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Skullcandy Grind Wireless Headphone Review

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 8 7.7%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 54 51.9%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 37 35.6%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 5 4.8%

  • Total voters
    104

amirm

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This is a review, listening tests and measurements of the Skullcandy Grind Wireless (and wired) on ear headphone. It was kindly drop shipped to me last year and costs US $89 (discontinued?).
Skullcandy grind wireless headphone review.jpg

I don't like the name but do like the soft and supple earpads. They were comfortable to wear for me. And of course they are quite light.

The measurements you see below used the 3.5mm cable which comes with the unit. I did verify that they match the wireless Bluetooth mode as well. Nice thing about wired testing is that it eliminated the variable of codec in use. On topic of Bluetooth mode, I also liked the large buttons. Most wireless headphones use small buttons and lack the clear labels here.

Skullcandy Grind Wireless Headphone Measurements
What you are about to see is a second round of measurements. The first set showed much less bass response. I went to develop EQ for it and simply could not accept those results. The highs were nowhere near as bright as those measurements indicated. So I went back and increased the pressure on the artificial ears of my GRAS 45C measurement rig. That substantially improved the bass response and overall balance. My face is wider than the rig and likely exerts more pressure than the measurement stand does. Here then is our frequency response measurements:
Skullcandy grind wireless headphone Frequency Response measurement.png


Compliance is actually reasonable. We have some bass droop due to on-ear design and aforementioned intro. With some peaking between 1.5 and 3 kHz. In my experience with headphones, more energy in this area increases spatial effects of the headphone and makes it sound more open. So I don't think the subjective effect is the same as what you see in the graph. More on this in the listening tests. The deviations make it hard to fit quick parametric filters to it but not impossible:
Skullcandy grind wireless headphone relative Frequency Response measurement.png


Distortion unfortunately is fairly high:
Skullcandy grind wireless headphone relative distortion measurement.png


Best to stay with low power listening. Note again that above is with wired connection. Wireless will be limited by internal amplifier and may distort more. Here is our absolute level:
Skullcandy grind wireless headphone distortion measurement.png


Note that distortion is second order (H2) so less audible than would be otherwise (to be confirmed with listening tests).

Group delay not that revealing other than warnings to not EQ the sharp peak frequencies in it:
Skullcandy grind wireless headphone Group Delay measurement.png


Sensitivity is about average (naturally tested using wired mode):
most efficient headphone review.png


Not sure if it is instrumentation or implementation issue but at low frequencies, I was measuring near short impedance!

Skullcandy grind wireless headphone impedance measurement.png


Wired interface in wireless headphones is always messy so maybe this is real.

Skullcandy Grind Wireless Headphone Listening Tests
Out of box experience was decent. Yes, a bit bright at times but also pleasant in that regard. Still, some EQ did it good:
Skullcandy grind wireless headphone EQ Equalization Parametric EQ.png


Note that the above filters are tuned by ear to work better than what measurements would indicate by eye. With this in place, the experience was quite joyful. I was surprised at the spatial effects and overall sound. The only miss is deep bass. With or without EQ, it was distorted and messy. Maybe it is the low impedance or the high distortion. Above 30 to 40 Hz though, the sound was good.

Conclusions
Hard to expect much in a $90 wireless headphone. Here, the comfort is generally there and frequency response errors, depending on the shape of your head/ears, is decent enough. With a bit of EQ, it dresses up nicely and presents very good fidelity, sans deep bass that is just not there/distorted.

I am going to recommend the Skullcandy Grid Wireless headphone. Pick one up on the secondary market if you need a cheap wired/wireless headphone that works well enough without EQ, and better with.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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  • Skullcandy Grind Wireless Frequency Response.zip
    26.2 KB · Views: 26

Robbo99999

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A surprisingly positive result from a brand like this! I wonder how much on-ear headphones like this vary from person to person (with closed canal ear mic measurements), as an idea of how consistent they are, @MayaTlab do you have anything on this? For a fairly cheap portable headphone it doesn't seem too bad, making some compromises here & there with the distortion - but the IEM Truthear Crinacle X Zero definitely trumps this both in cost and quality & portability, so the IEM would be a no brainer if you get along with IEM's ok.
 

