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Skullcandy Smokin' Buds/Buds XT True Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.5
Reviewed Sep 29, 2023 at 10:56 am
Skullcandy Smokin' Buds/Buds XT True Wireless Picture
6.9
Neutral Sound
7.5
Commute/Travel
8.0
Sports/Fitness
6.9
Office
5.2
Wireless Gaming
5.1
Wired Gaming
6.6
Phone Calls

The Skullcandy Smokin' Buds/Buds XT True Wireless are budget in-ears designed for everyday use. These lightweight, portable buds are geared towards people on the go, whether this means soundtracking your daily commute or your weekly hike. They have a sleek, unobtrusive design and are made of plastic that the manufacturer advertises is 50% recycled. They also come with 3 EQ presets you can use depending on whether you're listening to music, podcasts, or movie audio.

Our Verdict

6.9 Neutral Sound

The Skullcandy Smokin' Buds XT are okay for neutral sound. They have a bass-rich sound well-suited to genres like electronic and hip-hop, where a bit of rumble and boom can emphasize kicks and bass instruments. While vocals and lead instruments sound clear, sibilants and higher frequency sounds like cymbals can sound harsh and add a brittle quality to the mix. A few EQ presets are available via the controls that let you adapt the sound profile based on what you're listening to, but these aren't further customizable.

Pros
  • Decently sturdy and comfortable.
  • Three built-in EQ settings.
Cons
  • Small soundstage.
  • No companion app.
7.5 Commute/Travel

The Skullcandy Smokin' Buds XT are good for commute and travel. The buds are small and lightweight, and the carrying case is portable enough to slip into a travel bag easily. While achieving a comfortable fit at first can be difficult, they do a decent job blocking out lighter, ambient noises after getting a good seal. However, they lack active noise cancelling (ANC) and struggle to block out the low rumble of bus and plane engines. Their continuous battery life of eight hours, combined with 12 hours of extra charge from the case, is enough to get you through even the longest journeys.

Pros
  • Lightweight and portable.
  • Provides good passive isolation against ambient noise.
  • 8-hour continuous battery life.
  • Decently sturdy and comfortable.
Cons
  • Disappointing noise handling performance.
  • No companion app.
8.0 Sports/Fitness

The Skullcandy Smokin' Buds are very good for sports and fitness use. They're lightweight and provide a stable fit for most workout types, but particularly intense exercise activities might require you to adjust the fit. They're also IPX4 certified, meaning they're protected against water splashes. That said, while the controls are convenient and easy to use, the location of the tap sensor means that you can accidentally enable functions while adjusting their fit in your ear.

Pros
  • Lightweight and portable.
  • Provides good passive isolation against ambient noise.
  • 8-hour continuous battery life.
  • Decently sturdy and comfortable.
Cons
  • Can move around from more intense head movements.
6.9 Office

The Skullcandy Smokin' Buds XT are adequate for office use. They're decently comfortable and provide a degree of passive isolation that will prevent you from being distracted by nearby conversations. They also leak very little audio, so your music is unlikely to be audible to coworkers, even at loud volumes. Their eight hours of continuous battery life will get you through the average workday, with an additional 12 hours' worth of charge available via their case.

Pros
  • Lightweight and portable.
  • Provides good passive isolation against ambient noise.
  • 8-hour continuous battery life.
  • Decently sturdy and comfortable.
Cons
  • Disappointing noise handling performance.
  • No NFC or multi-device pairing.
  • High PC latency.
5.2 Wireless Gaming

The Skullcandy Smokin' Buds XT aren't compatible with PlayStation or Xbox consoles. You can use them with Bluetooth-compatible PCs, but their latency is likely too high to be suitable for wireless gaming.

5.1 Wired Gaming

The Skullcandy Smokin' Buds are Bluetooth-only headphones; you can't use them wired.

6.6 Phone Calls

The Skullcandy Smokin' Buds are passable for phone calls. The integrated microphone has decent recording quality but still struggles to separate your voice from louder environments, like busy streets or subway stations, so it's better suited to taking calls from home or the office. However, the buds provide a good amount of passive noise isolation, thanks to their in-ear fit, which means you'll hear whoever's on the other side in all but the loudest environments.

