Skullcandy Jib Wireless
Not every pair of earphones needs to break new ground, and the Skullcandy Jib Wireless keeps things simple—there are no bells and whistles here. For $34.99, all that really matters is audio performance, and the Jib Wireless packs some surprisingly serious bass response. The sound signature is quite sculpted, but it’s an excellent value for the price, and our Editors’ Choice for low-cost Bluetooth earphones.
The Jib Wireless has a very thin, cappellini-esque black cable and either black, red, purple, or teal earpieces. The outer panels of the earpieces have a glossy sheen and feature the Skullcandy logo, which can also be found on the plastic charging compartment that sits mid-cable, behind your neck. This compartment also houses a status LED and the connection point for the included micro USB charging cable. The fit is generally comfortable and secure.
The inline remote control and mic compartment is located near the left earpiece. It’s a single-button remote. One click handles playback and call management, and multiple clicks allow you to navigate tracks. There’s no way to adjust volume levels other than on your device itself.
The built-in mic offers decent intelligibility. Using the Voice Memos app on an iPhone 6s, we could understand every word we recorded, though the audio wasn’t crystal clear. For an inline Bluetooth mic, it’s about average.
Other than the charging cable, don’t expect much in the way of accessories. You get two pairs of eartips, one smaller than the other, and that’s it. Again, for the price, it’s hard to complain.
Skullcandy estimates battery life to be roughly six hours, but your results will vary with your volume levels.
On tracks with intense sub-bass content, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the earphones deliver a very impressive low frequency response. They don’t get quite as loud as many competing models, but that’s not a bad thing. At top volume levels the sound is plenty powerful and the bass doesn’t distort, which is a relief in this price range. At more moderate volumes, you still get strong lows that will appeal to those who like a bass-forward sound.
Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with far less deep bass in the mix, gives a better sense of the overall sound signature. The drums on this track get a heavy extra helping of deep lows—they don’t sound unnaturally thunderous, but they are certainly exaggerated in the bass realm. Callahan’s baritone vocals have a pleasant rich presence, and also receive enough high-mid focus for some added treble edge and definition that offsets the bass-forward nature. The guitar strums also benefit from some sculpting in the high-mids and highs. Generally speaking, this is a decently balanced sound signature, but it’s certainly not accurate.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop’s attack receives a solid high-mid presence, allowing it to retain its sharp edge and slice through the mix’s layers. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat are delivered with admirable gusto for such an affordable price—this is definitely a bass lover’s sound signature. All this added depth doesn’t make for a murky audio experience, however, as the vocals get plenty of high-mid presence and are clear and crisp without sounding overly sibilant.
Orchestral tracks, like the opening scene in John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, get added bass depth, as you might expect, but it’s not over the top. In fact, it sounds strikingly natural—the higher register strings, brass, and vocals retain their bright presence while the lower register instrumentation steps forward a bit in the mix without overwhelming things. Purists might scoff, but many listeners will enjoy the extra body and brightness.
The Skullcandy Jib Wireless doesn’t offer much in the way of frills, but it does provide tremendous low frequency response for a totally reasonable price. It’s hard to find good earphones in this price range outside of wired options like the Sol Republic Relays Sport. If you prefer a neckband-style design, Skullcandy’s Method Wireless is a solid alternative, but even then you need to pay nearly twice the price. So for bass lovers on a budget, the Jib Wireless earns our Editors’ Choice.