I never really warmed up to bud-style headphones. I’ve used them when necessary, but given the choice I always prefer over the ear style instead. Skullcandy sent me their Grind Wireless headphones to review, and these tick off everything I like — over the ears, comfortable, stylish, with quality sound, AND Bluetooth!
Let’s talk style for a second. These are old-school headphones for sure, with big ear cups that fit over your ears but don’t seal them or block out sound. They are as much a fashion statement as they are a tool, with an attractive color combination of green and dark brown. And they’re large, so there’s nothing discreet about wearing these. If you can get past the size, they’re incredibly comfortable. The ear cups are nicely padded and sit without putting pressure on your ears, and the band is padded so it is quite comfortable sitting on your head or around your neck. Skullcandy did make the slightly odd style choice of using bright pink wiring, which in my view clashes slightly with the more neutral green and brown, but that’s a minor quibble. These connect via Bluetooth, but if you need or want to use them in wired mode, Skullcandy was nice enough to include a matching auxiliary cable as well. My only other complaint is that these do not fold down at all, so they can be a little bulky for everyday carry.
Pairing the headphones to my Nexus 6 was a snap, and I’ve had no issues with the connection dropping or quality degrading with normal use. The Grinds are capable of acting as a Bluetooth headset as well, and the feedback from people was that the quality was excellent. Across the board, everyone agreed I sounded far clearer than when I usually call them, which is using the bluetooth in my Prius. I had no issues hearing anyone on my end either. The included auxiliary cable also includes a microphone, so you can make calls when wired as well, which is a very nice touch. You do not need to be connected via bluetooth to make calls when wired, I tested this on my office line (so my assistant thinks I’m slightly odd because I keep calling myself and whispering “TEST” over and over again, but hey, it worked!). There are controls for volume and call selection behind the right ear cup. It took me a few days to get used to reaching those by feel alone, but once I had the layout down I was fine.
To test the sound quality, I listened to a number of songs and podcasts. “Serial” and “Welcome to Night Vale” sounded fine, with spoken words coming through crisp and clear. I also found the headphones helped add a bit of depth to the background music they both use. Music-wise, I tried more rhythmic songs by listening to Rage Against the Machine, as well as more guitars-and-drums with Sleater-Kinney. I am not an audiophile, and in fact likely have some mild hearing issues in one ear, but sound quality seemed fantastic to me. I preferred the Grinds over any earbuds I have around, and they certainly were head and shoulders above the crappy bargain bin at CVS headphones I had for years. At $89.99, these won’t break the bank, but they will give you a quality, immersive sound experience.
I used these for casual use as well as some exercise. Unsurprisingly, they were far better for casual use, since they bounced around a bit while working out. They did do better than I expected, staying on my head solidly through a 30-minute calisthenics routine. I wouldn’t run with them, but for light workouts they will stay on your head fine. They worked great for me while walking my dog, since I could enjoy music but still hear what was going on around me. I also made good use of the wired cable, and I’ve been using the Grinds while watching TV (we have a Roku 3, so we can plug headphones into the remote if you want to watch TV quietly). They’ve been a champ all around, and the battery life is phenomenal. I charged them via microUSB when I received them almost two weeks ago, and with near-daily use (mix of wired and wireless) the battery is still going strong!
If you’re looking for stylish wireless headphones that aren’t bud-style but don’t bust your budget, the Skullcandy Grind Wireless should be tops on your list! You can find them at Skullcandy’s site and select retailers starting April 4th, 2016.
Source: Manufacturer provided review sample
What I Liked: Sound quality is excellent; love the style; works great wired and wireless; can make and receive phone calls as well; comfortable to wear for long periods; affordable price
What Needs Improvement: A bit bulky to transport