There are a lot of options out there when it comes to in-ear listening, so choice comes down to what features you desire. Skullcandy’s Push Active offers a whole host of goodies for your money.
Unboxing these Skullcandy beauts reveals a charging case, documentation including a quick start guide, two alternative sizes of rubber ear tips and the shortest USB-C to USB-A cable that we’ve ever seen – it’s actually rather cute. The case is larger than those of many competitors, but this is because of the need to house the very useful ear grippers.
These surprisingly comfy rubber hooks may have you thinking that the Push Active are just for sporty types, but we know many who prefer to know that they’re not going to end up with a valued piece of tech just taking a dive out of their ear somewhere, never to be seen again. Once opening the neat orange and black charging case, these grips are the first thing that really stand out. Best of all, once hooked around your ears, they still allow glasses wearers to do their thing without any sort of struggle – even with bulkier sunnies such as the classic Wayfarers.
We found pairing – in our case with a Samsung phone – to be utterly painless, and accomplished in way less than a minute; just open the case and the Push Active go into pairing mode. They’re True Wireless, utilising Bluetooth 5.2 and are surprisingly feature-packed for such relatively small devices. But we’ll get to that.
We’ve mentioned hooking them to our lugs, but not how the bits that stick into your ears feel. The answer is surprisingly natural. They feel well secured, without feeling too invasive – just what you want from your in-ear gear. Another plus is that the Push Actives feel really well-built to handle some rough and tumble, and offer IP55-rated protection from rain and ickier wet stuff such as the inevitable sweat when you’re working out. There’s also a rubber plug over the case’s USB-C socket for protection when you chuck it in a pocket or bag.
As for accessing the Push Active’s features, you can go either of two ways. Keep things app-free and the Push Active turn on when removed from the case, with a range of features activated via the orange button on each unit (not that you can see the funky colouring when they’re inserted, of course). Combinations of one or two presses on left and or right ears control standard functions such as play/pause, answering and ending calls and volume up and down. Press and hold though and they’ll both launch and play your Spotify app, which is perfect if that’s your poison when it comes to streaming services. With longer holds you can even share your audio with other Skullcandy equipped users, or piggyback off theirs.
The other option is to run the Skullcandy app, which allows voice control via their ‘Skull-iQ Smart Feature Technology’, which thankfully they don’t try to market as ‘SIQSFT’, ‘cos that’d sound silly. Still, we’ve seen worse initialisms… Anyway, this natty feature allows you to talk to your Push Active and control everything from launching Spotify to barking various volume and play commands and taking calls with a simple “Hey, Skullcandy…”. Further handy functions are available in the app, including everything from your standard stuff like firmware updates through to accessing user guides, configuring settings, reconfiguring the physical buttons and more. You can even get it to activate your smartphone’s camera when it’s selfie time or have it interface with your Google Assistant or Siri.
“We challenge anybody to do 44 hours straight of anything.”
All these words and no mention of audio, so let’s rectify that. Straight out of the box, the Push Active sound good, especially for our walk companions of choice, podcasts. Jam some favourite jams through them and they’re not the most bass-thumping things that we’ve ever inserted into our ears, but a fiddle with another fine feature of the Skullcandy app, EQ set to ‘music’ (or adjusted to your own personal preference), and things improve pleasingly. Another excellent – and very sensible – app feature is ‘Stay Aware’ mode, which lets in enough outside sound so that you have some awareness of what’s going on around you. Even without it you’ll get some idea of what’s happening, but this amplifies it a bit further for if you’re out on busy streets or suchlike.
Other practicalities? Battery life! The earbuds themselves are good for around ten hours of juice, while that extends to around 44 hours when you factor in the case. We challenge anybody to do 44 hours straight of anything. If you do find yourself lacking power, a ten-minute rapid charge function will deliver another two hours of listening time.
We didn’t test it out as we didn’t happen to misplace our Push Active, but if you do happen to misplace them there’s also built-in Tile tracking.
Designed more for active types, but suitable for anybody who wants feature-packed portable sound, Skullcandy’s Push Active deliver a lot of features for their price, and they look pretty stylish while doing it.
The Skullcandy Push Active True Wireless In-Ear Headphones are available now.