Skullcandy Push Active Review: Truly smart sports buds
The Push Active are a great choice if you’re searching for a cheap pair of earbuds that offer a functional design, long battery life and a handful of smart features.
- secure fit
- Packed with smart features
- Excellent battery
- Large charging case
- Poor tonal balance
- Stay-Aware mode is weak
- UKRRP: £69.99
- USARRP: $79.99
- EuropeRRP: €79.99
- CanadaRRP: CA$99.99
- AustraliaRRP: AU$179.95
ear pendantsThe hooks here are designed to keep the earbuds securely in place
Skull-iQ and the Skullcandy app Hands-free voice control, audio sharing, Tile tracking and more
Rated IP55The Push Actives come with both sweat and water resistance
10-hour battery lifeTotal battery life with the case stands at 44 hours
Skullcandy’s Push Active are a pair of workout earbuds that come with an intelligent trick up their sleeves. Featuring Skull-iQ smart tech (the company’s own smart tech), Skullcandy is able to push out new features to those buds that support via the Skullcandy app.
The foremost feature here is hands-free voice control with the “Hey Skullcandy” command, but there’s also the option to share audio with other Skull-iQ headphones alongside custom EQ settings.
In addition, the Push Active buds’ ear hanger design should see these earbuds stay put on a run, plus they have Tile tracking on board.
- Comfortable and secure fit
- Decent passive noise cancellation
- Water resistant up to IP55
The Push Active earbuds feature a sporty but slightly bland design that feels more practical than aesthetically pleasing. Each unit is large with an oval-shaped body and a chunky rubber ear hanger that wraps around the top of the ear. The design is reminiscent of Beats’ PowerBeats Pro.
Matte black all over (or there’s equally drab dark blue and light gray options) with a subtly embossed Skullcandy logo, there’s a small pop of color to be found where the control button sits – although this is barely visible, with the button only just peeking out from the bottom when the earbuds are in the ears.
If you’re looking for a more fun style, Skullcandy has released a limited edition metallic purple version in collaboration with a 90s-inspired skiwear brand, Pit Viper, for $10 / £10 / €10 more.
The ear hangers give the Push Actives a fantastically secure fit. I went for a jog with the earbuds in and barely felt them shift at all. In addition, they arrive with three ear tips in S, M and L in the box, which provided a great seal and a decent amount of passive noise cancellation as a result, suppressing the rumble of the train on my commute.
Despite being on the larger size, the Push Actives are lightweight and comfortable to wear. They’re also water-resistant up to IP55, meaning they can handle their wearer working up a sweat.
The button on the bottom edge of each earbud is a physical one that will require a good amount of pressure to push – which means accidental hits while working out are unlikely. That said, when I did want to use the control, I found I had to grip the earbud on both sides while pushing in the button. This made hitting play and adjusting the volume feel a little clunky at times.
Thankfully, voice commands are supported as a result of Skull-iQ for hands-free control (but more on that later).
The earbuds arrive in a large matte black charging case that reveals a burst of color on the inside of the lid, and on the rubber cover that protects the USB Type-C charging port. In my experience, this cover refused to lay flat for an hour or so each time I charged the earbuds, which was a little annoying. It eventually straightened itself out, however.
- Skull-iQ and the Skullcandy app offer voice commands and Tile tracking support
- Stay-Aware mode is largely ineffective
- Above average battery life and fast charging is a plus
One aspect that makes the Push Actives smarter than your average pair of running headphones is Skull-iQ. You can access a number of Skull-iQ-powered features through the Skullcandy app, but the headliner here is definitely voice control.
Say “Hey Skullcandy” followed by a command and the earbuds will play, pause, skip a track, adjust the volume, answer calls and activate Spotify completely hands-free.
You can even use voice commands to switch on Skullcandy’s Stay-Aware transparency mode, which allows you to hear the outside world when needed, although I didn’t find this feature particularly effective. The noises around me were slightly amplified, but the Stay-Aware feature was nowhere near powerful enough to make out words, never mind hold a conversation, when engaged.
The voice assistant itself proved incredibly quick and responsive, accurately performing whatever task I asked of it. The phrase “Hey Skullcandy” feels a little long-winded, and there are only a limited number of commands it can follow – you can’t ask it to call someone in your contacts or read out the weather, for example. Nevertheless, it’s a nice alternative to the physical button on the earbuds that would prove useful while on a run or lifting weights, when you don’t want to interrupt your flow to use the physical button.
