A few months back, I checked out the Skullcandy Push Active, a pair of earbuds with a hook, that extra piece of support ideal for sports and it worked, they were very supportive. Skullcandy has now brought out the Grind Fuel, which to me, look very similar to the Push Active but without the hook. I’ve been using it for the last couple of weeks, so let’s run through my thoughts.
Opening the box, I’d like to say it’s a compact affair but I’ve got my Airpods next to me and they are half the size of the Grind. That being said, they’re not overly big, not compared to the Push Active, they are very lightweight and a perfect size to fit in your pocket. They’ve got a matte black finish with a subtle glossy skull to the top. To the rear of the case, a USB C port for charging but these do also have wireless charging and to the underside, you’ll see a small lightning bolt indicating such. Open the lid, there is a vibrant peachy coloured infill, the buds and four small indicator lights showing battery life for the case. The buds are fairly standard in shape but larger than some others I’ve tried recently because they have this second section on the end that houses the battery and or tech.
In the box, you get the case, buds, different sized rubber tips, a USB C cable and a user guide. The buds also come with a 1-year warranty as standard.
As mentioned earlier, these do look similar to the Push Active, without the hook and a slightly different front to each bud. Spec-wise, they do differ as well. 40 hours battery with wireless charging, with the Push having 44 hours and no wireless charging. Impedance is different at 32Ohms, driver diameter at 12mm and sound pressure level is different too. Notable features worth mentioning, the buds come with SkulliQ, which is an app and ill touch on in a minute. Voice control, IP55 sweat and water-resistant, Bluetooth 5 and they’ve got Tile built-in.
Let’s talk about this Skull iQ system. Essentially, it’s a smart assistant, similar to Siri and its aim is to make things easier for the consumer. Via the app, a must-have to get the most out of the earbuds, you can activate voice control, enabling you to control your content, handsfree. With the Skullcandy app open, you can say “Hey Skullcandy” followed by various phrases to control your content, Open Spotify, play, pause, change tracks or volume, and accept calls.
The voice commands work really well. The buds pick up your voice very quickly and all you have to say is “Hey Skullcandy” followed by an action, play, pause, next track, volume up etc. The app isn’t limited to just the voice commands, it can also push out firmware updates to the buds which is great. It can also show battery life for each bud, current volume level plus control. There is an equalizer with presets for music, podcast and movie, plus you can customise to suit you. There is an ambient mode, or ‘stay aware mode’, that amplify external sounds to help you have some awareness of things happening around you, cars and alike.
If you didn’t want to use the voice commands, you can use the touch controls. The very centre of each bud acts as a push-button, so you can push it in, hold to activate a task and there are various voice prompts and sounds along the way to help. The pushbuttons work really well and I like that it’s actually a push button and not touch-sensitive, so you get that instant response when you push in, you know you’ve done it.
As for audio performance, I was pleasantly surprised for the price tag. Out the box, actually pretty good but once you pair it with the app and select the music EQ or create your own, a noticeable improvement. Obviously, you can adjust the EQ but the music preset is well balanced, with plenty of low end but it’s not overpowering, with mids and highs keeping up. I’ve started getting into podcasts, at last, change the EQ to the podcast preset and the speech is more refined and I did find it a better option.
Wearing the buds, it’s ok but I did find they were not that secure, I did have to fiddle to ensure they were in and stayed in. Once they were in, they were comfortable and offered a little bit of passive noise cancellation. These do not have active noise cancellation. Battery life was good and circa 40 hours. I probably used about 20 odd hours over the last two weeks, so I’ve only had to charge the case once so far.
So the Grind Fuel are more expensive than the Push Active at £99. Features are almost like for like but the spec does differ between the two. Performance-wise, it’s hard to tell the difference, and it’s a tough call between the two. If you need support for sports, go for the Push but then you don’t get the wireless charging. There is also £30 price difference between the two that you could spend elsewhere.
For more info, head over to the official Skullcandy website.