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.

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