Another feature powered by Skull-iQ is Share Audio, which allows you to share your music with any friends or family wearing a second pair of Skull-iQ-supported earbuds.
You can customize the physical controls in the Skullcandy app, too, and even use the earbuds as a remote for your device’s camera app.
Download the Tile app and you can add your Push Actives to your account. This delivers the ability to track down the earbuds if you misplace them, as you would with a Tile tag.
The Push Actives are stated as offering a battery life of 10 hours, or 44 hours in total with the charging case. This is higher than the majority of true wireless earbuds that feature on our best running headphones list, including the Sony WF-XB700 and the Jabra Elite Active 75T.
In the real world, the earbuds lasted around nine hours, which is slightly short of Skullcandy’s claims, but impressive nonetheless. The buds also come with a Rapid Charge mode, which will deliver two hours of listening following only 10 minutes of charging. Note that the case doesn’t support Qi wireless charging, relying instead on USB Type-C.
- Tonal balance leans towards the low end
- Mid-range often falls flat
- Custom EQ feature in the Skullcandy app
The Push Actives offer a solid performance, but with a tonal balance that veers a little too heavily towards the low-end.
The bass is prominent in Bad Bunny’s Ojitos Lindos, offering a rhythmic performance that’s sure to help fuel your workouts. The earbuds present an impressively vivid stereo image, with each instrument carving out its own space; yet overall the soundstage feels wide and airy. So while the low-end sounds good, then, I do feel bass extension could be pushed further – the Bad Bunny track definitely loses some dynamism since the treble falls short.
Moving on to Ed Sheeran’s Shivers, once again the bass takes center stage. However, the vocals fall flat, lacking energy and attention to detail. In addition, push the volume past the 70% mark and the audio begins to suffer from distortion.
My feeling was similar when playing a jazz track. Miles Davis’ Quintet Four appears to lack detail and punch in the mid-range, and while bass is the most prominent, I still feel it could go deeper and be presented with more weight. The sound of the Skullcandy Push Actives does appear to be slightly unbalanced, with bass overpowering both the mids and highs.
The Skullcandy app does also include an equalizer with which you can personalize the sound to your liking. The custom EQ did an effective job of coaxing out the bass, mids and highs as needed, and there are presets available for music, podcasts and movies, too.
Should you buy it?
If you want an affordable pair of workout earbuds The Push Actives offer a secure fit, a water resistance rating of IP55, hands-free voice control and a long battery life. This makes them a solid option if you’re looking for a cheap and functional pair of earbuds for working out.
If you want flawless sound The Push Actives don’t sound bad. In fact, I enjoyed my time using them and they offered impressive passive noise isolation. However, the audio definitely leans more toward the low-end.
The Push Actives are a supremely comfortable pair of true wireless earbuds, with a sweat-resistant design, decent – if bass heavy – audio performance, and surprisingly effective passive noise cancellation.
They’re not the most interesting-looking earbuds on the market, and the case is bulky and doesn’t support wireless charging. In addition, the Stay-Aware mode is largely ineffective and the tonal balance won’t satisfy audiophiles.
Nevertheless, the addition of Skullcandy’s Skull-iQ voice commands, Tile tracking support and an excellent battery life make the Push Active earphones a solid choice if you’re looking for a smart pair of sports buds that won’t break the bank.
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Used the earbuds for a week
Listened to a variety of music genres
No, the Skullcandy Push Actives can only be charged via a USB Type-C cable.
The Skullcandy app includes voice commands for your earbuds, a custom EQ, an audio-sharing feature for other Skull-iQ headphones, a camera remote button and the ability to see the earbuds’ precise battery life percentage.
Skullcandy Push Active
Black/Orange, Dark Blue/Green, Light Grey/Blue, Pit Viper (limited edition)
0.02 20 – kHz
Bluetooth – named after 10th-century Danish king Harald Bluetooth who united Denmark’s tribes into a single kingdom – is a method of wireless transmission that allows for the exchange of data between devices over short distances.
An abbreviation for ‘Ingress Protection Code’, which lets you know to what extent a device might be waterproof or dustproof.
The modern USB connector you’ll find on most Android phones, new laptops, cameras and games consoles. It’s reversible and used for charging along with data-transfer.
Qi Wireless Charging
The most common format for wireless charging and the one supported by the majority of devices. Charge speeds vary a lot by the phone.