A Unique Bass Sensation: The Skullcandy Crusher

Skullcandy Crusher ($99.99)
Selling product is largely a matter of providing things that people want, and kids these days want MOAR BASS!!! Sony's XB series of headphones sell very will, obviously there's a market demand for extra-bass headphones. The problem is way too much of a good thing can sound pretty dumb, and a lot of these bass heavy headphones are almost unlistenably murky and bloated with heavy handed bass.

Enter Skullcandy with quite a novel solution. The Skullcandy Crusher adds the sensation of bass without adding too much acoustic bass response with their "Sensation 55" driver. This driver is essentially a moving mass driven by a small amplifier in the headphones that deliver low-frequency vibrations in the headphones that go along with the music. The effect is....surprisingly good.

A quick note to all you young folks who might have found this page Googling for info about these cans.
I need to put this early in the review so you won't have to read through a bunch of stuff from an old audiophile dude. Go ahead and buy the Crusher—they sound pretty good, and the Sensation55 driver works well if adjusted carefully. They're quite cool, and I think many of you will have a lot of fun with them. In fact, you'll probably enjoy the Crusher so much that in your old age you'll remember these cool cans from your youth and how much fun they were.

But its also likely you'll learn soon enough that there are much better headphones out there that have really great performance, deliver tight, punchy bass, and make your music sound amazingly clean and clear. When you think your ready for the next step, check out some of the headphones on the "Wall of Fame". I think you be surprised at how much better sound quality can get.

Alrighty then, if you want the straight scoop on the details of these headphones read on, otherwise, go ahead and plunk down your money and have fun. Make sure you pass these around to your friends, they'll get a kick out of them too.

Physical Description
The Skullcandy Crusher is an around-the-ear, sealed headphone. Not surprising for a headphone at this price, the construction is unapologetically plastic. The Crusher is available in numerous color schemes including: white, black, red, gray, teal, snakeskin, and a number of camouflage versions. Compared to the Skullcandy Aviators, for example, the Crusher's looks are pretty plain-Jane, but I wouldn't say they're ugly.

The earcups rotate forward and back about ten degrees, and earpads are plush and provide ample room to get your ear fully inside the cushion for a comfortable, around-the-ear fit. I don't think the ear cushions are memory foam, nor are the pads protein leather, but the pads do seem to have fairly good quality for a headphone at this price. The headband pad is some sort of vinyl film over foam cushions. Frankly I thought the comfort was pretty good for a $100 headphone.

A four foot cable attaches to the left ear with a 3.5mm plug and includes a one-button remote; plug housings are slim and will easily fit into your phone jack through protective cases. The earpieces also fold up inward toward the headband to become more compact for storage and transport. A simple fabric bag with Skullcandy skull logo is also included.

Isolation from outside noise is slightly less than average for sealed headphones, and sensitivity is good allowing for ample volume from portable devices. The Crushers will make for a good portable cans for your jaunts around town.

Okay, let's talk about sound quality and talk about the unusual Sensation55 driver on the next page.

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PoorAudiophile's picture

I've worked at an on-campus university bookstore, and I can't tell you how many times I've seen Beats by dre, Bose, and Skullcandy.Theres this blonde dude who walks around with these crushers. We even sell the crucher at the bookstore. However, I am a believer that I want headphones to sound as flat and spacious as possible for my money. In my opinion, these really don't sound spacious, but with the special driver off, they do sound surprising for a 100 dollar skullcandy. Have fun, kids!

Mad Lust Envy's picture

Bought them myself. They are surprisingly very linear sounding with the bass driver off.

ultrabike's picture

I did hear these at my local Target store, and also found them really fun. I didn't take a critical listen, but for the most part my quick impressions match Tyll's. Proly really nice for action movies.

Merck's picture

This isn't the first time I have seen headphones that utilize vibration in the low frequencies to create a more visceral feeling of bass.  It was a long time ago before this explosion in the headphone market began but I remember seeing some headphones that had a part that would rest on the back of the neck and vibrate to accomplish something similar.  I never listened to them so I can't give an opinion on them.  I don't even remember the brand, perhaps someone else does?

Tyll Hertsens's picture

Yes, this has been done before. In fact, these guys do it with a whole bunch of surround speakers as well.

Heretix_Aevum's picture

...which was the first (and last) gaming headset I owned had vibration units (which I'm pretty sure were just the same as you get in a mobile phone or similar device, just stronger) that would go off during heavy low bass. Headphone sounded crappy for $130 but that was a kind of fun feature.

The problem I have with this entire concept, though, is that I feel that it's a way to cheat with bass response. It covers up that the headpone doesn't have great bass response in and of itself. It would be kind of like inventing a type of windshield that blurred your vision slightly when you sped up, to make you feel like you were going faster than you actually were. Anyway, great review Tyl!

Any news on the SRH1540 review? I'm very very keen to see your thoughts on it before commiting to buying it. I really want a great, comfortable (spacious in the earpad) sealed headphone for home use that has a warm sound... I hope the 1540 is the one because it looks like there's a lot to like about it!

Tyll Hertsens's picture

...is actually pretty good even without the shaker. I sort of agree that it's a gimmick. I say "sot of" because I think if it was done really well in a really good headphone it might add something back that we miss with headphones.

I was actually planning to post an LCD-X review, but it got complicated....the Shure might poke its way in...it'll be soon.

