Balanced sound and budget-friendly, but not perfect

Balanced sound and budget-friendly, but not perfect

Skullcandy has made a name for itself in the audio industry as a brand targeting those looking for affordable audio solutions. The company has overhauled its Jib Wireless earphones with their latest offering – the Skullcandy Jib+ Wireless earphones – and the upgrades include the addition of a few quality-of-life features and the coveted splash resistance, which works like a charm. Conservatively priced at Rs 2,499 and discounted to Rs 1,990 on Amazon, the wireless earphones certainly fit well into the cheap wireless earphones category. Let’s take a closer look at whether the earphones pass our test or whether they have compromised on quality to hit the elusive price point of less than Rs 2,000.

Performance

We were pleasantly surprised by the sound quality of the Skullcandy Jib+ wireless earphones, especially at this price. Skullcandy has packed decent 9mm drivers into each earbud and the results are quite prominent. The earphones have an unusual fusion of boosted bass and treble. The latter, however, sometimes overpowers the bass minutely. In War by means of Poets of AutumnYou’ll notice that the bass guitar seems a bit muffled once the more treble sounding instruments creep their way into the song. However, the sound never becomes tinny or obnoxious at any point, which is surprising.

The bass is deep, powerful and fairly consistent in most cases, the mids and highs are also balanced, which translates well into genres such as rock, pop and especially electronic. Classical music, like Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5is not displayed as accurately as one would like.

The vocals are pretty clear in songs like Hello by means of Adelethat were created specifically to make vocals soar, however in songs like pull me under by means of Dream Theater, they can be a bit bothered by the array of instruments present in the song, so layering and separation don’t seem like something the Jib+ does elegantly, but we’re just nitpicky at this point. The treble seems to be sculpted in most of the songs, but we were able to pick up slight distortions while listening to Fall Out Boy’s Centuries only at 100 percent volume. When we turned the volume up to the usual 60 percent, there was absolutely no discernible distortion in the same track.

We found that the consistency of the frequency response is also great, especially if the user gets the perfect fit and an airtight seal. The stereo sound from these headphones is also pretty decent, as we were able to get accurate placement and localization of instruments and vocals. This indicates that the left and right drivers are a good match. Unfortunately, the soundstage on the Jib+ leaves something to be desired, as is the case with many cheap wireless in-ears.

Passive isolation is quite lacking here, especially in the bass range. You can definitely hear background noise in noisy office environments or vehicles while commuting unless you have turned up the volume significantly. However, Skullcandy impressed us again, as sound leakage on the earphones is extremely minimal, even at high volumes of 70-80 percent.

In terms of performance, the Jib+ ticks a lot of the boxes of a good pair of cheap wireless earphones. Unfortunately, we found that the call quality on these earphones is very lacking. The microphone seems inefficient because the person on the other end could only hear the reviewer’s voice if the module with the microphone was brought close to the mouth. Our voices also sounded muffled or even gurgling at times, which isn’t ideal.

Build and design

One of the main complaints about the Skullcandy Jib Wireless earphones was their build quality and how the thin audio cables didn’t exactly scream “durable”. While the Skullcandy Jib+ retains the ultra-thin TPE audio cables as connectors for earbuds, the section between the two pill-shaped modules is reinforced by flat TPE cables that appear much sturdier. This cable works like a neckband and ensures less tangles.

There are two bulky modules on the earphones. The left module contains three round buttons – the pause/play button in the center has a small notch and doubles as a button to answer calls or turn the device on/off, the left button increases the volume or skips songs while the right does the opposite. You’ll also find an LED light on this module that flashes whenever the earbuds are turned on and off and when they’re in pairing mode. In addition, there is also a micro USB port that is neatly tucked under the hood of a rubber flap with a small groove so that users can easily remove the flap. This flap is present because the earplugs are splash-proof.

The other module on the right is more of an extra weight to stabilize the earphones around your neck and houses the Skullcandy logo which sits flat on the left side of the pill-shaped module. Overall, we wish the modules were more compact, as they look quite bulky and ruin the simple, minimalist matte black aesthetic that Skullcandy was chosen for. Nevertheless, despite the extra large modules, the earphones are still exceptionally lightweight.

