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Skullcandy Hesh ANC
December 15, 2020
Original: $134.99 USD
August 2022: $89 USD
19 x 20 x 4 cm (headset)
4 x 6 cm (ear pad interior)
Skullcandy wants you to know that you don’t have to “flex” with expensive cans to enjoy active noise cancelation (ANC). Though it appears fairly plain, the Skullcandy Hesh ANC sets out to rival pricier noise canceling headphones. We spent a week with the Hesh ANC to find out if the headset succeeds.
Editor’s note: This review was updated on June 23, 2023, to add the Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 to Alternatives.
Anyone who wants over-ear headphones with noise canceling, but doesn’t want to pay a fortune can pick up these over-ear cans. They compact easily for travel and are more flexible than many flagship ANC headphones. If all of this sounds appealing to you and you’re a bass head, then this headset is tailor-made for you.
What’s it like to use the Skullcandy Hesh ANC?
The Skullcandy Hesh ANC is an over-ear noise canceling headset made of plastic, with a memory foam cushion on the band and thick memory foam ear pads wrapped in faux leather. The ear pads fit snugly but are comfortable around my ears. Anyone with bigger ears may have difficulty with a proper fit. Interior ear pad dimensions measure just 40mm by 60mm. For comparison, Sony WH-1000XM4 ear pads are about 50mm by 70mm.
On the right ear cup, you’ll find everything of interest. There’s a row of buttons to control media playback or answer calls, and below that, you’ll find a recessed port that houses the USB-C input and headphone jack. Unlike the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, you don’t get button and touch controls. Instead, the Hesh ANC is a tactile-only experience.
Skullcandy includes a 3.5mm jack cable for wired listening, as well as the shortest USB-A to USB-C cable I’ve seen. It also comes with a thin fabric carrying pouch. The pouch won’t protect from a tumble down the stairs, but it prevents the plastic ear cups from scratching up too much.
Track your Skullcandy headphones with Tile
Tile tracking integration appears on the Hesh ANC, which we’ve seen with more modern headsets like the Skullcandy Grind Fuel. You can pair the Hesh ANC to the Tile app, so you are always able to track it down, whether you left it on top of the fridge or on the bus. Tile needs to use location data to do this, so if you’re extra careful about privacy, pass on this feature.
How do you control the Skullcandy Hesh ANC?
The Skullcandy Hesh ANC has controls on the right ear cup, with a hollow circular button as the ANC button, a plus and minus button for volume up and down, and a multi-function button between the two. All buttons have a rubberized coating to help differentiate them from the headphone’s plastic. Our table below illustrates all of the buttons’ various functions:
|Single press||Hold (1s)||Double press||Hold (2s)|
|Double press||Hold (2s)|
|Double press||Hold (2s)|
Play/Pause/, Answer/End call
How does the Skullcandy Hesh ANC connect?
The Skullcandy Hesh ANC connects wirelessly over Bluetooth 5.0, using the SBC or AAC Bluetooth codecs. When you want to tap into your lossless media library, you can use the 3.5mm wired connection. The Hesh ANC lacks a reliable high-quality Bluetooth codec for Android phones like aptX, but that’s expected at this price.
Connecting the Skullcandy Hesh ANC to your devices is as simple as any other Bluetooth headset:
- Start with the headset off.
- Hold down the ANC button to turn the headset on and enter pairing mode.
- Go into your device’s Bluetooth settings.
- Choose “Hesh ANC,” and you’re connected!
How long does the Skullcandy Hesh ANC’s battery last?
Skullcandy advertises a 22-hour battery life with the Hesh ANC, which is close to our test results. In our battery testing of consistent music output peaking at 75dB(SPL), the Skullcandy Hesh ANC lasts 22 hours, 58 minutes. This is longer than the Sony WH-1000XM4 battery life of about 20 hours, and the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 battery life is 21 hours. Like other headsets, the Hesh ANC has quick charging. You can get three hours of listening time from just 10 minutes of charging with the USB-C cable.
Yes, battery life will be longer with ANC turned off. Skullcandy claims the battery life is 30 hours or more without ANC.
How well does the Skullcandy Hesh ANC cancel out noise?
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The Skullcandy Hesh ANC does a pretty great job canceling out noise for such a cheap set of headphones. I frequently run a loud portable air conditioner, and the ANC completely blocks and filters out the low droning noises.
