By Siva Om on Tue, 05/06/2014
If you're a music lover or an iOS gamer, you already get this, but it's hard to appreciate the full scope and flavor of our media when relying solely on our iOS device's speakers. Even if the extent of your media consumption on your iPhone or iPad (or laptop or desktop) doesn't stray beyond watching movies and videos, you'll have to admit, the in-built speakers these gadgets come with don't necessarily broadcast the most stellar audio. For crystal clear, pristine sound reproduction we have to look to the world of headphones and external speakers. With that in mind I'm always on the lookout for great headphones and speakers to share with iPhone Lifers. This week we'll be taking a look at Skullcandy’s Crusher over-ear headphones ($99.99).
Skullcandy is one of the more popular brands of hip and trending headphone manufacturers these days, with products that can be found in practically every high-end skate shop and major retailer across the country. Skullcandy has made a name for itself with a catchy logo, slick headphone designs, and very affordable prices. While they may hold significant appeal for teens and young adults, lately I've spotted my fair share of the older generations sporting Skullcandy gear in the wild. Their price, quality, and wide-spread availability make them a popular choice for all types of music lovers.
Last year I reviewed the Skullcandy Aviators and was generally impressed, but I found them a bit tinny sounding and lacking in solid bass representation and distortion-free playback at higher volumes. So when I had the opportunity to test and review the Crusher I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Touted as being able to deliver skull-crushing bass and exceptionally clear and pristine sound, the Crusher had quite a reputation to live up to.
Skullcandy’s Crusher is one of the better pairs of cans that you can plug into your iDevices for under $100. The Crushers deliver a surprisingly powerful performance thanks to a fancy little embedded technological enhancement that boosts their performance significantly.
The Crusher features multiple drivers which are stacked together and powered by an internal amplifier to deliver a tactile and explosive listening experience. The patented REX40 Driver creates extremely smooth sound with powerful bass and the Sensation55 Driver backs it up with extreme bass that resonates throughout your cranial nervous system. I also found that the design of the headband serves to amplify the sound further with a natural reverberation of the sound. All of this combines to give the Crusher acoustics that will literally rattle the walls of your skull. It's pretty intense. And quite impressive.
The Crusher gets its extra oomph from a single AA battery encased within one of the ear cups. With an adjustable slider, you can set the extra, enhanced bass high or low. Even though the bass amplification draws juice from the battery, a cool battery saving feature is that after several seconds of not being used, the power will automatically turn off. You'll get about 40 hours of playtime with the bass enhancement activated on a single AA battery.
So with all of this extra bass sound sensation, you might wonder how the Crusher represents the mid to high range of sound. I was actually pleasantly surprised; the Crusher manages to put out a very well-balanced sound. Obviously, with the bass turned up, the sound emphasis is on the rumble of the bass; but even still, the clear presentation of the higher range tones was crystal clear and discernible. I'll put it this way, when I was testing the Crusher, I typically listened to the headphones with the bass turned way up when I was gaming and wanted to feel the roar of the engines in Real Racing 2 (sorry, I'm not a fan of Real Racing 3's exploitive freemium model) or the deep throated scream of the dragon in Infinity Blade 3. But for listening to music, unless it was some bass-heavy rap or rock, I didn't find myself calling upon the amplified bass as often. The Crusher also has an in-line microphone/playback/volume control so you can even use the headphones to take phone calls or talk with Siri. But I found that the amplified bass was not something I cared to use when I was just chatting; the extra bass didn't add anything significant to conversational audio. It's worth mentioning that when the enhanced bass sensation feature isn't enabled the Crusher headphones still sound incredible. In fact, they can hold their own against many more expensive headphones in the $150–$200 price range.
The Skullcandy Crusher over-ear headphones are ultra light and very portable, with a conveniently folding design, making them ideal for travel. The ear cups weren't overly large like some over-ear headphones can be, but they still covered the entire ear comfortably and without compressing or pinching the ear lobes. This, combined with the Crusher’s minimal weight, makes the Crusher a great companion for extended jamming and gaming sessions. The Crusher’s headband, like the rest of the headphone’s construction, is also made of impact resistant plastic and it features a super comfy, inner padding, which help make the Crusher an absolute pleasure to wear.
Lightweight, collapsible design make these an awesome pair or travel headphones.
Amazing bass response. If you like a pair of headphones that can really pack in the bass, so much so that your skull bones with rattle, then Skullcandy's Crusher is for you.
The Crusher achieves its sensational bass sound without sacrificing well-defined and relatively balanced high and mid range acoustics.
Arguably one of the better pair of headphones you'll find for under $100.
I was very impressed with the comfort factor of the Crushers. They are an extremely well-designed pair of over-ear cans.
Call it nitpicking, but if a pair of headphones are white, then I like them to be a consistent color. Instead, the white unit that I reviewed had one shade of white plastic making up the ear cups, and a distinctly different shade of off-white making up the plastic on the headband. While this doesn't affect the performance, it would show a little more attention to detail if there were a more uniform color palette. Skullcandy makes the Crusher in 10 different colors, and I did not notice the same discrepancy in the darker colors.
It would have been nice if some sort of portable carry bag for the headphones was included. It's become so commonplace nowadays for headphones to come with carrying bags that it's easy to take that for granted.