We finally found a set of spectacular-sounding in ear earphones that equal or perhaps even surpass the Apple stock iPod / iPhone / iPad earbuds; that being the Skullcandy Supreme Sound Fix Mic3 S3FXDM-209 Earbuds.
At roughly $40 per copy, these earphones cost over double what we had been used to paying, for what we thought were decent earphones. Hard to be comfortable with this added expense, until we spent a few hours listening to our music collection on the iPod Touch with them. All we could mutter at first, was wow ! This audio device represents a higher grade product than sub-$20 earbuds (a whole different class in fact), and after examining several of those medium to low-end models, we began to accept, and happily mind you, that to get truly accurate audio reproduction, you just can’t go cheap on your earphones. We’ve traversed the cheap route often, but really never found the consistently high quality, across all headphones parameters, that is available in these S3FXDM-209 earbuds.
This Skullcandy model does just about everything that’s important, quite well, from rich but not boomy bass, to distortion-free midrange, to crisp and accurate high frequencies. They don’t distort, even when playing an iPod at full volume through them. They’re easy to place in the ear and remove, and they stay in place, without having to fiddle with them every few minutes, to reposition them for the best sound.
Wearing them never grows tedious, and their low-mass and flexible cable keeps microphonics to a minimum. Flexible strain relief is provided at the gold-plated connector end of the cord as well as at each ear driver, and they appear well constructed, for years of trouble-free listening and talking. There’s a built-in high fidelity microphone that can be used on some iPod and iPhone models, for recording memos and carrying out hands-free phone calls. Plus, the remote also features buttons for adjusting the volume as well as pausing and navigating tracks on iPods et al that support this function.
So with nary a reservation, we declare these phones as a high fidelity audio product, which is perfect in our judgment. We would, without hesitation swap the Apple stock earbuds for these. No attribute that you’d care to discuss on the Apple buds is better than the corresponding trait in this set. However, these earphones surpass Apple’s in several key quality measurements, discussed below.
Benefits, Pros, Advantages, and Features
In ear,yes, but not inside the ear canal. Like the Apple buds, the drivers here sit just at the entrance to the ear canal. So, they’re more sanitary, less apt to become misaligned, and you can still hear very well your surrounding environment. So these buds improve safety outside, as you can still hear cars coming and people talking to you, so long as you’re playing these at moderate and not excessive volumes.
No ear tips to fit or change.
Instructions tell of how to safely listen and avoid possible hearing loss, as well as detailed procedures for how to use the built-in in-line remote control and microphone.
Flexible and effective strain relief on the mm male plug (that plugs into your audio device), and at each earpiece.
A stereo gold-plated 3.5mm male plug is featured, along with a very light-weight, low mass audio connecting cable.
Very low microphonics thus.
Elaborate packaging and travel bag included. These buds indeed look expensive because of this.
The edge rims around each audio driver appear to be a soft rubber composite, that is rounded, and effectively covers any sharp edges. Enhances comfort.
Reproduces all audio frequencies very well. No noticeable sound coloration or harshness thus. They sound very flat (the good kind of flat, that is).
The left and right earbuds are embossed with easy-to-read L and R letters respectively, located at the inside middle of the ear stem, near where the rubber strain relief sleeve begins. Easy to find therefore. However, the speaker designated as LEFT fits just as well into the RIGHT ear and vice versa. So unless you’re a purist audiophile who demands correct stereo matchup (left speaker to left ear, and right speaker to right ear), you’ll appreciate that it doesn’t matter, in terms of proper fit, which ear you put each earbud into.
Good sensitivity, producing about the same level of volume as the iPod stock buds for a given volume setting.
Same front-to-back depth as the iPod stock earbuds. So they do not jut outward from the ear any further than is actually necessary. So they’re fairly comfortable when listening in bed, with one ear resting on a pillow.
3 feet of highly flexible audio cable is provided from the bottom of the Y vertex to the audio connector.
These earbuds, built around Skullcandy’s Supreme Sound technology, faithfully stay in the ear, requiring very little adjustment or repositioning, even in marathon listening sessions.
Multiple colors are available. Our S3FXDM-209s are black and silver-gray (carbon). However, they’re also available in red.
Frequency response: 20 – 20,000 Hz.
Driver diameter: 13.5 millimeters.
Magnet type: Neodymium, NdFeB. These magnets are quite strong, and so, are likely quite permanent. They’ll remain fully magnetized throughout the life of these ear buds.
Impedance: 32 ohms.
Maximum power input: 8 milliwatts.
Also, these have a rear acoustic port (neither open nor closed air, but a cross between the two), to help enhance and flatten the bass response.
Limited lifetime warranty.
The profile is simple, to the point, and appears quite durable.
Disadvantages, Cons, Problems, Limitations, and Concerns
How about some harmonic distortion figures please.
These are expensive earbuds, and indeed most of us hate expense. But you get what you pay for in this product; a great-sounding, well-supported earphone.
May be inappropriate for certain environments, where the user would like not to hear much surrounding noise. Since these buds do not actually “plug up” the ear canal, they only somewhat reduce outside noises from being heard while listening.
These do not keep the sound inside the ear very well. So you may disturb nearby travelers on trains and planes, if you play your music too loudly.
Our first pair had a slight rattling sound in the right speaker when listening to particularly bass-laden content. However, defects like this are not typical for the SKullcandy brand.
Given the highly miniaturized form of the cables and connections here, these earphones cannot be repaired in a practical sense, as the wires inside are hair-thin. So once they break, they’re done. We don’t mind this for el cheapo earbuds. But we’d like to be able to fix our earbuds should they fail, the more expensive they become.
After a year or so, the glue holding the speaker grills in place dried out and let go. So, we suggest a more durable design.
We’d rate these Skullcandy Fix ear buds at 97 out of 100, and they’re among the best quality earbuds we’ve tested. We just couldn’t find much bad to say about them, and so, would recommend them to even our most particular audiophile friends and novices alike, although a novice listener might not fully appreciate just how great these buds sound, until she’s heard some bad ones first. These are nonetheless, and excellent replacement for Apple’s stock earphones.
Where to Buy the Skullcandy Supreme Sound Fix Mic3 S3FXDM-209 Earbuds
We purchased ours at a mall Radio Shack store. But they’re also available online, and all around the Internet, on Amazon and eBay et al, Look for them in the white and black box that features a clear plastic inner holder (pictured above), allowing for easy viewing of both earbuds and some of the cable.
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- Earbuds, Earphones, and Headphones on Wikipedia
- Skullcandy Official Website
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- 2016-12-20: Minor fixes and extensions.
- 2015-11-11: Added appropriate tags
- 2014-10-14: Added pictures, extended the References section, and added more information about our experiences with these ear buds, now that we’ve used them for over two years.
- 2012-09-30: Originally published.