Today, we’re diving into the world of audio tech to take a closer look at the Skullcandy Rail ANC true wireless earbuds. Now, before we get into the nitty-gritty, it’s essential to acknowledge that Skullcandy has had a bit of a rocky track record when it comes to true wireless earbuds. As someone who’s been a devoted fan of Skullcandy’s over-ear headphones and even some of their wired earbuds in the past, I’ve always hoped for them to make a significant splash in the true wireless earbud market.
Unfortunately, up until now, they haven’t quite lived up to the expectations. But today, we’re here to discuss the Skullcandy Rail ANC, which is positioned as their flagship earbud, retailing at a competitive $99, and boasting active noise cancellation (ANC), future-proof features, and some promising specs.
Skullcandy Rail ANC : Video Review
|Skullcandy Rail ANC
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Skullcandy Rail ANC: Design
The Skullcandy Rail ANC earbuds feature a stem-style design, which has gained popularity in the true wireless earbud market. What immediately stands out is that the size of the stem is comparable to that of the AirPods Pro. This is a welcome departure from the long and conspicuous stems found on some other earbuds.
One of the design highlights of these earbuds is the semi-transparent look on the inside. This design element not only sets them apart but also adds an intriguing and futuristic touch. The Skullcandy logo on the outer panels adds a hint of branding without being overly ostentatious. As someone who isn’t typically a fan of stem-style earbuds, I must say that I appreciate the thought put into the design, particularly the transparent aspect.
In terms of durability, the Rail ANC earbuds have an IPX4 rating, signifying modest water resistance. This rating means they can endure moderate splashes from any direction, making them suitable for use in light rain or during sweaty workouts. However, it’s crucial to note that they are not designed for complete submersion in water, so dunking them underwater is strongly discouraged. Additionally, it’s important to protect the charging case from exposure to the elements, as it is not waterproof.
The matte, rounded charging case is slightly bulkier compared to some other earbud cases. It features a flip-top lid with a contrasting glossy finish on the top surface. While the glossy finish enhances the case’s visual appeal, it does have the downside of being susceptible to fingerprints and smudges.
Inside the case, a transparent docking area showcases the interior circuitry and a glowing blue LED, adding a futuristic touch to the overall design. The case is equipped with a USB-C port on the back, allowing for charging via the included USB-C-to-USB-A cable.
What’s even more convenient is that it supports Qi-certified wireless charging, allowing you to charge it wirelessly.
One standout feature of the Skullcandy Rail ANC earbuds is their compatibility with the Skull-iQ App. This app serves as a hub for managing and customizing your earbuds’ settings. It plays a crucial role in keeping your earbuds up to date with the latest firmware updates, ensuring that you always have access to the latest features and improvements.
Within the app, you’ll find a slider that grants you precise control over the noise-canceling and transparency modes. This level of control allows you to tailor your listening experience to your specific preferences. You can fine-tune how much external noise you want to block out or how much ambient sound you’d like to let in, providing flexibility for various situations and environments.
The app also enables multi-point pairing, allowing you to connect your earbuds to more than one device simultaneously. This feature is especially handy for users who frequently switch between devices, such as a smartphone and a tablet.
Another noteworthy feature, which is a common offering in Skullcandy’s earbuds, is Tile integration. This functionality makes it effortless to locate your earbuds in case you misplace them. The app helps you pinpoint the last known location where your earbuds were connected to your smartphone, making it easier to retrieve them.
The app provides users with several predefined EQ presets to choose from, including Music, Bass Boost, and Podcast modes. Music mode typically represents the default sound profile, while Bass Boost mode, as the name suggests, enhances the bass frequencies. Podcast mode focuses on boosting the midrange frequencies, making dialog and vocals stand out. For those who want to fine-tune their audio experience, the app also allows you to create and save custom EQ settings.
Skullcandy takes personalization a step further with its smart assistant called Skull IQ. Similar to voice assistants like Siri or Alexa, you can activate Skull IQ by saying “Skullcandy.” Once activated, you can issue voice commands for various tasks. For instance, you can have it open Spotify, take a photo on your phone, or perform other functions with ease.
The Skullcandy Rail ANC earbuds offer active noise cancellation (ANC) capabilities that, while not top-of-the-line, provide a respectable level of noise reduction. It’s essential to set reasonable expectations, especially considering their $100 price point. These earbuds excel at blocking out lower-frequency sounds, such as engine noise, air conditioning units, and other continuous background noises typically encountered during travel or in noisy environments.
