Review: Skullcandy’s Latest Headphones Bring an Impressive Amount of Low-End
The Crusher ANC 2 is both bass-heavy and heavily customizable
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Back in 2019, I reviewed Skullcandy’s Crusher ANC headphones and came away impressed — these were over-the-ear cans ideally suited for movie watching or video games. I wasn’t going to use them on a plane or day-to-day office listening, but if I needed headphones for a true home theater experience, I had an ideal pair.
Nearly four years later, the audio brand (which utilizes the tagline “We don’t want you to just listen to music. We want you to feel it.”) is back with the Crusher ANC XT2, which they promise offers a major upgrade on the original, bass-heavy headphones … at a lower price. Yep, these cans launched at $230, or $70 less than the original Crusher headset. Side note: While the packaging calls these the ANC XT2, the Skullcandy website and the included instruction booklet only refer to the headphones as the Crusher ANC 2, which is how we’ll stylize it from now on.
The specs promised some moderate upgrades, particularly with battery life and customization of buttons and controls. The new Crusher seems a bit bigger in packaging and lacks the color of the original headset — your choice of headphones is currently set at “black” — and there’s a new app to download. Otherwise, as the picture below showcases, you have a pretty similar setup, including a bass slider (which is now a dial) and tactile controls.
Is the well-priced upgrade worth me putting away the old Crusher set? I gave it a whirl with some music and movies.
Extremely simple: Download the Skull-iQ app (there’s a QR code to make it easy). There’s also a small instruction booklet and printed directions on the inside of the headphone packaging. Connecting took two seconds and a hearing test on the app took about five minutes.
- Four equalizer modes (music, podcast, movie and custom)
- Personalized sound hearing test
- Multipoint pairing
- Earbuds double as a remote trigger for your phone camera
- Customizable buttons
- Built-in Tile technology
- A one-touch button to launch Spotify
- Bluetooth 5.2
- Up to 60 hours of battery life
- Driver Diameter: 40mm
- The active noise cancellation effectively sealed me off from co-workers and a buzzing air conditioner unit. There’s a “Stay Aware” mode that leaks in a little outside noise, but even when fully off I felt pretty isolated from the outside world. Maybe don’t wear these if you’re walking outside.
- These are still the best headphones for movies or TV shows. Like I did in 2019, I watched parts of Jurassic Park with these on and even with the “Crusher” dial (see below) at 20%, I could feel the vibrations of the dinosaurs growling and stomping in my chest.
- The personalized sound test immensely helped — listening to Turnstile without this feature felt rather distant and tinny. With it on? Much brighter and punchier. Don’t overlook this part of the setup.
What kind of works:
- The Skull-iQ app, which is different from the app I was using in 2019, offers a different way to control your music, along with fine-tuning some audio features (an equalizer, personal sound settings, etc.) and product upgrades. It weirdly flipped between voice control being “on” and “off” a few times when I paired, but otherwise offered another and more customizable way to control your audio.
- I used the left earphone scroller (the “Crusher”) to switch between three presets of bass. At 20%, I could feel it in my gut. At 80%, it got heavily distorted. This is powerful enough to keep at low levels.
- I love tactile buttons on headphones — or maybe I hate touch controls. That said, the buttons here are rather noticeable and feel a little fragile/plastic-y. “Sleek” this isn’t.
- While it excels with movies, the headphones were far less immersive and balanced with music. Speaking of…
- The Equalizer settings on the Skull-iQ app were odd — some music sounded better on “Movie” over “Music” mode, for example (particularly when it was something more ambitious, like “Welcome to the Black Parade”). Meanwhile, some podcasts I listened to sounded pretty similar on all the modes…and actually a little less rich and vibrant on the dedicated “Podcast” mode.
What needs work:
- Aesthetically, these cans are a bit “loud” (maybe it’s the orange power button) and the shiny plastic on the inside of the headband looks a little cheap.
- While comfortable, Skullcandy’s over-ear headphones have the same issue as all other over-ear headphones — they’re not ideal in summer. In a warm room in late June, my ears were burning and I was sweating with Crusher on for an hour.
- I couldn’t use Alexa, one of the offered voice assistant integrations, to play Spotify. To use voice controls on music, I needed to say “Hey Skullcandy” (e.g. want more bass? “Hey Skullcandy, more Crusher.”) Since I rarely use voice controls in general, I’ll probably stick to the app or the tactile headphone controls.
The Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 is, unlike my review of the previous model, really all about that bass. Even fans of the brand agree (the comments on Skullcandy’s site range from “BASS BASS BASS” to the very specific complaint that “the audio chime heard from maxing out the bass wheel can be distracting when adjusted in the middle of a song”).
This audio setup works wonders for movies and gaming — if your ideal home theater setup involves a soundtrack that you can feel in your chest, the Crusher 2 is a fantastic way to replicate the experience of watching an action movie in an actual movie theater. As well, the headphones are fine for music — audiophiles will certainly look elsewhere (Sony, Apple, etc.), but fans of bass-heavy music may opt for the power here over a balanced clarity.
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