Skullcandy hopes you'll put its Strum earbuds on once and fall in love. These headphones boast flexible buds that move to fit your ear canal better, a tangle-resistant wire and an in-line remote with a volume slider for easy control. The $49 Strums are some of the best inexpensive headphones you can buy, but there are similarly excellent earbuds available for even cheaper.
The Skullcandy Strum is the Cadillac of cheap headphones. Sleek and sexy, they sport black buds and a shiny silver finish hugging the backs. Each bud displays a shining Skullcandy logo, while the backs, which extend down to the wires slightly, feature a matte, soft black coating.
The wires are thin and flat, making them nearly tangle free. The in-line remote is unique, packing a volume slider rather than a volume rocker, making it quicker and easier to mute your music; silence is just a slide away, rather than a few furious taps. The Strum also has a multifunction button for starting and stopping music, and answering or ending calls on both Android and iOS devices.
While my review unit was black and gray, you can also get the Strums in white and blue. Compared to the $20 Brainwavz Delta earbuds, Skullcandy's headphones look more high end without being over the top.
Comfort and Fit
Skullcandy claims the Strum earbuds have the "best fit ever" thanks to their off-axis design, which is designed to better position the buds in your ear's natural shape. This design is also meant to block out more ambient noise. I found that the earbuds fit quite well, though I'm not sure they live up to Skullcandy's lofty claim of best ever.
The Strums come with just one extra pair of ear inserts, which are smaller than the ones that are installed out of the box. I prefer to have more options; the Brainwavz Delta buds come with a total of four pairs of different sized inserts. I stuck with the larger pair on the Strums, and once the buds were in my ears, I never had to readjust them.
While they're not dedicated fitness earbuds, the Strums stayed put during my morning workouts. The headphones felt sturdier than the Deltas because of the Strums' elongated backs. However, the Deltas have slightly larger ear inserts, which made them feel more like suction cups inside my ear.
The Strum earbuds played AFI's "Greater Than 84" with enough bass to penetrate, but not so much that it obscured the rest of the instruments. The track was smooth overall, with more-balanced sound and less audible background noise than when played on the Brainwavz Delta. However, the Delta buds were slightly louder.
The Strums played Walk the Moon's "Shut Up and Dance" with a deep, pronounced bass line, while keeping the highs and lows sharp to match the song's upbeat nature. The recognizable claps in the track were muffled when played on the Deltas, and the whole song sounded grainy compared to the Strum's playback.
While the Deltas were consistently louder than the Strums, they also sounded farther away. Twenty One Pilots' "Stressed Out" sounded like it was being played from two rooms away on the Deltas, although their booming volume tried to make up for that. On the Strums, the song had more clarity, and while I had to pump up the volume, it sounded more balanced overall.
Skullcandy has made great budget earbuds with the Strum headphones. They have good audio quality with pronounced bass, an easy-to-use in-line remote with a universal mic and a design that makes them look more expensive than they are.
If you want to spend even less, the $20 Brainwavz Delta buds include more ear-insert options for the best fit, but with a slightly less sleek design and lesser audio quality. But for $49, the Skullcandy Strum is an easy choice for affordable on-the-go headphones.
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