StevenEleven

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Really surprised by this one. That’s why you do the testing, so we know!!! Thank you!! And usually a little extra brightness suits me fine. I’ll probably pick one up if I ever run across it, looks like a great knockabout headphone.
 

Maiky76

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This is a review, listening tests and measurements of the Skullcandy Grind Wireless (and wired) over the ear headphone. It was kindly drop shipped to me last year and costs US $89 (discontinued?).
View attachment 266236
I don't like the name but do like the soft and supple earpads. They were comfortable to wear for me. And of course they are quite light.

The measurements you see below used the 3.5mm cable which comes with the unit. I did verify that they match the wireless Bluetooth mode as well. Nice thing about wired testing is that it eliminated the variable of codec in use. On topic of Bluetooth mode, I also liked the large buttons. Most wireless headphones use small buttons and lack the clear labels here.

Skullcandy Grind Wireless Headphone Measurements
What you are about to see is a second round of measurements. The first set showed much less bass response. I went to develop EQ for it and simply could not accept those results. The highs were nowhere near as bright as those measurements indicated. So I went back and increased the pressure on the artificial ears of my GRAS 45C measurement rig. That substantially improved the bass response and overall balance. My face is wider than the rig and likely exerts more pressure than the measurement stand does. Here then is our frequency response measurements:
View attachment 266237

Compliance is actually reasonable. We have some bass droop due to on-ear design and aforementioned intro. With some peaking between 1.5 and 3 kHz. In my experience with headphones, more energy in this area increases spatial effects of the headphone and makes it sound more open. So I don't think the subjective effect is the same as what you see in the graph. More on this in the listening tests. The deviations make it hard to fit quick parametric filters to it but not impossible:
View attachment 266238

Distortion unfortunately is fairly high:
View attachment 266239

Best to stay with low power listening. Note again that above is with wired connection. Wireless will be limited by internal amplifier and may distort more. Here is our absolute level:
View attachment 266241

Note that distortion is second order (H2) so less audible than would be otherwise (to be confirmed with listening tests).

Group delay not that revealing other than warnings to not EQ the sharp peak frequencies in it:
View attachment 266242

Sensitivity is about average (naturally tested using wired mode):
View attachment 266243

Not sure if it is instrumentation or implementation issue but at low frequencies, I was measuring near short impedance!

View attachment 266244

Wired interface in wireless headphones is always messy so maybe this is real.

Skullcandy Grind Wireless Headphone Listening Tests
Out of box experience was decent. Yes, a bit bright at times but also pleasant in that regard. Still, some EQ did it good:
View attachment 266245

Note that the above filters are tuned by ear to work better than what measurements would indicate by eye. With this in place, the experience was quite joyful. I was surprised at the spatial effects and overall sound. The only miss is deep bass. With or without EQ, it was distorted and messy. Maybe it is the low impedance or the high distortion. Above 30 to 40 Hz though, the sound was good.

Conclusions
Hard to expect much in a $90 wireless headphone. Here, the comfort is generally there and frequency response errors, depending on the shape of your head/ears, is decent enough. With a bit of EQ, it dresses up nicely and presents very good fidelity, sans deep bass that is just not there/distorted.

I am going to recommend the Skullcandy Grid Wireless headphone. Pick one up on the secondary market if you need a cheap wired/wireless headphone that works well enough without EQ, and better with.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/

Here are some thoughts about the EQ.

Notes about the EQ design:
  • The average L/R is used to calculate the score.
  • The resolution is 12 points per octave interpolated from the raw data (provided by @amirm)
  • A Genetic Algorithm is used to optimize the EQ.
  • The EQ Score is designed to MAXIMIZE the Score WHILE fitting the Harman target curve (and other constrains) with a fixed complexity.
    This will avoid weird results if one only optimizes for the Score.
    It will probably flatten the Error regression doing so, the tonal balance should be therefore more neutral.
  • The EQs are starting point and may require tuning (certainly at LF and maybe at HF).
  • The range around and above 10kHz is usually not EQed unless smooth enough to do so.
  • I am using PEQ (PK) as from my experience the definition is more consistent across different DSP/platform implementations than shelves.
  • With some HP/amp combo, the boosts and preamp gain (loss of Dynamic range) need to be carefully considered to avoid issues with, amongst other things, too low a Max SPL or damaging your device. You have beed warned.
  • Not all units of the same product are made equal. The EQ is based on the measurements of a single unit. YMMV with regards to the very unit you are trying this EQ on.
  • I sometimes use variations of the Harman curve for some reasons. See rational here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...pro-review-headphone.28244/page-5#post-989169
  • https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...pro-review-headphone.28244/page-6#post-992119
  • NOTE: the score then calculated is not comparable to the scores derived from the default Harman target curve if not otherwise noted.
Great L/R match.
F0r supraural devices fitting is critical...

