Skullcandy is considered one of the biggest consumer headphone brands in the market. Unlike a lot of their competition they seem to specialise in bringing quality at a reasonable value. We got a hold of the latest Hesh 3 Wireless headphones to see how they stack up. Spoiler alert I bought these myself as my daily driver such is my addiction to Spotify.
As the name suggests the Hesh 3’s are the third iteration of the Hesh range. Do they live up to the Skullcandy name and are they actually good value for money? let’s find out.
First things first, the Skullcandy Hesh 3 headphones are a fairly slick looking bit of kit. Sure enough, they look like the previous renditions but if it ain’t broke don’t fix it as they say. They are a little smaller, a little lighter and the control placement has been tweaked to improve usability.
The build quality is also quite good if you ask me. Yes they are plastic but the padding around the ears and on top of the head is very comfortable. The plastic is also quite durable and doesn’t feel in any way cheap. I guess the reason they chose plastic over a metal framework was to keep the cost down.
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.
On the right-hand side, below the ear standard, you will see the micro USB charging port and the 3.5mm aux jack (ideal for connecting with a PlayStation) as well as the playback controls. The controls include a volume up and volume down button. There is also a central multi-use button, which you can use for calls and playback.
In the packaging, you get yourself a charging cable and aux cable, but no carry case which is a slight bummer but definitely not a deal breaker.
In general, the Skullcandy Hesh 3’s are a well-built set of headphones. If style is your primary reason for purchasing headphones then the Skullcandy Hesh 3 is probably not going to appeal to you. In my humble opinion, they are one of the nicest looking sets around the €100 price point.
When buying headphones comfort is a big deal. For me, I like to zone out listening to my podcasts so that I can concentrate on what I’m doing. Therefore, comfort is going to be key.
The Skullcandy Hesh 3 Wireless headphones offer a nice over ear form factor which is great for comfort. Both the ear cups and in the headband have more than ample padding which was very helpful in keeping the headphones comfortable. I’ve used these walking, in the gym and in work so it’s fair to say they have been tested in most normal circumstances and there is very little to complain about.
Alas, of course, I will have a little whinge. The clamp is tight which is fantastic for isolation purposes, blocking out a lot of outside noise for a quieter listening experience. Having said that the tightness of the headband can be a problem for some. The current design does grip tightly and reports suggest during longer listening sessions people report discomfort. I haven’t had any problems but a mate borrowed them for a day and that was his complaint. I discovered that this can be managed by ensuring the top of your ears fit right into the top of the cup opening. It may be down to the memory foam creating pressure points in places but if like me you have small ears then you won’t have a problem. My best advice here is to try before you buy to be sure the Hesh 3’s are the right fit for you.
Without pissing around too much we know Skullcandy as an experienced brand so it’s no surprise they offer more than decent audio quality. More to the point they haven’t ripped the guts from the old Hesh 2’s and stuck them in a new shell, they have actually gotten a proper upgrade.
The bass is well tuned and defined, it seems they are equipped with a boosted bass sound that will taper off in sub-base areas. The mids are clearly tuned and the low-mids offer enough warmth to make the majority of users happy. Maybe the high- mids could have been boosted a tad to improve vocal and guitar range that’s being picky.
The high frequencies are where these headphones truly shine. They’re clear and crisp, offering plenty of sizzle in the cymbals and vocal sibilance — which is a good thing.
Treble is also surprisingly crisp, far more than is on display in other Skullcandy headphones.
Putting a disclaimer out here. The Hesh 3’s aren’t built for audiophiles, more your average consumer. They have a classic EQ tuning i.e boosted lows and highs with a slight dip in the mids. In the simplest sense, they do exactly what they say on the tin. All in all the Hesh 3 offers a rather enjoyable audio experience.
Would you believe the Skullcandy Hesh 3 wireless headphones don’t come with NFC? Although in their defence at the price they are going for allowing the one-tap-pairing with your smartphone is asking for too much. That leaves us with the now old school method of manually pairing the headset to your devices. Luckily your device should automatically connect to the headphones for future connections if Bluetooth is activated on both the source device and headphones.
You should also remember that you can only connect to one device at a time so you can’t hook it up to both a computer and phone at the same time. Again minor roadblock but not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. The Hesh 3 also has a Bluetooth range of 10 metres which is quite good for something in this price point.
In all fairness for a €100 set of headphones, the Hesh 3 stands up for itself quite well. According to Skullcandy, you should get a whopping 22 hours from a single charge. While it’s not a record breaker by any stretch it’s still better than most of the competition. Now, in reality, I was able to get 19 hours out of them. When you compare this to Martin’s Bose QC 35’s that give you 30 hours of charge it doesn’t look great. Yet, the Skullcandy’s are less than half the price so I’m happy to pay €200 less and still get good solid battery life.
Beyond the battery life, the real news here is that they offer a form of quick charging. 4 hours of playback in 10 minutes of charging. That’s a pretty big deal especially for those that don’t want to wait for ages to listen again or if you’re like me you forget to charge them before you jump out for a run. Again without picking on the Bose headphones, they offer 2.5 hours for a 20 min charge… just saying.
Wireless and other features
The Hesh 3 are Bluetooth headphones, but they don’t offer more special features such as aptX HD and active noise cancellation. If you’re after a solid, affordable wireless set of headphones then you won’t necessarily be wanting these extras anyway. You get the isolation/noise cancelling effect through the snug-fitting ear cups.
Skullcandy has the basics nailed down. Bluetooth stability is very good and as we mentioned already so is the battery life. You’ll hear a voice prompt when the battery is low and on my Samsung S8 I can see the battery level remaining which is handy. Sure you can plug in the 3.5mm if you do run out of juice but why when you can get 4 hours from a quick charge.
The right ear cup as mentioned earlier is home to the buttons that you play/pause and alter the volume. A three-second press skips a track, rather than the usual multi-tap gesture.
As I’ve mentioned before the Skullcandy Hesh 3’s are a solid set of headphones around the €100 price point. Price does have the power to make or break a product. While they make not make you swoon the same way as the Bose QC 35’s or the Sony WH-1000MX2’s both of these are far more expensive by at least double if not triple. If you’re in the market for a set of wireless headphones that won’t break the bank then the Hesh 3 is a real alternative.
It’s almost unfair to pit these against the two heavy hitters but I do so for a very good reason. Yes, the sound quality is weaker. Sure, they are going to be slightly less comfortable. Yes, the range and overall battery life might be weaker but for the huge difference in price, the value for money that Skullcandy is offering is commendable. So if the idea of walking the streets or going to the gym wearing a set of €300-400 brings about nervous sweats, then give proper consideration to the Skullcandy Hesh 3’s.
Skullcandy Hesh 3: The Verdict
The Hesh 3 wireless headphones are a solid bit of kit. They are well designed in general, offer decent comfort and they sound nice too. All for under €100 in fact at one point I saw them and carry case on Amazon for under £80 which is pretty sweet if you ask me. It’s important to remember that they aren’t going to beat the big guys but for anyone looking for quality on a budget then these are by far and away the best option.
As Martin has alluded to before with so many phone manufacturers moving away from the audio jack, we have little choice but to adopt wireless audio. It’s unavoidable so it’s best we all start looking for the best wireless audio we can. In my opinion, the Skullcandy Hesh 3 is just bloody great value for money.