The Shredders be Happy with Skullcandy's Grind

Skullcandy Grind ($59)
I do keep my ear out for Skullcandy headphones. Not because I think they're going to produce an amazing sounding headphone—though it's possible—but because they sell a lot of headphones and I want to know if they're treating all those sk8ers right. With the Grind, I think they sure 'nuf are.

That's not easy to do with a $59 headphone, I mean, how much can you really expect for $59? The answer is "not much". The trick is to know what to deliver, and what not to deliver. If there's genius in these headphones, those choices are where it lies.

Let's start with: this is a headphone for 15-25 year olds that skateboard or snowboard; self-identified "shredders" that film each other with Go-Pros as they relentlessly catch air. The Grind needs to be able to take a beating; it needs to be able to be thrown in a backpack without a second thought; it needs to be able to hang around the neck comfortably as you pedal and swoop down the street on your BMX bike; and it needs to survive if you forget it in your bed and flop down on it later.

The Grind does appear quite bullet proof. The headband is a single piece of stainless steel without any hinges that might fail. Yes, that means they can't fold up and become smaller for transport, but remember, this is an exercise in lowering cost, and most young folks will be perfectly happy to throw them in a back pack or wear them around their neck. It does make sense to be bullet proof rather than convenient in this case.

Skullcandy_Grind_Photo_CupClose

The headband slide adjustment mechanism is buried in the ear piece, but in my clear, white unit it's easily visible. It's a single plastic part that captures the slide groove of the headband, and basically seats in a ball joint at the center of the ear piece. The tricky bit is that it appears to be essentially floating free, but limited in movements by loose clearances with various interlocking openings and bosses on and around it.

The end result is an ear cup can move freely enough to adjust to your ears, but if over stressed in any direction comes up against very sturdy limits—the main one seems to be the metal of the band going through the hole at the top of the ear piece. It can sound a little creaky when you manually move the ear cups, but it didn't make noise for me in normal use. The headband adjustment and swivel mechanism self adjusted easily, and the build seems cheap and durable—just what the doctor ordered.

Skullcandy_Grind_Photo_PadClose

The ear pads consist of a pleather cover with an array of medium sized holes over a donut shaped piece of foam underneath. I've had mixed results with pads of this type—both comfort and sound quality can be hit or miss. I'd say the Grind pad is really well done at this price point with decent feeling pleather, and just the right size and amount of memory foam. Couple that with spot on caliper pressure, easy ear cup angle adjustment, and properly shaped and ample headband pad, you'll find the Grind a very comfortable headphone to wear.

One unusual feature of the Grind is that the remote control and mic are not on the cord, but rather are mounted on the left ear piece itself. In the close-up photo of the outside of the ear piece above, you can see the red multi-function remote button next to the headphone jack, and the little black part toward the front of the ear piece is the mic.

I did exchange emails with the primary Grind project engineer who said it provides a button with a known position rather than having to feel for it on the chord. Also, action sports folks sometimes run the cable inside their shirt or coat making a cable mic/remote difficult to use. I reckon there's probably also less mechanical noise from the mic mounted on the ear piece when the user is active while on the phone. Dandy features for its intended audience, me thinks.

Skullcandy_Grind_Photo_Colors

The Grind is available in four colors: black; white (which is white with clear ear piece covers); blue; and a multi-color combination called "locals only". Accessories are non-existant with the Grind, you get the headphones and the cable and that's it. At this price I don't have a problem with that.

Right then, on to the sound...

COMPANY INFO
Skullcandy
1441 W Ute Blvd. Suite 250
Park City, UT 84098
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
maelob's picture

Don't forget about the surfers too, we are the original shredders LOL

tony's picture

I just went to Google Video on the Grind and discovered scads of fresh reviews, every one of them say nearly the same thing, looks just like how we in the Auto Industry do a new Chevy product release.

Not one single review quotes the Wt. of the phones or emphasizes the detachable cable. All use the same sequence of descriptions ( we would script this too ). Everyone thought they sound quite good but seemed to all have the same reservations about the sound quality.

Every review seemed the same, nobody had one single unique thing to say except our Tyll mentioning the Ball fastening and demonstrating the smash ability of the device's design.

Your review was uniquely informative and substantive, the rest seemed to be "in the box" reviews as Gordon Holt used to say.

If I am Scullcandy I'd be giving you the "Best of Reviewers", paid-in-full loan of a BMW touring 1200 cc Motorbike, a case of 10 year Scotch from Islay and a nice box of Castro's Churchill Cigars.

As it stands, "I" give you my "Atta-boy" award, again!

Tony in Michigan

ps. Have your Agent get you some Car Review Work, you'd be darn good at it, I suspect.

Long time listener's picture

"Bass boost is somewhat excessive and bleeds into the mids above 200Hz, which makes for a "thick" sounding mid-range response."

Uh, I'm not really understanding this. Above 200Hz (from 200-700Hz), the response actually dips relative to the bass below and the midrange above. How does this recessed area result in thick sounding midrange? Wouldn't that more likely be the result of the overly emphasized region between 1-2000Hz above it(which looks like midrange to me)? Or the relatively high distortion levels between about 1500 and 2000Hz--since distortion also results in a thick sound?

ultrabike's picture

Like! Kudos to Skullcandy!

Three Toes of Fury's picture

Thanks bunches Tyll....it would be easy for you to give skullcandy a pass on its name and look alone. And, in this case, to pass by given the price range (a tough price range to find really good headphones).

However the company is certainly capable of turning out some decent sounding headphones that offer great value for $$. The stand-out for me being their Avaitors which i keep in constant rotation for my "closed over ear" headphone listening. Additionally ive had great experience with their cheaper in-ear headphones for activities like biking or working out.

Of course, as discussed before, the quality and consistency across their product lines is hit/miss and rocky. (IE: the early model skullcrushers were quite possibly the worst pair of headphones i'd ever purchased). Therefore i rarely blind buy their products any more and very much appreciate your help in finding the diamonds in the rough.

Peace .n. Living in Stereo

3ToF

Danger's picture

Skateboarder here. When I skate with headphones I usually just throw on some iGrados. Not a fan of buds or iems and those iGrados are very hat friendly. At home it's a 2nd Gen FiiO X3 as a DAC, Audioquest cable, Little Dot 1+ with Sylvania tubes ending up at Fidelio X2's. Listen and Destroy!!!

Danger's picture

Also, as an aside it's probably worth mentioning that this kind of headphone would never even be worn while actually skateboarding. One fall and they are off one's head. Buds rule the day at local skateparks. Go see for yourself. Since I don't like buds I opt for iGrados, which stay pretty damn secure - even during falls or running out of a potential fall.

RPGWiZaRD's picture

Skullcandy has come a long way since their early days when they only were able to offer style and not so much else.

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