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Skullcandy Indy Evo review: Decent mid-range earbuds but far from revolutionary

15 Dec 2020
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
90
inc VAT

The Skullcandy Indy Evo are a solid pair of true wireless earbuds but they struggle to stand out from the crowd

Pros 
Extremely stable fit
In-built Tile tracking
Comprehensive touch controls
Cons 
Underwhelming EQ options
No aptX support
Limited companion app
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The Indy Evo are one of four new pairs of true wireless earbuds from American audio manufacturer Skullcandy. They’re an update of the company’s original Indy earbuds, which were released in 2019, and have received a number of tweaks, including improved battery life, in-built Tile tracking and the ability to use each bud separately.

The revitalised Skullcandy lineup also includes the Indy Fuel, which are identical to the Indy Evo but come with a wireless charging case; the cheaper, more compact Sesh Evo; and the Push Ultra, which are designed for sport and come with ear hooks for increased stability.

Skullcandy Indy Evo: What do you get for the money?

For £90 you get a pair of Bluetooth 5.0, IP55-rated (sweat, water and dust resistant) true wireless earbuds, a plastic charging case, one USB A to USB C charging cable, three sets of eartips and two pairs of gels that help stabilise the buds in the outer sections of your ears. The buds and case combined offer a respectable total of 30 hours of audio playback, although battery life will vary depending on listening volume. If you’re willing to shell out an extra £20 you can pick up the Indy Fuel, which come with a wireless charging case.

Skullcandy Indy Evo: How comfortable is the fit?

There’s a touch of the Apple AirPods to the Indy Evo but, rather than relying on one-size-fits-all earpieces, they use silicone eartips and stabiliser eargels to achieve a good fit. The combination worked effectively for me: once in place, the earbuds never came loose, even during exercise.

They’re comfortable for the most part, too, although I did experience ear fatigue in my right ear during longer listening sessions. There’s no ANC (active noise cancellation) but the snugness of the fit provides passive noise-cancelling capable of cutting out a reasonable amount of external sound.

Skullcandy Indy Evo: How do they sound?

The Indy Evo have three different EQ modes but, after testing them all extensively, I found two of them to be pretty much redundant.

The “Movies” mode is far and away the best-sounding profile and negates the need for either Music or Podcast mode. It's the bassiest of the profiles, which may go some way to explaining why I gravitated towards it, but it’s also the loudest and best balanced. The heavy guitar riffs in Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing in the Name” had plenty of impact, while the piercing, hard-hitting quality of Zach de la Rocha’s vocals were impressively articulated as he launched into his expletive-ridden tirade at the climax of the song. The soundstage is admittedly a little congested but for casual, everyday listening these buds are more than adequate.

The same can’t be said for Music mode, which is lacklustre. The aforementioned “Killing in the Name” sounded muddy and flat compared with Movies mode, and this proved the case across tracks in a range of other genres, too.

The third EQ - Podcast mode - strips back bass tones to give mid-range frequencies greater prominence and improve vocal clarity. As someone who listens to a lot of podcasts, I like that Skullcandy has created a specific EQ for them and it achieves its aim – dialogue does sound clearer than in the other two modes. I didn’t feel the effect was significant enough, however, to make it worth the effort switching from Movies mode.

The Indy Evo doesn’t support the aptX codec and is therefore unable to deliver the higher quality, bit-rate efficient streaming many of its rivals can. However, it’s worth mentioning how little latency there is when streaming video content online. I experienced none of the lag between video and audio that can plague Bluetooth headphones when watching YouTube and Netflix.

Skullcandy Indy Evo: What other features are there?

One of the big draws of the Indy Evo is their built-in Tile tracking feature. If you’re not familiar with Tile, it’s a service that utilises Bluetooth to locate lost or misplaced objects. If you’ve misplaced your Indy Evo and are within Bluetooth range of the buds, you can have Tile trigger a high-pitched noise to help you locate them. If you’ve lost them while further afield, the app can be used to pinpoint the last place your phone and earbuds were connected, or via other Tile users automatically reporting their location. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll find them but it gives you a place to start your search.

Other features are more humdrum. There’s an “Ambient Mode” for those situations when you want to be able to hear some of the external noise around you. There’s no sliding scale, so it’s either on or off, and even with it on I found it difficult to pick up conversations unless I was listening to music at very low volume.

More impressive is the Indy Evo’s extensive touch control system. There are numerous touch combinations, ranging from a single tap on the right bud to increase volume to double-tapping then pressing either bud for two seconds to switch EQ modes. Most work consistently, but I found those involving tapping and then pressing a bit hit and miss and learning all the controls takes a little while.

The accompanying Skullcandy app is severely limited. You can toggle Ambient Mode on and off, access the user guides, register your earbuds and that’s about it. There’s no battery level indicator for the earbuds or case (although there are battery indicator LEDs on the front of the latter) and you can’t switch EQ modes within the app.

Should I buy the Skullcandy Indy Evo?

There’s a fair amount to like about the Indy Evo true wireless earbuds and you can certainly do a lot worse for the money. They have a clean aesthetic, decent battery life, comprehensive touch controls and in-built Tile tracking, which is a big bonus.

However, if you prioritise audio quality over features and fit, you’re better off checking out the similarly priced RHA TrueConnect or our favourite earbuds under £100, the Creative Outlier Air. And if you’re an iPhone user capable of stretching your budget a bit, the original Apple AirPods remain some of the best true wireless earbuds out there.

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