Skullcandy is not a brand I would usually touch. The last set of them I had was the original Skullcrushers way back in 2005/2006. Those things were enjoyable with the vibrating subwoofer like an active bass for all their lack in build and technical prowess. After the Skullcrusher, there weren’t any headphones from their lineup that piqued my interest. The company became a somewhat tacky fashion brand with a focus on style over performance. After finishing off the Noontec Hamo Wireless review last week, many readers got in touch asking about our thoughts on the Skullcandy Hesh 3 Bluetooth headphones.
What is the Skullcandy Hesh 3?
The Hesh 3 is a set of over-the-ear Bluetooth headphones competitively priced at the low to mid-end of the market. They are readily available online and in most high street electrical stores in the US and Europe. They claim a 22-hour battery life that would put it up there with some of the best in its class, and they also make the very dubious claim of having the best sound quality in class.
Build quality is pretty good; it is about what I would expect to find for the price. The headphones are constructed mainly from plastic, but it’s of decent quality and free from cracks and creeks. The most important part of the headphone, the headband, is reinforced by a metal band that inspires even more confidence.
Buttons are nice and chunky and provide good tactile feedback. I like that they are sleeved in a soft rubber that will stop dust from getting trapped as it does on Bose’s QC35.
The earcups have a nice soft-touch matte finish that adds a more premium feel and looks to them. Swivel points on the earcups are also quite robust, and we like that they allow the Hesh 3 to be laid flat on a table.
Earpads are a good quality synthetic protein leather that looks as good as new after a couple of months of testing on our set. The one thing I couldn’t discern when putting together this review is if the earpads are replaceable. Sure, you can take them off, but I couldn’t find any aftermarket parts for sale. Not a killer at this point but something to keep in mind.
Let’s face it, Skullcandy has, for the past decade, put out some of the worst-looking headphones the market has ever seen. The Hesh, on the other hand, is far better looking. They are available in four different colors (Black, Blue, Red, Beige) all look pretty good, but we went with the black model because they are the cleanest looking.
They have a simple and clean finish to them that deceptively hides how bulky they actually are. On the other hand, they feel small, but they have a big presence and sit quite far off the head on the head. Perhaps some tapering of the earcups would have made for cleaner lines.
The finishing materials such as the matte soft-touch plastic on the earcups and good quality pads also add a touch of class. On the whole, they are far better looking than most headphones at this price point, but they are by no means a good-looking set of cans.
Bluetooth and Battery life
In our testing, we found that whilst the Hesh 3 didn’t live up to its bold claim of 22 hours from a single charge, it did come pretty close. We got around 19 hours when listening from our phone at moderate to high listening levels.
You get standard Bluetooth on the Hesh 3, and you won’t find the higher quality Aptx codec. The range was good, taking about 60ft before breaking up in a clear line of sight with our device. It should also be noted that you can only connect to one device at a time and that you won’t have the ability to hook it up to both a computer and phone simultaneously.
The Hesh 3 aren’t very comfortable headphones if you intend to wear them over a long time. High clamping pressure and a build-up of heat on the ears were two issues I faced during the period of time I spent reviewing them.
Despite not being a set of noise-canceling headphones, the Skullcandy Hesh 3 does a great job of isolating you from external noise. When commuting, the clamping pressure mentioned above becomes a bonus as it helps create a solid seal over the ears and block out unwanted noise.
It is also worth noting that there is minimal sound leaking from the earcups even when playing music back at moderately high volumes.
If you like hard hitting bass and don’t consider yourself an audiophile, you will love the sound of the Hesh 3. Yes, it might not be as refined as the notes, but it has the ability to throw out a lot of bass quantity.
Everything else is pretty much what I would expect from this sort of headphone. Enough to get by with no glaring flaws but not enough to convince a headphone collector to pick one up. Its sound is aiming to supply the masses and has a distinctly consumerish sound to them.
Highs are rolled off and very laid back. You don’t get a lot of sparkles, and that makes them.
The midrange is actually ok it’s smooth and warm and lacks detail that you find in higher-priced cans, but it does a solid job of recreating male and female vocals. Strings would benefit from having a faster response, but as the midrange stands, it should work well for most modern music genres.
Bass hits hard, and it is definitely a standout feature of the Hesh 3. What it lacks in refinement makes up for it with quantity. Bass drops on various EDM tracks from Skrillex and Infected Mushroom sounded pretty damm good and definitely got the heart pounding. There is a slight bleed into the lower mids, but you would expect that from something that goes so hard on the low end.
The Hesh 3 is the first decent Skullcandy headphone in years, and if you are the right buyer (Someone who likes a lot of basses and is on a budget), then these might be right up your street. If you are looking for a bit more refinement, then I suggest trying out the Noontec model we mentioned above, or the Koss BT539iK would be an excellent alternative.
All in, the Hesh 3 is a solid headphone for the right person; it has the good build quality and killer battery life. Without a doubt, it is Skullcandy’s best headphones to date.