Skullcandy Hesh Review
Skullcandy's Hesh over-ears are all form, no function.
While there’s a large segment of the population buying headphones for the aesthetics nowadays, many of the low-cost/high-fashion options are really quite terrible when it comes to the audio part of the equation. The Skullcandy Hesh ($49.99) is a great example of this: though they certainly look cool, they just fail across the board when it comes time to step up.
Comfort Design & Features
Feel free to tote these semi-comfortable cans all over the city—you certainly didn't buy them for their audio quality.
In the short term, the Skullcandy Hesh headphones aren’t all that uncomfortable, though those of you with larger ears are going to have a hard time getting the ear cups to fit the way you’d like. Over time, if the fit isn’t working perfectly, it’s only going to get worse, as these things trap heat like it's their job. Additionally, the clamping force on these are a bit high, so expect some fatigue over time.
About the only thing you can do to customize these cans is to either replace the cable, or buy a pair with the design you want. After your purchase, you’re pretty much set with what you can do to them, so plan accordingly. Though they come with no adapters, you shouldn’t need one for the Skullcandy Hesh, as just about every mobile device we’ve seen uses a 3.5mm (1/8th inch) jack, and the Hesh has the appropriately-sized plug. The cord length is your standard 3.93 foot affair, and the microphone is near where your mouth will be, which makes it a decent option for smartphone use. If someone is calling you, all you have to do is pinch it and it will answer your call (at least it should on an iPhone), and you can use your headphones like a headset for your smartphone.
If you want to stow your cans while you’re out and about, there’s a neoprene carrying pouch that you can drop your cans into. The headphones are a bit bulky, but if you have a messenger bag or backpack, this should be of no consequence if you have room in there. Thankfully, maintenance with the Skullcandy Hesh is easy. If you get a gunky buildup of earwax on the mesh, simply wipe it down with a rubbing alcohol-soaked cloth. If you cable breaks, you can head on over to your local electronics store (or Amazon) and grab a male-to-male 3.5mm audio cable to replace it.
Maintaining bass frequencies, the Skullcandy Hesh drop most of their mids and high notes precipitously after 1kHz. For reference, that means the entire highest third of a piano will sound muffled, as well as almost half of a guitar’s notes. Unless you only care about bass, these are bad headphones in the frequency response department.
The Skullcandy Hesh also show a bit of distortion in higher notes, though you’re unlikely to hear it given the frequency response problems noted above. In addition to a bad frequency response, the wild channel shift to the right ear—in the only frequency range you can hear well—is just frustrating. Terrible, even. You will definitely notice your music sounding louder in one ear than the other in inconsistent fashion.
Due to the materials used and the difficulty in getting a good seal, the Skullcandy Hesh does not offer very good attenuation, and you’ll notice a bunch of noise from the outside world getting into your ear canal. For example, engine noise and low voices will get right through.
These aren't for your ears, they're for others' eyes.
Despite their snazzy looks and general appeal to those youngins who think appearances matter more than performance, we’re forced to play the part of grumpy old geezers and pooh-pooh these headphones. They have very poor audio performance, even for the low price.
However, far be it appropriate for us to try to say that someone’s predilections are somehow objectively bad, as there are all sorts of differing preferences out there, but these headphones have an inexcusably low performance in terms of audio quality. Possibly their only saving graces include the removable cable, and the value brought by aesthetics if that matters to you.
If you don’t care so much about audio quality, and more about how you’re going to look on the street with your slammin’ new cans, the Skullcandy Hesh is probably your go-to for the entry level. However, if you’re looking for at least passable audio performance, you’d do well to keep looking.
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