Todays review is of the Skullcandy Hesh 3 Bluetooth headphones, so lets see if these cans are worth their asking price.
In the box
Included with the Hesh 3 are
- A 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable
- One Micro USB cable
- Quick start guide
So the contents are a little bare and honestly it would have been nice to have seen a carry pouch included for the price. But maybe they will make this lack of accessories up in other areas.
Design and Build
- Dimensions: 17.6cm (width) x 17.6cm (height)
- Weight: 0.2kg (200g/0.44lb)
The first thing I noticed was just how clean the Hesh are, the lack of any major or excessive branding threw me off a little as I’m used to Skullcandy products being plastered with their logo. But I’m glad to say that they’ve toned this down a lot and now there is only two logos on the entire pair. Plus they’re real subtle too and not in your face like their old style of branding. It’s a real welcome change in my book.
I have the Red variant on hand and if that is a bit too much for you or simply not to your taste, they offer the Hesh 3 in Black, Grey and Blue. The colouring on the Hesh is really nice and they use multiple shades of Red. I think is a smart move as it makes them have about them rather than them just being all one shade.
The side of the housing is a semi matte finish that is really smooth. The housing though is made from plastic, on the plus side it’s of a much higher grade than Skullcandys of old making this area feels reassuringly solid. The support arm does feel a bit weak though and the plastic quality has dipped. This isn’t an area that should be scrimped on but the quality doesn’t feel quite as good as the housing. What makes an issue is that they have a degree of rotation meaning you can place them flat onto a surface. This area is also home to a mechanism that allows them to be made more compact, this is great for travel as the fold up pretty small. However, this means that this area of the headphones could be used a lot and thus needs to be robust, which it simply isn’t. So far they’ve been fine, but over time it could be a potential issue.
On the right side of the headphones you’ll find the ports and controls. When wearing the headphones these will be facing backwards making the front look cleaner. The port and control selection is as follows. Firstly there is a single LED, the volume control / power button, a micro USB port and a 3.5mm input. The final thing is a mic around the front side.
The volume control and power button are coated with silicone and feel nice. The buttons are nice and tactile and are very easy to distinguish from on and other. The buttons are also multifunctional with the power button also acting as the play/pause and pairing button. The volume controls also allow you to skip tracks forwards and backwards.
The earcup padding on the Hesh is plentiful and is made from a soft faux leather material. They also have a nice fabric lining inside to help prevent fatigue.
Onto the headband and here you get a combination of plastic and metal. The plastic here is again different to that used in the housing and in the support arms. It’s not quite as quality feeling as the housing, but it feels stronger than that used in the support arms. The metal is used to strengthen the headband and it does this well. There is still some flex, but that is good as you don’t want your headphones to be overly rigid.
The headband adjustment isn’t overly smooth and it takes a bit of effort to make an adjustment. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. The good point is that they won’t self adjust in use and move around freely when you’re walking. The downside is that they are a bit tricky to manually adjust on the fly. This shouldn’t be an issue if you preset the size before you leave though.
The top section of the headband has no branding at all and is quite small in size. The padding is a bit on the scarce side too.
Overall I’m liking the clean design approach of the Hesh that make them look modern and quite fashionable. The build has improved a lot too, yes there are still some areas of improvement but they have made a reasonably well put together set of headphones that don’t feel too fragile.
Creating a comfortable set of headphones was never an issue for Skullcandy as their over ears have mostly been very comfortable. The Hesh I’m glad to say fit in that category. There is two little issues with the comfort though and those are heat build up and the clamping force. Firstly the heat build up and that is because there is a lot of padding that is thick meaning they don’t breathe that well. This leads to your ears getting toasty and pretty quickly too. Even after around 30 minutes of use the heat build up was quite noticeable and after an hour I needed a break. In the colder winter months this isn’t as bad but I can imagine they’ll get very hot during the summer. So if you live in warmer climates, this could be a bit of an issue.
The second not so great point is the clamping force, this is a bit strong out of the box and causes a bit of fatigue. Luckily over time this will reduce as you wear the headphones more and more, but for the first few uses they were tight.
Onto the plus sides and that is the padding, the Hesh have plenty of it and it’s of the memory foam variety. This makes them form really nicely around your ears and they are, despite the heat aspect comfortable. It is a shame they do get so hot as they do feel real nice around your ears. The padding and finish is supple, smooth and this doesn’t cause rubbing fatigue.
The earcup opening is a decent size and fits my ears in no problem at all. I don’t have overly large ears and there is a decent amount of space around them. However if you have larger ears they may feel a bit more cramped.
The headband padding is a bit short in supply and the area of the padding could have been larger for better distribution. On the plus side it’s really smooth and soft, I just wish that the area of it was a bit more generous.
One final plus point is the range of movement the earcups have, this makes getting them in the right spot on your head much easier so you can find that optimal position for the most comfortable spot.
Using the Hesh 3 daily has been a nice experience. Pairing is super simple and all you have to do is press and hold the power button until the LED flashes Red and Blue. Once it has done that you can turn on Bluetooth, find the Hes 3 and select pair. After that they will auto pair and you’ll be done in around 20 seconds.
