Skullcandy Crusher Wireless review: haptic bass headphones
Skullcandy looks to be going through its range and removing cables. We have already been impressed by the Grind Wireless. Now, the company has untethered its Crusher cans. These had the odd unique selling point of ‘haptic bass’. Now, I know you need to know more.
Skullcandy Crusher Wireless promises to give you bone rattling bass. That kind of bass that you expect to get from a live gig, great cinema or a car with a rather loud sound system.
All that in some headphones? This should be interesting.
Skullcandy Crusher design
As they did with the Hesh Wireless, Skullcandy have gone for a more understated design than usual. The Crusher cans I have been sent are matte black.
There is a discrete Skullcandy logo on the headband just above the ear casings. The logos have come out a little more pronounced in the snaps. In real life the grey seems to fade more in to the design.
The ear cups, pads, and headband are otherwise free of embellishment. Personally, I think this gives the Crusher Wireless an effortless style. Besides, these will not clash with whatever you’re wearing. Should you care about such things.
The controls are located on the ear cups. The main ones are on the right side. Here you have control over volume, playback and there’s a centralised multi-function button. There’s also a built-in mic so you can make and receive phone calls easily without skipping a beat.
The headphones fold up nice and compact. This enables them to slip easily in to the bundled travel bag for even more protection on the go.
The plastics used for the Crusher all appear to be good quality. The hinges are sturdy and metal, as is the adjustable headband.
The earcup backs have a nice soft finish on them. The top of the headband is leatherette, and the underside is nicely padded rubber. There is even a neat little cutout to help prevent a hotspot forming on the top of your head.
The buttons are good and sturdy and feel like they’ll last.
The overall look is classy and subtle.
Skullcandy Crusher performance
Comfort and isolation
The earpads of the Crusher Wireless are very comfortable indeed.
The pads are oval in shape and covered in a soft leatherette. The interior of the pads are of a decent-quality cloth. This helps to prevent sweaty and over-heated lobes.
The padding is memory foam. Even with the clamping force of the headphones being on the firm side, the pads stay comfortable for long listening sessions.
The snug fit even contributes to the overall sound quality.
The headphones tip the scales at only 1.5 lbs, so quite lightweight.
Isolation is darned fine too. Using these during the commute on noisy underground and overground (Wombling free) trains, I can easily block out the world.
In the office at lunchtime, I can ignore the phones and general hubbub of my colleagues.
The unusual thing about the Crusher Wireless is that sound quality needs to be broken down in to two acts.
Act 1 – without haptic bass
Without the bass slider engaged, the Crusher presents a lovely, slightly warm sound.
I was impressed by the level of detail throughout the frequency range.
The sound-stage is reasonably wide for closed-backed Bluetooth cans.
Bass is definitely present but not overpowering with the slider all the way down. Treble and mids are detailed without any graininess or fatigue-inducing shine.
I dare say that you could use them like this and be suitably happy with their sound quality.
But, should you want a sub-woofer strapped to your head…
Act 2 – monster bass
Each ear cup contains one of Skullcandy’s in-house designed 40mm drivers, as well as a second 34mm driver that kicks in when you use the bass slider.
For all intents and purposes, I believe that the slider controls a crossover system, just as you’d feed a subwoofer in a home theater or car audio system.
As you push the slider up, the bass frequencies slowly transfer from the main drivers to these bass-specific drivers.
If you’ve ever stood next to the speaker stack at a big gig or club, or sat in a car that’s more speaker than vehicle, that’s the bass you get here.
The bass that the haptic drivers produce is intense – as well as a tad ridiculous.
I have to admit, for the most part, the extra bass is controlled and punchy. It can get a bit messy on some tracks but I think bass hunters will love it.
The Crusher’s box states “Bass You Can Feel,” and it’s true. Especially when cranked all the way. You really do get that sub feeling.
It’s not just club classics that this bass works on either. ‘A History of Bad Men’ by the Melvins and ‘Tree of Suffocating Souls’ by Triptykon both gave my lugs a hilarious work out.
Hit or gimmick
For me, I found the sweet spot to be around just below half-way for the slider.
This presents you with the more nuanced bass texture from the main driver, bolstered by the sub thump of the secondary system.
The haptic bass actually seemed to come in to its own when watching movies or gaming. I have a soundbar and sub in my living-room and the Crushers are a bit like a portable version of that.
To my mind, this is where you need truly immersive bass that you can physically feel.
The battery life is rated at 40 hours. That is very impressive, especially given their weight and price. I’ve used them all week and they are still going strong.
Bluetooth range is decent enough. It works perfectly at usual listening and viewing distances. I don’t really need more than 30 feet range.
Pairing is as fuss-free as expected.
What is really neat is that the haptic bass drivers are not active. This means if you decide to use the bundled cable to attach these cans to your sound source, you still get that banging bass.
The inline mic and button on the cable worked with my tablet and phone.
Skullcandy Crusher Wireless review conclusion
These really do sound good and are priced pretty keenly.
Given the option of these or some Beats cans, I’d probably plump for the Crushers. They perform well and that haptic bass feature is definitely a new one on me.
Granted, I would not have the slider pushed up to insanity levels, but that extra low-end for films and gaming is a bonus.
Add in to that their build-quality and stealthy looks, who wouldn’t want to wear a 2.1 system on their ears?
Skullcandy Crusher Wireless price and availability
The Skullcandy Crusher Wireless are available now. They cost £120 direct from the Skullcandy website.