The earbuds present on the Skullcandy Jib+ look pretty standard, but they do have a dual matte black and glossy black accent that makes them a little more noticeable. The Skullcandy logo once again sits comfortably on the back of each earbud. The company has included three sizes of earbuds – S, M and L, as well as a pair of stability gels for added comfort and safety. We found that the medium tips without the stability gels gave us the best fit. The stability gels were extremely uncomfortable for the reviewer and once removed the sound quality was improved a few times. We recommend that you take some time and find the best fit for you, as this essentially determines how the earphones sound to you.

Once you’ve found the perfect fit for you, the earphones are quite stable in the ear, but the bulky modules bounce around if not tucked under your shirt. This tends to tug on the earbuds a bit, making them slightly less stable than other wireless in-ears of a similar design. Despite this, we used them on commutes and brisk walks and they seemed to stay put for the most part.

Functions

If you’re someone who is constantly on the go, whether it’s traveling or commuting, chances are you’ll appreciate splash-proof earphones. Especially when they cost as little as the Skullcandy Jib+. While we have some extremely capable earphones like the Sony MDR-XB80BS Extra Bass, Plantronics BackBeat Fit and Jabra Elite Active 65t, they are exorbitantly priced compared to the Skullcandy Jib+. Note: Please note that the Skullcandy Jib+ does not have a specified IP rating, they are only splash proof.

We tested the Skullcandy Jib+ for its splash resistance and it performed extremely well as they worked great even after being soaked in the heavy showers Mumbai has been through in recent weeks. Skullcandy didn’t describe exactly how they achieved their splash resistance, but we think the earbuds have some sort of nano coating. Plus, the flap over the charging port also keeps out moisture, so make sure to keep this flap closed when you take them out for a ride.

The connectivity is also quite satisfactory. Skips and delays in audio tracks are rare, as the earphones are equipped with Bluetooth 5.0 and the wireless range, estimated at 35 feet, also seemed to be ceasing. Only at a great distance did the earphones lose the connection. It even stayed connected to a wall in the middle, which is decent. Unfortunately, the same cannot be confirmed when it comes to consuming media content as the earphones showed below average latency and the disparity between the audio and video was quite noticeable.

The earphones feature micro USB charging, as mentioned above, which is standard for some cheap wireless earphones. The 6-hour battery life is decent, and the company’s claim held up fairly well in our testing, as we were able to get about 6 and a half hours of battery life out of the earphones. There are no power-saving features like anti-power off, so make sure to turn off the earphones when you’re done using them.

Last, but certainly not least, we have a big problem with this device. Skullcandy claims that the Jib+ has Voice Assistant support and has marketed it as one of the main features of the earphones, and one of the upgrades of the original Jib Wireless earphones. However, we found that there is no real way to access the voice assistant on your smartphone directly from the Jib+, which means that the device actually doesn’t have support for voice assistants… Let’s explain further. There’s no dedicated button on the earbuds to activate your voice assistant, so naturally we assumed there had to be some sort of button combination to access the assistant.

And that was the beginning of a two-hour process that at one point caused the reviewer to nearly pull her hair out. We took a look at the user manual (something we usually don’t indulge in because we like figuring things out), and we found a set of instructions to access pairing mode (press the center button for 5 seconds), skip tracks (press the + button twice) and more. However, there was absolutely no mention of how to access the voice assistant, which further aggravated us. We tried an amalgamation of combinations to access the marketed feature. Unfortunately we were not so lucky. Finally we just tried to say “Ok Google” and the assistant started immediately. We thought that through all our trials and tribulations we had finally come to the solution, but it turns out that it was our phone mic that picked up the “Ok Google” command and not the earphones as it refused to work when we went a few times steps away from our test phone. Skullcandy really dropped the bomb here, advertising something so prominent that it isn’t there at all.

bottom line

The Skullcandy Jib+ wireless earphones are a pretty good buy at Rs 1,990 especially for the capable sound quality and splash resistance. You get balanced mids and highs, as well as good bass push that makes tracks in a variety of genres sound great. As far as the look goes, Skullcandy has kept it clean and minimalistic, with the exception of the bulky modules which could have been made a bit smaller as they deter the fluidity of the look. Passive isolation and call quality aren’t impressive and the absence of the advertised voice assistant feature is extremely disappointing. However, if you can get around these issues, most of which aren’t that important to an average user who just wants a good pair of headphones for listening to music, then you’ve got a good wireless pair of headphones that give users access to a balanced sound profile and decent battery life. less than Rs 2,000.

Burak Bilginer
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