June 19, 2024


Sapiens Digital

Skullcandy Push Ultra – Review 2020

5 min read

Earphones typically need to create an in-canal seal to deliver the best sound quality, but some people prefer an unsealed fit to better hear their surroundings. In the case of Skullcandy’s $99.99 Push Ultra true wireless earbuds, the lack of a seal makes for issues with audio performance and ear-to-ear audio balance. It’s true that you need to spend a little more money for the best gym-friendly true wireless models, but if audio quality is your main concern, you can do far better than the Push Ultra for the same price.


Available in black, light blue, or neon yellow, the Push Ultra earbuds feature hook-style earpieces for added stability. The hooks themselves are moldable rather than rigid, and can be bent easily to stay on the ear.

The Push Ultra’s IP67 rating is excellent. The 6 means the earpieces can withstand exposure to dust, and the 7 means they are waterproof and can even be submerged up to 3.2 feet. Bluetooth audio rarely survives underwater, but the point is heavy rain, sweat, or washing under a faucet shouldn’t be an issue.

The on-ear controls are mirrored for each ear. Both have plus/minus buttons that handle both volume and track navigation. We’re never fans of combining these controls, as it becomes too easy to skip a track when you mean to adjust volume. Each ear also has a multifunction button on its outer panel—pressing and holding it controls power, tapping it controls playback and call management, three taps summons your phone’s voice assistant, and two taps plus a long hold allows you to switch between three EQ modes—Movie, Music, and Podcast. For the most part, the controls are easy to remember, and the buttons are responsive.

Internally, 12.5mm drivers in each ear deliver a frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz. The earbuds connect via Bluetooth 5.0.

The Skullcandy app for Android and iOS displays whatever EQ mode the earbuds are in, but oddly there’s no way to adjust it on-screen. You can also use the app to set up Find My Earbuds With Tile. Beyond that, there isn’t much utility, and Skullcandy misses an opportunity to provide user-adjustable EQ rather than only presets—and if there’s an in-app way to switch between these presets, we couldn’t find it.

The included charging case is bulky since the earpieces themselves are large, but it has a stylish look, with a zipper to close the case and a USB-C port on the back for connecting the included charging cable. Skullcandy estimates battery life to be roughly six hours per charge, with 34 more hours available via the charging case, but your results will vary with your volume levels.

Skullcandy Push Ultra

The deal breaker for some will be that these are indeed earbuds, not earphones, meaning the earpieces do not seal off the ear canal, but rest just outside of it. We have yet to review a single pair of earbuds in this style that don’t create ear-to-ear balance issues. Since there’s no seal, the bass needs to be boosted drastically in order to be heard at a normal level—but if the fit varies slightly between your left and right ears, the bass levels will seem off. The point of this design is so that you can hear your surroundings clearly, but we’ve found monitor modes in other pairs of earphones (which use a microphone to let your hear what’s around you) to be far more effective than this unsealed approach.


On tracks with intense sub-bass content, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the earbuds are capable of delivering some strong bass depth, but finding the ideal fit for that to happen is frustrating. While I never heard any distorted bass, the lows often seemed dialed back and distant, and the audio in each ear tended to sound different depending on how the ear tip was placed and the earhook was employed. It’s frustrating—if you press the earpieces against your ear canal, you can hear how decent the bass depth can be, but without doing this, the earbuds simply can’t muster a solid-low frequency response.

Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with far less deep bass in the mix, gives us a better sense of the Push Ultra’s general sound signature. The highs are crisp and bright on this track, but once again, the lows take a vacation. Even if you magically find the sweet spot for one ear, finding it for both is unlikely, and then you have a balance mismatch.

On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop receives plenty of high-mid presence and the attack retains its punchiness, but the deep lows are simply not there. The drum loop sounds thin and the sub-bass synth hits are almost nonexistent. The vocals are delivered cleanly and clearly, as is to be expected when there’s no bass response to compete with.

Orchestral tracks, like the opening scene from John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, actually sound decent through the Push Ultra, primarily because they need serious bass response less than the other genres do. Regardless, there are still ear-to-ear balance issues when listening to any genre.

The mic offers decent intelligibility. Using the Voice Memos app on an iPhone 8, we could hear plenty of Bluetooth distortion, but the overall signal was strong enough and each word was clear enough to be understood.


For $100, Skullcandy’s Push Ultra earbuds just don’t hit the mark. The good news is, in the true wireless realm, there are plenty of water-resistant, gym-friendly options, and many have monitor modes, so you can have an in-ear seal for better audio performance while still hearing your surroundings. Consider the $150 JBL UA True Wireless Flash or the $180 Jaybird Vista, both of which also carry an IPX7 rating. Both pairs are clearly more expensive, but this is the price range where we’re seeing the best gym-friendly models right now. If you just want inexpensive cable-free in-ears and the gym-friendly part is less important, meanwhile, the $80 Anker Soundcore Liberty Air earphones deliver quality audio for a very reasonable price.

Skullcandy Push Ultra Specs

Type In-Canal
Wireless Yes
Wire-Free Yes
Phone Controls Yes
Connection Type Bluetooth
Water/Sweat-Resistant Yes
Removable Cable No
Active Noise Cancellation No
Boom Mic No

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