Pros
  • Provides good passive isolation against ambient noise.
  • Decent mic recording quality.
Cons
  • Disappointing noise handling performance.
  • No NFC or multi-device pairing.
  • 6.9 Neutral Sound
  • 7.5 Commute/Travel
  • 8.0 Sports/Fitness
  • 6.9 Office
  • 5.2 Wireless Gaming
  • 5.1 Wired Gaming
  • 6.6 Phone Calls
  1. Updated Sep 29, 2023: Review published.
  2. Updated Sep 21, 2023: Early access published.
  3. Updated Sep 08, 2023: Our testers have started testing this product.
  4. Updated Aug 15, 2023: The product has arrived in our lab, and our testers will start evaluating it soon.
  5. Updated Aug 11, 2023: We've purchased the product and are waiting for it to arrive in our lab.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Skullcandy Smokin' Buds/Buds XT True Wireless come in one size and are available in 2 color variants: 'True Black' and 'Matcha'. We tested the 'True Black' variant; you can see our model's label here. If you come across a differently configured variant, let us know in the forums, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Headphones

The Skullcandy Smokin' Buds XT have similar features and design to the manufacturer's other budget-friendly in-ears: the Skullcandy Dime 2 True Wireless and the Skullcandy Sesh Evo True Wireless. The Smokin' buds have a longer continuous battery life than either of these but lack the 'Tile' feature present in the Dime 2 and Sesh Evo, which allow you to track down missing buds via a smartphone app. All three have similar neutral sound performance, but fans of a more bass-heavy sound profile will prefer the thumpy bass of the Dime 2 and Sesh Evo. The Smokin' Buds also feature three built-in EQ settings that you can activate via the controls—a feature that isn't present in other budget earbuds from this manufacturer. 

Check out our recommendations for the best AirPods alternatives, the best Skullcandy headphones, and the best wireless Bluetooth earbuds.

Skullcandy Dime 2 True Wireless

The Skullcandy Dime 2 True Wireless and the Skullcandy Smokin' Buds/Buds XT True Wireless are similar budget in-ears for everyday use with a few small differences. The Dime 2 have a more balanced sound overall, with accurate bass performance and a treble response that is less harsh than the Smokin' Buds. Both headphones are lightweight, comfortable, and stable, making them good choices for fitness and sports use. However, the Smokin' Buds' 8-hour continuous battery life is significantly better than the 3.5 hours of playtime from the Dime 2, making them a better fit for on-the-go use. That said, if you're prone to misplacing your earbuds, the Dime 2 have the useful Tile feature, which allows you to locate a lost earbud via a smartphone app.

JLab Audio GO Air POP True Wireless

The JLab Audio GO Air POP True Wireless and the Skullcandy Smokin' Buds/Buds XT True Wireless are budget in-ears with similar sound profiles designed for everyday use. They have similar battery life performance, but the JLab provide slightly more continuous battery life and much more if you include charges via the case. The JLab also feel slightly better built and feature a superior integrated microphone, making them the better choice for commuters and people who like taking calls on the go.

JBL Vibe Beam True Wireless

The JBL Vibe Beam True Wireless are better headphones for most purposes than the Skullcandy Smokin' Buds/Buds XT True Wireless. The JBL have a more balanced sound out-of-the-box, and you can further tweak the sound profile via parametric EQ. However, the Skullcandy have a more bass-heavy sound that's great for fans of electronic, hip-hop, and pop. Both buds offer a similar battery life performance, but the JBL have a slightly longer continuous and total battery life, as well as better build quality, which is good for long commutes. Those who need a pair of earphones for fitness purposes will likely prefer the more comfortable, stable fit of the Skullcandy. However, the JBL have useful features for those who like to stay aware of their surroundings, whether running on a busy street or working in a collaborative office. The AmbientAware function allows you to integrate some background noise into your audio, and TalkThru lets you hear what your coworkers are saying without removing your buds.

Skullcandy Sesh Evo True Wireless

The Skullcandy Smokin' Buds/Buds XT True Wireless and the Skullcandy Sesh Evo True Wireless are similar wallet-friendly earbuds for on-the-go use. However, the Smokin' Buds are more suited to commuting, traveling, and office use thanks to their eight hours of continuous battery life. They also have superior microphone recording quality and better noise-handling performance, making them a more natural choice for taking calls.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
Type In-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless Truly Wireless
Transducer Dynamic

The Skullcandy Smokin' Buds/Buds XT Wireless are similar in appearance to the Skullcandy Dime 2 True Wireless and Skullcandy Indy ANC True Wireless. They have a monochromatic design and feature a non-descript manufacturer's logo at the top of each stem. They're currently available in two color variants: 'True Black' and 'Matcha'.

