Skullcandy Crusher review

Over-the-ear headphones with bass that really thumps

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Our Verdict

Only if your music catalog has a beat to back it, these Skullcandy headphones can deliver outstanding performance.

For

  • Deep bass
  • Attractive price
  • Decent sound

Against

  • Hit or miss bass driver
  • Cups lack isolating seal
  • Limited inline controls

At $99 (£89.99, AU$115), the Skullcandy Crusher headphones are all about that bass. With bass drivers so strong they actually vibrate, the Crusher lathers a fun (but divisive), thick, gooey coat of bass to every track that's pushed through its cans.

With a AA battery-fueled amplifier powering two separate drivers, (one for bass, the other handles the rest of the sound) the Crusher provides a captivating, authentic concert-quality experience at its best. Unfortunately, the quality of the performance doesn't span the spectrum of popular music with grace.

Design

The Skullcandy Crusher nails it as a no-frills set of headphones. The all-plastic build doesn't inspire, but my all-black review unit boasts a minimalistic design that matches its price. Aside from a few subtle touches of chrome, there isn't much flair here, and I'm perfectly content with that.

Skullcandy Crusher review

It wouldn't be Skullcandy if there weren't an eclectic selection of colors and styles available for the Crusher. From foliage-full camouflage, to silver snakeskin, to a funky pixelated style, there's a look for nigh every kind of music fan.

Regardless of the style you prefer, the thick plastic head band spanning from one headphone to the other has a strip of cushion on its underside that allowed for adequately comfortable use on my rather large noggin for quite a long time.

Skullcandy Crusher review

Stylistically, the headphone ear cups look great and are each about the size of a bulky computer mouse. They're lined on the inside with padding that sports a dual purpose: comfort and passive noise isolation, when you're perfectly still.

Performance

The unique design of the Crusher encourages inclusion – open to everyone despite their differences in taste. But a bit of a different message comes across with these cans' picky sound performance.

Without a AA battery inserted, the standard REX40 drivers inside take their best crack at doing you proud. As a fallback, they do a decent job. But without the powerful Sensation55 bass drivers activated, all that the headphones can deliver is a lackluster amount of bass with mids and highs that sound muddled. Sorry, REX.

Skullcandy Crusher review

For bass that you can feel (literally), insert the battery and flip on the Bass Sensation Adjustment slider. The driver works by scooping up sounds that fall underneath a certain frequency level and blasting them out. It works a lot of the time, adding the punchy bass in all the right places. But for just many times as it worked, it didn't.

A Band of Gypsys's live album sounds incredible front-to-back with the bass boosted, but didn't overblow the masterful prowess provided by Billy Cox and Buddy Miles. Hip-hop, funk, jazz and anything with a clearly defined beat or well-layered instrumentation also sounded amazing.

Modern rock music, like The National, The Strokes, or other types music with unorthodox studio production tended to fool the bass driver, leaving parts of songs sounding inappropriately flooded with, or hauntingly void of bass. A balance can be found using the slider, if you're patient enough. Adjusting the bass by a smidge usually solved most issues that I encountered.

We liked

The Skullcandy Crusher headphones are a good value for those looking into bass-heavy audio options. When the bass is there, these cans enliven concert recordings and gives music with a strong beat an extra thump.

I also deeply appreciate that the Bass Sensation Adjustment slider isn't an all-or-nothing ultimatum. Being able to tweak the bass on the fly for each recording artist kept me on board with the Crushers.

We disliked

The bass is strong with this one but sometimes, the Sensation55 driver doesn't know when or when not to provide its thick charm to my jams. The feature is guaranteed to work well with jazz, hip-hop or pop, but most other music genres will be mangled and misrepresented.

The limited range of motion of the cups inhibited an isolating seal around my ears. Pockets of outside noise found their way into my ear as I moved my head around.

The inline controls only contain a Play/Pause button and a microphone. It's nice to have those functions, but controls for adjusting volume would have been welcome.

Final verdict

These headphones are great for more intense listeners that need a strong beat to get them through their activities or for the casual listener who enjoys a little more of a jolt injected into their music catalog.

Sometimes great, sometimes bad, at $99 (£89.99), the Skullcandy Crusher set is a reliably decent experience. Get these if you need a set of on-the-go headphones that don't require TLC and pump out extreme bass. If you like the price point, check out the AKG Y50, another over-the-ear option that delivers a more balanced sound.