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Hands-on review: Skullcandy Crusher ANC Bluetooth headset

05 Feb 2020

I’ve reviewed a fair number of headsets, usually of the gaming variety, but I can’t say that I’ve ever tried a pair with active noise cancelling. Skullcandy’s Crusher ANC Bluetooth headset is a stylish bit of kit incorporating active noise cancelling and a few other surprises.

Active noise cancelling works using a microphone to listen out of ambient noise and then outputting an opposing wavelength, effectively cancelling out background noise. Anything below the frequency of a human voice tends to be shut out. So, you are still, unfortunately, going to hear the kids screaming at each other. 

Another stand-out feature, which is new to me, is the optional, and adjustable, haptic feedback. As a life-long fan of bass, this feature, that Skullcandy calls Sensory Bass, vibrates the earpieces to match the bass sound, allowing you to “feel” the bass. I kind of like it, even though I feel it emulates having your volume turned up too much.

The headset’s sound quality is superb. And, with the active noise cancelling, I didn’t feel the need to crank the volume up high. The Sensory Bass at a moderate setting emulated an eardrum shattering audio experience, without actually shattering my eardrums. Of course, you can max it all out with the volume and vibrations taking me right make to my clubbing days standing right next to the speakers.

From a practical point-of-view, I found the headset to be an incredible addition to my PC gaming setup. In the Sydney heat, the gaming review PC’s cooling system is working hard to chill all those tweaked components. Whilst I have a top performing PC, it can get noisy in the summer months. But, with Skullcandy’s Crusher ANC, the active noise cancelling completely shuts out PC case fan noise, enabling even the most subtle sounds to be clear and crisp without a fan droning in the background. To be honest, it’s going to be difficult going back to gaming with a regular headset.    

I’m certainly not groovy and extrovert enough to wander about sporting such a beautiful headset for general mobile phone audio use. I’m sure, however, that many of you would have no qualms showing off what has to be one of the stylish headsets I’ve worn. 

The Crusher ANC is available in black and red. I was sent the red to test, a deep burgundy red, with soft leather-look cushions. The headset folds up to fit in a neat-looking protective zipped travel case that has a space for the included audio jack and USB-C charging cable, as well. 

The headset is well constructed. Whilst initially I was concerned that was a bit flimsy, there is a flexible metal strip running between the cups that give it a bit of reinforcing. Overall, the headset has a nice finish and feels a lot less plasticky than other headset offerings.   

Using a downloadable mobile app, the headset audio can be tuned to create a personal sound profile, just for you. Whilst I was able to pair the headset with my phone, the app couldn’t find the headset. You may have better luck.

Being Bluetooth, the headset does not come with a wireless dongle, so your devices will need to be Bluetooth compatible. This shouldn’t be a problem for mobile devices, but if you want to use the headset with a PC, you may need to check that it supports Bluetooth. If it doesn’t, you can pick up a USB Bluetooth dongle for under $20. You can also use the included wired audio jack.

The Skullcandy Crusher ANC is not cheap at A$599.95/NZ$599.95, but unlike many prestige-priced headsets, Skullcandy are offering some premium features. The active noise cancelling and haptic bass feedback are so effective that you’ll wonder how you coped without them. Be it for use with your phone around town, on an aeroplane or gaming on a PC/console the Skullcandy Crusher ANC offers a fantastic audio experience.