To craft the Grind on-ear headphones to be affordable for all, Skullcandy carved away flashy design flourishes that cost music-listeners a fortune, sparing only the most crucial components. Then, the Park City, Utah-based audio company packed in some capable sound drivers.
The result of this scrupulous molding of design, performance and value is a set of headphones that are an absolute steal for $60 (£40, AU$77).
Sport is at the heart of Skullcandy's company-wide design ID, and the Grind are no exception. But don't let that shy you away: these on-ear cans come in a variety of colors to meet the needs of listeners regardless of their style preferences.
Our review sample offers up something in between sporty and casual. The headband offers the first impression, one made up of a faux white leather that feels enough like the real thing. On its underside, soft black foam is stitched into place with a breathable mesh layer, which rests comfortably on your head.
The Grind are reinforced with a brushed metal frame that gives them a premium look and feel. Branding on these headphones is subtle, with a small logo stamped onto each of the sidearms. I admire that it doesn't scream out for attention, like last year's Skullcandy Crusher. The loudest design feature you'll find here is a red wire that hugs alongside the sidearms.
Attached to the sidearms are the sliding ear pads. Our review sample features translucent plastic capping the back of each cup, which allows a peek at the inner workings. The sliding mechanism is pretty straightforward, but on this model, we can see that each cup is attached to the sliding post by a ball and socket joint. This affords the pad some flexibility to pivot, which is crucial if you hope to find your unique comfort zone.
Touching on its features, it's all inside the left ear pad. There's a 3.5mm input where you can plug in the included cable, but you could technically use whichever one you'd like to. Right next to it is Skullcandy's self-coined TapTech button. It's a multi-function button that allows you to pick up calls, pause music and skip around tracks with multiple presses.
This sort of functionality is usually located on inline controls, but Skullcandy devised a way to embed it onto the cup, and it works like a charm. Right on the other side of the same cup is a microphone for taking calls.
It's a stroke of genius for Skullcandy to craft the Grind in such a way that the features are housed in the cups themselves, not in the cable. This allows you to replace a frayed cable without worrying about losing the microphone or TapTech features.
With such a stripped-down, but effective design, you might think that Skullcandy must've held back on sound performance to meet the low price point. I'm pleased to tell you that's not the case at all.
The Skullcandy Grind are comfortable on-ear headphones, which by itself – at this price – is an accomplishment. Pressure directed inward against your ears is kept to a minimum, thanks to the flexible metal frame and plush ear pads. I've worn these headphones for weeks on my big head at work, listening to music and at home, playing through some games in my backlog with no complaints about its comfort.
At its affordable price point, I wasn't expecting much in the way of sound performance with the Grind. After all, how much can one expect for well under a hundred smackers? Based on the stellar performance found here, we've all been cheated, paying too much for headphones for far too long.
The drivers packed into the Grind offer exquisite sound quality, complete with beefy bass response and articulate delivery of mids and highs. I tried a wide variety of music samples to see if I could find a weak point in these cans – nope. I've never heard a better-sounding set of headphones for the price.
Wrapping things up, the microphone performs adequately indoors and outside. The multi-function TapTech button is a little touchy, which could lead to accidental pauses or track skipping. Having these functions available to me outweighed this minor issue I encountered.
You, like everyone else, probably wants a set of headphones that nails the tricky blend of design, useful features and incredible sound. You might think that you need to flush your savings to enjoy such a pair of cans. Protip: you don't.
At $60 (£40, about AU$77), the Skullcandy Grind is priced well below its competitors, but the low price tag isn't a trick to get you in the door. It's an invitation to find everything you want in a set of headphones (and then some) for an unbeatable price.