A couple of months ago I was offered the opportunity to try out the Skullcandy Crusher, then the freshest release. The Crusher promised a new way to experience bass with its - in a sense it's true - dual drivers. The Sensation55 driver is an actively driven bass extension driver that amps up the bass to give more thump, controlled by the slider you see in the picture above. An AA battery is required, but there wasn't a noticeable difference in weight between both ears.
I've never been a big fan of Skullcandy. I have reasonable respect for them as a personal audio brand, in that their churn out alright audio quality. It's something that I'd give a nod to if my friends asked what I thought about it, but I wouldn't use it myself. In recent years, I felt that they got a little over-focused on the fashion aspect of their products and did the minimum to keep their audio quality and technologies above the water.
The overall sound quality from the Crusher is still not what I'd call desirable. It's crispy, but sounds tinny - a little far away, in other words. There's a whole lot of intimacy lacking in the delivered audio, as if the insides were just being very business-like about getting the goods to you and coldly ignoring emotion in the process. In my case I had a vacuum tube audio amp to salvage the result a little with its signature warmth, but since this is meant to be brought out on the streets (and is portable enough to be by the way), one should assume that that is how it normally is used, not hooked up to a signal-enhancing circuit.
The thing about the Crusher though, is that the powered bass is not so much an aural experience as a physically tangible one. The bass driver generates more vibration than it does actual bass signals, which sort of breathes a new dimension of life to the music you are listening to. Suddenly you are moving, progressing and transitioning along with your tunes. I've heard a whole lot of stuff on it - Jamiroquai, Tchaikovsky, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Zero Sequence (mad props if you know who they are), Verdi, Puccini - and though the bass doesn't always work in favor of enhancing the audio per se, it does sweep you along with the piece.
The obvious downside to all of this is that this otherwise brilliant bass can quite easily cause you a massive headache, because it's essentially a very rapid series of air waves knocked in to you. Repeatedly. At it's highest power, with songs like trance, funk or rock where strong bass beats feature, the Crusher quite literally rattles with each beat, and I'm pretty sure my neighbors can hear some of it, in addition to seeing the headphones occasionally flinch. There is plenty of air within the circuits and plenty of routes for escape, giving a very free flow of air. In fact, whenever I put the headphones on, I have this little habit of pressing the cups against my ears, causing in this case for the headphones to quite audibly sigh, and breathe again when I let go.
If you are a fan of Skullcandy and its sound signature works for you and your music, you can definitely consider the Crusher if you think it's time for an upgrade. The bass level controller is smooth, and the best thing about it is that it caters to the days you've just had enough of the the low-frequency ear-slamming, days you want some serious thumping to get you going, and everything else in between. You suffer from neither excess nor lack, because that is in your hands to control.
The Skullcandy Crusher is available at all leading lifestyle electronics stores at an SRP of S$165.90.