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Skullcandy Crusher Headphones
The Crushers puts the rumble of a kickerbox into a pair of headphones
Date Created: 12/17/2004 Last Updated: 04/28/2006 Authors: B. MAAS

Are you a low-end junkie? Do you normally turn down the treble and crank up the bass in your car? Is your favorite iPod EQ setting "Bass Boost?" If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions then you'll want to check out the Skullcrusher headphones.

The genius behind these headphones is a company well known to snow and skateboarders called Skullcandy. They make everything from helmets and backpacks to MP3 players and headphones like the Crushers. Knowing one's target audience is critical to the success of a business and SkullCandy has this down cold. All of their products feature enhancements specifically tailored to the active audio lover. For example, Skullcandy's helmets even have built-in headphones.

Skullcandy takes a different approach to standard audio equipment, such as headphones. Their Crushers headphones can produce a powerful thumping bass normally reserved for high-end car audio systems.

It's a worthy attempt at producing the home theater experience in headphones and at a reasonable price.

What makes the Crushers unique is not its innovative folding design or its comfortable leatherette ear-caps that nearly seal the outer ear from ambient noise. It's the BASS! Attached to the headphone wire is a small amplifier that powers and processes a bass subwoofer inside the headphones. Yes, there is a subwoofer inside these headphones!  Housed within each headphone cup are two 30 mm speakers: primary and bass drivers.   The amplifier powers a basic crossover that gives the subwoofer gets its "oomph." 


Comfort/Fit/Construction

The Crushers has a distinctive folding design in which the ear cups flip up and inward toward the headband.  This allows for compact storage with the included pouch, an accessory its competitors similarly include. Consumers are demanding more comfortable headphones; as poor fit can simply ruin the listening experience of a morning commute.  The Crushers ear cups pivot slightly for added comfort and are secured by a wide, adjustable headband. 

Audiophiles seeking a headphone substitute for drowning out the noise of public transportation will take solace in Crushers . The Crushers makes the need for noise-canceling headphones moot an adequate amount of insulation blocks most ambient noise. Consequently, this degree of sound insulation also inhibits the 'breathing' of the ear cups, which are likely to cause to one's ears to overheat.  This is a common complaint among ear cup style headphones and really comes down to your personal preference.  Additionally a thin layer of foam padding guards each headphone speaker grille so the plastic speaker wall does not chafe the ear.

True audio nerds will take delight in learning that the driver magnets are constructed of neodymium, a rare earth metal (Atomic Symbol: Nd) also found in the stock iPod and other high-end headphones.

Overall, Crushers is a study set of headphones and several nice touches including gold plated connectors that compliment the thoughtful details throughout. Depending upon individual bass tolerance, the user will want to take breaks from the thumping bass and the ear heating aspect. 


Sound

For my tests, I connected the Crushers to an iPod and, separately, to a PowerMac G4.  Admittedly, I was initially skeptical of the vibrating subwoofer feature as something of a marketing ploy.  But when the amplifier is turned on, the sound is nothing short of wonderful.  My ears were treated to new frequencies from familiar songs I had never heard until I tried these headphones.  It's actually worth listening to your library again with the Crushers just to sample what you have been missing.

It's a different story when the amplifier is turned off, however; sound becomes 'tinny' and muted.  It's a marvel how so much better sound is produced from headphones with a single AA battery attached. It's amusing to see your friends' reactions when you serve up more bass once they try on the Crushers .

I played The Crystal Method's Legion of Boom and Tweekend albums to evaluate electronica and I also played Foo Fighter's One By One to sample hard rock with the Skullcrushers.  For the gaming test, I played a few rounds of Unreal Tournament.

My music listening experience shows that the Crushers amplifier performs well at boosting kick drums and bass guitar.  Not every percussion instrument is boosted: snare drums in particular do not cause the subwoofer to vibrate.  While the vibration is certainly innovative, I had to take a Bayer aspirin after nearly 20 minutes.  Turning down the vibration seemed to help. 

Given the profound difference in sound with and without the bass amplification, it seems the speakers must be somewhat responsible for the difference.  Remember the two drivers? The primary seems to focus on high frequencies, hence the 'tin can' sound when amplification is turned off.  So the amplifier must contain a crossover, which makes the bass driver seem responsible for the lifelike sound when the feature is turned on. 


PROS
  1. Ideal for bass heavy music like hip-hop, electronic/trance
  2. Excellent for gaming (if you can handle it)
  3. Ear cups nearly isolate the outer ear from ambient noise

 

CONS

  1. Not ideal for heavy metal or rock music listening
  2. Sounds 'tinny' when the amplifier is turned off
  3. No independent volume control switch on amplifier

Final Thoughts

The retail price of $90 seems rather steep for headphones sold by a company without a legacy of producing signature audio products.  In other words, Sennheisers they ain't.  But for an innovative product, Skullcandy's Crushers give a generous boost to bass frequencies, which is atypical of comparable headphones.

I recommend the Crushers as an additional pair for gaming and playing bass heavy music.  While the headphones are comfortable enough for everyday use, the vibration can be overwhelming for some people at full setting.  It all depends on how much you love bass. Maybe you shouldn't listen to music with Crushers on a full bladder?

Nary a word has yet been mentioned in this review about the gaming experience with Crushers .  This is a subjective area where some users will not appreciate any perceived sound quality.  In my opinion, Crushers perform well at frag games like Unreal Tournament, where explosion sounds are rife.  This is the only gaming arena in which these bass blastin' headphones have audio utility.  Again, be prepared to turn down the vibration while playing Unreal Tournament with the Crushers or you may find yourself dizzy once you've been fragged.

If you love bass, then get a pair of headphones with a built-in sub-woofer like the Skullcrushers. They will literally pump the bass into your skull until you drool.



This item is available for purchase from Amazon.com

Skullcandy makes everything from helmets and backpacks to MP3 players and headphones like the Crushers. Knowing one's target audience is critical to the success of a business and SkullCandy has this down cold. All of their products feature enhancements specifically tailored to the active audio lover.

Rating:
Requirements:
Any audio device with a headphone jack
Manufacturer:
SkullCandy

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