SkullCandy has always been a brand that had some interesting options, recently the Hesh ANC came out. Skullcandy promises ‘wireless simplicity with noise cancelling’. Let’s take a look at what this means in practice.
We find in the package next to the headphones, a 3.5 mm jack audio cable (120 cm), a USB-C cable (50 cm), and a carrying bag. The accessories are branded, which is a nice detail.
We’ve gotten past some Skullcandy options in the past that lagged a bit in terms of build quality. The Hesh ANC appears to be a step forward in this regard. The headphones are made entirely of plastic (minus part of the internal part of the headband), with mostly a matte finish. On the headband and ear cup holder, we see some glossy elements that should have been left out in our opinion. The ear cups themselves have a soft finish where the rest of the headphones are hard plastic.
The headphones don’t crack when we’re stressing things out, the Hesh ANC can be laid flat (interestingly in two directions), and they can also be folded.
The baby carrier is made of nylon on the outside, while the inside is softly finished and has a separate compartment for whatever you want to take with you in addition to the headphones.
The Hesh ANC is offered in True Black for £119.99 from Skullcandy website
The weight has remained nice and low at 228 g. The headband has minimal padding, but it is enough. Memory foam is used for the ear cushions and they feel very comfortable. We noticed that in the beginning, the Hesh ANC is quite tight around your head and that it takes some time to ‘stretch’ them a bit. In terms of size, we think that an average child of around 10 years old could already wear the headset in its smallest position, which is a positive point. There are not so many headphones that are suitable for children that produce a little decent sound.
All in all, I used the Hesh ANC for hours without difficulty during the test period. The headphones score well in terms of comfort.
The controls work with separate buttons that are incorporated in a fixed rubber strip in the typical Skullcandy style. In themselves, they work fine and the explanation of the operation is very simple:
○: Pair (hold for 1 second), turn ANC on / off (press once) and turn on ambient mode (tap twice)
+: Skip forward (hold for 1 second) and volume up (press once),
⚫: switch on / off (hold 1 and 2 second (-n) respectively), play / pause (press once), answer / end calls (press once), assistant (press twice)
-: Skip back (hold for 1 second) and volume down (press once)
The buttons may be a bit too close to each other to really work comfortably. The biggest problem, however, is the feedback that we would describe as mediocre.
We also find a USB-C and jack connection on the right earcup.
The Hesh ANC is unfortunately not supported by the Skullcandy app. A pity, since there are some nice options to tune the headphones. Especially since we don’t have a slider to vary the bass on these bass-heavy headphones, we would have liked to see this. There is, however, support for the Tile app to find your headphones.
According to a statement by Skullcandy, the battery would be good for 22 hours with ANC and 30 without. We have not tested the latter. At half volume with our test playlist, we got past the 23 hours of playtime with ANC on.
The Hesh ANC does not seem to have an automatic shut-off function. So if you accidentally leave your headphones on, you’re out of luck. There is also no possibility to check the status of the battery. The only indication of a low battery life you have is when the LED starts to flash and the headphone voice indicates ‘low battery’.
When you use the Hesh ANC at a slightly louder volume, it is clear that the headphones suffer from sound leakage. Especially when you are in an office or a study area, for example, this is simply a problem.
As indicated, the Hesh ANC offers the possibility to use your headphones via an audio cable. This can also be done passively, so without the headphones being switched on. Although you will of course miss things like the controls on the headphones, ANC and transparency mode. The volume is also somewhat lower. The headphones cannot be used during charging. However, the Hesh ANC supports fast charging; with 10 minutes of charging you can get back to work for 3 hours.
Pairing and general functionality pose zero problems with the Hesh ANC. Pairing is faster than average with our transmitter and we have had no significant problems in terms of malfunctions and failures.
The Skullcandy Hesh ANC has Bluetooth 5.0, which is reflected in the performance. In fact, the Hesh ANC performed above average in our test environment; We kept the signal several meters longer in order compared to the average Bluetooth headphones we tested.
However, incoming audio remains in order for longer than outgoing audio (the microphone). If we walked too far away, we could hear the conversation at a certain point but did not contribute anything.
The average amount of lag is relatively low with the Hesh ANC. Video is generally not a problem anyway because the underlying construct actually compensates for wireless lag on all OSes nowadays, something that usually works fine. Although the lag is less high than we are used to in other uses, we would still not recommend the Hesh for gaming, for example. Unless of course, you use it via the audio cable.
The Hesh ANC is of course bass-heavy headphones. Where this often results in a messy sound where the low, mid and higher tones get understated, we have to say that some good choices have been made for the Hesh ANC. Skullcandy himself says that they tuned the bass to make the bass felt, and that seems to be correct.
The sound across the spectrum just comes through clearly. Perhaps we would say that the highs are a bit exaggerated and the mids sacrifice a little detail compared to what is ideal. Anyway, we are talking about £120 headphones, we should not be too critical. For casual listening, we don’t think many people will notice these shortcomings.
Interestingly, the bass can be felt better with some songs without ANC. It is as if a part in the extremely low frequencies is hit without ANC and not when ANC is on. It’s a problem we haven’t actually encountered before; the fact that the ANC also partially filters out incoming music. That is a miss of the tuners from Skullcandy.
Interesting in a positive way is the imaging of the Hesh ANC. We sometimes had the idea that the sound was just coming from outside the headphones. Normally something that we can experience especially with open specimens, but with the Hesh ANC, the imaging is very well done.
The maximum volume doesn’t rock the eardrums through your head, but we think most will have plenty of what can be gotten out of the Hesh ANC. We notice that some distortion is starting to occur in the highest volume regions, but we are really talking about uncomfortable volumes.
All in all, we have to say that the Hesh ANC has quite impressed us with the sound that the headset produces for under £120.
We have little to complain about the microphone performance. We think the sound quality may even be a bit above average for the price range. We tested the Hesh ANC with an hour-long Google Meet session, and the Skullcandy performed just fine. Conducting an extensive conversation is therefore perfectly possible, although it remains noticeable that a headset is used.
Aside from the previously mentioned signature issues, we can say that the ANC (noise-cancelling) works quite well for headphones in this class. Skullcandy applies a 4-mic technology, two per ear cup, one of which is specifically concerned with filtering out ambient noise while the other is focused on voice.
Low, monotonous sounds are banned perfectly, of course. But also when it comes to less predictable sounds, the Hesh ANC performs remarkably well. As we actually always see with ANC, higher tones are filtered out considerably less in this price range.
The Skyllcandy Hesh ANC has quite impressed us in its own way. The sound is generally fine. The ANC works reasonably well for what you can expect in this price range. The imagine made such an impression on us for the price range that we had to notice it. The microphone was also sufficient for general use. It is at most the build quality that could be improved, but we would not call it really bad either, while it does not seem to have any negative consequences for the user experience.
We can therefore say that the Hesh ANC can be called highly recommended. Well for the people who like bass-heavy headphones, because that is what the Hesh ANC is used to. Since there is no app support, there is nothing else to tune in here.