When the Crusher Evo from the American company Skullcandy was launched in September, it was a special feature I just had to sort out. Sensory Heptic Bass appears as a rather special concept, and is not just a creative word for ordinary technology - a marketing trick commonly used in the HiFi industry. I had already noticed that this basic concept has received mixed reception, and when Skullcandy claims to have pursued an extensive further development, the time was ripe to find out what is what.
Skullcandy is by no means a novice in the production of headphones and other stuff for portable sound reproduction. The company was started in 2003 by Rick Alden and Cris Williams, and quickly developed into one of the giants in this sector. A magazine has characterized Skullcandy's products as "the world's coolest ear bud", an identity that it may seem as if the company has actively contributed to achieving. For Skullcandy has a clear profile aimed at some tough sports activities such as snowboarding and skateboarding, and the company logo confirms that these are not headphones for delicate souls who listen mostly to Vivaldi. You never doubt that young people are a priority target group for Skullcandy
Skullcandy today has a rich range of both earplugs and over-head headphones, and the range is constantly renewed.
Skullcandy Crusher Evo
The Crusher series is the most special in Skullcandy's range. And what sets this series apart from regular headphones is the special bass solution. With Sensory Heptic Bass, Skullcandy has chosen a tactile solution to be able to amplify the bass in a rather unique way. They do this by propagating the vibrations of the bass to the skull, which gives a hefty and unique bass experience. But is it HiFi, or just fun? We will return to that in a moment.
Crusher Evo is the latest model in the Crusher series, and reportedly this should be clearly improved compared to previously developed models. On this model, Skullcandy has dropped the ANC, which is present on the top model Crusher ANC. This is gradually becoming a bit unusual for wireless headphones in 2020, but on the other hand, the price of 170 Euro is also unusually low for headphones with obvious premium ambitions, a price which at the time of writing even has been reduced to 150 Euro.
Skullcandy is traded by several of the larger electricity chains in Norway. In addition, you can buy them from Skullcandy's online store. We have not found Crusher Evo in any Norwegian online store, and that is why we operate with a price of 150 euros in this review.
What is in the box?
In addition to the headphones that come in a nice box, you get a USB-C charging cable and an analog headphone cable with 3.5mm minijack terminals. It also comes with a slightly rough bag, with the Skullcandy logo. User guide and warranty note are also included in the package.
Comfort and design
One of the elements that surprised me when I received the review sample from Skullcandy was that these models, despite a strikingly low price, have a distinct premium factor. Although the design is not particularly unique, it has good detailing and high finish. Basically, it's tempting to assume that the design of the Crusher Evo is inspired by Bose's now previous QC 35 II. But here I would argue that Skullcandy has bypassed Bose in elegance, in that they have enriched the expression with a contrasting gray color on a couple of the elements on the headband of the variant in True Black
The Crusher Evo comes in two different colors - Chilli Gray and True Black, and the review sample has the latter color.
The weight of 312 grams places the Crusher Evo in the middle of the field when it comes to weight. But that does not stop the trouser comfort from being above average. Skullcandy has achieved this with a combination of good shape, good cushioning in the ear cushions and headband, as well as a properly calibrated pressure against the ears. Not least the ear cushions in imitation leather give a silky soft and comfortable premium feeling.
The physical operation of the Crusher Evo is almost exemplary. On the left earpiece we find a single button, in addition to a slider. The button is a multifunction button where you turn on the headphones by holding it down for approx. 3 seconds. Hold it down for a few more seconds to put the headphones in pairing mode. And if you hold it down again, the headphones will turn off.
You constantly get verbal feedback on what is happening in a surprisingly formed English. Here we are talking about a female voice with a "stiff upper lip" combined with a silky soft voice that stands in a fairly heavy contrast to the rough carbide-image skull in the logo can give expectations of. One might expect the voice of Alice Cooper.
The slider is quite unique, and is a manual level adjustment for the previously mentioned Sensory Heptic Bass. And it is tempting to characterize it as going from 0 to infinity… More on that later.
In addition, there are two physical inputs / outputs on the left earpiece, where a 3.5mm minijack terminal is commendably supplemented with a USB-C terminal for charging.
The right earpiece has three buttons, where the upper and lower buttons represent the volume up and down at short presses, or the next / previous track by holding it down. The middle button is start / pause, and also works to receive telephone calls. And should you decide to double-press the middle button, there is a good chance that you will be transferred to your personal assistant. That is, Siri, Google Assistant or Alexa, depending on which mobile you use.
All buttons are well separated physically and tactilely, and contribute to easy operation.
Skullcandy has created an app for advanced operation of Crusher Eco and other headphones. And here we find some options that are not standard procedure for most headphones.
We start with Audiodo , which is a smart feature to adapt the frequency response to your normal hearing. Here you are guided through a hearing test that is somewhat reminiscent of the one you may be used to at your favorite doctor or nurse. This test takes approx. 3 minutes, and the measurement is individual for the right and left ear. They result in a frequency correction that will even out hearing abnormalities.
