user application category, as I think most who require high end audio headsets for discerning listening, will not be drawn to this technology ... yet, as it still can’t compare with the closed ear quality.
And for those who require a more versatile lifestyle accompaniment, the lack of a retaining clip makes them precarious for anything other than creating cooler-than-thou distance from the riff- raff in public spaces looking to exchange convivialities.
These buds passed the shower-time karaoke test; the waterproof feature means you can carry the tunes into the tub and the 'noise isolating fit' works so well that you can belt out the most raucous renditions oblivious to one’s own lack of talent and to the neighbourly complaints.
For those users who want to engage the world around them while multi tasking through the earbuds simultaneously , 'mono-mode' allows the buds to operate through the right side device only, so everyone can look like a coke dealer from Madison Avenue or the chick from Star Trek.
Qualitatively, it is beyond the scope of this reviewer to give much of a comparison sound- wise to anything but my former wired entanglement. And in that regard, they have successfully superseded the old technology on (indoors) convenience alone, but the INDY buds also outperform my generic ‘white’ wired buds, convincingly. I’m assuming that the sound quality is fairly constant within the price range of its competitors.
However I did notice the earbuds struggling to reproduce the timpani percussions listening to some epic Jo Blankenburg at very loud. While the bass will always struggle, generally, the sound is crisp and clear, affording the appropriate tingles when pressed to symphonic crescendo at the maximum volume which seemed to be mitigated to a fairly sensible level of restraint, somewhat as a frustration to the quasi-reptilian punk-rock side of my brain that occasionally may want nosebleed-producing-extreme-noise-terror at Mach 5.
Realistically ,those days are gone for this podcaster; 'knowledge' is the new vice these days, and there’s just too much darned interesting info to listen to without getting even more dumbed down by entertainment.
But whatever the bent, personal devices will inevitably become more 'personal'. And Skullcandy has produced a product that could easily be a new best friend, if they just stayed in place!
Their own motto “connected, not tied down” seems to echo the sentiment of the social media revolution to create superficial relationships without commitment. Great tools or terrible distractions.. each person will have to assess if the tech they employ builds bridges to genuine experiences or creates walls of substitute mediations.
The matt black is dead sexy, though I read they are available in all the usual hipster colours. The charging case is a triumph of hidden technology, beautifully simplified functional design and a satisfyingly tactile finish.
They RRP at $179AUD ($79.99 US), which is a few too many shekels to satisfy my bargain mindedness. But that’s about the same price as the original cassette Walkman that came out in 1979.
So while housing, coffee and other essentials may be proportionately slipping out of the reach of the average punter, gadgets to make us feel better about that are actually becoming more affordable.
INDY is available here and at select retailers including; JB HI-FI, Officeworks, Surf Dive 'n' Ski, Billabong and Quiksilver.