The Shredders be Happy with Skullcandy's Grind Page 2

Skullcandy_Grind_Photo_Page2 Sound Quality
At this price point I'm not looking for a headphone that does a lot of things right, it's more about not doing anything terribly wrong. Cheap cans sonically fail in one of two ways: they're either too far from neutral overall and sound un-natural, or they horribly over-emphasize some spot in the response making them unlistenable—like a bloated bass or a screeching treble. I know that virtually amounts to the same thing, but there does seem to me to be a difference between something that sounds really weird, and something that causes you to wince in pain when listening.

Fortunately, the Grind does a great job of avoiding these fatal flaws. Overall, I'd say the Grind has a slightly "U" shaped response, with a modest emphasis in both bass and treble. The bass emphasis is even handed but bleeds slightly into the lower-mids making for a slightly thick sound. The bigger problem in the bass is a rather loose and wooly sounding response due to significant bass distortion. Headphone enthusiasts will recognize this problem for what it is and will hear it as the weak point for these cans, but the target audience of action sports enthusiasts will likely just hear the bass as satisfactorily boosted.

The other problem the Grind has is a modest tendency to sound a little hard in the lower and mid treble. Fortunately, this problem is pretty mild and the Grind also has good high-frequency resolution and does a very good job of reproducing things like cymbals without confusing spuria.

The mid-range is well behaved but not particularly noteworthy given the slight bass and treble emphasis. I hear the upper-mids as slightly laid back and a bit discontinuous with the slightly over-emphasized low/mid-treble.

So, the Grind has some problems (what headphone doesn't) when listened to closely, but the more important issue is their overall ability to deliver a satisfying listening experience, and that's where they fair quite well. The bass, though fuzzy, has satisfying heft and extension; and the treble, though lacking finesse, is articulate and resolving. I don't think I've heard a <$60 on-ear, sealed headphone that sounds any where near this good.

Though a sealed design the Grind doesn't provide a lot of isolation from outside noise. I actually think that's a good thing for these headphones as active young adults are likely going to be peddling or pumping their way through traffic on various wheeled transport and will benefit from some situational awareness. Please turn the volume down or, better yet, take the cans off and hang them around your neck as you tangle with traffic. Many people are injured and killed each year due to inattentional blindness with headphone listening. Please be careful!

Getting cheap, durable, and good sounding in one package is one heck of a trick, and Skullcandy nails it with the Grind. The bass is a bit loose and wooly, and the treble a little hard. But these problems are mild, and, for the intended audience, will likely be heard more as a bass emphasis and good speech intelligibility then as problems with sound quality.

At $59 I just can't think of an on-ear sealed headphone that delivers a comparably satisfying listening experience. But this one's going up on the Wall of Fame not so much for its ability to satisfy headphone enthusiasts—though I certainly think it can, and did for me at the price—but more because I think it will seriously deliver for action sports enthusiasts. This is a really good shredder's headphone, highly recommended for the skatepark crowd.

Click here if you can't see the video.

Skullcandy home page and Grind product page.

1441 W Ute Blvd. Suite 250
Park City, UT 84098