And then of course it is not at all certain that you want this equalization. Maybe you have been expecting reduced hearing in the upper frequencies and like to feel that way? Either way is your choice and you can also save different profiles. In addition, there are three different modes of EQ program, called Music Mode, Podcast and Movie.
Another treat is Tile , a feature that helps you find the headphones if you have misplaced them. You can use the Tile app to make headphones make sound. Or if you are wondering if you might have forgotten them at the lodge, you may find the last registered position on a map. And if you become an enthusiastic large user of Tile, you can subscribe to a Premuim subscription for NOK. 345, - pr. year.
You will also find a user manual in the app, both in writing and in the form of video.
Battery and charging
The Skullcandy Crusher Evo has a stated battery life of 40 hours, which is quite impressive, and at the very top among wireless headphones, regardless of price. I have not measured this myself, but the time given agrees well with the impression I am left with. And then of course the Crusher Evo has the advantage that it does not have an ANC that draws extra power.
Charging time is 1 hour from empty battery to full battery. And if you find that you are out of power just before you go on a trip to the city, you have the option of a fast charge that gives 4 extra hours in 10 minutes.
Connection takes place as usual on wireless headphones via Bluetooth. Version 5.0 is supported here, and as almost always, it provides a good and stable connection.
When it comes to audio codecs, it's good news and bad news. Android users may miss Qualcomm's aptX and aptX HD. On the other hand, iOS users enjoy the fact that it has AAC.
The sound of the Crusher Evo
Before we start with overly critical music listening, it is important to calibrate the expectations in relation to the price of these headphones. For the price is between half and a third compared to the usual selection of wireless headphones. And for the record, I point out that in this round we are playing with Sensory Heptic Bass completely reset.
We start with the sound balance, and here we are basically in a fairly neutral terrain, with well-balanced sound. I still recognize a little caution in the treble combined with a similar cautious weight on the middle bass from my round with Denon's AH-GC30. At the same time, it means that there is a fairly cultivated sound balance here, and in no way a mischievous sound adapted to hefty hard rock.
The detailing is also good, but without being particularly analytical as on the BeoPlay H9i. You get a good and comfortable all-round sound image. The bass is good, but is nowhere near the great and precise deep bass you get with my favorites in that exercise - JBL Club One.
But make no mistake - the Crusher Evo plays good HiFi, and for 150 euros it is even far above expectations.
We play music
What is more natural than playing some Grateful Dead with a pair of headphones that have a skull as a logo? Then my favorite album that I have had with me for half a century is Live / Dead , and it also has good sound, not least considering that it is a live recording.
Good sound also has the recording with Grateful Dead from the concert on March 28, 1981, which was played on NRK's night rock live, and which is also available as a recording on Youtube / Youtube Music. And the Skullcandy Crusher Evo acknowledges with a great, open and well-balanced sound reproduction. If you have taken the trouble to look up this recording on Youtube, you should make sure that you get the best live version of Althea ever, which starts at 55:48. It is also beautifully rendered with the Crusher Evo, although you are sometimes reminded that the bass control is nowhere near as good as on the previously mentioned JBL Club One.
Mari Boine's brilliant album See The Woman also makes a good figure with Crusher Evo. The bass is just as dominant as it should be on this recording without it going awry.
Sensory Heptic Bass - comfort and carry
I start testing this unique bass by setting the lever midway, put on Joni Mitchell's Don Juan`s Reckless Daughter, the volume up well, and wait for Jaco Pastorius' Fretless to strike at 1:46. OMG, this is the mpment where I wish there was a panic button. So far so good, it's just a matter of pulling the lever back to zero in a split second to salvage the remnants of what's left of my skull.
And thus, we may have placed this feature with Sensory Heptic Bass quite precisely in just a few seconds. Because it only has to be admitted right away - this is a lot of fun, but not HiFi. The function is probably more suitable for gaming or film than for HiFi use. But that all right, because we have already stated that Crusher Evo plays HiFi for 150 euros and far beyond, only the lever for Heptic Bass is fully retracted.
And here we also have fertile ground for a small sigh of relief. Because it can really be fruitful to experiment a bit with very small amounts of Heptic Bass also on music for grownups. The only challenge is that there are such dramatic effects, even with small movements on the lever. This makes it difficult to try with marginal results. I wish Skullcandy in the otherwise good menu had a variable where the maximum level of Heptic Bass could be scaled down sharply. A kind of inverted turbo button. It would make it easier to find a good level for regular users who do not want to incur a moderate concussion if Jaco or Marcus Miller should show up unexpectedly.
But again, I must remind you that Sensory Heptic Bass is an optional bonus exercise, and that Crusher Evo basically has great sound for a moderate amount.
Skullcandy Evo is a pair of headphones that provide excellent value for a very modest amount. They certainly don`t have the best sound I have experienced in a pair of wireless headphones, but they have a surprisingly good sound for the price. And in addition, they have good use comfort, and an appealing design that gives me a good premium feeling. You will hardly get more for 150 Euro anywhere.
Read more about Crusher Evo at Skullcandy