The truly wireless earbuds market has exploded in 2020. Every manufacturer is having a go at the TWS earbuds marker with their offering of TWS earbuds products. The companies are coming up with several ways to differentiate their products in this crowded space. If you are restricted to a budget of sub-Rs 5,000, there are multiple options to choose from. If you seek premium audio quality, there’s so much more to explore. Skullcandy has been in this race for a while and this year, it updated its sub-Rs 5,000 Sesh earbuds.
It is called the Sesh Evo and the company has priced it at Rs 4,499 in the market. As the name suggests, it is an evolution of the older Sesh earbuds from 2019. The design and internals remain unchanged but Skullcandy has thrown around some pop-neon colors to make the package seem more youthful. It also boasts highly of its long battery life and robust build quality.
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I reviewed the previous generation Sesh and hence, I was interested to see what improvements these earbuds bring to the affordable audio gear segment.
Skullcandy Sesh in-depth review
Design and build
The Skullcandy Sesh Evo belongs to the group of TWS earbuds that isn’t of the “AirPods type”. Skullcandy has left the design unchanged from last year, which means you have to settle for an in-ear design. In-ear earbuds have their own perks and downsides. For the perks, the Sesh Evo sits flush inside the earlobe, with no stick jutting out of the ear. Sadly, the perks end here for me.
The Sesh Evo, like all in-ear earbuds, takes a lot of time to wear right. I had to push it inside my ear firmly as every time I didn’t do it, the buds kept falling out. The in-ear design also affects the voice reception during calls as the mic sits far away from the mouth. Additionally, Skullcandy chose to stick to button-based controls instead of the more convenient touch controls.
The case is huge when compared to the modern-day earbuds of 2020. The build quality is good and the presence of a USB-C port makes it easier to live with. However, the magnetic slots for the earbuds don’t always hold the earbuds firmly. I often had to press the earbuds before closing the lid to make them disconnect properly from my phone. Thankfully, the buds themselves are IP55 rated for sweat, water, and dust resistance. The case also features a battery charge indicator on the outside – a convenient touch.
Ease of use
As I said, in-ear designs are a hassle to live with. In my experience, I found the Sesh Evo earbuds slipping out of my earlobes every time I ran or moved around vigorously. Hence, I always had to keep pushing and adjusting the earbuds every 10 minutes. The ear hooks don’t offer enough grip to stay inside the ears. Even after changing the ear tips, the issue persisted.
Then there are the buttons. Buttons on earbuds are always a bad idea and this stands true once more for the Sesh Evo. These buttons add to the discomfort factor that I mentioned above. You have to press the buttons quite hard to register any input. I found myself either hurting my ears or dislodging it from the fit while pressing the buttons. Eventually, I relied more on my smartphone controls to change tracks or adjust the volume.
Voice reception during calls is also bad. Since the mics are sitting in the ear, I had a hard time having a clear conversation with my callers. Most of the time, they complained of a faint voice and once I started speaking loudly, the jaw movement dislodged the earbuds out of the position. It seems recycling an old design for 2020 doesn’t favor the Sesh Evo.
It’s not all bad though. The Sesh Evo comes with Tile trackers built-in. Hence, if you are the kind misplacing your belongings often, this can be of help. With the Tile app, you can locate the earbuds, provided you are in close proximity to the earbuds.
Skullcandy always has an alignment towards a bassy audio profile. The Sesh Evo follows the same principle but that adds to its downsides. Skullcandy says the earbuds are tuned for stronger bass and low-end performance. I found the audio tuning to be similar to the original Sesh earbuds, with the same muddy bass.
The earbuds amplify the low-end frequencies to enhance the bass effect. I liked the bass performance as drumbeats and other low-end frequencies are strong. However, the mids are too muddy while the highs aren’t that clear. It seems as if the earbuds are packed inside something – the audio overall sounds muffled.
I tried a host of Bollywood and Hollywood tracks of various genres on the Sesh Evo. Country music and pop numbers come across as bass-heavy than usual. However, the muffled mids and highs dampen the overall experience. When it comes to Bollywood songs of the sad, romantic, and party genres, the Sesh Evo did little to redeem itself. The focus on the bass is too much and all the songs end up sounding muffled. For example, Ole Ole 2.0 from Jawaani Jaaneman sounded groaned with a heavy low-end profile and ear-hurting drumbeats.
Skullcandy has baked-in three different equalizer profiles to offer more options for personalization. The movies and music modes sounded similar, with the latter slightly boosting the mids to make it more pleasant. In fact, some of the muddiness is dialed down in the music mode to make it pleasant. For a majority of the time, I stuck to music mode to keep the experience pleasant. There’s still room for improvement. The podcast mode cancels out the bass entirely and is good for listening, umm, podcasts.
The audio profile remained unchanged whether I used it with an Android phone or an iPhone. Such bass-heavy tuning meant it became uncomfortable after 15-20 minutes of listening – there’s a lot of pressure build-up in the ears. The Sesh Evo does not get support for the Skullcandy app, which is a shame. I would have liked to see Skullcandy offer more customization options with the buttons and audio tuning.
For an affordable TWS pair of earbuds in 2019, the Sesh Evo would have made sense. However, the standard of audio performance in sub-Rs 5,000 earbuds has been high this year and the Sesh Evo is nowhere near the benchmark.
Skullcandy promises a total battery life of 24 hours. During my testing period, the product seems to deliver on its claims. The earbuds lasted me for almost six hours at a stretch at 50 percent volume. With the case fully charged, I did not need to hunt for the charger in an entire week, given a daily usage of 2 hours on an average. The presence of a USB-C port helps with compatibility while living on power banks.
Verdict: Should you buy the Skullcandy Sesh Evo?
To be honest, I don’t find many reasons to suggest the Sesh Evo over its alternatives. Skullcandy missed an opportunity to offer meaningful upgrades over the older model. The Sesh Evo needed a neutral audio tuning as well as a more comfortable design. The button-based controls are extremely discomforting on the move. Moreover, the microphone reception could have been better, given the price it sells at.
All is not bad, though. There are chances that you prefer Skullcandy’s bass-heavy tuning. In that case, the Sesh Evo delivers nicely. I still hope Skullcandy tunes out the muddy mids to make the bass more powerful. The Sesh Evo also lasts quite long on a single charge and the Tile tracking feature could be handy. The IP55 rating means it can handle the sweaty and dusty Indian environments without throwing up tantrums.
That said, at Rs 4,499, there are better options outdoing the Sesh Evo in many parameters. The Oppo Enco W31 earbuds offer slightly better bass performance with an overall balanced audio profile and equally good battery life. Xiaomi’s Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 offers equally neutral audio with a more practical design. The Realme Buds Air offers wireless charging. All these options I mentioned here cost less than Rs 4,000.
Even if you prefer the in-ear wireless earbuds, the Redmi Earbuds S at Rs 1,799 offers immense value and similar features. The Realme Buds Q aren’t different either and will please you more than the Sesh Evo. The Noise Shots X5 Pro at Rs 4,999 offers a combined battery life of 150 hours, slightly better audio quality and, modern touch controls.
Hence, it is tough to recommend the Skullcandy Sesh Evo for the current price. For what it offers, the Sesh Evo feels too expensive and unless you are a Skullcandy fan, there are better options to look for.