However, it’s worth noting that they may not completely eliminate higher-frequency sounds or human voices. If people around you are talking, their voices might still come through to some extent, as is often the case with most earbuds in this price range. Nevertheless, for their intended purpose of reducing ambient noise during travel and in indoor settings, the Skullcandy Rail ANC earbuds perform quite well.
Surprisingly, the transparency mode on the Skullcandy Rail ANC earbuds is a notable feature. This mode allows you to hear your surroundings more clearly without removing the earbuds. The use of microphones to feed external sounds into your ears can sometimes result in a “robotic” or digital sound, but it seems that Skullcandy has done a good job here in maintaining a natural and clear audio experience. The microphones don’t appear to be overly sensitive, minimizing any unwanted digital noise. This makes the earbuds suitable for outdoor use, where situational awareness is crucial.
The Skullcandy Rail ANC earbuds are equipped with a total of four microphones. In tests, the microphones seem to perform reasonably well. They pick up your voice effectively, ensuring that you’re heard clearly during phone calls. Moreover, the microphones appear to do a decent job of isolating your voice from your surroundings, helping to reduce background noise during calls.
Skullcandy has chosen to equip the Rail ANC earbuds with a robust 12 mm dynamic driver in each earbud, and they’ve opted to maintain the signature Skullcandy sound profile. This means the earbuds don’t hold back when it comes to delivering powerful bass. For Skullcandy enthusiasts, this adherence to the company’s well-known bass-heavy sound signature is likely a welcome feature. It’s a reminder that Skullcandy has a dedicated fan base that appreciates this characteristic.
However, what sets the Rail ANC earbuds apart is their ability to strike a balance between this powerful bass and a well-defined midrange and treble. Despite the strong low-end presence, the earbuds manage to let the mids and highs shine through. This balance ensures that music and vocals are clear and distinct, with no sense of muddiness or overwhelming bass.
One commendable aspect of these earbuds is their sound separation. They don’t sound like a single, overpowering driver focused solely on delivering bass. Instead, they create a soundscape where different elements of the music are well-defined and separated. Vocals, whether they be male or female, stand out effectively, and the treble frequencies are clean and clear. This separation contributes to an immersive and enjoyable listening experience.
The Skullcandy Rail ANC earbuds excel in creating a spacious and open soundstage. The bass, while prominent, doesn’t overwhelm or constrict the audio environment. Instead, it feels like there’s ample space for the music to breathe, allowing the mids and treble to come to the forefront. This quality not only enhances the overall listening experience but also contributes to excellent sound imaging. You can accurately pinpoint the direction of sounds, making for an engaging and immersive audio experience.
For those who appreciate a bass-heavy sound signature without compromising on clarity and balance, the Skullcandy Rail ANC earbuds are a compelling choice.
Now, let’s talk about battery life. When it comes to using these earbuds with active noise cancellation (ANC) turned on, you can expect around 7 hours of playback time on a single charge. However, what makes these earbuds even more appealing is their extended battery life when ANC is turned off. With ANC disabled, you can enjoy up to 10 hours of playback on the earbuds alone. When you factor in the charging case, the total playback time extends to a remarkable 38 hours. This makes the Skullcandy Rail ANC earbuds an excellent choice for those who want a reliable and long-lasting audio experience without constantly worrying about recharging.
If you ever find yourself in a hurry and the earbuds are completely drained, these earbuds come to the rescue with their fast charging feature. Just a quick 10-minute charge can provide you with 2 hours of playback time.
However, one of the standout features of the Skullcandy Rail ANC earbuds is their compatibility with wireless charging. This means you can conveniently charge the case by placing it on any Qi-certified wireless charger, eliminating the need for the provided USB-C cable in some situations.
Skullcandy Rail ANC: Conclusion
In summary, the Skullcandy Rail ANC earbuds combine a stylish design, feature-rich app integration, effective noise canceling, impressive battery life, and a balanced sound signature, all at an attractive price point.
While they may not compete with top-tier options, they offer a compelling package for those looking for a versatile and well-rounded pair of true wireless earbuds without breaking the bank. Skullcandy has taken a step in the right direction with the Rail ANC, making them a noteworthy addition to the market.