When noise cancellation technology was introduced into commercially available audio hardware, audiophiles were elated with what it could offer. The option of cutting yourself from the cacophony and the racket was indeed a blessing for music lovers who wanted to experience the next level of immersive audio.
Skullcandy recently launched the Indy ANC, its new noise cancellation TWS earbuds that promise improvements in the noise cancellation department bundled with multiple audio enhancements.
With its noise cancellation tech at the helm of it, the company is pushing these sub-Rs10,000 headphones for users who want a no-nonsense pair of wireless earbuds that packs good battery life and aces in audio performance. We got to spend some time with the Skullcandy Indy ANC and here’s our quick review.
The company hasn’t fiddled with the design as compared to the last iteration (Indy Evo). It still sports the same design for the earbuds as before with the silicone ear caps and the canal tips that help with the snug fit. It looks a bit bulky due to the bigger charging dock housing it but in the ears, you won’t feel the bulk. You get touch controls on both the earbuds which we’ll talk about more later. You will easily be able to spot microphones on both the earbuds and there is also an external mic that you can see on the touchpad used to monitor ambient sound and activate ANC (active noise cancellation).
Both earbuds come with an LED on them to indicated whether they are in pairing mode or connected. The Indy ANC comes with a detailed instruction manual in the box on how to connect with a smartphone which should not be a problem for users to follow.
The charging dock compared to other TWS earbuds in this price segment is much bigger and comes with a battery level indicator on the front. This I feel is a great addition as most charging docks do not offer a battery level indicator on them. There is a USB-Type C port at the bottom. I also noticed that the magnets used in the charging dock that hold the earbuds inside are weak. All I had to do is flip the lid open and turn the dock upside down and strike the base gently and the earbuds fell out.
Fit and comfort
The adage, “If it isn’t broken don’t fix it” holds true with the design of the Indy ANC. The earbuds fit snuggly into the ears and the added silicone ear tips and padding on it lends that extra comfort. Surprisingly, even while I was running with these on, the earbuds didn’t fall off which means that it is also a good companion for a weekend run.
The fact that the Indy ANC is IPX4 water-resistant means that a little sweat on it won’t be a problem. The good thing is that you get extra ear caps and silicon tips of different sizes which you can exchange on the earbuds as per your fit. Since they are not heavy, you can have longer music sessions with the Indy ANC.
They sit snugly in the ear with very little space for any ambient noise to creep in which helps a lot with noise cancellation. The earbuds come with multiple touch controls for different functions. For example, if you want to turn the volume up you tap the right earbud and to turn it down you tap the left earbud. There are many touch control that you as a user will have to memorise and that will take time.
It took me a little over two weeks of continuous use to memorise all the touch control which also includes combinations of ‘touch+hold’ commands. My only beef with this design is that it should have included some swipe gestures instead of just touch which would have made it much easier to navigate.
Sound quality and performance
I was impressed with the sound quality of the Indy ANC. There has been improvement in bass compared to its previous iteration and it’s easier to distinguish between different sounds when you’re listening to music. The Indy ANC connects to the Skullcandy app that lets you choose between different profiles of sounds – Podcast, Movie and Music.
With Podcasts mode, you get crisp vocals and the treble is a bit accentuated. Movie mode takes you to a different universe where you will feel the thump of every explosion and action sequences will be more riveting.
Music mode smartly combines the best of bass and treble to give you an immersive music experience.
When I played Living in a ghost town by the Rolling Stones, I could easily hear the harmonica at the back and the other instruments were not overwhelming. River by Ed Sheeran and Eminem is another track I listened to and the transition from acoustic to hip-hop is well handled. In Say Something by Justin Timberlake, I could clearly distinguish between the acoustic guitar and the bass which means the Music profile does a good job and should be the one you should use the most.
It’s great that users get the option to choose between different profiles; however, I would have liked it if the app gave me more customisation options for each frequency so that I could add more bass in the movie mode.
The Skullcandy app also lets you personalise the sound where it calibrates the audio levels of the earbuds based on your listening levels. The process takes a few minutes but it’s another way of improving your overall listening experience. I tried it and it does help.
The app also helps you find your earbuds in case you lose them via the Find Your Earbuds feature in the app. Once activated, the earbuds play a loud sound that will help you track down the earbuds if they are lying under a pillowcase or under the sheets. Oh, if you ever lose one of the earbuds, you can still use the other one separately as it offers that functionality.
Ironically, the noise cancellation on the Indy ANC isn’t the best out there. Even with ANC turned on, I could hear a lot of noise that was creeping in when I was sitting in the office. Only when you are listening to music at a loud level is when ambient noise is suppressed but that should not be the case in earbuds that come with dedicated ANC technology.
I have experienced better ANC on earbuds in the same price range and personally, I feel the noise cancellation could have been better on the Skullcandy Indy.
It does come with an ambient mode that can be activated with touch controls, but if you want to listen to someone standing close to you speak, you’ll have to take the earbuds off. Also, I noticed that the music does not turn off automatically when you remove the earbuds and the music keeps playing until you manually stop it. Clearly, an ‘auto music off’ feature should have been added else you might forget to stop the music and take them off leading to more battery loss.
Phone call audio quality on the Indy ANC is good. I didn’t have any trouble listening to the caller’s audio which was crisp. Even the microphone’s performance is good I was told. There is even a dedicated microphone that reduces the ambient noise when you are on a call. A handy feature.
I was impressed with the battery life that the Indy ANC had to offer. I got more than 4-hours of music playback from the earbuds alone with ANC activated. Bundled with the charging case, I was able to get a total playtime of nearly 30 hours which is great.
The Skullcandy Indy ANC also supports rapid charging via USB Type-C, and I was able to get almost 2 hours of music playtime with just 10-minutes of charging. This is a great feature for someone who’s getting late for the gym and wants just the right amount of battery juice for his/her hour-long workout session.
The Skullcandy Indy ANC earbuds retail at Rs 10,999 online and for that price, it’s a decent bargain. With these earbuds, you get a comfortable fit, more than enough battery life and a balanced audio experience. I feel that the ANC could have been better and Skullcandy could have added more customisations for audio profiles and touch controls. In this price range, the Indy ANC competes with the likes of the Jabra Elite 75t and the Sony WF-XB700 which makes the competition tougher. Go for the Indy if you want a lightweight design and a long-lasting battery, else you can also consider other options in this price range.