Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 review: Head-rattling bass meets energetic audio

Totally addicted to bass? These cans deliver more than most can likely handle

Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Tom's Guide Verdict

Bass lovers will definitely get their fill with Skullcandy's Crusher ANC 2, a stylish pair of headphones which deliver energetic (and sometimes overwhelming) audio. The bass boost will even bring new life to older, quieter recordings on occasion. That said, while the Crusher ANC 2's noise canceling does a decent job with noise in the lower register, higher pitch sounds are barely muffled. It's also worth noting that the extreme bass on offer can drown out finer details, so audio purists will probably want to steer clear.

Pros

  • +

    Unrivaled bass response

  • +

    Excellent battery life

  • +

    Stylish design

  • +

    Adjustable bass wheel

  • +

    Built-in Tile functionality

Cons

  • -

    No on-ear detection

  • -

    Sound leakage at high volume

  • -

    Average noise-canceling

  • -

    High-end codecs not supported

Why you can trust Tom's Guide Our writers and editors spend hours analyzing and reviewing products, services, and apps to help find what's best for you. Find out more about how we test, analyze, and rate.

Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2: Specifications

Price: $229 / £199 / AU$449

Colors: Black

Battery life: 60 hrs (ANC off) / 50 hrs (ANC on)

Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2 (codecs: SBC and AAC)

Durability: Not specified

Size: ‎10.43 x 8.5 x 2.72 inches / ‎26.5 x 21.6 x 6.9 cm

Weight: 7.8 ounces / 332 grams

If, like me, you miss the bass-heavy Beats By Dre headphones that were all the rage before Apple's acquisition of the company, you may find yourself gravitating towards a product like Skullcandy's Crusher ANC 2 — noise canceling cans that promise an extreme sensory bass experience.

And yes, they certainly do what it says on the box. These headphones will rattle your brain and vibrate your face, stopping just shy of making your teeth wiggle. Yes, the 40mm drivers and additional haptics offered by the Crusher ANC 2 will provide an enormous amount of bass, though it might be too much for even the most hardened club rat. 

Still, Skullcandy's new cans bring an enormous number of features to the table, starting with the aforementioned bass response, and continuing with incredible 60-hour battery life, built-in Tile tracking, a suite of EQ and sound personalization settings, voice controls and more. 

Admittedly, though ANC is right there in the name, the Crusher ANC 2's noise-cancelation chops are just okay, offering passable blocking of lower-pitched noises and little else.

So while the Crusher ANC 2 probably won't land on our list of the best noise-canceling headphones, there is definitely an audience out there that will appreciate the immense bass and loudness on offer.

Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 review: Price and availability

Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Skullcandy's Crusher ANC 2 headphones are available to purchase now priced at $229 / £199 / AU$449. Though certainly not cheap, they are more affordable than many other premium ANC headphones on the market, undercutting the likes of Sony's WH-1000XM5, which are often discounted to around $300 / £300 / AU$500. 

In terms of a closer comparison, the Crusher ANC 2 sits in the same rough price range as Sony's previous-gen WH-1000XM4, which you can currently pick up for around $244 / £235 / AU$439.

Globally, you can purchase the Crusher ANC 2 directly from Skullcandy's own website, as well as from Amazon. In the US, you can also buy them from the likes of Walmart and Best Buy, while in the UK, you can pick them up from major retailers like Curries and Argos. In Australia, Skullcandy's Crusher ANC 2 are available to buy from JB Hi-Fi and Bing Lee.

Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 review: Design and features

Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

With a name like Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2, you'd be forgiven for assuming that these over-ear cans would sport a brash, in-your-face design, but the reality is far more subtle and, dare I say it, tasteful.

While comprised mostly of plastic, which has the capacity to look cheap, the Crusher ANC 2 feels more premium in the hand thanks to its matte black finish and silky smooth touch. In terms of accents, the headphones offer a slightly different (but still very smooth) texture on the middle section of the headband, along with a small Skullcandy logo embossed in shiny plastic above both ear cups, and an orange power button for a bit of added zing.

