The Titans ($50 per pair) are Skullcandy’s newest in-ear headphones and are designed to slot into the firm’s lineup above the entry-level Smokin’ Buds and below the more expensive FMJs (or Full Metal Jackets, also reviewed in this survey). Despite its “middle child” status, however, the Titan is arguably Skullcandy’s best-sounding earbud—and one of the sweetest values in today’s market. Here’s why.
More so than most other in-ear headphones priced at or below $120 per pair, the Titans serve up a sweet combination of nearneutral tonal balance, good dynamic punch, and an unexpectedly big helping of sonic subtlety and detail—especially in the midrange, which is where most of the music really happens. Granted, the Titan’s bass is perhaps a little too forward and just slightly overripe, but that’s a nitpick-level detail given how many things these headphones do well, and for so little money. Also, the slightly bass-forward balance actually works in your favor in environments that have lots of low-frequency background noise (for example, moving cars, etc.). The result is a $50 headphone that is easily competitive with models costing twice its price, meaning the Titans are a steal—pure and simple.
To appreciate how good the Titans really are, try listening to a track that offers multiple layers of textural details, such as “I Could Eat Your Words” from Patricia Barber’s Verse [Blue Note]. Not only do the Titans capture the dark, smoky inflections in Barber’s voice, but they also do a remarkable job with the vibrant, nuanced Dave Douglas trumpet solo heard in the middle of the song. Other ’phones may get the basics on this track right, but the Titans do so while also revealing small transient and textural details most headphones in their class simply miss.
The Titans are extremely light, and I found their foam eartips, which expand to fit the contours of your ear canals, particularly comfortable and effective at achieving a good seal.
Although they are the least expensive earbuds in our survey, the Titans are hands down the best budget in-ear headphones we’ve yet heard, which means they sound as good if not better than far more costly products. If the Titans err, it’s in the direction of a hint of excess bass richness, which is a minor flaw some listeners might regard as a serious plus. Those seeking maximum bang for the buck need look no further.