Laptop Mag Verdict
The Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2s are a great pair of headphones for metalheads, emos, and punks, while packing strong battery life and a dense feature set to boot. But that bone-rattling sensory bass is just too much for any other genre to make these a good buy for everyone.
Comfortable, stylish design
Excellent voice control
Great call quality
Stellar battery life
Amazing sound quality for metal…
…but mid for everything else
Limited EQ customizability
Average ANC with hiss
Pricey at $229
Why you can trust Laptop Mag
You’ve seen my tattoos. I do my best to shoehorn them into every picture. It’s a strong (if slightly stereotypical) indication that I’m a bit into the heavier, guitar chugging kind of music, and you would be absolutely correct.
Replacing my personality with animated MySpace layouts, a lip ring and stealing my Mum’s straighteners, I’m part of the family of scene kids across Nottingham. But one thing we can all agree on is whether you’re an emo, goth, punk, or metalhead, the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2s are an ideal option.
Why? Well it comes down to something you rarely talk about when it comes to a good pair of cans — how the music feels (literally).
Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 availability and price
The Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2s are priced at $229. That’s a $70 price cut from when the original Crushers launched, but there is a bit of a gulf between these and what could be considered its competition, such as the $149 Soundcore Space Q45.
Included with the purchase is a case, 3.5mm aux cable, and a USB-C charging cable.
Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 design
Small changes make a huge impact. The Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2s look pretty similar to the original Crushers, but some tweaks make them all the more durable, comfortable, and upmarket in appearance.
It starts with the soft touch plastic that has a nice luxurious texture that you can’t stop rubbing. Up top, that headband has been changed from the faux leather that kept splitting to a tougher fabric. And the clamping force of the band itself has been lessened significantly. Rather than feeling like your head’s stuck in a fence after a long podcast, you can comfortably listen to these for hours on end.
At 11.7 ounces, they are a little heavier than the 10.3-ounce Space Q45s, but with even weight distribution and plus cups, that weight doesn’t bear down on your ears in any way. Everything looks nice from an aesthetic standpoint, and well thought out for comfort and wearability.
Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 controls and digital assistant
The other significant updates come in the form of controls. The button layout remains the same — volume and playback/call control on the right, alongside a switch to turn ANC on or off, and power and the Sensory Bass adjuster on the right.
But the big change is switching that adjuster to a big jog wheel, which allows for more fine-tuned control over anything the tiny, fiddly slider on the older Crushers.
And to keep the convenience train going, Skullcandy has implemented voice control. Not your standard smartphone’s voice assistant, I mean a built-in voice assistant for the headphones themselves, where you say “hey Skullcandy,” and ask them to do different functions. It's convenient for sure, but I can’t help but feel a little embarrassed saying this phrase in public!
Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 active noise cancellation and ambient listening
I’ll start with the good. Transparency mode is great on the Crusher ANC 2s — the world opens up outside your headphone cups without any hiss or noticeable lag, and I could easily hear my friend 20 feet away across the room without any need to take them off.
But the active noise cancellation is average. In loud environments like a coffee shop, the Crushers really struggle to shield your ears from the likes of clinking mugs and the scratch of a fork against a plate, which is surprising given the over-ear construction of these headphones.
And in quieter situations, you can hear a very noticeable hiss that can be quite the distraction when you just want to wire into your work. It’s a rather mid implementation, and I would have hoped for better ANC at this price point.
Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 audio quality
This is where things get interesting. The 40mm drivers sound like a pretty standard configuration, but it's what Skullcandy does with them that matters, alongside the Crusher Sensory Bass.
Without any of the bass-heavy options turned on, the overall experience has a decent balance — not as overly warm as you’d expect from this company. That means you could put a little Tchaikovsky on them and spot the more nuanced instruments amongst the soundstage. They’re definitely not as lively across the whole EQ as the Space Q45s, but to say you can get better balance from this brand is a step in the right direction.
But once you turn on the Sensory Bass, that’s when the Crusher ANC 2s really become divisive. To give you a quick lesson on how this patented technology works, Skullcandy has packed these with powerful bass custom drivers that deliver vibrations to provide a little physical oomph to lower end frequencies. Ever been at a gig and felt the bass rattling through your toes and up your body? It’s kind of like that, but limited to your head.
For genres that revolve around distorted guitars, it’s an incredible experience. Firing up The Ghost Inside’s “Avalanche” and cranking up that bass slider gives you a bone rattling, ferocious experience. Metal simply comes alive on these headphones in a way you can’t find anywhere else on the market.
But the downfall is if you were to try and listen to literally any other genre with this feature on. Firing up one of my go to tracks, Mac Miller’s “2009,” demonstrated this perfectly, as the sharp stings of 808 bass completely overwhelmed practically everything else in the song — even when turned as low as possible.
I would have loved to see Skullcandy give the Sensory Bass mode a little more training across genres, so it could be a lot gentler in different genres that don’t need that extra wallop. What this means is you get pretty average sound across all genres with sensory bass turned off, a fantastically immersive depth for metal when turned on, and a super warm mess across everything else.
Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 app and special features
Previously, the Skullcandy app was quite limited in functionality, but the IQ app is a big step up — providing clean and easy access to a wealth of features. This includes a basic EQ and sound personalization suite, alongside Tile integration in case you lose your headphones.
You can also remap the buttons, control multipoint pairing, and even program the Crushers to trigger the camera on your phone with a button press or voice command. It’s all a lot more helpful than I’ve seen on other free companion apps.
Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 battery life
Well, you’ve got yourself a good’un here. Battery life is simply excellent. Skullcandy claims 50 hours with ANC turned on, and I comfortably hit that with even a couple extra hours tacked on for good measure.
Turning on the Crushers gives you a voice that lets you know what the exact battery percentage is, but in all honesty, this is worry-free battery life territory. Oh, and if you do manage to rinse them, fast charge means you can get an additional four hours of longevity out of a ten minute charge.
Of course, if you were to turn on sensory bass, that does reduce slightly to 45 hours in our own testing. But with everything activated and to still get that stamina, that’s quite an achievement.
Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 call quality and connectivity
The Crusher ANC 2s pack Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity and multipoint technology. That last one has been a godsend for switching on the fly between devices, and I must say that radio is strong — capable of maintaining a connection up to 50 feet away from my iPhone.
And call quality is rather impressive too, thanks to four AI-enhanced microphones on-board, which do a good job isolating your voice from the background noise. Plus, even when things get particularly busy, such as walking alongside rush hour traffic, my voice continues to sound unprocessed or robotic.
So, where does that leave the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2s? Put simply, they are in a bit of a weird niche that makes them great for one particular type of music, but not as hot for everything else.
And at that $229 price tag, you’ve got to be sure about this purchase. If you want good sound quality across all of your music, at the expense of that head rattling immersion, then I would look elsewhere.
But if you love metal, and you want one of the best possible listening (and tactile) experiences, along with intuitive controls and a great app, Skullcandy has knocked it out of the park.
Jason brought a decade of tech and gaming journalism experience to his role as a writer at Laptop Mag, and he is now the Managing Editor of Computing at Tom's Guide. He takes a particular interest in writing articles and creating videos about laptops, headphones and games. He has previously written for Kotaku, Stuff and BBC Science Focus. In his spare time, you'll find Jason looking for good dogs to pet or thinking about eating pizza if he isn't already.