Skullcandy Set USB-C review: decent sound and all-day comfort in stylish, cheap wired earbuds

The Skullcandy Set USB-C earbuds are an elegant choice for those seeking a reliable wired option

Skullcandy Set USB-C earbuds on grey surface
(Image: © Future)

TechRadar Verdict

Skullcandy’s Set USB-C earbuds don’t skimp on style, with a sleek design and beautiful color options to boot. They’re also super comfortable and come with adjustable ear gels to have you listening for hours on end, hassle free. The Set buds don’t do anything special in the audio department, meaning that finer sonic details are typically left unrevealed, but they still offer enough quality to guarantee an overall pleasant listening experience.


  • +

    Decent sound quality for the price

  • +

    Comfortable listening for long sessions

  • +

    Sleek design


  • -

    No volume buttons on controller

  • -

    Cable noise a tad disruptive

  • -

    Doesn’t deliver the most full-sounding audio

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Skullcandy Set USB-C: Two-minute review

The Skullcandy Set USB-C earbuds stand as a stylish and well-priced option for those favoring the way of the wire, and they stack up well against some of the best wired headphones value-wise. Even if you own some of the best wireless earbuds, Skullcandy’s offering can still be of great use if you forget to charge your pesky Bluetooth ones.

I’ll be upfront – the Set earbuds don’t whip up top-drawer sound, and many tracks I listened to lacked the depth I’d grown accustomed to from competitor SoundMAGIC’s E11D model. To be specific, the audio isn’t the most full-sounding, something I sensed when listening to Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes by Paul Simon. Percussion in the background, the looping guitar lick, and the smooth bass all sounded a little bit feeble on these buds compared to the E11D’s.

With that said, sound quality is still decent, especially given the Set earbuds’ list price of just $31.99 / £29.99 (about AU$50). A lot of the more budget buds out there present listeners with borderline-repulsive, tinny audio, and these never subjected me to such horrors. The Skullcandy Set earbuds offer pretty good all-round sound; it's just a bit thin on detail and dynamism. Even at louder volumes, I was satisfied with the audio output on show and didn’t feel as if it was overly distorted or constrained. 

Skullcandy says the Set earbuds have a “noise-isolating fit”, thanks to the included ear gels. These won’t totally reduce noise from your surroundings, but they definitely do a solid job of keeping you tuned in to your music. Unfortunately, one unwelcome sound you may well hear is the Set’s rustling wires, especially when touching the cables or making sudden movements during listening sessions.

In spite of this, the ear gels are actually very pleasant to wear, and I happily kept the Set wired earbuds in for two full days in the office without feeling any discomfort. Not only that, they stayed in without me needing to constantly fiddle with them to find the perfect fit. This earns Skullcandy’s wired in-ears plenty of points in my book – many similar products either cause me irritation after an hour or so, or need to be repeatedly reinserted into the ear. The Set earbuds also come with small- and large-sized gels so you can find the best feel.

Continuing on a positive note, I’m a big fan of the earbuds’ design. They sport a sleek, curved look, and come in four snazzy colorways. You can go for a more versatile True Black (the version that I tested), or select one of the three new color options in 'Triple Threat' finish, which Skullcandy tells us "mimics the scratches, gouges and dings that prove your board is getting the love it deserves". These include Sunset (orange), Snow (white), and Ocean (blue), all of which capture their respective theme with panache. 

The buds also come with a call and music controller attached, which has a nice glossy finish, although functionality-wise, it’s a bit limited. It has a play/pause button in the form of the Skullcandy logo, which can also be used to take or hang up calls and skip songs. Additionally, it has a microphone that maintained clarity at various speaking volumes and distances and, despite a bit of background static, it was certainly good enough. 

However, that’s where it ends for the controller, which is a bit of a shame. Whenever I wanted to turn a track’s volume up or down, I had to reach into my pocket and adjust this via my phone – something that frustrated me when walking home in the pouring rain one evening. Skullcandy says that the earbuds are designed for use “from work to workout”, but this issue, along with the loud rustling noises from the cable, suggests that these aren’t the ideal pick for a workout after all. 

A design feature that could be useful, if like me you’re taking walks during downpours, is the Set earbuds’ IPX4 rating, which means the buds are protected against splashing water from any angle. IPX4 certification is pretty common for a lot of models at this price point, and ensures that the Set buds resist sweat if you use them during a run or similarly intensive activity.

One small but notable thing I appreciated about the Set earbuds is that Skullcandy hasn’t made outrageous promises about game-changing sound, revolutionary design, or world-class noise isolation – we’re just told that if “simplicity is your thing” and you’re looking for an “all-day earbud”, they’re a worthy choice. This level of honesty helps to keep expectations closer to reality, something which many competitors fall flat on. So, despite the “from work to workout” tagline feeling a little questionable, these still deliver the quality that many will hope to receive from a set of cheaper wired earbuds.

Skullcandy Set USB-C earbuds against guitar amp

(Image credit: Future)

Skullcandy Set USB-C review: Price and release date

  • Released on June 1, 2020 in True Black
  • Released on March 19, 2024 in 'Triple Threat' colorways
  • $31.99 / £29.99 (about AU$50)

Skullcandy’s Set USB-C earbuds are available on its US and UK digital stores, but unfortunately don’t feature on its Australian site. The buds have been available in True Black since 2020, and Skullcandy re-released the model in three vibrant Triple Threat colorways in March 2024, at the same price point. They aren’t the absolute cheapest option in the realm of USB-C buds, but still won’t set you back much, coming in at $31.99 / £29.99 (about AU$50).

