Alex Reviews a Headphone: Skullcandy Grind Wireless
UPDATE(12/15/16)! I’ve learned a few things about this headphone’s pads and drivers. You can read the full details HERE. I’ve also updated this article to reflect that info.
Almost a year ago, I reviewed the original Skullcandy Grind. They were quite good! A truly phenomenal headphone value. 60 bucks of awesome sound and build quality.
Now there’s a wireless version. It’s 90 bucks. It is also quite good! Here’s a picture of what they look like I borrowed from Skullcandy’s website.
As you can see, this new wireless model looks just like the original. Unless of course, you’ve never seen the originals. I could tell you that the first Grind(tm) looked completely different and you’d totally believe me right?
With these headphones, you get every dollar you spend.
The Grind Wireless features a solid metal headband, donut-style ear pads, nice fake-leather materials and stitching, 30mm “REX40” custom drivers, Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity, 12 hours of battery, removable pads (Don’t do this it’s so hard to get them back on!) and an optional wired mode. The wire, just like on the original Grind, is a non-proprietary 3.5mm cord. So really, you could use any wire you’d like. Even a stupidly long 10-footer. Go ahead! I won’t even tell on you.
You can’t take phone calls in wired mode on these, but you can over Bluetooth. You can pair exactly one device at a time. It has voice prompts to tell you when you connect successfully, but no fancy device-switching functions. You have to manually connect to a new device if you want to switch between say, a phone and laptop. It takes longer than unplugging and plugging in a cord would take, which feels ever so slightly ridiculous.
But hey. These are 90 bucks! They’re built like a tank…a stylish tank! The materials are nicer than the price and the branding is subtle. These don’t scream at nearby pedestrians, even in their more garish color options. How do they feel on the head? Quite nice. The headband pad has a small dip in the center to help relieve pressure on the center of your dome. The ear pads have little holes in them to allow sound to escape, and to make them breathable. These little holes are also responsible for the one negative of this headphone, which I’ll get to later. However, they don’t get as sweaty as other headphones.
They’re an on-ear design, so potential for ear fatigue is high, and after a long session your ears might feel a little pinched. Take a break every so often! As on-ears go, these are some of the most comfy and easiest to properly place on your head. (I wish that more headphones came with a manual explaining how important head positioning is).
The sound is stellar, just like the first Grind. Grinds. Ground? Whatever.
Sound is just to the exciting side of balanced, with a slightly bright feel overall. The treble stops just short of being harsh. The bass is whompy and present and well-extended into low frequencies, but these are nowhere near as bassy and warm as certain other popular consumer headphones. I really like how they sound. They sound more expensive and more refined than you’d ever expect from their looks and price. A true winner for value-conscious audiophiles, with enough fun for the less- critical listener.
Here’s the one downside mentioned before: the little holes that help the ear pads breathe also contribute to a lack of isolation and leak prevention. These are much less isolating than other on-ear headphones. They still provide enough isolation for moderately noisy environments (I’m in a cafe with them right now), but you should be aware of this before buying if isolation is your thing. If you crank them all the way (and they are sensitive enough to get loud) the people around you will definitely know.
I couldn’t tell a difference between the wired and wireless modes, as far as audio quality. The wireless receiver supports Bluetooth 4.1, so that might have something to do with it. Your sound quality may vary if your playing device was made before say, the last few years. The control buttons for wireless operation are a little big and silly-looking, but they’re easy to distinguish with just a finger or thumb. They have a cheap clicky feel, and are the only thing that doesn’t seem 100 percent premium about the headphones.
Shockingly, even though these contain a bluetooth receiver, additional buttons, and a battery, they barely weigh anything more than the original Grinds. They’re super solid, and I toss them in a bag without fear.
The original Grind is the only headphone I’ve ever bought twice because I wanted two different colors. They were so cheap and nice-sounding and solid, and it was nice to take a headphone out in public without worrying about breaking them. If they ever did break, I would have bought another. This new model is a little more spendy, but still cheap enough that they’re easy to take out without any fear. Skullcandy provides a one-year warranty.
The Grind Wireless kept everything good from the original, added Bluetooth and a couple buttons, and comes in new colors for only slightly more money. If you want the cheapest good-sounding Bluetooth headphone, this is it. That it doubles as a wired headphone is just icing on the cake. That it’s built like a tank is crazy and I’m not sure how this product exists.