The Shredders be Happy with Skullcandy's Grind Page 2

Skullcandy_Grind_Photo_Page2 Sound Quality
At this price point I'm not looking for a headphone that does a lot of things right, it's more about not doing anything terribly wrong. Cheap cans sonically fail in one of two ways: they're either too far from neutral overall and sound un-natural, or they horribly over-emphasize some spot in the response making them unlistenable—like a bloated bass or a screeching treble. I know that virtually amounts to the same thing, but there does seem to me to be a difference between something that sounds really weird, and something that causes you to wince in pain when listening.

Fortunately, the Grind does a great job of avoiding these fatal flaws. Overall, I'd say the Grind has a slightly "U" shaped response, with a modest emphasis in both bass and treble. The bass emphasis is even handed but bleeds slightly into the lower-mids making for a slightly thick sound. The bigger problem in the bass is a rather loose and wooly sounding response due to significant bass distortion. Headphone enthusiasts will recognize this problem for what it is and will hear it as the weak point for these cans, but the target audience of action sports enthusiasts will likely just hear the bass as satisfactorily boosted.

The other problem the Grind has is a modest tendency to sound a little hard in the lower and mid treble. Fortunately, this problem is pretty mild and the Grind also has good high-frequency resolution and does a very good job of reproducing things like cymbals without confusing spuria.

The mid-range is well behaved but not particularly noteworthy given the slight bass and treble emphasis. I hear the upper-mids as slightly laid back and a bit discontinuous with the slightly over-emphasized low/mid-treble.

So, the Grind has some problems (what headphone doesn't) when listened to closely, but the more important issue is their overall ability to deliver a satisfying listening experience, and that's where they fair quite well. The bass, though fuzzy, has satisfying heft and extension; and the treble, though lacking finesse, is articulate and resolving. I don't think I've heard a <$60 on-ear, sealed headphone that sounds any where near this good.

Isolation
Though a sealed design the Grind doesn't provide a lot of isolation from outside noise. I actually think that's a good thing for these headphones as active young adults are likely going to be peddling or pumping their way through traffic on various wheeled transport and will benefit from some situational awareness. Please turn the volume down or, better yet, take the cans off and hang them around your neck as you tangle with traffic. Many people are injured and killed each year due to inattentional blindness with headphone listening. Please be careful!

Summary
Getting cheap, durable, and good sounding in one package is one heck of a trick, and Skullcandy nails it with the Grind. The bass is a bit loose and wooly, and the treble a little hard. But these problems are mild, and, for the intended audience, will likely be heard more as a bass emphasis and good speech intelligibility then as problems with sound quality.

At $59 I just can't think of an on-ear sealed headphone that delivers a comparably satisfying listening experience. But this one's going up on the Wall of Fame not so much for its ability to satisfy headphone enthusiasts—though I certainly think it can, and did for me at the price—but more because I think it will seriously deliver for action sports enthusiasts. This is a really good shredder's headphone, highly recommended for the skatepark crowd.

Video
Click here if you can't see the video.

Resources
Skullcandy home page and Grind product page.

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.

Leonidas037's picture

Just got my third pair of PortaPros and finally did the Kramer mod and quarter mod. Really enjoying the sound but was just curious... do these Grind headphones even come close to the sound quality of the PortaPros?

X