How much bass is too much bass?
That is the question you have to ask yourself before you think of investing in Skullcandy’s Crusher ANC headphones. For, there is bass. And then there is Skullcandy Crusher bass. The Crusher series is renowned for its almost abnormal bass levels, making the headphones literally vibrate on top of your ears (read our review of the Crusher Wireless). So what happens when Skullcandy takes this to another level and adds ANC to the mix for good measure? Bass-ic joy or a pain in the bass? Read on.
Thunder, Rumble and Roar!
Yes, we will talk about their design and components, but there is no way in which you can start talking about these headphones without referring to their sound signature. And the sound is EXTREMELY polarizing. For those who totally love bass, the Skullcandy Crusher ANC are downright heavenly. As in the original Crusher ANC, not only do you get booming bass on the headphones themselves, but you have the ability to push it up even further with a special bass slider that keeps upping the bass.
The basic signature of the headphones is bass-heavy as it is and that slider takes it to another, a rather insane level. Turn it up all the way and you will feel your headphones vibrate with every deep beat and rumble. Honestly, it is nothing like we have felt on any other headphones. The bass was heavy enough on the Crushers Wireless, it goes up a few levels on their ANC avatar. If you love music with heavy beats or like to watch shows with lots of explosions, these are the headphones for you…they will leave you very happily shaken and stirred. Because that is exactly what they are meant to do. Skullcandy calls it “sensory bass” and it is certainly sensational.
Not for everyone, though (agar baby ko bass nahin pasand hai!)
The Skullcandy Crusher ANC is a bit like black coffee – great for those who love it, weird for those who like it not. So if your taste in music is more towards a slight accent in the bass (hey, many of us like those beats to be louder) or is inclined towards a more balanced sound, then the Crusher ANC are definitely not your cup of audio coffee. For, as you move that bass slider up, those beats get louder and more rumble-y but they also tend to drown out other sounds. The Crusher ANC are definitely not for those who love classical music or jazz, or want to hear crystal clear vocals, or have a love for sharp guitar chords and cymbals.
Yes, the Crusher ANC sound reasonably clear when the slider is kept down, although the stress on bass is evident, but well, it is the slider that makes these special. And if you intend on not using that slider at all, then you lose perhaps the biggest USP of these headphones. These are the bosses of bass, by a massive margin, but for people who want a slightly better-distributed sound, these are not the answer. Unless you want to keep that slider down. And again, if you want to do that, why would you buy these!
Striking looks and solid build
The Crusher ANC definitely look good, and in best Skullcandy tradition will attract some glances. We got the Black Tan version (you also get Deep Red and Black), and they were very solidly built and yet stylish enough to get a second glance. The build is mainly plastic but is sturdy, and the design is subtly classy, with the band and the backs of the earcups being black, and the insides (the cushions on both the band and the cups) being of tan. The blend of black and tan will get some attention, although we think the tan bits might attract some dirt.
The earcups seem a little smaller than the ones on the Crusher Wireless, but will cover most ears and are made of comfortable material (faux leather). The band has a bit of padding but is flexible enough to fit your head comfortably without stressing it out – the headphones extend using a very solid plastic band. Near each of the cups on the band is a metallic Skullcandy logo, which looks a little blingy or classy, depending on your outlook (and mood). At slightly over 300 grams, these are a little on the heavier side but are comfortable to wear. The cups rotate 180 degrees and the headphones compress into a smaller size. There is a rather large-ish fabric-covered case in the box for carrying them, but these feel solid enough to be tossed into a backpack. Incidentally, you can use them with wires too – a 3.5 mm jack cable is in the box.
The Skullcandy Crusher ANC tick most of the boxes for premium headphones. You get 40 mm drivers, the ability to pair with two devices at the same time, Bluetooth 5.0, a frequency response of 20 Hz – 20 kHz (dejargonised: good), and Tile support, allowing you to find the headphones from your phone if you misplace them. There is support for fast charging and about twenty hours of battery life, which is not exceptional but definitely on the better side.
Then there is active noise cancellation (ANC). And well, that is one area where the Crusher ANC just dip a little below the performance at their price point. Yes, the ANC is good enough to keep relatively low sounds at bay and is better than most ANC headphones at around Rs 10,000-15,000, but it is not good enough to match what we get from Bose and Sony. It is a handy addition and is good enough for a buzzing cafe, but do not expect silence to descend when you hit that ANC button. The cups do provide very good noise isolation though.
…but slightly iffy controls
This brings us to the interface. Skullcandy has been known for having large buttons that are often in the shape of functions – a volume increase button is shaped like a plus, a stop like a dot, and a decrease in volume with a minus. Well, this time the brand has gone with large buttons but they are all the same shape, and that kind of suddenly makes them a whole lot more difficult to use. The power, pairing, and ANC functions all come from the same button below the left cup and this really complicates matters. Similarly, we had our problems figuring out functions for the other buttons on the right ear cup. You do get the hang of things with time, but honestly, we found the old “shape of function” button strategy a whole lot better.
There is also a Skullcandy app that claims to create a personal sound profile for you, but the extended setup procedure might put off some. We also could not find an equalizer on the app, which was a little odd, but then as we stated earlier, these are headphones for bassheads. Call quality is decent, although not in the Jabra/Bose class.
Should these be your audio Crush(er)? Depends on your Bass-ic instincts
The Skullcandy Crusher ANC were launched at Rs 29,999, but are now available for Rs 14,999. At their earlier price, some had compared them unfavorably with the best of Sony and Bose, but honestly, these are a different breed. The Crusher are really never going to be considered by the comfortable listening crowd or by audiophiles who want perfectly balanced output.
No, these are for those who want sound that is heavily – super heavily – flavored. And flavored with bass at that.
The Crusher Wireless are perhaps the best option for those on a budget, but if you want a heavy bass experience with premium features, then the Crusher ANC are in a league of their own. Perhaps the Sony WH-XB900 come a little in their region when it comes to a bass accented sound with a good build and premium features, but even they do not have this kind of thump in them.
Have a Crush on bass? Get a Crusher ANC. They are not perfect, but they will do more than enough to satisfy all bass-ic instincts.
- Eye catching design
- Deep, booming bass
- Good battery life
- Comfortable fit
- Reduced price
- Bass can muddy out other sounds
- ANC is not on par with others
- App can be a little confusing
- Not the greatest control system
|Looks & design||
Skullcandy's Crusher range of headphones has been known for its bass-heavy sound. The Crusher ANC not only make the bass heavier but also add ANC to the mix. At their current price and performance, these are perhaps the best premium headphones for bassheads.