7.0
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.02 lbs
Clamping Force
0 lbs

The Skullcandy Smokin' Buds Wireless are quite comfortable. They come with three differently-sized ear tips to help you achieve the best fit. The body of the earbud is also big enough to fit snuggly in your outer ear. However, the ear tips are made of a stiffer type of silicone than other in-ear earbuds, and, depending on your ears, you might have to apply some force when putting them in. As a result, you might find them fatiguing to wear over extended periods due to the tight fit.

6.4
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Okay
Feedback Decent
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control Yes
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control No
Talk-Through
No
Additional Controls EQ Mode Change

The controls on these headphones are passable. You input commands by tapping the buds with your finger. However, the sensor is located right on the Skullcandy logo and is quite sensitive, so it's easy to accidentally activate the touch-sensitive surface while readjusting your fit. You can input most controls on either bud, so even if you're only using one bud, you can still access all the necessary controls. There are voice acknowledgments for when pairing or changing the EQ preset, a max volume warning tone, as well as a tone played with every tap. The tone and voice prompts are all played at the same volume, which can be loud and jarring.

  • Tap once: Plays and pauses audio. Also answers and end calls.
  • Tap twice: Raises the volume.
  • Tap three times: Lowers the volume.
  • Tap four times: Cycles through EQ modes.
  • Tap six times: Re-syncs the earbuds.
  • Press and hold for one second: Powers on the buds.
  • Double tap and hold both buds for one second: Powers off the buds.
  • Press and hold for three seconds: Pairing Mode.
  • Hold down both earbuds for six seconds: Resets the paired device list.

9.5
Design
Portability
L 1.4" (3.5 cm)
W 1.2" (3.0 cm)
H 0.7" (1.7 cm)
Volume 1.09 in³ (17.90 cm³)
Transmitter Required No

The Skullcandy Smokin' Buds are extremely portable. Like most truly wireless earbuds, they're light and have a small form factor. They come with a small carrying case that'll allow you to charge them on the go.

7.0
Design
Case
Type Hard case
L 2.4" (6.0 cm)
W 1.9" (4.7 cm)
H 1.1" (2.8 cm)
Volume 4.82 in³ (79.00 cm³)

They come with a small, very light case made of plastic. While the case itself doesn't feel flimsy or loose, the hinge is also made of plastic and could easily be damaged if you drop the case. A small LED light is next to the charging port that lets you know when the case is charging.

7.0
Design
Build Quality

The Skullcandy Smokin' Buds are made from 50% recycled plastic but still feel decently sturdy and are certified IPX4 for resistance against water splash damage. The included ear tips are made of stiffer and lower-quality silicone than on other wireless in-ears, meaning they likely need to be replaced after long-term use. The case is plastic and feels quite durable. However, it's let down by its plastic hinge, which feels flimsy and prone to break down the line.

7.5
Design
Stability

These headphones have decent stability. They won't fall out of your ear during a run, but more intense exercise can cause their fit to loosen and require re-adjustment.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • Skullcandy Smokin' Buds/Buds XT Wireless earbuds
  • User guide
  • 3x silicone ear tips
  • Charging case
  • Charging cable (USB-A to USB-C)

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
0.74 dB
Treble Amount
0.7 dB

Using the 'Music' EQ setting, the Skullcandy Smokin' Buds XT have a v-shaped sound profile that overemphasizes the bass and mid-treble frequencies. The bass is less prominent than in other Skullcandy headphones, like the Skullcandy Indy ANC True Wireless, but electronic music fans will appreciate the boom and punch in the low end. However, a few bumps in the mid-mid to mid-treble range cause lead instruments, vocals, and sibilants to sound very bright overall.