I have generated one EQ, the APO config file is attached.

Score no EQ: 80.5 (!)
Score Amirm: 91.3 (!)
Score with EQ: 93.3

Code:
Skullcandy Grind APO Score Full EQ [email protected] 96000Hz
February212023-140049

Preamp: -5.1 dB

Filter 1: ON PK Fc 21.16 Hz Gain 5.14 dB Q 1.25
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 164.13 Hz Gain -2.46 dB Q 0.62
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 830.11 Hz Gain 4.92 dB Q 1.97
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 1177.10 Hz Gain -3.83 dB Q 2.89
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 2301.87 Hz Gain -6.19 dB Q 1.68
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 7921.94 Hz Gain -6.05 dB Q 3.65

Skullcandy Grind Dashboard.png
 

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amirm

amirm

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Score no EQ: 80.5 (!)
Score Amirm: 91.3 (!)
Score with EQ: 93.3
Nice validation right there! :) Definitely pushes one to ponder the graphs at a deeper level before passing judgement....
 

solderdude

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Maybe the headphone impedance was measured with the BT module still connected somehow ?
I would expect the driver is 32ohm or something close to it.
The measured 0.4 to 1.8ohm is what one would expect as the output resistance of a BT receiver headphone driver and should disconnect when a TRS cable is inserted.

It seems to have been launched in 2016 and was discontinued in 2021.
Weirdly enough I could not find tehnical specifications anywhere.
 
Last edited:

LightninBoy

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These are mine. Thanks amir for the review. I've been conservatively touting these in the forum here for a long time but reserving full recommendation until I had the data.

These are my workhorse headphones. They were originally a desperation purchase while traveling a few years back. With the Skullcandy brand, I had zero expectations. But I loved them and I've bought 4 total for me and my sons. Never spent more than 50$. I got this pair for a backup for 30$. They have a mic too that I've used in a pinch for calls/meetings. Worked great.

The ergonomics are excellent too, imo. With big buttons that are logically placed and easy to find by feel.

They are discontinued and stock must be dwindling as the prices are on the rise.
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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The measured 0.4 to 1.8ohm is what one would expect as the output resistance of a BT receiver headphone driver and should disconnect when a TRS cable is inserted.
Ah, maybe I had them turned on when measuring impedance....
 

Bam!

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Skullcandy AND discontinued? Again, I don't understand the reasoning for reviewing something like this. Why not something that is available and also with you like Etymotic ER4SR. Would be interesting to see the measurements and if you still like it. Once you recommend it very highly. Appreciate you work and dedication but this weird review choices keep me from donating. YMMV.
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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Skullcandy AND discontinued? Again, I don't understand the reasoning for reviewing something like this. Why not something that is available and also with you like Etymotic ER4SR.
ER4SR is an entirely different thing. As to this unit, member sent it to me in December of 2021! Sad to say it sat on a shelf here until the owner reminded me a week ago. You can easily purchase it online so it is still available.
 

nyxnyxnyx

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Skullcandy AND discontinued? Again, I don't understand the reasoning for reviewing something like this. Why not something that is available and also with you like Etymotic ER4SR. Would be interesting to see the measurements and if you still like it. Once you recommend it very highly. Appreciate you work and dedication but this weird review choices keep me from donating. YMMV.
well if you want a certain product to be measured, your best bet is to buy it and send to Amir.
think about it this way: you can easily find a FR chart for ER4SR/XR/ER4S because it's a popular model and nowadays there are a handful of IEMs reviewers who have rigs and are knowledgeable enough.
models like this one on the other hand, I guess that you won't find its measurements anywhere else on the internet, if the owner hasn't sent it or Amir just discarded it.
 

thewas

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Funny and indicative of the degenerated audio industry that a product with a totally different target market than an audiophile listener complies better than many "high end audiophile" ones to the targets of neutral reproduction.
 