You can grab alternatives for a bit less, such as the Apple USB-C EarPods and Belkin’s SoundForm wired earbuds (both of which cost less than $25), but you may be left wanting more, sound quality-wise. Indeed, neither of these deliver particularly great sound quality, with Skullcandy’s Set USB-C buds offering solid audio output for only a few dollars more.

Skullcandy Set USB-C review: Specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Drivers9mm dynamic
Weight0.53oz / 15g
Frequency range20Hz-20KHz
Waterproof ratingIPX4
Other featuresMicrophone, additional ear gels

Skullcandy Set USB-C earbuds controller

(Image credit: Future)

Should you buy the Skullcandy Set USB-C?

Swipe to scroll horizontally
FeaturesFunctional noise isolation, but volume controls are sorely missed3/5
Sound qualityDecent all-round audio, though sounds a little thin3.5/5
DesignSleek without sacrificing comfort, cool color options, cable noise can frustrate4/5
ValueDecent sound, clean look and clear mic at a pretty low price4.5/5

Buy them if...

You’re looking for something stylish
For many, wired earbuds are more of a fashion statement than a vessel for enjoying stunning audio quality. Skullcandy's Set earbuds may not have much of a retro look, but they bring a modern twist to the wired world. If you’re looking to capture an aesthetic that melds the classic wired format with a contemporary edge, these are perfect.

You want to indulge in long listening sessions
I found the Set earbuds to be very comfortable, and happily used them throughout multiple full work days. Some wired earbuds frustratingly fall out of your ears or require frequent adjustment, but not these, making them perfect for a day in the office or perhaps a study session of epic proportions.

Don't buy them if...

You want a wired option for walks
My biggest gripe with the Skullcandy Set buds is the lack of volume buttons on their ‘controller’. This is massively frustrating if your phone is in your pocket during a walk or run, and you want to crank up the volume, making them quite inconvenient for use during active periods.

You want to really feel the music
The Set earbuds offer decent sound quality, and for the price, I don’t have many complaints. It’s pretty clear, though, that they lack the full-bodied listening experience you’d get from something a bit more premium. If you want to feel bassy depths, pick out intricate sonic details, and taste the sweetness of delicate high frequencies, you’ll probably need to stretch your budget a bit further.

Skullcandy Set USB-C review: Also consider

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Skullcandy Set USB-CSoundMAGIC E11D1MORE Triple Driver
Price$31.99 / £29.99 (about AU$50)$43 / £39.99 / AU$65$39 / £49 (about AU$90)
Drivers9mm dynamic10mm dynamic2 x tweeters, 1 x dynamic driver (per earbud)
Frequency range20Hz-20kHz15Hz-22kHz20Hz-40kHz
Waterproof ratingIPX4Not statedIPX5
Other featuresMicrophone, additional ear gelsController with mic, additional gels, carry caseController with mic, additional silicone and foam ear tips, carry case

SoundMagic E11D
The SoundMAGIC E11D are a bit more expensive, and will set you back $43 / £39.99 / AU$65. However, they come with a built-in DAC, and you get a more fleshed-out listening experience, with clearer, more defined audio. The E11D have a controller that does include volume controls, but the buttons are very small. On the outside, they don’t look as attractive as the Skullcandy Set buds, but they do come with a carry case, making that slightly larger spend feel a bit more palatable. Our SoundMagic E11D review is coming, very soon…


1MORE Triple Driver
Okay, before ‘certified_audiophile16’ comes for me, I’d like to be clear that these are not USB-C wired earbuds. Yes, they are instead made for a 3.5mm jack, but if you’re looking for some wired buds and have a device compatible with these, they’re still fantastic. The Triple Driver offer up beautiful, bold sound for a very decent $39 / £49 (about AU$90), and also come with a case. If the 3.5mm option is on the table for you, these are well worth a look. Here’s our full 1MORE Triple Driver review.

Skullcandy Set USB-C review: How I tested

Skullcandy Set USB-C earbuds inserted in FiiO M11S music player

(Image credit: Future)
  • Tested across a week-long period
  • Used in the office, at home, and while walking
  • Predominantly tested using Spotify on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

I whisked the Skullcandy Set earbuds away for a week of travelling (between my apartment and the office), and tested them while walking and while seated. I mainly used the buds on my Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 using Spotify, but I also tried listening to music via Tidal on the FiiO M11S hi-res music player. 

When trying out the Skullcandy Set earbuds I listened to tracks from the TechRadar testing playlist and beyond, and also watched YouTube videos. To test the microphone quality, I recorded multiple voice notes, and spoke at a variety of volumes, distances, and pitches. I also made calls to ensure the controller worked as described, and to once again determine microphone quality. 

Read more about how we test

  • First reviewed: June 2024
Harry Padoan
Staff Writer

Harry is a Reviews Staff Writer for TechRadar. He reviews everything from party speakers to portable battery packs, but has a particular interest in the worlds of gaming and smartphones. Harry has a background in business tech journalism, particularly around the telecoms industry.