Audio Accessory Review: iSkin earTones Earbuds


Every now and then a product comes in for review that surprises me… in a good way! That’s the case with iSkin’s new earTone earbuds. They are bright, colorful earbuds that use the company’s Microband, a technology that inhibits the growth of odor, fungus and stain-causing bacteria on the earbuds and remote. At an MSRP of $39.99 I figured the earbuds, which come in a rainbow of colors, were largely a fashion-statement product with the Microband as an add-on for extra hype. I was wrong. The little things sound fantastic, are super-comfortable and, at under $40, they are a great choice if you want to replace the crappy earbuds Apple includes with their devices.

Let’s look at what iSkin has been able to offer for $39.99.

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From iSkin:

Designed to complement your iSkin-outfitted iPad®, iPhone®, iPod® and more, earTones is comfortable, functional and serious about sound. It’s the coolest way to listen, talk and control all your iOS devices, BlackBerry® smartphones and Macintosh® computers.

Flexible Fitting: With comfort keenly in mind, we designed earTones to feature the industries first flexible your budget feature aptly called flex fit. This feature makes it easy to insert earTones into the year and provides overall comfort.

An Earful of Sound: Don’t let its good looks fool you earTones is serious about sound. Tuned to re-create a wide, dynamic range of high definition audio, you’ll find it satisfying or listening to music, playing games or watching movies.

Built-in Remote: earTones features and easy to use squeezable remote with an integrated microphone that lets you control your device and use it as a headset for both making calls and as a headset for VOiP apps such as Skype and iChat.

IOS optimized: Whether it’s an iPod Touch, iPad or iPhone, earTones gives you complete audio, calls and remote control.

Mac Ready: Your Mac is not left out either. Your tones is a great way to listen and talk on your apple desktop or laptop. Simply plug your tones into the head earphones Court is ready to control iTunes, act as a headset for Skype or FaceTime or simply listen to your favorite tracks.

No Cooties Please: Another industry first, we’ve embedded Microban on both earbuds and microphone control services. Microban inhibits the growth of odor, fungus and stain-causing bacteria on the product. So go ahead and share.

The Colors of Sound: Your tones is available in the beautiful, high-gloss color combinations. It is an ideal match when coordinating with high skin covers for your beloved gadget – giving it to the ultimate fashion makeover.

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As one might expect, at a price of $39.99 iSkin doesn’t include a whole lot of extras with the earTones. The packaging is simple, if not a bit ugly. It is, however, effective and since it gets thrown out five seconds after opening the box who really cares?

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Inside you will find the earTones, a pair of foam covers for the earbuds (does anyone actually use those things?) and iSkin’s signature pair of decals.

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The earpieces are simple and quite light. A small “L” or “R” on the interior portion of the stem lets you know in which ear the particular bud is to be worn. I found that this is one pair of earbuds  where it really does make a difference if you wear the correct bud in the correct ear. The small size of the lettering, and the fact that it is on the interior side, make it hard/inconvenient to read. It is a small complain but a complaint none-the-less.

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At the same time, by choosing to put the letter on the interior of the stem the portion of the earbud that is seen is kept clean and unmarked. It probably is the right choice from an aesthetic perspective and I’ll just have to deal with it. 🙂

The black space between the earbud itself and the white stem is made from a flexible rubber that has just enough “give” to ensure that the earbud stays in place and is comfortable. It makes a huge difference. In fact, thanks to the light weight of the earTones and the slight flex the black connector has they are among the more comfortable earbuds I have worn. That noted, my “earbud averse” spouse found them to be just as uncomfortable as all the other earbuds she has tried. Her critique, “The Yurbuds you reviewed still win. Love them and use them all the time now.”

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The earTones have an inline microphone that doubles as a remote. The sound quality is surprisingly good and the remote aspect of the controller is a great convenience. Unfortunately it won’t control the volume but it does pause/play music as well as allow you to skip tracks.

So the earTones are comfortable. They have an inline remote that works and a microphone that is great for calls, VOiP and voice recognition. They were well-priced. But how do they SOUND? Truth be told, the sound GREAT to me. They are a little light in the bass but that is not surprising considering they are “sit in the ear” earbuds. The sound they do produce however is crisp, clear and an absolute pleasure to listen to. I was not expecting much in the way of sound quality and was truly shocked to find them as good as they are. I’m not sure if it is the sound the produce, the light weight or a combination of the two but I really ENJOY listening to music with them and find it particularly relaxing and “easy”.  They are SO good that I can see using them pretty consistently with my iPhone or touch. I’m not kidding, these things are great!

And as far as the Microban “feature”, whose description ends with “So go ahead and share”, I have to say… “Thanks for the suggestion iSkin but I think I’m going to pass.” Yuck!

You can order a pair directly from the iSkin Web site.

MSRP: $39.99

What I Like: Light; comfortable; microphone sounds good; remote functions well; priced nicely; sound great, especially for the price

What Needs Improvement: Left/Right marking hard to see and poorly placed; no volume control on the microphone; a bit light on the base side of things



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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.