Review: Skull Candy Ink’d 2 Headphones

Skull-Candy-Inkd-2Back in June we made a week-long trip to Canada on short notice. While en route I realized that I didn’t have a headset in my bag. I usually travel with a pair of Etymotic ER6i noise reducing headphones. These I use for listening to both music and podcasts. In truth, while travelling I listen to podcasts more than music.

While making a connection between flights in Toronto I say a Best Buy vending machine in the airport. I’ve seen such machines before but never felt the urge to make a purchase there. With a little time to kill I wandered over to see if they had affordable headphones that I might purchase.

The machine had a few headphones offered. Most were of no interest, but I thought that the cheapest ones offered, Skull Candy Ink’d 2, would surely be suitable for listening to podcasts for just the week. They were $16.95, so not a big investment in any case.

The Skull Candy Ink’d 2 that I purchased is technically a headset, meaning that it has an inline microphone, making it useful with a cell phone as well as an iPod. There’s a variant without the microphone for a couple dollars less.

As I expected the Ink’d headset was perfectly adequate for listening to my backlog of VUC sessions or Escape Pod stories. Not than I managed to do much of that on this particular trip.

More recently I’ve tried them for listening to music, which is where the product fails miserably. The headset simply sounds out of balance, with far too much emphasis on the bass. I suspect that’s by design, or at least in alignment with the companies marketing imagery.

I find that I prefer the headset that was included with my Nexus 4. It’s not wonderful either, but it doesn’t sound so very out of balance.

The single best thing I could say about the Ink’d headset is that it was cheap. To my ears it simply sounds bad. On the other hand, if big thumpy bass is your thing they might be ideal.

The Etymotic ER6i model that I seem to have mislaid isn’t available any longer. If you’re interested in them check out the newer Etymotic Research HF2 model. They come with a nice Android application that allows you to vary the level of background noise suppression, making them safer for use while engaged in outdoor activities.