The Crusher ANC 2's headband also features slide-down arms, allowing for additional length, along with rotating earcups that can lie perfectly flat, and hinges so you can easily fold them away for storage in the included (and rather sturdy) carry case.

In terms of pressure, the Crusher ANC 2 is quite comfortable, offering just enough tension to stay firm on your head without feeling too tight. This makes them well-suited for long listening sessions, assuming their crazy bass response doesn't wear you out. Each earcup also features padded memory foam adored in soft faux leather for added comfort.

Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

While the Crusher ANC 2 offers no touch controls to speak of, there are a number of physical buttons and other elements to interact with. The aforementioned orange power button is situated at the back of the left earcup, with a wheel placed right underneath that lets you scroll through different levels of bass intensity when the cans are in Crusher mode. The left earcup also holds a USB-C port for rapid charging, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Meanwhile, over on the right earcup, you'll find three assignable buttons and a sliding switch, which may be too many for those who prefer a more minimal approach. 

By default, the top button raises the volume, while the bottom button lowers it. The middle button offers a bit more functionality, allowing you to play and pause music, as well as answer and end calls. On top of this, a three-second hold will activate Spotify Tap, essentially telling Spotify's algorithm to play you a random song based on your listening habits. As for the sliding switch, this lets you flick between ANC On, ANC Off and a 'Stay Aware' transparency mode.

Along with support for voice assistants like Amazon Alexa, iHeart and TuneIn, the Crusher ANC 2 has its own voice control commands. These can be launched with the phrase "Hey Skullcandy", which is something I wouldn't be caught dead saying aloud on public transport.

Although the Crusher ANC 2's feature-set is sizeable, there are a couple of areas which could've seen a bit more attention. For starters, these cans seemingly won't turn off on their own — on more than one occasion, I've folded and stored the Crusher ANC 2 in its included carry case only to find them still switched on and connected to my phone over an hour later. On-ear detection would've also been appreciated, as music will just keep playing if you take these cans off your head.

Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 review: Sound quality

Skullcandy's Skull-IQ app

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

There's no denying the Crusher ANC 2 delivers powerfully in the low-end, boasting 40mm drivers that are operating in the frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz, and a set of additional haptic drivers, though it may not be the kind of bass you're necessarily after.

While there's deep, clean, punchy bass to be heard from the Crusher ANC 2, it often magnifies low-frequency effects (LFE) that were never meant to be so overpowering, resulting in intense, prolonged vibration that can be a little exhausting, even in short listening sessions.

Of course, to get the full effect of all that bass, you'll have to enable Crusher mode within the Skull-IQ app. Once enabled, you can cycle through ten levels of Crusher intensity, either via the app, voice command, or from the handy scroll wheel situated at the bottom of the left ear cup.

Even with the intensity slider at bare minimum (meaning 5%), Crusher mode delivers a significant amount of sub-bass, and will likely be more than enough for most bass-heads. That said, the quality of the Crusher ANC 2's bass response is ultimately determined on a track-by-track basis.

Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The song Money Trees by Kendrick Lamar proved a perfect showcase for the Crusher ANC 2, with the song's laidback beat enhanced by a deeper sense of bass and a pleasing rumble, giving you the feeling of cruising in a lowrider with a pounding subwoofer. The only thing missing from the equation is the bounce of hydraulics.

While listening to the song Ghost Ride by Crosses, a wall of low-end sound kicks off around the 1:08 mark, sending the Crusher ANC 2 cans into full vibration mode until the walloping bassline returns at 1:29. From here, the introduction of mild distortion to the beat ends up overwhelming the track and sending the headphones into head-massager territory.

For fast, bass-heavy dance music, the rumble effect can go a little haywire, as was the case during Dizzee Rascal and Calvin Harris' party anthem, Holiday — here, the cans struggled to keep up with the beat, leading to inconsistent vibrations that were ultimately distracting.

