Skullcandy Dime True Wireless Earbuds review: Mediocre sound but too expensive
Quick verdict: The Skullcandy Dime are renowned overseas for their quality on a budget price tag, but Australian pricing puts them in the middle of the pack.
- Comfortable fit
- Intuitive physical buttons
- Plastic build feels cheap
- Too expensive in Australia
Skullcandy is a headphone manufacturer that dominated the market a few years ago, but has been a little more in the background recently. It's now making waves overseas with the Dime, costing only US$25, but at $70 in Australia they're a harder sell.
Being Skullcandy's budget offering, it stands to reason that the Dime feel a little cheap. They are extremely lightweight, clad in plastic, and do away with any bells or whistles. In the box you get the earbuds in their case, a few eartip sizes to choose from, and a tiny micro USB cable. These charge by micro USB and not USB C.
The case is nicely portable, about the size of a car key fob, and comes with a little lanyard for easy attachment. It clips closed tightly, and is quite difficult to reopen, though that's a positive for ensuring it doesn't accidentally pop open if they're hanging on your keys. However, the portability is somewhat undermined by cut-outs on the lid. These put the back of the earbuds on display when they're in the case, but when they're removed it means that the case's charging contact points are exposed to debris.
The very bottom of the case, where the eartips would rest, has an indentation rather than being a smooth curve. If you have particularly gunky earwax this could result in a build up of grossness that would be fairly hard to clean.
The buds snap into the case securely, and have a small LED to indicate charging. They're incredibly light, with the stem design providing a bit of balance to prevent them pulling or putting pressure on the ear canal, which makes them more comfortable to wear. I don't generally have issues with earbud fit, and these were no different with the standard tips working nicely. I couldn't tell you how they feel after prolonged use though, as the battery only lasts around 3 hours.
The case battery offers 2 full charges, with Skullcandy claiming 12 hours of play time all up. The play time of the buds is a little on the low side, though if you really wanted you could use one side at a time, keep the other one charging, and swap them as needed.
They're quite subtle, and easily hidden when worn. The Dime have physical buttons, which I generally prefer over touch controls on true wireless earbuds. However, pressing them involves trying to hold the stem still to press the button under the Skullcandy logo on the back of the bud, or pushing it into your ear due to the button resistance. Neither is a particularly comfortable solution.
Touching the earbuds creates quite a bit of handling noise, more than I've experienced on other true wireless buds. It's not terrible, just a minor irritation and quality of experience thing.
The Dime are rated IPX4, meaning they can take a bit of sweat or rain and survive. Submerging them in a cup of water for 30 seconds had no effect on functionality or sound. They feel very durable, and you're more likely to lose them before you break them.
In terms of connectivity and ease of use, the Dime are a pain-free experience. After the first pairing they automatically connect when they're removed from the case. The buds can be used individually with ease, and each has a microphone. However, using the Dime for calls isn't all that recommended, as they do a bad job of handling noisy environments. While they are okay in quiet indoor environments, the minute a train or truck passes you outdoors you'll be entirely drowned out.
Though it feels a bit weak to say, the Dime sound fine. They're not terrible, they're certainly not good, but they are enough for commuting or exercising. I don't believe anyone picks up true wireless earbuds to sit in a comfortable chair, close their eyes and have a whole listening experience. You have them to escape the wider world when you're forced to get amongst it.
Virtually everything about the sound is as expected: the bass is quite hyped, there's virtually no soundstage, they lack detail, and have poor separation of instruments. It feels a little muffled and reserved. While that sounds bad, it's perfectly acceptable for how these earbuds will largely be used, with fit and functionality being more important. The slightly rolled off highs also help mitigate fatigue and harshness.
The control buttons work well, despite the slight discomfort of pressing them. While you will need to memorise the speed and number of presses for each function, it's quite intuitive.
There's no active noise cancelling, which was fine by me as I generally find it makes me quite queasy with earbuds. The seal created from deep insertion of the tip is sufficient in providing passive isolation.
Should you buy the Skullcandy Dime?
- Buy it if you want simple, hassle-free all rounder earbuds that won't break the bank.
- Don't buy it if you want great quality sound, a premium feel, or make a lot of hands-free calls.
The Skullcandy Dime are perfectly fine true wireless earbuds. Any grievances feel minor, and they certainly get the job done. Their real appeal is the value for money, but with the Australian RRP, that appeal almost dissolves. There are many other true wireless buds on the market near this price point, or a little higher, which stops these from standing out.
I wouldn't be disappointed to part with $70 for these, but they're definitely one to keep an eye on for sales. They'd do well as a spare pair, or for your tween child who you just know will lose one of them.
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Images: Angharad Yeo