The isolation is just okay, and I can still hear a lot of incidental noises like typing, snapping fingers, and clanking dishes. You’ll want to get the best fit around your ears you can to block out the most noise, and ensure optimal ANC performance. I can hear voices clearly when someone is right next to me with ANC on, though it’s a bit muffled.
How does the Skullcandy Hesh ANC sound?
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The frequency response chart for the Skullcandy Hesh ANC shows a major boost in the sub-bass, and a big boost in the treble frequencies compared to our consumer target curve. This means low bass frequencies will be louder compared to the music producer’s intent, and this could result in bass loud enough to negatively impact the mid range frequencies. If you want to hear your music without excessive amounts of sub-bass enhancement, you likely won’t enjoy this frequency response.
Lows, mids, highs
Music sounds good through the Skullcandy Hesh ANC. With bass being boosted, genres like EDM or hip hop will sound a lot more bassy, and if that’s your cup of tea, you’ll really enjoy the sound of the Hesh ANC.
Last Nite by The Strokes has a pretty prominent bass line and loud kick drum, but there are no issues with bass frequencies masking mids or highs. The kick drum is enjoyably prominent, Julian Casablancas’ voice comes through among the bass line throughout, and the guitar part is still very audible.
The sub-bass in Lose Yourself To Dance by Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams is very loud through the Hesh ANC, enough that it’s a bit jarring. The song still sounds good overall, but the sub-bass is a bit distracting to me. If you really like to “feel” your music with heavy sub-bass, you’ll enjoy how Daft Punk and other EDM sounds with the Hesh ANC.
Can you use the Skullcandy Hesh ANC for phone calls?
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The microphone on the Skullcandy Hesh ANC isn’t the best, but it’s certainly fine for phone calls. When taking calls on it, make sure there’s not too much background noise, because the noise suppression isn’t that great on this headset. It does an okay job of suppressing background noise, but unpredictable sounds still make it through.
Skullcandy Hesh ANC microphone demo (Ideal):
Skullcandy Hesh ANC microphone demo (Office):
Skullcandy Hesh ANC microphone demo (Street):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Should you buy the Skullcandy Hesh ANC?
The Skullcandy Hesh ANC are fine noise canceling headphones for their price. You get effective active noise canceling, decent battery life, fairly muted aesthetics, and a comfortable build. Although microphone quality could be better, that’s par for the course in this price bracket. The sound profile will mainly appeal to bass heads and those willing to mess with a third-party EQ app, but it’s a small price to pay for an otherwise complete package.
There are a lot of decent ANC headsets out there, but this is worth considering if you don’t want to spend serious money.
What should you get instead of the Skullcandy Hesh ANC?
One of the best affordable noise canceling headphones out there is the Monoprice BT-600ANC. It has great ANC and isolation, an amazing 36-hour battery life, and support for aptX HD. The sound quality is bass-heavy here too, but if you’re looking for super cheap and ANC, this is a great option ($84.99 at Amazon).
Another really nice noise canceling headset at a similar price point to the Hesh ANC is the Anker Soundcore Life Q35. It has LDAC support, a 52-hour battery life, and a bassy frequency response. The noise canceling isn’t quite as good as the Monoprice BT-600ANC, but it’s solid for the price ($99 at Amazon).
Skullcandy upgraded its Crusher series with the newest Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 ($229.99 at Manufacturer site). If bass is where you’re at, these deliver via a dial that directly controls the Crusher (low end volume) mode. Besides the hefty low end, the headphones feature noise canceling and a competent app too. Per-function buttons are fully editable and reassignable as well for the tinkers out there. Still, these are definitely bassy.
What is the best pair of noise canceling headphones?
If you have more money to spend on noise canceling headphones, consider the Sony WH-1000XM4 ($348 at Amazon), or even the newer WH-1000XM5 if you’re feeling particularly flush ($387 at Amazon). Both headsets have top-of-the-line noise canceling and excellent sound quality, and great mics too. You can read how the two headphones compare in our detailed versus article.
Frequently asked questions about the Skullcandy Hesh ANC
No, the Hesh ANC is not waterproof or water-resistant.
No, the Hesh ANC is not supported by the Skullcandy app.