Skullcandy’s claim to fame has always been the bass response, and that has never been as true as with the Crusher ANC, which replaces last year’s Crusher 360 headphones. The latest iteration retains the Sensory Bass slider and large, easy-to-use knobs, but adds Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) to the company’s flagship over-ear headphones. This is our Skullcandy Crusher ANC Review.
It’s just a shame that some compromises are made along the way: Compared to the previous generation Crusher 360, which had a metal construction, Skullcandy went with a predominantly plastic construction for the Crusher ANC. Plus, the addition of ANC also means a blow to battery life – up to 24 hours instead of 30 hours for the Crusher 360. Overall, $320 is a lot to spend on headphones that, in no way, rises above the super-powerful bass. So unless you really like bass and you ever want to feel EDM fall, your money will be better spent elsewhere.
Skullcandy Crusher ANC Review: Design
The Skullcandy Crusher ANC is handsome, understated headphones, especially if you get the black color scheme. Our Deep Red-colored review unit drew a little more attention to its unique color, but overall the design is restrained. While the headphones are now mainly made of plastic, it feels well put together and doesn’t creak or groan like a more affordable Skullcandy headphone. Metal is still used in the headband, making the feeling of study and adjustment silky.
The headphones are also upholstered in imitation leather, which is comfortable, but the ear cushions steam up the ears a little during prolonged use. Operating the Crusher ANC is a pleasure to use with large knobs and sliders. The Sensory Bass slider takes up almost the entire length of the left earcup, making choosing the desired level of bass impact very easy.
The right ear cup accommodates music playback and volume control, as well as the USB-C charging port and a 3.5mm jack. Skullcandy provides a nice wired cable with a microphone and remote control if you want to use the Crusher ANC when the battery runs out. A unique design feature is the integrated Tile tracker, which is useful if you often misplace your headphones.
Skullcandy Crusher ANC Review: Performance
The Crusher ANC has a dual personality. When the sensory basses are turned down, they’re just an average pair of headphones that sound reasonably balanced. However, turn up the Sensory Bass slider and get ready to feel the bass. When the sensory bass is set to 100%, the listening experience is unbearable and gives you a headache. However, at 25%, the Sensory Bass was an excellent addition to a noisy subway and offered a unique bass slam that no other headphones provide.
To tune the sound to your ears, Skullcandy also offers an accompanying app that gives listeners a hearing test to build a distinct equalizer curve. The test only takes a few minutes, and it works to create a more balanced sound signature. With the Sensory Bass slider turned down, the Skullcandy Crusher ANC sounds balanced with a warm mid-bass bloom. Our personalized EQ has lowered the headphones’ bass slightly compared to turning off the EQ.
The active noise cancellation for the Crusher ANC is the only medium. Just like the Skullcandy Venue, the ANC has a very distracting sizzle when no music is playing, and the headphones have trouble blocking external noise as effectively as leaderboards such as Sony WH-1000XM3 and Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 (and the older QC35 II by the way). The ANC also struggles with the wind, amplifying outside wind noise.
Battery life is about 24 hours, but we saw closer to 20 with Sensory Bass set at 25% and ANC on. That’s not bad, but it’s on average in the $300 headphone segment. (For reference, the leading Sony WH-1000XM3 gets 30 hours).
Skullcandy Crusher ANC Review: Conclusion
$320 is a lot of money to spend on headphones. While Skullcandy’s Sensory Bass is unique, it’s a difficult value proposition when the flagship wireless headphones from Sony, Bose, Bang & Olufsen cost about the same price. Unless you like bass and want to feel every drop or explosion while watching movies, it’s better to spend your money elsewhere.
Skullcandy's flagship Crusher ANC headphones bring bass, but at the expense of battery life and materials. The Crusher ANC's plastic construction helps provide comfort during long listening sessions, but it feels like a downgrade from the previous Crusher 360 that was made of metal and offered longer battery life. However, if battery life and design materials aren't your biggest concern, these bass-heavy headphones will literally rattle your skull and keep outside noise at bay with ANC.
- Incredibly impactful bass
- App tailors sound to your hearing
- Big, easy-to-use buttons
- Mediocre and noisy ANC
- Bass is muddy at higher volumes