Travelling with the headphones has be nice too, with their folding mechanism I can easily store them in my bag with no problem at all. A carry pouch would have made this even better, but as long as you place them in an empty pocket with nothing else in they should be fine. I also wear them around my neck frequently and because they are pretty small they don’t cause much in the way of problems. If you find that they do, you could also use the rotation movement to have them flat so they don’t rub against your chin.
In use they have been solid too, changing tracks and the volume on the fly is as the buttons are really easy to tell apart from one and other. This means you don’t have to keep getting your phone out to change the track. The buttons are a decent size too making the initial location of them very easy.
Things I wouldn’t use them for is exercise as they get hot and that would cause some discomfort. I do recommend them for use around town as they aren’t too bulky and if you get the Black or Grey versions they are pretty stealth. If you do want to grab more attention then opt for the Red as they do stand out.
The mic and voice quality are decent. The mic is okay and you can hold a good conversation using it, it’s quite clear and the quality is okay. The voice quality from the drivers is loud, clear and you can hear the other person very well.
The Hesh 3 have some pretty impressive features in terms of battery performance. The first being an up to 22 hours continuous use and the second being quick charging. Skullcandy claim that the Hesh can be charged for 10 minutes and provide up to 4 hours playback. I of course tested this and managed to get 4 hours 34 minutes at 65% volume. I have to say that even though it’s not up to the claim it is still really impressive. As for the actual 100% battery life I managed to achieve 24 hours and 14 minutes. That is really impressive and you could easily make these last a week with light use.
What’s even more impressive is the fact that they only took 53 minutes to charge from 0 to 100%. This is the quickest I’ve ever experienced and I’m really impressed that they took less than an hour.
This combination of the quick charging and extra long battery life make these the best battery performers I’ve ever tested.
Noise Isolation and Leak
Natural noise isolation is okay, without music they do block out a little bit of noise and they do reduce the volume of your surroundings. This is due to the impressive seal the earcushions make. Turning music on does improve this and at around 65% they do block out a fair amount of noise. Of course it’s not noise cancelling levels but it’s not bad at all. On public transport they did block out pretty much everything and I could only hear my immediate environment between tracks and when the musics volume dips. In louder places I could hear what was happening around me but they do a decent job of reducing that.
Leak performance is solid too and they don’t leak that bad at all. There is slight leak when you push the headphones past 60% and this means that if you’re in a libraries quiet zone you may have to turn down the volume some. If you’re on public transport or somewhere with more ambient noise you shouldn’t really bother anyone unless they are right next to you.
These aren’t the best performers in this category I’ve experienced and nor are they the worse, but if you want better performance in this area, these may not be for you. If you can live with the slight leak for general everyday use scenarios they’re fine.
The last pair of Skullcandy headphones I heard were not that impressive in the sound department but these are good. By no means are they the best I’ve ever heard but Skullcandy have made some big improvements here.
Bass is fairly tight and it’s really not lacking for power and potency. The drop is nicely extensive too and they drop quite low. They don’t run out of steam too early on and they deliver on the impact. It’s decently clean, clear and detailed with a good amount of body and weight. Unlike old Skullcandys that used to be overbearing, the bass is quite controlled and far less wayward. So if you like your bass heavy genres you shouldn’t be left wanting here and the overall delivery is good.
The mid range is again an area that Skullcandy used to under-deliver on but here they’ve made some big improvements. It’s pretty forward and not left to one side like some of their older headphones. The detail is solid and they even manage to dig out some finer stuff too. Clarity is good too as is in sound separation. This means that they don’t sound like a jumbled mess and you can pick out different elements of your music. Soundstage is okay, it’s not massively open nor is it airy but here I think that works reasonably well. For the types of genres you’re likely to listen to you may not want a very lofty soundstage. The mids are also quite coloured and they favour the warm vibrant side. This is good as they make the Hesh quite exciting to listen to.
Vocals are surprisingly good, again they have great clarity and good detail. They have plenty of power and they don’t shy away. Again they favour the warm side which adds a certain brightness to them. They aren’t too bright to the point where they’re fatiguing though. The tonal quality isn’t perfect as they are that bit warmer but by no means is this bad. It just suits them.
Overall the Hesh 3 are really enjoyable to listen, they suit most modern popular genres and they deliver the sound with fun. These are really upbeat set of headphones that actually have some quality to back that up. If you really want a set to lay back and be able to pick out every detail then these probably aren’t for you. But if you want to really enjoy your music then these don’t really disappoint.
Skullcandy have made some big improvements that I can see here. The design is much more subtle and tasteful, the build have been improved as a whole even though they could get the smaller details better. The comfort is good minus the heat build up, using daily has been a joy, the isolation performance is okay and the leak performance could be better. But to redeem those little negatives they have amazing battery performance and a fun enjoyable sound profile.
So should you spend your cash on these? Well it depends what you’re after. If you want to truly get lost in the music and be amazed by the fine details these probably won’t do that. If you’re Spotify playlist consists of mainstream radio tracks then these suit those types of tracks really well and deliver an entertaining experience.
For their usual price point of around £80 I can say that these are well worth it if after a well rounded set of headphones. For their usual price of £100 it’s a tougher sell as the competition is much stronger. But all in all these have performed much better than I expected initially.