Tapping either bud four times also allows you to choose between three different EQ presets: 'Music' (which is the default setting), 'Podcast', and 'Movie'. These presets tweak the sound profile to fit these different media types. 'Music' and 'Movie' both have boosted bass for a thumpy, boomier sound, while the podcast preset rolls off a lot of these bass frequencies for improved speech clarity. The 'Music' and 'Podcast' settings also have a bit more treble than the 'Movie' setting, injecting some extra high-end sparkle to instruments and speech. You can see the frequency response of the 'Movie', 'Music', and 'Podcast' settings here. The 'Music' response is hidden behind the 'Movie' and 'Podcast' responses.

8.6
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.29 dB

These headphones have excellent frequency response consistency. Once you get a decent fit with the provided silicone ear tips, it's easy to achieve a consistent sound every time you use them.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
7.8
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.26 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
10 Hz
Low-Bass
2.66 dB
Mid-Bass
3.26 dB
High-Bass
4.51 dB

Their bass accuracy is decent. The response is overemphasized across the entire bass range. However, a particularly large overemphasis in the high-bass makes lower-frequency instruments, like kicks and basslines, sound boomy. Your music will have plenty of punch and rumble, but the prominent bass also overpowers other frequencies, causing mixes to sound muddy.

8.3
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.26 dB
Low-Mid
2.86 dB
Mid-Mid
0.01 dB
High-Mid
2.06 dB

The Skullcandy Smokin' Buds have great mid accuracy. Their response is fairly flat, with a slight over-emphasis in the low-mid, which makes vocals sound quite cluttered but brings out the punch in snare drums. There's also a slight overemphasis in the high-mid that gives clarity to mid-range instruments. In songs like Feist's Inside and Out, this peak adds a nice intensity to instruments like the horn and piano stabs that punctuate the chorus.

7.0
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
4.47 dB
Low-Treble
2.12 dB
Mid-Treble
5.01 dB
High-Treble
2.17 dB

These headphones have decent treble accuracy. The treble range, on the whole, is quite emphasized. Overall, lead instruments and vocals sound bright and present, but a significant peak in the mid-treble causes sibilants, like cymbals, to sound harsh and piercing.

7.8
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.5 dB
Dips
0.92 dB

The peaks and dips performance on the Skullcandy Smokin' Buds is very good, and they do a solid job of following their own sound profile. As with other Skullcandy earbuds, a slight peak in the high-bass and low-mid affects the left driver more prominently. There's also a dip in the mid-mid that makes vocals and lead instruments sound a little hollow. Finally, there's a significant peak in the mid-treble, which overemphasizes sibilants, like cymbals, causing them to sound harsh and piercing.

8.8
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.11
Weighted Phase Mismatch
2.53
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
0.89
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
1.55

As with other Skullcandy in-ears, the imaging performance is excellent and indicative of the brand's quality control and ergonomics. The weighted group delay falls below the audibility threshold, resulting in tight bass and transparent treble response. The L/R drivers are also well-matched in frequency, amplitude, and phase response, except for a slight reduction in soundstage presence in the mid-range, which can cause vocals to be less impactful and wide-sounding. However, this is unlikely to be noticeable when listening to real-life content. Imaging can still vary somewhat between units, though.

0.8
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
N/A
PRTF Distance
N/A
Openness
2.9
Acoustic Space Excitation
0.7

These headphones have an awful soundstage performance, which is normal for in-ear headphones. Headphones with good soundstage performance require a degree of interaction between the outer ear and sound waves. However, these headphones' in-ear design bypasses the outer ear. As a result, the soundstage will feel narrow, small, and unnatural.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No
8.0
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.197
WHD @ 100
0.106

The Skullcandy Smokin' Buds' weighted harmonic distortion performance is impressive. There are a few peaks across the bass and treble ranges at lower listening volumes; however, they're difficult to detect when listening to music or movies unless you're an astute audiophile. Even at higher volumes, the frequency range still falls within good limits, resulting in clean and pure audio reproduction.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
No Firmware
Power
On
Connection
Bluetooth 5.2
Codec
SBC, 16-bit, 44.1kHz
EQ
Music (Default)
ANC
No ANC
Tip/Pad
Silicone (medium)
Microphone
Integrated

These are the settings we used to test these headphones. Our results are only valid when using these settings.

