Need a pair of great Bluetooth headphones at a low price? Want them to have active noise cancellation on board as well? Shucks, you drive a hard bargain. But headphone technology has been getting better and better lately while prices are steadily dropping. So, sometimes, you can actually get what you want.
In my in-depth Skullcandy Hesh ANC Review, I’ll take you through all the ins and outs of these true wireless ANC headphones. You’ll find out what their strengths and weaknesses are, and then you’ll be able to decide whether they’re right for you. So, strap in and come along for the ride.
The Skullcandy Brand
If you’re not familiar with this brand, here’s the run-down. Skullcandy is an American company based in Utah. They make audio and accessory equipment like headphones, audio backpacks, and hands-free devices with a young, hip demographic in mind. Their focus is on products that look slick, don’t cost too much, and stand up to a beating.
Skullcandy Hesh ANC Overview
The Skullcandy Hesh ANC are true wireless headphones that, as in the name, feature active noise cancellation. They retail at about $100 these days, marked down from $200 in the past – aren’t you glad it’s a buyer’s market?!
They connect to your devices through Bluetooth, and the version onboard here is 5.0. This isn’t the ultimate up-to-date version (v5.3), but it’s pretty darned close. And it holds a great connection with very low latency. But the headphones have a trick up their sleeve as well.
There’s an AUX jack on the headphones, and they come with a 4-foot (1.2m) 3.5mm cord that, in just a couple clicks, turns them into wired headphones. This can help to preserve your precious phone battery when times get rough.
The design of these headphones isn’t quite clear…
“Are they over-ear or on-ear headphones?” I hear you asking. Well, Skullcandy has kept its lips tightly sealed on this one, and here’s why. If you make headphones with smallish ear cups, they might go over smaller ears, but sit on bigger ones. So, why bother telling people how big their ears should be? The ear cups here are a bit small, and we Dumbos out there may find these sit on our ears a bit.
How about the look?
The Hesh ANCs come in four cool colors. There’s black, grey, mod grey (grey with black finishes), and mod white (white with tan finishes). All look quite sleek and even elegant. They’re casual enough to be your everyday headphones but smooth enough to also be worn at work while still looking (deceptively?) respectable.
The materials aren’t necessarily of the best quality, though…
The construction is your standard metal frame and hinges covered in durable plastic and foam. The foam on the padded headband has a well-designed gap in the middle to relieve pressure, but the foam itself is a bit thin. With one pound of clamping force behind them, these headphones can get a little tight and uncomfortable over long periods of wear, especially for those of us with larger heads.
The ear cups, though, are nice and soft foam covered in the softest leatherette. They’re ultra-cushy, but they do get a bit hot, so expect to need breaks when sporting them in hotter weather.
What about power?
The battery on these headphones gives you up to 22 hours of playback from a single charge. That’s nearly a day, for those of us who are counting. That’s pretty darned spiffy, although not the very extreme of battery reserves (some get upwards of 40 hours).
Of course, that’s with the ANC on. With it off, you can push your battery life up to 30+ hours, and that’s a LOT. A full charge takes just two hours, which is decent. You can also do a rapid charge to get three hours of playback in just ten minutes of charging. In other words, these are some of the best battery life Bluetooth headphones on the market.
And about that ANC…
There are three modes on board for Active Noise Cancellation. There is a full-on ANC that blocks out your environment quite successfully. Then there’s a Transparency Mode that picks up external sounds, specifically voices, and lets them in so you can even have a conversation with these headphones on.
The last mode is simply called Off. This mode saves on battery power and uses simple passive noise isolation to block out the outside. So, that’s our overview of the Skullcandy Hesh ANC headphones. Now, it’s time to dive deeper into the features that set this product apart from its competitors.
Top Features of the Skullcandy Hesh Headphones
For 100 smackeroos, it’s reasonable to expect something better than the run-of-the-mill sound quality you can get from a pair of $10 earbuds. And, with the Hesh ANC, that’s what you’ll get. A pair of nice sounding affordable Bluetooth headphones.
Of course, these over-or-on-ear headphones have bigger drivers (40mm) for a more immersive, deeper listening sound experience, so that’s not a worry. These drivers have a frequency response of 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz, the full range of human hearing, so you won’t miss anything from your music.
The soundstage is decent…
Although, it’s set up, so it sounds like things are more in front of you rather than around you or in your head. The mid-range is where these headphones shine – it’s accurate and detailed. The highs can get a bit sharp and grating at higher volumes, with some instruments or voices getting overpowering.
Likewise, there is a noticeable bass boost of 6 dB in the low end. That gives you a big, booming bass, but it’s not terribly clear and accurate. Bassheads will like the slap, while other users may find the bass overpowering, again at higher volumes.