Three Toes of Fury's picture

Great write up Tyll...and you beat me to my comment on the skullcrusher...

Skullcandy is an interesting brand of headphones...at first pass it appears to be a brand specifically marketed for looks or brand identification to the kids (c'mon, its got skulls as its logo) and little hope for decent sound (im looking at you Beats by Dre).   That being said the brand has delivered some surprises.    For me the biggest surprise was their Aviator over-ear headphones which i quite enjoy...really a nicely balanced and crisp sounding pair of cans with a pretty unique retro-ish style to boot.    The on-ear version of the Aviators,  the Navigator,  are a pretty decent on ear option...thou there's lots better out there for a little more money (M80 and, of course, Sennheiser Momentum on-ear).      Also some of their cheap in-ear monitors do a nice adequate job for general headpones...they are my go-to for headphones when exercising.   

That being said...they also have alot of "misses" mixed in.    The biggest ive come across was the Skullcrusher.   It was quite simply the single worst pair of headphones ive purchased and heard in the last 3 years.   It had some gimicky in-line amplifier driven by a battery that was, i guess, supposed to enhance bass.   The sound..both enhanced and not...was abysmal.   It is the only pair of headphones i have ever thrown out as the option of ever listenting to them again was a painful thought.    Therefore when i saw the title to this article...and that the brand in question shared a similar name...i was shocked to see they are ok.    Im glad to hear it and will check out the crushers. 

Overall im pretty pleased with the brand Skullcandy and glad to see that if you take the time to read up reviews,  and take the listening station challenge,  that you can find some really decent sounding equipment from them.     Ironically my headphone-of-the-day today which i had on when i popped open innefidelity are their Aviators.

Thanks again Tyll for the great reviews!

   Peace & Living in Stereo



avens's picture

Liked the quick note. The only thing to be added there is that these are better than Beats.

DonGateley's picture

The reason being that to provide excessive bass without horribly muddying everything else up the 'phones have to be very linear which makes them great candidates for equalizing to taste.  A linear 'phone can be made to sound pretty much exactly like any other linear 'phone if their measurements are in-situ and typical.

RPGWiZaRD's picture

Wow, I was positively suprised. Such a shame for the large dip in the lower-highs and the slightly excessive amount resonance, with those issues gone it could have been a real budget killer.

Eli's picture

One should add, that while wearing glasses, the rumble effect almost dissappears entirely because the earpads rest against them and not the side of the head. So this is something people with glasses should take into consideration when thinking about a purchase. I tried the Skullcandy Crusher add IFA 2013 in Berlin for about 10 minutes and I didn't really like the sound. Comfort was good, build quality ok and the vibration interesting, but not really suitable for me since I have to wear glasses. 

Mad Lust Envy's picture

I remember how terrible the Skullcrusher was. After having been pleased by Skullcandy lately, I had high hopes they'd improve with the Crusher. A few short demos, and I was impressed by the feeling of the bass. Now, as far as audiophile headphones go, the Denon D7000 gives me all the rumbly feeling I want (if I still had mine).


Still, I liked what I heard of the Crusher. Just wish they planned to have maybe a rechargeable battery, with a usb input or something. I dunno. These would be great fun for my chillstep and trip hop-centric music listening.

ideopraxist's picture

One thing I really like about these, especially for the younger set, is that you can crank the feeling of bass way up without actually cranking the headphones to super high levels. Without the visceral impact of speakers it seems like many people turn their headphones up much too high. I don't know that I want a pair myself, but I know a lot of people who would probably love them (and maybe save their ears).

Mad Lust Envy's picture

These sound surprisingly quite linear with the bass driver off. Skullcandy could re-release them without the bass driver for a good price, and they'd have a winner, for sure. The bass was still warm and involved.

The treble was a bit too recessed for me though.


I eventually returned them, as the I only used the bass driver on the lowest setting that actually involved them (two notches showing), and it was a bit too hard for my headache prone head. I'm sensitive to some mid bass, and the Crusher hit that very spot that bothered me to no end.

TurbinePro's picture

Just wanted to help :P


Love your reviews


P.S. I am a 17 year old but im into amps and senns and that kind of stuff. Makes me feel old every time someone walks by with one of these on their necks....

Marius07's picture

Hi! How did you remove the earpad on the left side which is non-removable?

GuiiDC's picture

Which one is better, this one or Mix Master?

Vintage_Belle's picture

I Really appreciate this review! I'm 22 and really wanted these headphones but I was worried they would sound bad. My only question is if high notes sound tinny or screechy.I love opera so I'm concerned. If anyone knows of better headphones for this kind of music please let me know! I have a budget of $100.

purpledrank's picture

It was not long ago when I was middle school and I only bought Skullcandys. I thought it was cool. I owned the Skullcrushers before the current model. Thats right I carried around a pair of headphones that had a mini-amp attached to the cord. It was clunky got in the way and needed a battery to work. However it did its described job. The bass was amazing and appealed to middle school me. Eventually I moved onto to the Hesh 2 so I could stop carrying around the extra weight but I finally broke away when I bought the Sennheiser CX 300 II. The bass was not as strong but it sounded so much better. My Hesh 2 quickly collected dust and the Skullcrusher was long gone. A huge improvement came when I got Audio Technica Solid Bass IEMs in Japan. Those crush all of my previous headphones but when/if they die on me I might consider the Skullcrusher but the Shure's IEM for the same price already has me sold.

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