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Skullcandy Indy Truly Wireless Earbuds review: Inexpensive true wireless headphones that don't quite stand out

The Skullcandy Indy wireless earbuds are an $80 AirPods alternative. Here's all you need to know about them.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Mobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakers Credentials
  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
David Carnoy
3 min read

Skullcandy's Indy earphones are part of a growing number of "pipe-style" true wireless models that have a design that's somewhat reminiscent of Apple's AirPods but that cost a lot less. However, like Anker's SoundCore Liberty Air earbuds ($80), what's different is that the Indy earbuds have a noise-isolating design with silicone tips that seal off your ear canals and passively muffle noise around you. The AirPods are "hard" buds and have an open design that lets sound in.


Skullcandy Indy Truly Wireless Earbuds

The Good

The Skullcandy Indy earbuds cost half the price of Apple's AirPods, offer solid wireless performance, are comfortable to wear and come with a compact charging case that delivers an extra three charges (4 hours of battery life in 'buds). They include stabilizing gels that may help some people get a better fit.

The Bad

They push the treble a little too hard (they're bright) and their bass could be a little punchier. If you don't use the stabilizing gels, they're a little hard to get out of their charging case.

The Bottom Line

Skullcandy's Indy true wireless earbuds have some likable traits, including a good fit and affordable price, but you can can definitely do better for the money.

Read more: The best true wireless headphones right now

Like the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air , the Indy earbuds retail for $80, and they look a lot like the Anker model, which means they could well have come out of the same factory in China. There are some small differences. The Indy's charging case is a little larger and the earbuds come with a set of removable "stability gels" that I didn't need but may help some people get a better fit. Unfortunately, if you don't put them on, the earbuds sink a little too far into their slots in their case (they adhere magnetically to their charging points) and become a bit more difficult to get out.

Enlarge Image

Close-up of the buds with their stabilizing gels on.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Indy earbuds aren't a bad set of true wireless earphones. They fit me comfortably and I was able to get a tight seal from the largest set of included eartips. They're water- and sweat-resistant (IP55 certified), their wireless connection was mostly reliable and battery life was OK at around 4 hours with an additional three charges from their case. However, they simply don't sound as good as the Liberty Air and their touch controls don't work as well.

Watch this: Powerbeats Pro vs. AirPods 2: which one to choose?

What's wrong with their sound? Well, the bass lacks a little punch and they've got a little too much presence boost (treble push) that leads to them sounding very bright at times. That can be OK with well-recorded tracks but it can lead to some harshness with others. You can really hear it on tracks with tambourines, cymbals or hi-hats (a combination of two cymbals and a foot pedal) and the brightness can lead to some listening fatigue. 

Another budget model I reviewed, the TaoTronics TWS TT-BH053 wireless earphones, also have some treble push, but they cost $30 less and arguably sound slightly better.   

It's worth mentioning that you can use the Indy earbuds to make calls. They worked OK indoors in quieter environments but callers sometimes said they had trouble hearing me in noisier environments like the streets of New York. The Anker model isn't really any better at making calls in noisier spots, so if call quality is what you're looking for, you'll have to pay more for AirPods or Jabra's Elite 65t or Elite Active 65t or other pricier models that feature multiple microphones with noise reduction technology.

Enlarge Image

What they look like when you're wearing them.

Sarah Tew/CNET

In the end, I didn't dislike the Indy earbuds. In fact, I liked them better than Skullcandy's earlier Push true wireless earphones, which cost more. But ultimately I found the Indy model a little too pedestrian. When you take a reference headphone design out of a factory in China like Skullcandy has done (it happens to be a reference design I like), it needs to perform better than other models that look like it and cost the same or less.

Skullcandy Indy features, according to Skullcandy:  

  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Up to 16 total hours of battery life
  • Up to 4 hours of battery in earbuds
  • IP55 sweat-, water- and dirt-resistant
  • Removable Stability Gel
  • Noise-isolating fit
  • Call, track, volume control via Touch Control
  • Microphone 

Skullcandy Indy Truly Wireless Earbuds

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Sound 6Value 7