Skullcandy Crusher Wireless Over-Ear Sealed Headphones with Haptic Bass Drivers Page 2


Haptic Drivers
In addition to the standard 40mm dynamic drivers, each ear capsule contains a haptic driver that creates vibration driven by the low frequencies of the music signal. Here you can see the driver within its housing mounted within the ear capsule of the Crusher Wireless circled in red.


Basically this driver uses a voice coil similar to that found on regular dynamic drivers, but rather than being attached to a diaphragm, it magnetically drives a metal slug to create mechanical vibration. The metal slug is suspended in position around the voice coil by a thin metal plate that has what seems to be laser cutouts allowing it to act like a spring and letting the mass move freely up and down. The downside of this design is that the combined mass and springiness of the metal have a very strong resonant frequency (about 50Hz), which makes the action of this driver fairly narrowband around that frequency. The exploded view below is from the previous Crusher model but appears essentially the same as the current driver.


The current driver is a little bit different visually. There is a cover plate over the spring now that may act as an air damper, and the "spring" now appears to be a little lower tension as the cut-out is now a spiral rather than a web shape. Here's a picture of the Crusher Wireless haptic driver element.


The problem I have with this type of driver is that it's fairly narrow band with a very high-Q resonance. I did find the haptic driver of the Previous Crusher to be somewhat "one note" in its response. I does appear Skullcandy did damp and broaden the response somewhat in this iteration.


The above plot shows the response plots of the previous Crusher with its "Sensation55" haptic driver. You can see that there's a strong resonant peak at about 55Hz. The overall width of the elevated response delivered by the driver is about 100Hz going from 50Hz to 150Hz.


The above plots are from the new Crusher Wireless. Here you can still see the resonant peak at 50Hz, but now the elevated response is a bit wider going from about 40Hz to 180Hz. To my ears this new iteration remains too narrow band to deliver a natural sounding/feeling response. Also, it's quite easy to hear that the haptic drivers are underdamped simply by giving the ear capsules a good thump with your finger while worn. The result is a fairly loud and clear low frequency "BOING".

Sound Quality
In general, when the haptic driver is turn all the way down (dark blue trace in the plot above), the Crusher Wireless still has too much bass. You can see from the bass response is about 10dB above base line and the emphasis bleeds well into the midrange to about 400Hz.

The treble emphasis of the peak at 3.3kHz is just a few dB too high, and should drop about 5dB more at 10kHz. This creates a "V" shaped, exciting response that crosses the line of acceptability for me by a modest amount. It's an okay sounding headphone if you like that sort of thing.

The big problem is that the headphone already has too much bass even with the haptic driver off. Once you start adding in energy from the driver the bass really gets over blown. I did run the Crusher Wireless through an EQ and shelved down the bass response about 8dB below 400Hz. Then, when I added in a judicious amount of haptic input (about 10%-20% of the slider), I did find it could add to the experience. But out of the box it's just too much bass for any rational listener...though I suspect these headphones aren't really designed for rational listeners.

Bottom line: I think there's merit in the idea of a vibration transducer to add to the listening experience, but I think the Crusher Wireless is too heavy handed in its approach to be taken seriously.

I think Skullcandy has done a really nice job on the styling, build quality, and comfort of this headphone. It's much more sophisticated and pleasing to my eyes than the garish color schemes of the past. The manual could be a bit more informative, however.

Even with the haptic driver off these headphones have too much bass, and the treble is a bit hot as well. The Crusher Wireless is overly "V" shaped to my ears by a modest margin. Adding in the haptic drive only compounds the problem of too much bass, and it's narrow, resonant response gives it a one-note character. When I EQed the bass response down by 8dB, however, and added in about 20% haptic bass I did think the effect was interesting and possibly beneficial for headphone listening. I do think Skullcandy should continue to develop a headphone of this type...they just need to dial it back a bit.

For those looking for a warm, bass heavy but tasteful wireless headphone, I'd suggest the Sennheiser HD 4.40 BT at $149, and if you can pop $300 for the Beats Solo3 Wireless it sounds terrific and has unbelievable Bluetooth range.

