What We Like
- Seriously cool design with a lot of interesting color variants.
- A comfortable, secure fit.
- Sound quality that outperforms a lot of the competition.
What We Don’t Like
- A carry case would be nice.
In the past, Skullcandy got something of an unfair reputation for products that were more concerned with form than function. Admittedly, their equipment always looks the part, but more often than not they have the performance to back it up.
The overall impression that one gets of the Grinds upon first getting your hands on them is that the build quality is remarkably good for the price point. Featuring gold plated jacks, a colorful cable made from durable braided fabric, a metal headband, and comfortable, plush on-ear pillows, no expenses have been spared by Skullcandy to make sure that the Grinds look every bit the part and are enjoyable to wear as well. The over-ear fit is every bit as comfortable as you’d hope for.
Available in five color combinations (black and chrome, white, black and tan, ‘Ill Famed Royal Blue’, and gray/plaid), the extent to which you can customize the look goes far beyond the offerings of most other manufacturers. Real care has gone into the color coordination and overall aesthetic design of the Grinds, and if this is something you value then you are unlikely to find a much better example of it for anywhere near this price.
As you would expect, Skullcandy have included the now standard offerings of an integrated microphone (for making calls and chatting to your digital assistance of choice) as well as a remote control for managing calls, playing and pausing music, adjusting the volume, and skipping through tracks. These buttons are all located on the right earcup. The microphone works well, and is placed in a good location for picking up your voice without a ton of unwanted background noise.
You also have the option to plug a wire in and operate the Grinds in a wired mode. This, of course, is extremely helpful if you find yourself exhausting the full 12-hour battery life. Other than that, there’s not a whole lot else to say. It would have been nice to see a carrying case included, but the fact that Skullcandy has omitted to include one is by no means a serious dealbreaker.
Let’s start by taking a look at how the wireless elements work out. Turning the device on immediately places it into pairing mode which makes it easy to connect the first time around or to new devices as you require. Skullcandy advertises a top range of around 30 feet, but our tests put this closer to 45 feet before we started to hear any kind of stuttering, skipping, or lagging. This is extremely good.
Battery life is very solid, and we found that the advertised 12 hours pretty much holds up at 75% volume. You’ll likely get closer to 11 hours if you opt to turn them up much louder than this, but there’s no real reason to do so. And, of course, you can always switch to wired if you’re on the verge of running out of juice.
We all knew that Skullcandy could deliver on a good design with solid features, but audio quality has been their main point of contention amongst detractors. You’ll be pleased to know, then, that the Grinds will put a stop to that. Lows are pronounced in a way that will definitely appeal to people who like a noticeable bass response, but they never become overwhelming. Mids are warm and rich. Highs are powerful, and effective. All around, it’s a very versatile, enjoyable listening experience.
Skullcandy has done a fantastic job with their Grind Wireless model to raise a powerful counterargument to critics who suggested the brand was all about looks and not about performance. As wireless headphones go, they’re just great.