Headphones are going wireless, and there’s good reason for that. Wires suck. Sure, they have their advantages – like a higher audio quality and less latency, but from a consumer perspective wireless is really where its at. Despite that, however, there haven’t been too many really great wireless earbuds. There have been a few attempts, to be sure, but nothing truly mind blowing. Alpha Audiotronics thinks it has the solution to that, with the Skybuds earbuds.
But just how do the Skybuds stand up? Are they really the “future of wireless audio, as the company claims on its website? We put them to the test to find out.
The first thing you’ll notice about these earbuds is that in the packaging they look pretty damn spectacular. The box is made from a premium cardboard, the earbuds are securely locked in place to be shown off, and the charging case and extra tips have their own little slots so that you can quickly and easily access them.
The earbuds themselves look very sleek, especially for a wireless pair. That’s to say, if these were wired we would expect them to be a lot smaller, but considering how much tech is in these tiny earbuds, they look great. They’re similar in shape to the Motorola VerveOnes earbuds we reviewed a few weeks back, but a little smaller, which is very nice to see.
The Skybuds come in three different colors; black, silver, and white. We’re reviewing the silver pair, which look quite nice. While the body of the Skybuds is made from a plastic, the silver color makes them look a little metallic. Judging by the photos on the Skybuds website, the black headphones look the sleekest, while the white would match a white iPhone well.
Apart from the Skybuds themselves, you’ll also get a charging case, which matches the headphones in color, and fits nicely in the palm of your hand in terms of size. To charging the headphones, simply push on the bottom of the case and the inside will pop up. Slot your Skybuds in, and they should charge, assuming the case’s battery is charged too. You can charge the case itself with a basic microUSB cable. We would have liked to see USB-C compatibility since most new Android phones use that standard – not because the case needs USB-C transfer speeds or anything like that – just because people are going to start having a lot more USB-C cables lying around and a lot fewer microUSB cables.
Last but not least, you’ll also find two extra pairs of eartips – a small size and a large size. The medium size is found on the Skybuds by default. We would have liked to see a pair of memory foam comply tips, as it often provides a better seal and helps keep the earbuds in your ear.
The there’s the app itself, which is also pretty well designed. You’ll go through a quick setup process that runs pretty smoothly, after which you’ll be able to see the battery level for each Skybud as well as the charging case. The app is pretty basic – apart from power, you can really only check for software updates and reset the Skybuds. The fact that the app is so basic makes it easy to use, however it would have perhaps been nice to be able to do things like tune the EQ for the earbuds.
One of the main issues we had with the Motorola VerveOnes was that they were too big and hence got pretty uncomfortable while wearing. That’s not true with the Skybuds. Sure, they’re a little bigger than your traditional earbuds, but not overly so – the eartip is nicely sized to fit neatly into your ear, while the earbuds themselves are perfectly sized to fit into your ear, helping them not fall out. That’s not to say that they’re totally immune from falling out – they’re not. They are, however, far better at staying in than the Motorola VerveOnes or, to be totally honest, really any other wireless earbud we’ve tried – including those written before the creation of Headphone Review.
Of course, no earbud is 100 percent comfortable, however we noticed it takes a lot longer for these to get uncomfortable than any other wireless earbuds.
The standard eartip size will be good for most people, however you’ll also get a small size and large size if you have smaller or larger ear canals.
None of this would really matter if the Skybuds didn’t sound any good. Thankfully, they sound pretty good. No, they’re not perfect, but for what they are, we were pretty impressed.
Let’s start with the bass. While there’s not a ton of bass, there is a good amount for most listening experiences. We would have liked to see a little more of the super low frequencies, and even the frequencies that are there could use a slight boost.
The mids are certainly there, however some of the higher mids could be made a little more prominent. There aren’t any truly problematic frequencies, which is a good thing, especially because of the fact that badly tuned mids make a song sound like a radio.
The high end seems to be rolled off just like the low end. The high-mids are there, but the super high frequencies don’t seem to be. This gives the Skybuds a slightly boring sound. Not a bad sound, by any means, but don’t expect to put these in and be shown a whole new world of audio listening.
The sound is probably the worst thing about these headphones. We can’t stress enough that they don’t sound bad, they just don’t sound very exciting and could use some more low end and high end.
Here’s the most surprising thing about these earbuds – they are completely glitch-free, at least in our experience. Setting them up was a breeze, but beyond that, they didn’t cut out or lose connection between each other once. That’s a first for wireless earbuds – every single pair we’ve tried has shown at least some tendency to be a little glitch. Not these – the listening experience was totally smooth. A nice touch is that they also automatically connect when you take them out of the case, assuming they’re in range. No need to manually press any buttons – they just work.
Unfortunately, things are a little less great when it comes to battery life. This one’s a tough one to judge, simply because of the fact that there’s a tradeoff to giving them a long battery life, and that’s a larger size. Officially Skybuds last 4 hours, and while we didn’t quite get that long, that will largely depend on things like volume and use. The good thing is that on the go you can recharge them with the charging case, but if you want to listen to music for more than a few hours, you’re out of luck. Sure, if you listen for more than 4 hours you should probably take a break anyway, but that’s not the point – a longer battery life would have been nice.
That’s not to say that we want the Skybuds to be larger. We personally feel as though 4 hours is fair for the size of these headphones, but hopefully battery technology will advance enough to where we can one day have more like 8-10 hours in the same size.
Alpha Audiotronics has really hit the nail on the head with Skybuds. No, they’re not the best sounding headphones on the planet, but they have superior connectivity, a great design, and they’re pretty comfortable. Even at the price of $249, we highly recommend Skybuds if you’re looking for a pair of wireless earbuds.
In fact, these are the best wireless earbuds we’ve tested to date. That’s not to say they can’t or won’t be beaten — but for now if you’re looking for wireless earbuds these are your best bet.
|Frequency response||20Hz – 20kHz||Active noise cancellation
|Driver size||5.18mm||Noise attenuation||Unknown|
||Balanced Armature Driver||Controls||On-ear|
|Total harmonic distortion
||<2% at 1K||Water resistance||No|
|Rated input power
||Unknown||Battery life||4 hours|
|Maximum input power
||Bluetooth 4.1||Cable length||N/A|
||No||Case type||Hard charging case|
||N/A||In-the-box||Charging case, charging cable, 3 ear tip pairs|
|Weight||Skybuds: 5.0g (0.17oz)
Skydock: 64.0g (2.28oz)
|Colors||Black, silver, white|