Review: Skullcandy’s Crusher ANC Headphones Will Shake Up Your Listening Habits

Turns out it’s not all about that bass

Skullcandy ANC Crusher
By Kirk Miller / September 19, 2019 2:32 pm

I felt the dinosaurs. 

Five minutes into a demo of Skullcandy’s new Crusher ANC over-ear headphones, the earth moved. I was watching a clip of Jurassic Park — the original, thank you — with the sensory bass lever cranked as high as possible. My head shook, my heart pounded and I was legitimately frightened.

We also tried it with a few different movie trailers (Bohemian Rhapsody, the new Star Wars) and some current top 40 music (Lizzo, Billie Eilish, Drake, etc.) Everything shook. “We wanted to recreate the energy and excitement of being at a live concert where you can literally feel the bass hits,” notes Skullcandy’s Chief Product Officer Jeff Hutchings. So, success there.

Based in Park City, UT, Skullcandy markets itself as a “lifestyle” brand and targets its wares toward extreme athletes. I was curious about what they could do with a wireless, noise-canceling set — would it still be all about those (quite amazing) earthquake levels of bass, or could they deliver something that would appeal to an everyday audience?

To address the latter question, Skullcandy has added personalized sound and two levels of noise-cancellation to their cans, along with the aforementioned sensory bass adjuster. But do more features make for a happier listener?

Let’s find out. We tested the new headphones out at a press demo and in our office.

The setup:

The Crusher ANC — available in three colors — arrives with a surprisingly compact carrying case, an optional wired control cord and a USB-C charging cord. A mere 10-minute charge nets you three hours of playtime, while a full charge can get you up to 24 hours (which is less than the 40 hours of Skullcandy’s previous wireless set, but still a good number).

You’ll need to download a new Skullcrusher app to personalize your sound. The hearing test — a feature that’s found in more than a few headphones — took about three minutes. 

The specs:

Connection Type: Bluetooth 5.0
Impedance: 32 Ohms ±15%
Driver Diameter: 40mm
THD: <1%@1K
Sound Pressure Level: 105 dB @ 1 KHz
Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20KHz
Weight: 308.66g

What works:

  • Active noise cancellation made a noticeable difference. On, I could hear a sharp siren from the street very faintly, but I couldn’t hear myself type or any other office noise. 
  • The deep red colorway, which is more of a plum and subtly eye-catching 
  • A built-in Tile tracker, so you’ll never misplace your cans
  • Intuitive, tactile controls: You’ll be up and running in minutes.
  • While the unit wasn’t lightweight, it felt sturdy while being comfy (credit to the memory foam earpads)
  • The headphones paired easily and never lost connection 

What kind of works:

  • The “ambient” mode allows in a decent amount of outside noise so you won’t, say, get hit by a car while you’re wearing these. But to switch from ANC, you need to press against the left earcup for a few seconds — which we accidentally did a few times while taking the headphones on and off.
  • The sensory bass slider was fun, but even when paired properly (like with a big, violent game of Overwatch), it’s just too jarring when pushed to the top. You’ll really want this set at 20-30% (or even off) for day-to-day listening. 

What needs work:

  • We had to dig a bit on the Skullcandy site to figure out the different LED settings, which correspond to pairing, battery levels, ANC status, etc.
  • It wasn’t really intuitive with the enclosed instructions, but you can use the headphones to make calls or with a voice assistant when you’re in wireless mode 
  • There is a remarkable sound difference when you turn off the personalized sound. On, everything sounded punchy and bright. Off, it felt muffled. It was a stark enough difference that I’d say there’s absolutely no reason to ever have it turned off. 

Quick note:

In October, Best Buy will exclusively offering a third colorway of the Crusher, a black/tan unit. 

What others are saying:

“It’s certainly a different kind of headphone listening experience … it’s not for everybody — and the headphone is probably a little too expensive — but it’s easily the best Crusher to date, with more refined sound and sensory bass.” — CNET

Skullcandy ANC Crusher

Recommendation:

Even if you never touched the sensory bass lever, the new Crusher is a worthy pick for wireless ANC headphones — it’s not quite Bose or Master & Dynamic, but the personalized sound and excellent block-out-the-world quality (along with the headset comfort) make these pretty much as good as any similarly priced Bluetooth set.

With the lever? It’s a must-have for gamers or people who want to watch big, loud movies. You can literally feel the difference from other headphones.

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