Price (RRP): $599.95
Well, that’s bold. Skullcandy – the best-ever name for a headphone company! – has priced the Skullcandy Crusher ANC headphones at almost $600. That’s fifty percent higher than some of the market-defining models from the likes of Sony. So, how do they stack up? Especially since Skullcandy says, “Behold the most immersive headphones ever made”.
Skullcandy Crusher ANC headphones features
The Skullcandy Crusher ANC headphones come in two colours – black (“Fearless Black”) and a slightly dusty crimson (“Deep Red”). They include active noise cancellation and are over-ear models, which tends to give better noise isolation. They are provided with a nice hard carry case. The earcups turn sideways to allow flat packing, so they’re excellent for travel.
The right earbud has good old-fashioned buttons for play/pause and volume up and down. The left earcup carries the power button which, when manipulated in various ways, also doubles as the control for active noise cancellation and pairing.
Underneath that button is a slide control for something called “Adjustable Sensory Bass”. It’s definitely sensory, with what seems to be an oversized driver inside the headphones physically shaking them at an infrasonic frequency. Because it’s adjustable, you can have this anywhere from off to a rather high level.
Charging is via USB Type-C. The headphones are rated at 24 hours of operation on a charge. I’d guess that heavy use of the Sensory Bass would shorten that. It also offers a ten-minute quick charge for three additional hours of operation.
The headphones gripped my head fairly tightly, with my right ear in particular becoming a little weary after a couple of hours.
The headphones employ 40mm drivers, with amplifiers rated at up to 9.1dBm output. That converts to around 8 milliwatts. According to Skullcandy, they weigh a remarkably precise 308.66 grams. My scales aren’t quite as precise of that. They reported 308.6 grams.
The headphones use Bluetooth 5.0 and come with a regular 3.5mm cable for analogue connection. That could be for when the battery is flat, or when you’re using them with the in-flight entertainment system on a plane.
The Skullcandy app
I installed the Skullcandy app from the Play Store on my Android phone. It has a pretty appalling rating of 1.7/5.0 with some 422 votes, although most of the negative reviews seem to be from people complaining that the app doesn’t work with other Skullcandy headphones or buds. Fact is, I only bothered looking at the rating and reviews when I simply could not get the app to connect to the headphones. Don’t get me wrong, the phone – it’s running Android 10 – connected fine. But despite the phone being connected by Bluetooth, the app couldn’t find it. Some of the reviews on the Play Store mentioned a similar problem. I saw no response from Skullcandy to those reviews. The last app update was in October 2019.
So I paired the headphones with an iPhone instead and installed the iOS version of the app. It has a rating of just 1.4/5.0, although that was with only seven votes. The only three written reviews all complain that the app would not open. But it opened for me and actually did connect to the Skullcandy Crusher ANC headphones. I’m using an iPhone 6 with iOS 12. That rating was accessing the App Store via my iPhone’s app. But via the web the App store reports 2.9/5.0 with 68 ratings. Go figure.
Should you personalise the Skullcandy Crusher ANC headphones?
So what did it do? The app only has one important feature: it can “optimise” the sound for your personal hearing profile. It does this by playing a series of test tones at low volumes. You listen and indicate whether or not you can hear them. The app then develops an EQ profile and loads that into the headphones. You can switch it on or off in the app. When switched on, it remains loaded even if you connect the headphones to a different device.
I’ve used similar personalisation features before. They “work”, in the sense that the provide a different kind of sound for different people. It’s based on how well they can hear.
But the whole concept is fundamentally misconceived. The ideal headphone sound is as close as possible to what you hear in real life. What you hear. Not some idealised version of you. If you go to a rock concert or an orchestral performance, you are going to hear the sound as modified by all the flaws of your hearing – and unless you’re very young, you’re going to have plenty. If you adjust out those flaws when listening using headphones, you’re going to be getting a very different sound.
That’s certainly what I got. With the sound “optimised”, it was harsh, excessively bright and very unrealistic.
Play with the feature if you like. But don’t expect anything nice from it.