View on YouTube here.

Skullcandy home page and Crusher Wireless product page.

(888) 697 – 5855

gefski's picture

...for exploring and explaining all types of cans. Didn't know what a haptic driver was. My wife says her Apple Watch has that tech also. I expect my grandkids will be "crushing"!

Phoniac's picture

The king of haptic drivers is said to be implemented in the Taction Kannon headphone, covering a range of 12 to 120 Hz. Its dynamic driver seems based on the ATH-M50. Why is Tyll reviewing an obvious failure when the much more interesting stuff is already there?

UtzY's picture

Gosh, I would like to see Audio Technica MSR7SE reviewed by this site (Tyll) with measurements and all. (Because now these headphones are well priced on many places)
+ we can see what different set of drivers do on the same enclosure. :D

UtzY's picture

As for the Crushers...nice and very informative review, as always! Thx!

RPGWiZaRD's picture

You should give Taction Kannon headphones a look, those guys deserve some exposure for their work to bring higher quality haptic experience out there.

RPGWiZaRD's picture

Perhaps the only issue I see with tactile response rather than pure bass pressure is the challenge of bringing an even experience across the whole range, Kannons do this much better than Skullcrushers but still fall short for the Hardstyle genre with its pitched bass response as the varying frequencies put varying amount of vibration sensation to the skin. I hoped it would be solving that issue for me but it's not the lack of frequency response but rather the nature of haptic drivers that would need to work dynamically harder the longer you go from ~50Hz or so which seems to be the most sensitive frequency for the skin.

potterpastor's picture

I really wasn’t looking forward to a Skullcandy review, but I got to say, you did a very thorough job and gave these cans every consideration, and showed why a review featuring haptic drivers might be noteworthy.

mariscosyketchup's picture

First of all, great idea, I'm sure this will act as a gateway review to introduce more people to this website, that's fantastic!

Now, on a more serious note, please try to review the new Final D8000, it's everything you've been waiting for in a headphone, I'm sure it'll shake the wall of fame upside down.

I always hated Final Audio headphones (the Hope and the Sonorous series sound like CRAP), but this new planar isn't even made by the (the company has a new owner and even a different name "S'NEXT"). It's the spiritual successor of the same people Yamaha HP-1 and was co-developed with Yamaha and NH-Labs.

mariscosyketchup's picture

*isn't even made by the same people

ronakpatel's picture

This is a best review about all, thanks for sharing great informative details.Keep sharing it. web design services

MattH's picture

You're doing a disservice to everyone by not reviewing and your trademake passive-aggressive and excentric behaviour towards something as essential and prominent - no, blatant - as the AKG K712 Pro.

YOU'RE JUST GETTING ON MY NUTS AFTER ALL THESE YEARS, and there are no two ways around it or excuses for this kind of weirdness (which is what it is).

Martin.'s picture

You're doing a disservice to everyone by not making your comment legible. Getting on your nuts? I think you'll find most people are uninterested in your nuts.

Argyris's picture

Maybe they're a squirrel? They've usually got dozens of nuts to their name (they keep leaving walnuts in the corner of my front door), and I imagine the other squirrels are very interested in these nuts.

zobel's picture

The nut crusher. It has an attachment that shakes your nuts with low frequencies. You can feel the beat anywhere you place it. Yes,use your imagination. It can be enjyed by either sex.

zobel's picture

These are sold separately, or with headphones. Several models are being offered, some for home use, and some portable 'pocket' types.* The units can attach almost anywhere on your body, where vibrations at low frequencies are best enjoyed, that being a personal choice, and one of discretion, when using in public.

*Not reccommended for use while operating a motor vehicle.

Courtney McDaniel's picture

I like the realization of these headphones and the sensitivity of the bass. It`s exactly what I need and quite an adequate price if you think about it. Well truly convenient for me to listen to music while I'm processing files with the help online pdf editor in addition to the fact that I have many tasks to create documents for signing, I still have to correct other people's mistakes, page numbers and so on. I think you understand that music is the only and main anti-stress that I can afford during working hours ...