Skullcandy Ink’d Earbuds S2IKDZ-003 Review

For the $20 we paid for these Skullcandy Ink’d earbuds, model S2IKDZ-003, we felt that we got way more value than that. These buds offer full and rich low sounds, non distorted mid range, and clear highs up to 12 kilohertz or so.  Quite a joy to listen to.  Such a joy in fact that here, we decided to review these long lasting, awesome earbuds.

No raspy sounds at these frequencies here, as so many of the cheaper in-ear speaker sets produce.  I’ve looked long and far for an earbud set that’s comparable to the Apple iPod stock sets, and this offering from Skullcandy may just be it.

Skullcandy Ink’d Earbuds S2IKDZ-003 Benefits, Features, Pros, and Advantages

Comfortable Ear Tips

The unit comes with a soft in-ear cushions that make wearing these earbuds quite comfortable; more so than the Apple stock sets, which offer no padding for the inside of the ear whatsoever.

Multiple Ear Tip Sizes

Further, you get an extra set of pads with the Skullcandy Ink’d earbuds that appear to be smaller than those installed on the unit out of the package.

Gold Stereo Connector

Gold-plated 3.5mm stereo plug is included along with a highly flexible, ribbon-like, flat audio cable; not round.

Good Noise Isolation

The closed-air design enables these earbuds to keep out surrounding noises pretty well, as well as to keep in your music.  They had nearly as much quieting effect as my foam earplugs. While these are not officially noise-cancelling earbuds, they do a great job at attenuating ambient outside noise.

Comes in Several Colors 

Multiple colors of this unit are available, from black to steel-blue to pink, red, purple, and others.

Flat Response

A pretty flat overall sound with a slight emphasis on the bass.  You can actually control how much bass you get by positioning the buds in your ears in different ways.  Experimentation here is the key to listening comfort, good frequency response, and success.

No Excessive Bass

The bass in the Skullcandy Ink’d earbuds is full but not boomy, muddy, or overpowering.

Fit Your Ears Either Way

The left and right earbuds are marked with an L and R letter respectively, located on the ear-facing side, where the cord enters the bud.  However, these are rather hard to see, as the etched font used is quite small.  Get your magnifying glass out if you really need to know which is which.

Loud Volume Warnings Included

Ample warnings are provided on the package about how playing these too loudly can damage your hearing.

Limited Warranty

Comes with a limited warranty, which you must activate via the Skullcandy web site.  But as low-priced as this unit is, we never bothered with that.

Hard to Drive to Distortion and Clipping

With an iPod at high volume, your ears will start to hurting before these buds distort.

11 Millimeter Drivers

Small speakers, but sound as good as drivers twice their size.

Wide Audio Response

Frequency response: 20 – 20,000 Hz.

Nice Length Cord

From earbud to plug, you get approximately 5 feet of usable cord length on the Skullcandy Ink’d earbuds . This is about the right length we say, to best prevent needless cord tangling.  Yet the cord is long enough to reach your arm or a shirt pocket where we often put our media player.  The cord even reaches to my belt, for the belt-clipped players.

Low Profile Design

Not gaudy.  Stealth.  But the black cable on my set makes them stand out a little.

Not Weighty at All

These are notably light weight, which helps them remain fixed in the ear better.

Disadvantages, Problems, Cons, and Problems of the Skullcandy Ink’d Earbuds S2IKDZ-003 

Missing Strain Relief

No strain relief is built into the plug or earbud connections.  So be careful not to over-flex these joints with this set.

Easy to Break

These may not be as rugged as we like, particularly without strain relievers.  However, given the smallness of ear buds in general, we do not expect them to withstand very much abuse or simple wear.  Our Apple stock earbuds lasted  over four years.  Hopefully, these will do last at least that long. They should, because we’re gentle with our earbuds.

Medium (Not High) Fidelity Sound

While these sound better than buds in the $3 to $7 price range, we do not recommend them to purists and staunch audiophiles.  You will not get Sennheiser HD-650 headphones sound out of these Skullcandy ear buds.  But you do get surprisingly medium-high-fidelity; a sound that’s still quite affordable in this product.

The Bass can Hurt the Ears!

Given the closed-air design of these Skullcandy Ink’d earbuds, and the fact that the included sealing ear pads make a pretty good air-tight seal in the ear canal, it’s especially critical not to play these too loudly, especially with bassy music.  The resulting concussions against the eardrum might be dangerous. As with any good piece of equipment, use it responsibly.

No Mic

No microphone is included here.  But Skullcandy offers other models that provide one, for a modestly higher price.

Fall Out of Ears Too Much

These don’t stay in our ears as well as the Apple stock earbuds.  In fact, they pop out rather often.  So keep your head still and avoid tugs on the cords while listening.  But you can buy bigger nozzle seals (pads) for these.  These may help hold the buds in the ear better.

Piercing Sound on Some Recordings

We heard some slight harshness in the mid-high frequency range.  But this happens primarily on older recordings.  So it might just be that these canal phones are indeed faithfully reproducing the distortion already present in those older musical recordings.  So it’s possible that they may not be adding this harshness themselves.

Failed the Material Girl Test

Also, these buds did not pass our “Material Girl” earphone test, in reference to Madonna’s hit Material Girl.  This song contains some electronically produced ding-ding sounds, that have lots high frequencies.  But these ding-dings sound muted or muffled in these Ink’d earbuds.  However, the naturally produced high frequencies (such as a person’s S’s, come through just fine).  So these ear buds seem much better at reproducing naturally produced sounds than the exaggerated electronic types.

A Bit Long Front to Back

These buds are longer, front to back, than the iPod stock units.  So they stick out further from the ear when wearing.  Thus, laying on them, as I often do with the Apple units, is much more uncomfortable.

Sometimes the Speakers Clog

Finally, the earpad extends outward slightly further than the grill of the ear speaker, which forms a little cup around the speaker.  We find that this cup can accumulate ear wax and other debris. These deposits can degrade the good sound.  So, be sure to clean your ears and remove any contaminants from the ear pieces before sticking them.

Noticeable Microphonics

If you bump the cord around on some sets, you get sound in the buds.  This comes due to either

  • through mechanical vibration being transmitted up the cable.
  • Or popping or ticking sounds due to static electricity forming audio electrical signals in the cable.

These noises can get rather loud in this set, particularly if the cord is held tot.   The remedy is to let the cord dangle loosely.  Avoid touching it, to reduce these microphonics.

Our Rating on the Skullcandy Ink’d earbuds 

If you get nervous about paying more than a few dollars for a pair of earbuds due to their inherently fragile natures, then this set is the one for you.  You get decent fidelity at a modest price. So modest in fact, that you don’t have to worry too much about being rough with these. Thus, we rate them at 90 out of 100.

Where to Buy the Skullcandy Ink’d Earbuds

We found these at a mall-based Radio Shack store.  But you can also get them on Amazon and eBay.  Look for them in the clear plastic packaging with white inserts inside.

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Suggested Reading

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References

Revision History

  • 2019-03-01: Added key phrase targeting and subheadings.
  • 2015-11-11: Added appropriate tags.
  • 2014-11-25: Extended the References section, added white space, adjusted ad placement, and revised the content.
  • 2012-09-12: Originally published.