Headphones have become a commodity and it’s very easy to find cheap earbuds and on-ear models for under $30. The category is now measured in the billions of dollars, and it dwarfs the high-end audio industry by a considerable margin. Skullcandy is one of the biggest brands in category and it’s fair to say that you can find their products almost anywhere. Products like the Skullcandy Dime are showing up in gas stations, 7-Eleven, and discount retailers which is probably not a good thing for true wireless category overall in terms of consumers thinking there is little reason to spend more for better quality.
In this business, I spend a lot of time listening and writing about gear that most non-audiophiles would think was ridiculously priced. $5,000 amplifiers and $2,000 headphones are never going to be mainstream items and that’s perfectly fine.
Apple and Beats have helped to raise awareness regarding headphones, and one could argue that there would be no luxury headphone industry had Beats not conditioned consumers in regard to spending $250 or more on a pair of headphones.
The Skullcandy Dime, however, is appealing to a completely different market.
A $22 USD pair of true wireless headphones is pretty rare and not something you’ll lose sleep over if they break after a few months or one of the kids drops one in the drink.
Do you feel comfortable leaving $200 IEMs at work? Can you lock your desk? I know plenty of people who leave a cheap pair of headphones at work. If you are a parent, you probably have a cheap set of wireless headphones in the car for the kids to use on a road trip.
For $22, the Skullcandy Dime are packaged with a charging case, the earbuds, 3 sets of tips, and a charging cable.
The case is well thought out and one of the better designs I’ve seen with a few caveats. I do like that the case is on the thinner side and can be easily carried in your pocket.
There is also a lock on the case which keeps the earbuds inside if you get knocked about while engaged in something other than listening. The ability to hook the charging case to your keys with the supplied lanyard is also a smart feature.
I do wish that they had included an external charge indicator on the case, so you don’t have to open it to make sure your earbuds are being charged.
It also uses the dated micro-USB connector instead of the now standard USB-C and I’m sure that was to keep the manufacturing costs down.
The case utilizes a 150mAh battery while each earpiece has a 20mAh battery in it. This allows the case to charge the earpieces twice before the case itself needs to be recharged. Skullcandy lists battery life as 3.5 hours for the earpieces and 8.5 hours for the case which are both slightly optimistic numbers as I found the earpieces to last closer to 3 hours under normal listening conditions and the case more like 7 hours than the listed 8.5.
Still, this is respectable battery performance when we consider the asking price for the Dime. $22 is how many Starbucks runs? Exactly.
The earpieces are constructed from plastic as one would expect, but they do feel sturdy, and I have no durability concerns unless heavily abused. Internally, the Dime sport Bluetooth 5.0 but unfortunately, they do not support AAC or aptX as I was unable to get them to connect using anything other than SBC to both a Samsung and an Apple iPhone.
This does limit the strength of connection and means they are at their best when the phone is on a table or desk nearby. I found that sitting with my phone in a back pocket was enough to cause connection issues at times so while the ad copy says leave the phone in your pocket referencing the controls built into the earpieces — be aware if purchasing these that the Bluetooth protocol is likely their largest limitation.
The drivers themselves are a 6mm dynamic driver and Skullcandy has tuned them with the popular “V” tuning.
The bass response is elevated with the bulk of the emphasis on the sub-bass and lower midbass which gives kick drums good slam and some rumble. The bass can be loose sounding at times and get a little thick during drum runs. Listening to rock and some metal demonstrated this to be the case.
The midrange is cleaner sounding and better detailed but slightly recessed and the tuning here obviously favors popular genres rather than big string ensembles. Classical music fans will not love these.
The treble is pushed forward; particularly the lower treble region which helps make vocals stand out in front of the instrumentation. Snare has good rattle with sharp attack, but cymbals are a bit splashy and can be harsh if you are treble sensitive. I did not love these with the volume raised to the highest settings.
The soundstage is a bit wider than deep and can best be defined as intimate with neither dimension reaching much beyond the head.
I’ve heard a lot worse for $22 and while not a replacement for any of the true wireless earphones above $75, the Skullcandy Dime might make sense if you have a few kids watching on their iPad in the backseat.
It seems a bit odd to be reviewing a $22 TWS using an audiophile grading scale and it probably isn’t fair to the Dime to do so. It is a well-made, well thought out (for the most part) product that will serve its target audience well.
It even survived my infamous laundry test and still works after a full wash cycle (IPX4 rated but performed a bit better than the rating).
If you are looking for a stocking stuffer for the kids, the Skullcandy Dime offers a solid feature set and a tuning suited to genres that are popular today.
Available in six colors: True Black (pictured above), Dark Blue/Green, Chill Grey, Light Grey/Blue, Golden Age Red, Golden Age Orange.
Related: Best True Wireless Earbuds Right Now