And, at extremely high volumes, you get a whole lot of distortion. I’m talking 0.84 weighted harmonic distortions at 100 dB listening volume. However, this volume is considered unsafe and should always be avoided anyway. Overall, these headphones sound good and exciting but aren’t the most natural sounding around.
Of course, the ANC makes a big difference to your overall listening experience. The ANC has an overall reduction of environmental sounds of an average of -17.2 dB, which is more than significant. This isolates you from office noises, people talking, dogs barking – whatever. It works seriously well. Furthermore, these are some of the best noise canceling Bluetooth headphones you can buy.
However, there’s a weird catch…
ANC uses a mic to listen to outside soundwaves, then plays the opposite waves into your ears to cancel them out. However, with some low-frequency noises (think about a bus rumble or the hum of an airplane engine), the mic seems to pick up and amplify these sounds, so you end up getting MORE noise in than with the ANC on.
Again, this is only for very low sounds like those I’ve mentioned. But if that is your normal listening environment, these headphones won’t be a good choice for you.
I do like the onboard ANC control button, however. Many headphones don’t have a similarly dedicated ANC mode control button to help you quickly flip to transparency mode when you need it. But these do, and it is quick and easy to use.
Construction and Design
I already talked about the design and construction of the Hesh ANCs. Still, there are a few more things to note. Overall, these headphones are pretty slick looking and comfortable. The design of the headband is well thought-out. The dip in the foam at the peak of your cranium is a nice touch, reducing the pressure on your head and making them more comfortable.
However, the foam could be thicker to let you wear them comfortably for longer. The clamping force is also moderate to strong, which means that people with bigger heads will feel the pressure.
The controls are simple and easy to use. They’re all on the right ear cup, and you have the usual suspects like power and volume up and down (which also control taking calls and track skipping). They also have that ANC button which is handy for flipping between modes.
So, what stands out?
I think the best feature here is the 3.5mm AUX port and the included 4-foot cable. Wireless headphones have their limitations with range and battery power. By giving you the option to turn them into wired headphones in a second, Skullcandy shows they understand the user’s needs. When you need zero-latency (intense gaming situations) or to conserve the battery, you can wire them up and enjoy the benefits.
The headphones come with a charging cable and AUX cable, as well as a bag to fit everything in. They flip and fold down to fit in the bag but are still pretty bulky. And the bag is just made of thin cloth, which offers little protection for the product.
Finally, the connections you can make here are many. Of course, you have the wired mode I just mentioned. When you want to use Bluetooth, you have v5.0 on board for a seriously solid connection and great range.
You can connect these headphones to Macs and PCs and all digital devices (phones, tablets, TVs) with Bluetooth. They’re also compatible with PS5, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox S and X gaming consoles and have a decent built-in mic to let you speak clearly with your gaming team.
Voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant can be reached directly through the headphones without having to grab your phone. Unfortunately, though, there is no app support here to let you tweak your ANC levels of EQ like most other headphones do have. But, other than that, these are some of the most compatible and versatile Bluetooth headphones around.
Skullcandy Hesh ANC Review – Pros and Cons
- Good overall sound with strong, effective ANC.
- Lots of connectivity, including wired connectivity.
- Long battery life and fast charging.
- Fast and easy controls.
- Bass and treble can both get overpowering at high volume.
- No app for EQ and ANC level customization.
- ANC can amplify low-frequency sounds.
In the Market for a Great Pair of Headphones?
We have you covered. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, the Best Bluetooth Headphones for Commuting, the Best AptX Bluetooth Headphones, the Best Lightweight Headphones, and the Best Bluetooth Headphones Under $100 you can buy in 2023.
Also, have a look at our detailed reviews of the Best Headphones for Music, the Most Comfortable Headphones, the Best Headphones for Big Heads, the Best Running Headphones, the Best Headphones with Volume Control, and the Best Headphones Under $200 currently on the market.
Skullcandy Hesh ANC Review – Conclusion
So, what’s the verdict? Are the Skullcandy Hesh ANCs your best bet for a pair of true wireless ANC headphones? Well, it all depends on what you’re looking for.
They’re moderately priced and come with moderate features. They look slick and feel relatively comfortable. They sound decent and will be good for users who like exciting and bass-heavy music. The ANC is very effective, except for low frequencies, which it can actually amplify.
I think that Skullcandy has given us a decent pair of headphones with a good battery and lots of possible connections. But, they’ve also missed out by not providing an app to allow users to customize their sound. So, if you like exciting music, good ANC and battery life, and are happy with factory-standard settings, this might be a good choice for you.
Until next time, happy listening.