Many popular genres of music today are all about the bass, and listeners have come to expect the same from their headphones and speakers. While a lot of popular brands offer bass-boosted options in the affordable and mid-range headphone space, none have gone quite as far as Skullcandy. The Crusher series of headphones has been unique for one big reason – the addition of ‘sensory' bass, controlled through a slider that lets the headphones provide as much low-end thump and aggression as you want.
I had reviewed the Skullcandy Crusher ANC back in 2019, and was impressed by this rather interesting way of controlling the bass. However, it was priced at Rs. 27,999 at launch, and ANC performance was quite underwhelming. Skullcandy's new product, the Crusher Evo, promises the same adjustable ‘sensory' bass, but with a new design and at a more affordable price of Rs. 13,999. Is this the best pair of mid-range wireless headphones for bass lovers? Find out in our review.
Skullcandy has, over the years, stayed true to its design style, and the Crusher Evo follows the same language. Although almost completely plastic, the headphones look good and have some interesting elements and materials in use, including the velvet-like cloth at the top of the headband, the spongy padding under that, and the big round buttons. It doesn't have the universal appeal of something like the Sony WH-XB900N which retails at around the same price, but the Skullcandy Crusher Evo does have a youthful and adventurous look.
Although a bit smaller than older Crusher models, the Crusher Evo is still an over-ear headset. That said, the fit isn't as comfortable as that of the Crusher ANC; the Evo feels a bit too snug and heavy at 312g, and didn't seem to sit properly around my ears when I had glasses on, affecting the noise isolating seal a fair bit. However, the padding is soft, and the fit wasn't too bad for listening sessions of up to an hour or so. The headphones can also be folded for easy storage.
On the right side of the Skullcandy Crusher Evo are big physical buttons to control playback and volume, while the left side has the power button, USB Type-C port for charging, 3.5mm socket for wired connectivity, and what makes this pair of headphones unique: the bass slider. This is a freely sliding vertical control that sets the intensity of the ‘sensory' bass, letting you adjust how aggressive and punchy you want the lows without having to go through equaliser settings or software-based controls. How this affects the sound is something I'll explore later in the review.
The headphones are powered by 40mm dynamic drivers, and have a frequency response range of 20-20,000Hz. For connectivity, the Skullcandy Crusher Evo uses Bluetooth 5, with support for the SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs. The lack of support for Qualcomm aptX is a bit disappointing given that it is present on the Crusher ANC, and would have been a useful addition. Included in the sales package of the Skullcandy Crusher Evo is a nylon carry case, a USB charging cable, and a stereo cable for wired connectivity.
As is the case with most Skullcandy headphones and earphones, the Crusher Evo is compatible with the Skullcandy app, available for Android and iOS. Customisation options for the Crusher Evo are limited; you can set up a personal sound profile using Audiodo, and choose between Music, Podcast, and Movie modes for basic audio equaliser tweaking.
It's also possible to link the headphones with Tile for easy tracking and location, but this needs the separate Tile app, as with the Skullcandy Crusher ANC. Neither of these apps will need to be used often, since the controls are not customisable and the key feature of adjustable bass is controlled through a physical slider.
Battery life on the Skullcandy Crusher Evo is claimed to be 40 hours, and the headphones came close to that figure in my testing, with varying volume levels and the bass slider set at different points throughout the review period. This is an impressive figure for wireless headphones, going far beyond what most headsets with a similar feature set and form factor in this price segment offer.
The Skullcandy Crusher Evo makes no audiophile promises, and doesn't claim to be optimised for high-resolution music. Instead, this is a mid-range wireless headset that focuses on one major aspect, the bass. Using the slider, you can set the bass to be either mellow and entirely in line with the headphones' core tuning, or turn it up to a point where the entire headset shakes on your head.
I'll be quick to state that the highest level is excessive by any measure; even the most passionate bass lovers will find it needlessly aggressive, and it will overpower the rest of the frequency range. Even setting the bass slider to around the 20 percent mark provides for punch and attack that is far more than you'd get from most competing headphones. At this level, the bass doesn't quite feel like it's eating into the mids and highs, but rather as though it's coming from a separate driver altogether.
Like on the more expensive Crusher ANC, the Skullcandy Crusher Evo quite literally shakes on your head when the bass is turned up. At moderate levels, despite the obvious intensity and rumble, the bass never felt muddy or imprecise, and held tight for the most part. Furthermore, the rumble didn't spill over beyond the sub-bass range, with the mids and highs completely free of any encroachment.
Listening to Arambol by Astropilot on an iPhone 12 mini (Review), the sound started off as I'd have expected from any reasonably good pair of wireless headphones, but the thump and rumble in the deep beats made for a unique listening experience that not too many competing options can offer.
The tight, aggressive bass was enjoyable throughout, giving this electronic track a ‘concert' feel to a large extent; it pleasantly reminded me of the days when I would be standing next to a large speaker at a live event, taking in all that bass. That said, this bass is targeted straight at your ears, so you don't want to set it too high for long, for the good of your own hearing.
Perhaps the best test track for bass response at different levels is Du Hast by Rammstein. With the ‘sensory bass' at zero percent, something naturally felt missing in this track, but this did prove that the drivers are well tuned and give the entire frequency range enough space to shine.
A slight increase in the bass level brought enough ‘feel' to this classic track, and setting it to the 30 percent mark made for a uniquely engaging listen, bringing to the fore the very aggression that defines it. What was most impressive about the Skullcandy Crusher Evo is that it did all of this without negatively impacting the vocals or instruments.
Looking past the bass, the Skullcandy Crusher Evo offers a sound that isn't quite as detailed and refined as that of the slightly more affordable Sony WH-CH710N. With Bambro Koyo Ganda by Bonobo, the mid range tended to sound a bit piercing at times, while the highs were nowhere near as well tuned as the lows. This track actually sounded best with the sensory bass turned all the way down.
The soundstage only seemed spacious at the bass end in terms of bass separation, but didn't feel as wide and luxurious overall as I had hoped for. This is a great pair of headphones for bass lovers, provided your music tastes are appropriately bass-focused. If you're looking for a more well-rounded and detailed pair of headphones, the WH-CH710N would be a better bet at a lower price.
The Skullcandy Crusher Evo is meant for music, but you can of course use it as a hands-free headset for voice calls if needed. Sound quality on calls was decent enough, with clear voices and reasonably good microphone performance. Bluetooth connectivity was stable enough at distances of up to ten feet from the paired phone.
The Skullcandy Crusher Evo is as far from audiophile-grade wireless listening as you can possibly get, but that isn't a bad thing at all. These headphones are well and truly all about the lows, and bass lovers will enjoy the ability to tweak the bass to their liking on the fly. At reasonable levels, there's plenty of aggression and drive in the sound without the bass getting muddy or overpowering, and unlike the expensive Skullcandy Crusher ANC, the Evo is reasonably priced.
Apart from the above-average bass attack, good looks and excellent battery life also work in favour of the Skullcandy Crusher Evo. This is a good pair of headphones for the price, but if you're looking for something more balanced or detailed, options from Sony such as the WH-CH710N or WH-XB900N might be worth considering, particularly given that both of these offer active noise cancellation which isn't present on the Skullcandy Crusher Evo.