If ever a product could illustrate the fact that subtlety is not Skullcandy's strong suit, it's the Smokin' Buds earphones ($30), with an in-your-face name worthy of their loud design.
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As we've come to expect from the company's earbuds, these 'phones aren't terribly impressive in terms of sound quality, but they do offer a solid array of compelling features for the price. Teens and tweens will no doubt be more than satisfied with this set.
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To be frank, the Smokin' Buds wouldn't be Skullcandy earphones if they didn't come in a plethora of crazy color combos. Here, you to choose from 22 varieties, including a relatively mild all-black version, a Jamaican flag-worthy Rasta configuration, and an ever-so-slightly marked-up ($32) Paul Frank model with a dual-toned cable.
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It's worth noting that the cords are cloth-coated and exceptionally thick, earning the earphones points in the durability arena. A short way down the left cable, you'll find an integrated mic with a call answer/end button for use with the iPhone or other music phones.
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There's also a drawstring pouch in the package for storing the earphones. And Skullcandy includes three silicone ear sleeves in a variety of sizes to help with fit.
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The earpieces of the Smokin' Buds are fairly typical: rather small and made of cheap plastic, with a "C" hook that attaches the 'buds to the arm. One 'bud features a skull logo, while the other spells out the brand name in its entirety. Fit was not the greatest in our experience.
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As for audio quality in general, the Smokin' Buds aren't going to blow you away. Clarity and high-end detail suffer the most, and while the midrange has reasonable warmth to it, it's far from the rich response we really crave.
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The standout is the bass, and even that is mostly underwhelming, at times suffering from distortion. Still, these earphones are only $30, and they do sound better than stock earbuds. Plus, they offer a durable, funky design that's suitable for their teen audience.
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