Thankfully, the Crusher ANC 2 cans still offer a decent amount of clean bass with Crusher mode disabled, providing a balanced sense of oomph that's comparable to the likes of Sony's WH-1000XM5 — it won't blow your hair back like the Beats of old, but it will send you into an involuntary head-nod. 

Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Funnily enough, where Crusher mode might be most effective is with older, quieter recordings that instantly benefit from the additional resonance, making them sound more modern in the process. Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) is the very definition of a classic hip-hop album, albeit a little quiet by modern standards due to its lo-fi, DIY origins, however, the Crusher ANC 2 beefs it up significantly.

Crusher ANC 2 also performs well with warmer-sounding songs, giving a wonderful sense of added depth to the guitars and drums on Creedence Clearwater Revival's Have You Ever Seen The Rain, and Fleetwood Mac's Go Your Own Way.

That said, the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2's emphasis on the low end comes at the expense of dynamics, with bass often pushing higher-end frequencies into the background, making them tougher to make out. 

The overall EQ can be adjusted somewhat in the Skull-IQ app, although not extensively. To get the best result, creating a Mimi Sound Personalization profile in the Skull-IQ app is recommended, as it'll fine tune your headphones to better suit what you can actually hear.

Still, their lack of support for high bitrate codecs, such as LDAC and AptX, mean the Crusher ANC 2 headphones aren't particularly well suited to the needs of audiophiles. Then again, we're fairly certain Skullcandy isn't aiming these cans at that crowd, anyway.

Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 review: Active noise canceling

Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

As with most over-ear headphones with cushioned earpads, a good deal of external ambient noise is muffled at the outset. Of course, that won't be enough to block more persistent noises, which is where the 'ANC' part of the Crusher ANC 2's name steps in to help.

Despite boasting a four-mic active noise-canceling system, Skullcandy's Crusher ANC 2 won't block out anywhere near as much external sound as you might expect at this price range. 

While it does a good job of dampening lower-end frequencies, higher-pitched noises are barely blocked at all. For instance, typing on a keyboard with ANC On will noticeably reduce thump sounds, but will leave in all the clacking noises. 

We also didn't notice much difference between the Crusher ANC 2's 'Stay Aware' transparency mode and having ANC switched off entirely. There is, of course, one exception to this: phone calls. Stay Aware mode does let you hear yourself more clearly during calls. Regardless of which mode you're set to, calls on the other end of the line sound just fine.

Still, if all you want is a pair of headphones that will block out the humming noise on planes, trains and automobiles, the Crusher ANC 2 can do that at a reasonable level.

It's also worth noting that the Crusher ANC 2 is prone to a significant amount of sound leakage at high volumes — something to consider if you don't want everyone on the bus finding out about your Whitney Houston obsession.

Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 review: Verdict

Skullcandy's Crusher ANC 2 promises extreme bass and it certainly lives up to that promise. If you're sick of wimpy headphones that suffer from a lack of oomph, the Crusher ANC 2 may just be the answer to your prayers. These cans are absolutely capable of clean, thumping bass, but not across the board. Excessive vibration and occasional distortion can lead to a less than perfect listening experience, depending on your EQ settings and song choices. Battery life on the Crusher ANC 2 is among the best we've seen on a pair of wireless headphones, and their extensive feature set is excellent, though their noise-cancelation leaves a lot to be desired.

More from Tom's Guide

Stephen Lambrechts

Stephen Lambrechts is the Managing Editor of Tom's Guide AU and has written professionally across the categories of tech, film, television and gaming for over a dozen years. Before Tom's Guide, he spent several years as a Senior Journalist at TechRadar, had a brief stint as Editor in Chief at Official Xbox Magazine Australia, and has written for such mags and sites as APC, TechLife Australia, T3, FilmInk, AskMen and IGN. He's an expert when it comes to smartphones, TVs, gaming and streaming. In his spare time, he enjoys watching obscure horror movies on physical media, keeping an eye on the latest retro sneaker releases and listening to vinyl. Occasionally, he also indulges in other non-hipster stuff, like hiking.