Isolation
7.1
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-20.49 dB
Noise Cancelling No
Bass
-8.57 dB
Mid
-20.43 dB
Treble
-33.64 dB

These buds have a satisfactory noise isolation performance. While they lack ANC, their in-ear design does a good job of passively blocking background noise, particularly higher-pitched sounds like nearby conversations and PA announcements. While they block some lower frequencies, bass-heavy sounds like bus and plane engines will still be noticeable while listening to audio.

9.4
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
24.53 dB

The Skullcandy Smokin' Buds XT have excellent leakage performance. They don't leak a lot of noise, and any escaping audio sounds thin and is unlikely to bother those around you. They're well suited to quiet settings like the office as their leakage won't be audible, even at high volumes.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-Line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No
Mic Yes
7.4
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
250.34 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
2.61 dB
HFE
3,417.19 Hz
Weighted THD
0.039
Gain
33.41 dB

The microphone on these headphones is of good quality. On the whole, speech is clear and easily understandable. That said, although it has slightly more presence in the bass range than the Skullcandy Dime 2 True Wireless, you'll still find that your voice lacks body and sounds a little thin.

5.9
Microphone
Noise Handling
SpNR
13.15 dB
Noise Gate
No
Speech + Pink Noise Handling
6.5
Speech + Pink Noise Audio Sample
Speech + Subway Noise Handling
5.0
Speech + Subway Noise Audio Sample

The microphone has a sub-par noise handling performance. Loud environments, like a busy street or subway platform while there's a train approaching, will drown out your voice. However, it does a passable job of separating your voice from quieter environments and can be used to take calls at home or in a quiet office.

Active Features
6.6
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
8 hrs
Additional Charges
1.5
Total Battery Life
20 hrs
Charge Time
0.75 hrs
Power-Saving Feature
No
Audio While Charging
Yes
Passive Playback
No
Charging Port USB-C

The Skullcandy Smokin' Buds/Buds XT Wireless have a reasonable battery performance. They last for around eight hours of continuous use with an additional 12 hours of charge stored in their case, which aligns with what the manufacturer advertises. This means they'll last you throughout the workday, and you can always top up via the case while you're on the go. They also feature a 'Rapid Charge' function, which adds up to two hours of playtime with just 10 minutes of charging. However, these headphones lack power-saving features, like the Skullcandy Dime 2 True Wireless' standby feature. Battery life also differs based on usage.

It's worth noting that we had to replace our initial unit due to an issue that prevented the right bud from charging again after draining its battery. We don't expect this to be a common issue, but let us know in the forums if you've encountered a similar issue.

0
Active Features
App Support
App Name No App
iOS No
Android No
macOS No
Windows No
Equalizer
No
ANC Control
No
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping No
Surround Support
No
Connectivity
7.1
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.2
Multi-Device Pairing
No
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
298.56 ft (91.00 m)
PC Latency (SBC)
224 ms
PC Latency (aptX)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
75 ms
Android Latency
149 ms

Their Bluetooth performance is decent. While pairing with a single device is easy, these headphones don't support multi-device or NFC pairing, and the lack of a companion app makes it difficult to switch between devices, as you can't see which device the headphones are currently paired to. That said, they have fairly low latency on iOS devices and passable Android latency. However, PC latency is quite high, so you'll likely notice your audio and video being out of sync. Some apps will automatically compensate for Bluetooth latency, so check which apps you'll use to play content.

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A
0
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
No
USB Audio
No
Detachable No
Length N/A
Connection
No Wired Option
Analog/USB Audio Latency
N/A

You can only use these headphones wirelessly. They come with a USB-A to USB-C cable to charge the carrying case.

Connectivity
PC Compatibility
Analog
No
Wired USB
No
Non-BT Wireless
No

These buds have full audio and mic compatibility with Bluetooth-enabled PCs. However, you can't connect them in any other way.

Connectivity
PlayStation Compatibility
PS4 Analog
No
PS4 Wired USB
No
PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No
PS5 Analog
No
PS5 Wired USB
No
PS5 Non-BT Wireless
No
Connectivity
Xbox Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
No
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No
Xbox Series X|S Analog
No
Xbox Series X|S Wired USB
No
Xbox Series X|S Non-BT Wireless
No
2.2
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
Charging Case
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
Yes
Power Supply
USB-C

The Skullcandy Smokin' Buds come with a portable case that supplies around 1.5 extra charges. It charges via the supplied USB-C cable.