Let’s lay things down nice and clear right now: if you don’t like bass, there are headphones out there that you will like more that the Skullcandy's Crusher Wireless.
If, however, you do like bass – and we mean that heavy bass you hear in clubs and get from subwoofers – or you just like playing around with your audio then you’ll may enjoy these headphones. At the very least you’ll find them to be a lot of fun.
As far as design goes, Skullycandy’s Crusher Wireless headphones don’t do anything particularly special. Taking something of a Batman approach, they’re dressed entirely in black and opt for a matte finish rather than any kind of gaudy shine. It really depends on your aesthetic preferences whether or not you find the simplicity of these headphones appealing or off-putting.
If you'd rather have something brighter but no more gaudy they're also available in white with starkly contrasting tan ear pads.
From a distance they look perfectly fine if rather chunky to us. But when you’re holding them and inspecting them up close they feel and look slightly cheap.
This is more to do with materials than build-quality. As far as build is concerned these headphones feel sturdy but inflexible. The matte black material that coats the cups and the fake leather used for the ear pads and headband are both smooth and soft, but they're also plastic-y. A big problem is that both materials attract marks very easily which makes them look grubby fast. I'm not sure whether this is something that would be better or worse on the white model.
If I touched my face and then put the headphones on, my makeup immediately left fingerprints and it was even worse if I took them off and they brushed my face as I did so. This is partly my fault, but even natural oils produced by your skin throughout the day leave their mark and I’d rather not have to use an alcohol-based hand gel every time I decide to listen to some music.
To make this slightly less of a problem the Crushers do come with a very nice carry bag. Its material is thick, waterproof, and lined on the inside with a soft faux fur that’s more than capable of preventing marks and scratches happening from inside your bag. If Skullcandy could make accompanying gloves that’d be great.
Despite being on the larger side, these headphones fold up into themselves fairly neatly, making them extremely convenient to carry around.
Although the materials used don’t look premium, when you’re wearing the headphones they’re very soft and comfortable largely thanks to the memory foam used for the ear pads. Usually after an hour or so of wearing headphones I feel a pressure on my ears and temples but that took longer to happen with these, despite the fact that they sit firmly against the ear.
Like any good pair of wireless headphones, these have control buttons that prevent the need to pull your phone out to control your music. On the back edge of the right ear you’ll find the three of them: a circular center button flanked by a plus and minus button.
Between them, these buttons perform the functions of powering on and off, starting up Bluetooth pairing, skipping backwards and forwards through songs, answering and ending calls, controlling volume, and pausing and playing music.
That’s a lot of responsibility for three buttons to bear and sometimes it can be frustrating. For example having to hold the plus or minus button for three seconds to skip a song makes a process most people want to be instantaneous far too long.
This is especially frustrating because similarly priced headphones such as those released by Marshall and UrbanEars have managed to do more convenient multi-functionality with a single button or touch pad.
The positioning of the control buttons on the rear of the ear cups makes sense in terms of neatness but they’re quite flat so you have to run your finger along them to try and find the right one, which can increase the amount of time it takes to control your music.
On the back of the left ear you’ll find the main event, a slider which controls the amount of bass you’re hearing. We can only imagine it was this that inspired the headphones' 'Crusher' moniker.
There are no numbers or indicators on this slider so you’ll have to experiment with it to find the perfect point for you, but from our experience the amount of bass sits between 'chunky' and 'outrageous'.
Trust us when we say you’re not likely to slide it all the way up very often.
Performance and features
Obviously the standout feature on these headphones is their adjustable bass with haptic feedback. Skullcandy say it makes for ‘bass you can feel’ and that’s not a lie.
Finding the ideal point to keep the bass slider is a process of trial and error but you're unlikely to move it past the halfway mark after the first attempt. Your natural instinct when putting the headphones on will be to play the song in your library with the most sub-bass (something like James Blake's Limit to Your Love) and turn the slider all the way up.
The sound is frankly ridiculous when you do and not in a good way – you'll really feel the vibration and hear more bass than anything else. It's like wearing a subwoofer which, though fun in some ways, can result in moments where the sound becomes somewhat messy; drums will dominate the track, vocals will distort, and the low frequency sounds will take on an unpleasant hum rather than a satisfying rumble.
Even the biggest bass fans are likely to find they'll be happy with the slider only halfway up, suggesting to us that the cut off point for this slider is just far too high.
