The Skullcandy Hesh ANC aims to offer an affordable alternative to pricier noise-canceling headphones without compromising on key features. With active noise cancelation, a comfortable design, and a competitive battery life, these headphones seek to impress. In this review, we delve into the Hesh ANC’s performance and determine if it lives up to its promise.

Design and Comfort: Built primarily from plastic, the Skullcandy Hesh ANC is an over-ear noise-canceling headset with memory foam cushioning on the headband and earpads wrapped in faux leather. While the earpads provide a snug and comfortable fit for most users, individuals with larger ears might face challenges with proper fitting due to the pad dimensions. Compared to high-end models like the Sony WH-1000XM4, the earpad size is slightly smaller. The Skullcandy Hesh ANC features controls on the right ear cup, including an ANC button, volume buttons, and a multifunction button. These buttons have a rubberized coating for easy differentiation from the plastic material.

Features and Control: The right ear cup houses the headset’s controls, including playback and call management buttons, a USB-C input, and a headphone jack. Notably, the Hesh ANC uses tactile-only controls, lacking the touch features seen in premium alternatives. Additionally, the headphones come with a 3.5mm jack cable for wired listening and a compact fabric carrying pouch for protection during travel.

Connectivity Option: The headphones connect wirelessly through Bluetooth 5.0, supporting SBC or AAC Bluetooth codecs. However, they lack high-quality Bluetooth codecs like aptX, which is expected at this price point. Users can also use the 3.5mm wired connection for lossless media playback. One notable feature is the integration with Tile tracking, allowing users to locate their headphones using the Tile app, though this might concern those who prioritize privacy.

Battery Life: Skullcandy advertises a 22-hour battery life for the Hesh ANC, and real-world testing confirmed a similar result. In actual usage with constant music playback at 75dB(SPL), the headphones provided 22 hours and 58 minutes of battery life. The Hesh ANC also supports quick charging, offering three hours of listening time with just 10 minutes of charging via USB-C.

Sound Quality: The Skullcandy Hesh ANC offers effective noise cancelation, effectively blocking low droning noises like a portable air conditioner. However, its isolation of incidental noises is only satisfactory, as typing, snapping fingers, and clanking dishes remain audible. Achieving the best fit possible is crucial for optimal ANC performance. The frequency response chart reveals a significant boost in sub-bass and treble frequencies compared to the consumer target curve. This results in bass-heavy sound that may interfere with mid-range frequencies, making it less suitable for listeners seeking a balanced sound signature.

Microphone Performance: The microphone on the Skullcandy Hesh ANC is adequate for phone calls, but it struggles to suppress unpredictable background noises effectively. While it does an acceptable job of minimizing background noise, some sounds may still pass through during calls.

Alternatives: For those seeking affordable noise-canceling headphones with great ANC and isolation, the Monoprice BT-600ANC is a recommended option. It boasts an impressive 36-hour battery life, support for aptX HD, and a bass-heavy frequency response. Another viable alternative in the same price range is the Anker Soundcore Life Q35, which offers LDAC support and a 52-hour battery life.

Conclusion: The Skullcandy Hesh ANC offers effective active noise cancelation and a comfortable build at an affordable price. With a sound profile that favors bass enthusiasts and a few minor shortcomings like microphone quality, it provides a well-rounded package for its price range. While there are other decent ANC headsets available, the Hesh ANC is worth considering if you’re seeking an affordable option without compromising on essential features.

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