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These skull-rattling headphones spoiled watching movies at home for me - in the best way

Skullcandy's Crusher ANC 2 headphones are feature-packed, with more bass, software capabilities, and battery life than their predecessors.
Written by Jada Jones, Associate Editor
Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 on top of its carrying case
Jada Jones/ZDNET

If hearing the name Skullcandy evokes memories of bright, clashing colorways, gaudy designs, and the general vibe of teenage angst, that makes two of us. So, when I saw the latest from the company, Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 headphones, the muted, all-matte black design made me question if they were made by the same Skullcandy I once knew.

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While the new Crusher ANC 2 headphones omit Skullcandy's over-the-top design choices of the 2010s, the company's innovative strides in audio technology are still present, advertising the headphones a patented Crusher Bass technology.

So, how do the Crusher ANC 2 headphones sound, and are they worth your money? Here's the breakdown.

View at Skullcandy

To start, even without the added bass, the Crusher ANC 2 are a great-sounding pair of headphones. High-mid sounds, like guitar riffs, are clear and bright, while low-mid and low-pitch sounds, such as basslines and bass drum punches, are deep and precise. All parts of the song Pressure by The 1975 communicated wonderfully through the Crusher ANC 2's 40mm dynamic driver, which aids in keeping low-frequency sounds clear and low without getting too crunchy.

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Now, let's get into the most exciting feature these headphones offer: Crusher Bass. It's Skullcandy's patented bass technology that promises a sensory bass experience. Basically, you get bass you can both hear and feel, which is where the "skull-crushing" tag line comes from.

Crusher Bass can be adjusted on a slider in the Skull-iQ companion app, or by rotating the dial on the left ear cup. To truly test the feature, I listened to Yosemite by Travis Scott with the volume at high and Crusher Bass set to 100%.

Very quickly, I found out that this was a mistake, as I barely lasted 20 seconds under the high-intensity pressure of the subwoofer-like output. It's intense, it's skull-crushing, and listening to it at that high volume for too long feels like it just can't be good for you.

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But lo and behold, at the lower end of the spectrum, Crusher Bass turned out to be the highlight of these headphones. At the right level, combined with your preferred EQ settings, you can hear the deepest parts of a song with impressive clarity, and you can feel the thump and punch of the bass. 

Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 in their carrying case
Jada Jones/ZDNET

While songs sound amazing through the Crusher ANC 2 headphones, watching movies has been more game-changing. I watched John Wick 4 with Crusher Bass set to 20%, and every blow landed, bullet fired, and car crash made me feel like I was right there in the movie.

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So, while the Crusher ANC 2 headphones can feel like a subwoofer on top of your head, they can also feel like a stereo setup in your ears. And that setup is better than a professional or home theater audio setup because you don't lose any sound to air travel -- or cost an arm and a leg.

The Crusher ANC 2, as the name suggests, are equipped with adjustable noise cancellation, but it does have a hum when turned on and you're not playing music. The hum is indicative of lower-quality ANC (which you're hopefully not specifically buying these headphones for), but these headphones get incredibly loud, even at low volume, so they naturally block out external noises.

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The plushy polyurethane ear cups on the headphones are tight without being too constrictive, so you get a nice seal between your ears and the outside world. Either your ears will need a break, or your cranium will turn to mush before the battery runs out, because the Skullcandy headphones can run for up to 50 hours, longer than the Bose QuietComfort 45, Sony XM5 over-ear headphones, and Apple AirPods Max.

Skullcandy says the Crusher ANC 2 has "Absolutely. Every. Feature," which would be true if they had wear detection. But despite that gap, they have just about every other feature.

ZDNET's buying advice

I recommend the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 to anyone looking for a pair of highly capable headphones that are plenty of fun to wear and use. The Crusher Bass technology is not as gimmicky as I thought it would be; it really adds a huge amount of enjoyment to the Crusher ANC 2, especially when movie-watching.

If you like your music, movies, and TV shows to be so loud and booming that it's almost obnoxious, you'll want to check these headphones out. If you want a great-sounding pair of headphones that can reach the pits of the human hearing range, these are great for that, too.

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