First I’ll start by saying that these headphones sound fun. Even the most uppity audiophile can have fun with these. The highs and mids are present and well rounded out and the bass can be, well, ear shattering if you want it too. Overall they sound fantastic. They’re not reference headphones so don’t expect that type of detail and separation, but if you’re an average consumer like me, you’ll be happy with the sound these cans produce regardless of your preferred genres.
You may have read that the Crusher Wireless is a well-made headphone. I think the metal headband is the culprit for these erroneous perception. Overall, these headphones feel like something that Skullcandy invested 90% of their budget on their sound, 9% on marketing, and 1% on design and materials quality. I’m not saying they look all that bad at a distance. You might find their simplicity aesthetically pleasing at a glance but the devil is in the details. These feel cheap. I’m not saying they’re cheap like they’ll break quickly, they may hold up the test of time, but at close inspection the materials just look and feel shoddy. The small amount of swivel that is given each ear can is made by little plastic tabbed pegs that will obviously wear, if not break over time. The hinge housing is comprised of two pieces of plastic that don’t align well at the seams. The padding in the headband is thinnest where it may contact your head the most, right at the top (I don’t understand this one at all). The ear pads have a bulge on the top of the inner area where the two ends of the fabric is thickly stitched together. This is both ugly and uncomfortable as you can feel the bulge rubbing on your ear. The list goes on. They just look cheap and I’m only complaining about this so much because the price is not cheap. $200 is not cheap. It’s not expensive either, but it’s a price point that should not bring this level of cheapness into the design or materials used in these headphones.
The button controls are a mixed blessing of simplicity over function. There are only 3 buttons on these headphones. That’s it, just three to control everything (plus the bass slider of course). But three buttons do it all. They power these on, pairing mode, power them off, skip forward, answer phone calls, hang up phone calls, decrease volume, increase volume, rewind, pause, play. All that function weighing on just three buttons is just too much. In my experience, this is a problem not just with these headphones but any headphone, including high end ones, that attempt to pack too many multi-function buttons into one interface. For example, to skip or rewind on the Crusher Wireless you hold the up or down volume for 3 seconds. I don’t like that. If I want to skip a song, I want to do it now, not 3 seconds from now. Even a double press might be a better option. The list of annoyances with multi-function buttons grows. And this goes for all of you multi-function manufacturers. Stop it. We’re not as dumb as you think we are. Of course, some people love the “simplicity” of multi-function buttons. It seems to be the way things are going. As for me, I like things separate so I can use them precisely when I need them and how I need them. Give me a big volume knob, FF and Rewind, play/pause combo is okay, and a dedicated on/off switch (and, okay, you can incorporate the pairing mode function into the power switch) and if you could add a mute button that would be great. That’s how I like things. But if you’re a fan multi-multi functions then you may love this about the Crusher Wireless.
Sound leakage is below average. They pale in comparison to a good pair of in-ear headphones, and they do about as good a job as any on-ear headphones of varying quality. They do leak more than the average closed-back headphone and this may be due to their seemingly poorer build quality. Don’t expect these to keep your coworkers happy if you like to keep your music at 40% or above.
Comfort level for any pair of headphones is a very subjective thing so I won’t spend too much time on this, but I think I figured out why these are called the crusher. That’s what they do on me. They crush my head. And they put a lot of pressure on that cranial nerve right below my ear. Coupled with how hot the ear cups get (I think due to low end materials), I am not happy with fit and comfort of the Skullcandy Crusher Wireless headphones. In addition to their undeniably uncomfortable fit, they also produce a low end bouncy sound/vibration in your head if you tap on these, put these on, take them off, wear them while chewing, or just walking around. You won’t necessary hear (of feel) this when you’re listening to music as the audio will drown out the experience. But the haptic bass speakers bounces around in the ear cans and produce a vibration. Now, this doesn’t bother me per se but it is noticeable and it is something that I wish the headphones didn’t have.
Now for some of their redeeming values. Bluetooth connectivity is good. And call quality is actually good too. Better than some of the more expensive headphones I’ve recently tried. And Skullcandy achieves this with just one microphone. I don’t know what they did here but it works and it works well. Kudos to Skullcandy for making a good quality headset out of these headphones. The battery life is ridiculously cool. I mean, I tend to be a conservationalist at times and am always switching off my headsets even when I step away for a few moments, but the battery on these lasts so long I’m starting to get lazy and wasteful. Even if I’m taking a long break I don’t worry about leaving the headphones on. (Of course, this may be because I don’t like waiting the 5 seconds it takes to power them on from the single do-it-all-multifunction button when I come back.) Unfortunately, I can’t get them to tell me how much battery is left but my devices do that with a battery indicator. Nevertheless, the battery life is insane on these. And that’s a really cool thing.
And lastly, coming back to the sound. Like I said, these sound fun and I continuously forget their discomfort as I get absorbed in great audio from a variety of genres. If anything were to get me to keep these, it’s their audio quality. I’ve been keeping the haptic bass slider down to either barely on to completely off depending on the type of music I’m listening too. I’ve barely used them above say 20% or so. These simply are bass heavy headphones which I like. It’s why I bought them in the first place. I like bass. But it doesn’t mean they dismiss all other frequencies. When I’m listening to metal or jazz, I get plenty of timbre out of the high-hats and cymbals. When I’m listening to vocals I get fulfilling coos out of the baritones and clarity out of sopranos. And when I’m jamming R&B or Hip-Hop, I get plenty of thump, plenty. Too much if you want it, satisfactorily if you don’t via the bass slider. One caveat here. I’ve found that the booming rumble of the haptic bass does get finicky during some songs. It almost cuts in and out as if the crossover technology clips at a specific frequency. It’s hard to explain for a non-audio tech like me but be prepared to experience some unusual bass delivery during some music.
So are these good headphones? That’s a tough question. Their audio quality puts them on par with any of the higher priced models that you’ll want to compare them to and I’m certain most people will find their favorite music fun to listen to. But their shortcomings in the design, materials, comfort, and features departments are certainly falling quite short of their $200 price tag. If these were off-brand $60 headphones, they’d certainly be worth their weight in sound, but at 200 clams, they just don’t add up in the value for me. Their price point makes me think that Skullcandy is simply jumping on the “spike in bluetooth headphones sales” bandwagon and threw together a get-it-to-market-as-quick-as-possible model that they could make a quick buck on. But everyone is probably doing that.