Skullcandy’s copywrite on the box reads “mini and mighty.” So do the Skullcandy Dime true wireless earphones live up to this statement?
The packaging is eye-catching, black with bold contrasting white bold fonts and hot pink, orange and yellow colour splashed across in good measure.
Unboxing the Skullcandy Dime reveals the pint-sized case and buds front and centre. There is also a handy QR-Code to scan for instructions and essential info to know before diving into some escapism for an hour or two can begin.
If you’ve read some of my past reviews, I’m a big fan of QR-Code instructions or anything that doesn’t use paper. In this age of being environmentally conscious, it just makes sense. There is no reason to have paper anything in addition to packaging anymore.
The Dime comes with several pairs of buds to help you get a decent fit. Getting a good seal against your ear canal is essential with buds. If you don’t get that good fit, you will miss out on the intended sound as engineered by their creators.
A penny for my thoughts: First impressions
Opening up the magnetic latch lid on the carry case reveals a pair of stealthy looking matt black earphones. I encounter a bit of resistance pulling them out. More magnets: Nice! Damn, I love magnets. I love the portability of these earphones. If you’re travelling light, they can happily slip into a pocket, and you would struggle to know they were there… So don’t put them through the wash! As I remove the buds, the Dime’s LED lights blink to life as they automatically turn on.
Set up in a pinch
These earphones win some kind of prize for how easy they are to pair with your smartphone. I had my phone set to look for new devices, pulled the earphones out of their carry case; they automatically turned on and were ready for paring. Yep, it can be done instruction free- the other little controls will need the QR-Code linked online manual
This is where I struggle with Skullcandy’s Dime earphones. In fact, any earphones that have limited button controls. To control the Dime, you need to remember six different button uses. Basically, it’s single or multiple presses of either earphone button to control various features such as play/pause, answering calls, track forward/track back and activating assistant. Credit where it’s due though, Skullcandy has done well to make it reasonably intuitive, but if you’re not using them regularly, you may find yourself forgetting which button on which side does what and how many times fo you need to press it to do what you want it to. One tip when pressing the buttons, though; hold onto the base of the earphone when you press this button. The controls are a tad hard to press, and you will find yourself pushing them into your ear to try and pause or change a track.
Listening Experience – it’s bang for your buck!
For this test, I’ll be using my iPhone and the high-resolution music streaming service called Tidal. It’s may seem like overkill for these earphones, but it will present the most accurate image possible for my ears using a set-up that is as off the shelf as it can get.
I look for tracks that offer a great mix of percussion, strings, guitar and bass. Think highs, mids and lows. These are the different frequency ranges instruments sit within, and usually, they will be engineered or tuned to present music a certain way. Beats by Dr Dre, for example, tend to heavily emphasise bass (lower range) and treble (higher range) because that’s the market they target (think hip hop and RnB). Others will present more neutral where nothing is emphasised.
The first track off the rank is Michael Kiwanuka’s “Black man in a white world”. It’s a good reference track as it gradually layers vocals and instrument upon instrument up to the chorus – allowing you to identify quickly identify each instrument as they’re introduced. The first thing that strikes me is the clarity of the clapping and the kick hitting the bass drum… it’s so clear and impressively detailed. The track features vocals, electric guitar drums bass guitar strings, piano and percussion. It’s only when all instruments are playing in unison that some of the detail goes missing. Given the price point of these earphones, though, it’s impressive. If there is one thing I can identify that’s lacking, it’s the sound stage. That is, the ability for earphones to space instruments out, so it feels like you’re in a room listening to a band. It feels a bit closed and tight.
Next up The Marcus King Band’s “Goodbye Carolina”. For me, this track highlighted the Dime’s abilities to provide excellent separation of the instruments. I could close my eyes and focus on different instruments, the female backing vocals, Drums, acoustic guitar plucking, lead guitar or keys. I’m surprised at the level of detail the Dimes can present in this price range.
As for the tuning of these headphones, they’re punchy! There is a nice emphasis on the bass and treble, but not to the extent that it detracts away from the mids where many instruments and vocals sit.
Am I impressed so far? You bet. For casual listening, these true wireless earphones punch above their weight.
Listening Experience – Movies and Podcasts
These earphones have been my device of choice for listening to podcasts over the last couple of weeks. They perform well, given that podcasts are heavily compressed anyway. The single press play/pause feature on either earphone makes it a breeze to stop listening if you’re interrupted.
If you’re going to be watching movies on your commutes, these will do the job fine. Watching James Bond: Casino Royale, the soundstage made the environment feel less expansive. This points to the same experience I had listening to music and translates to a similar sensation when watching a movie. Is it a deal-breaker? No- not even remotely. The other qualities that these earphones display drag the average up.
The Skullcandy Dimes come exercise and recreation ready, certified IPX4, which means they’re water-resistant and cop a splash of water from any direction. The spectrum of IPX ranges from a value of zero to eight. Zero meaning no water resistance, and eight meaning fully submersed up to three metres for thirty minutes. IPX4 will suit most people just fine.
When it comes to battery life, you will manage 3.5 hours out of one charge. That’s nothing to write home about, as others in this class offer a longer battery life. Dropping them back into the carry case will top up the battery for the equivalent of just over another two listening sessions – 8.5 hours.
When it comes to making and receiving calls, the Dime allows you to use both or just one earphone in what Skullcandy calls Solo mode. Perfect if you need to monitor the level of your voice to avoid irritating those around you. On three occasions, I encountered a strange sync issue. The microphone in my smartphone was being used, but I could hear the conversation through the earphones. This issue appeared to resolve itself after a hard reset of the headphones – something that Skullcandy touch on in their manuals.
The Skullcandy Dime punch above their weight. For a retail price of $70AUD, the combination of great portability, versatility, excellent sound quality and total battery life make these an excellent proposition for the budget-conscious audiophile. From a listening perspective, I’m genuinely surprised at what the engineers at Skullcandy have pulled off for a single dynamic driver earphone at this price. It is a worthy contender for your shopping shortlist when you’re looking for your next pair of earphones.
Sydneysiders needing to do learning remotely or attend web meetings, the Skullcandy Dime will do the job very nicely without breaking the bank.
Special thanks to the folks at Skullcandy for sending us a pair to test out!
Type: True wireless
Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
Back design: Closed-back
Drivers: 6mm dynamic
Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
Impedance: 16 Ohm
Weight: 7g both buds
Mic & Controls: Yes
Water resistance: IPX4
Battery life: 3.5h + 8.5h in case
Charging time: Micro-USB
Active noise cancelling: No
Bluetooth codecs: SBC
Wireless range: 33ft (10m)