More often than not we kept the bass slider down low, sometimes off completely. When it was off we found the headphones had a reasonably well-rounded and rich sound that still favored bass but didn't drown out other frequencies across all genres. You're not going to get any excellent levels and detail or separation in the sound but for headphones in this price range it'd be ridiculous to expect that kind of depth. For the general listener they'll be more than enough.
Turning the slider up slightly (but no more than halfway) pushed low frequency sounds forward to a noticeable degree, and drum beats and bass had much more texture and punch that they would have otherwise. On the Weeknd's The Hills, for example, the song really benefited from a slight push of the bass slider as it gave the chorus more punch without distorting the high vocals. Too far, however, and the song became unpalatable.
Keeping the slider down low but not entirely off also added to the experience of watching films and playing games. Orchestral soundtracks in films with action (Pirates of the Caribbean, for example) were really enjoyable to watch with these headphones and the thrum of the haptic feedback during explosive gaming moments added to the immersion.
To be honest, we'd be more inclined to keep using these for gaming and films than listening to music on a day-to-day basis.
We assume there's some kind of hollow space in the ear cups of these headphones to give the vibration the room it needs to have any impact. If you pause a song during a bouncy run or tap the cups with your fingers you hear and feel it. It sounds similar to someone kicking a bass drum when you're inside it. It’s unlikely to be an issue for most but it’s worth pointing out that it’s there.
These aren’t noise cancelling headphones so do expect some sound leakage. The degree of noise isolation they offer is better than on-ears and about right for their over-ear design. You won’t experience too much embarrassment from others hearing your guilty-pleasure songs or too much irritation from external noise interrupting them.
The Crusher Wireless headphones are easy to pair to your device and once connected the Bluetooth connection remains strong. The sound quality via Bluetooth is good and consistent and you can move a reasonable distance from your device in an open space. Walls and doors will cause connection problems as they do with any pair of Bluetooth headphones.
These headphones also offer good call quality and have a surprisingly great microphone; we found that we could be clearly heard and hear the caller even in outdoor environments.
If battery runs low, there’s also a cable that will allow you to plug into a 3.5 mm headphone jack. Sound quality is excellent through this cable and it’s a good length but the inline controls it provides are limited to play and pause which isn't much at all. For some annoying reason, the connector that you plug into your device has a bright red and blue casing which is completely disparate from the design of the rest of the headphones and, indeed, most smartphones. It almost looks like a replacement part.
Battery life is definitely a strong point for these headphones, though, and you’re not likely to have to use this cable often. When we used them with volume ranging from average to high and haptic bass on the lower end we got around 40 hours out of them before they required another charge which is excellent. We imagine that if you lean heavier on the haptic features this may reduce battery life slightly but we can’t imagine that’s a problem many will face.
Skullcandy's Crusher wireless headphones are comfortable, fun and offer an excellent battery life for a reasonable price. Though they’ll appeal most to bass-lovers who’ll enjoy playing with the haptic slider, they also offer fairly well-rounded if slightly bass-heavy sound for those looking for more balance. As long as you don't push it too far up the adjustable bass and vibrations also make these fun headphones for movie watching and playing action-oriented video games.
Though comfortable, these headphones look and feel slightly cheap which isn’t ideal for something that will sit so prominently on your head. We also think the multi-function buttons could have been utilized and positioned in a way that was more intuitive and convenient to use. The cut-off point for the bass slider is too high as sliding it any more than halfway up made most songs hard to listen to.
The Skullcandy Crusher Wireless headphones can be purchased for under £150/$150 and though they're not exceptional, there are far worse-sounding headphones that can be had at this price point.
They’re not the most expensive looking headphones, but they feel sturdy enough for everyday use. We just wish the plastic wasn't as much of a fingerprint magnet as it is.
The Crusher Wireless headphones are comfortable, sound good and have an exceptional battery life. The addition of the haptic bass feedback adds enjoyable punch to low frequency sound, though Skullcandy has been overzealous with the range and could have created something with a little more nuance.
As long as you don’t turn the slider up too high (we’ll leave it up to you to decide what ‘too high’ is) it actually adds an enjoyable degree of depth and texture to lower frequency sounds, particularly in films and games. If you’re a keen bass-fiend there’s no question you’ll want to pick these up to try them out.