Jeromeof

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Not sure if this is possible but would love to see some headphone measurements with a bluetooth headphone with ANC enabled and maybe some simulated external noise. While I do occasionally listen to nice headphones in the house (to give my wife some peace in the evening), the most relevant measurements for me would be the sound quality with ANC enabled while out walking or in a train or airplane. Some bluetooth headphones in this price range even have built in EQ which can mostly solve some their shortcomings e.g. Soundcore Q30
 

MayaTlab

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I wonder how much on-ear headphones like this vary from person to person (with closed canal ear mic measurements), as an idea of how consistent they are, @MayaTlab do you have anything on this?

Rtings reviewed them. Up to a few hundred Hz the consistency measurements are performed on five real humans : https://www.rtings.com/headphones/1-3-1/graph#477/3185
I'm not quite certain however how exactly they're merged with the fixture's positional consistency above.

Perhaps some on-ears with a feedback mechanism might minimise this issue, but if that was measured with ANC on, it doesn't look superb either : https://www.rtings.com/headphones/1-5/graph#1626/7914

This article from Harman included a few on-ears : https://www.grasacoustics.com/files...mprovedMeasurementofLeakageEffects_Harman.pdf
But even some of the around ears performed poorly.
 

sea

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The design of the earpads looks a little fragile and prone to yuckiness build up, but what a surprise from skullcandy!! Also who approved that model name lmao
 
OP
amirm

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Not sure if this is possible but would love to see some headphone measurements with a bluetooth headphone with ANC enabled and maybe some simulated external noise.
I have done subjective listening tests for ANC headphone reviews. I use the fan noise of my analyzer as an ad-hoc noise source. Formal objective testing requires a chamber that I rather not have (takes up so much space).
 

MayaTlab

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Not sure if this is possible but would love to see some headphone measurements with a bluetooth headphone with ANC enabled and maybe some simulated external noise. While I do occasionally listen to nice headphones in the house (to give my wife some peace in the evening), the most relevant measurements for me would be the sound quality with ANC enabled while out walking or in a train or airplane. Some bluetooth headphones in this price range even have built in EQ which can mostly solve some their shortcomings e.g. Soundcore Q30

If they're well designed, ANC headphones will maintain a constant FR regardless of the amount of environmental noise, at least as long as you keep them in a single mode of operations (The traces may get increasingly noisier as the noise gets louder and starts to defeat the ANC system, but that's a different issue).

If.

You've probably seen in a few ANC headphones an "adaptive" setting in the app. For some (not all !) models it's a very poorly designed setting that may introduce FR changes when environmental noise changes, without any setting being intentionally adjusted.

An example of a very poor implementation below (spoiler tag to avoid cluttering the thread).

Ex here with the JBL Tour One M2. This is what the app looks like :

IMG_1274.PNG
IMG_1278.PNG
IMG_1275.PNG
IMG_1277.PNG
IMG_1276.PNG


If you go into "customise ANC" you can either switch "Adaptive ANC" on, or off. In the latter case you're presented with and ANC level slider that adjusts the amount of environmental noise that is reduced.

In the case of this model's implementation, it also adjusts the part of the FR spectrum over which the feedback mechanism operates. To get an idea of what the feedback mechanism does for the FR : https://audiosciencereview.com/foru...se-use-of-the-harman-curve.29633/post-1087051

Because of this the FR will change between the minimum and maximum level, not just between ANC on and off.

And here's the big issue : the adaptive ANC setting will not only cycle through the levels as it sees fit depending on the level of environmental noise, but it will go as far as disabling ANC, which then switches the feedback mechanism completely off.

Here's the results, measured with blocked ear canal entrance mics, on my own head (please don't compare these measurements with measurements made on ear simulators, only look at the difference in FR). For all of these traces the headphones weren't moved (same seating) :

JBL Tour One M2 ANC issue.jpg


In red the ANC "off" trace. In blue the FR at various levels of the ANC slider.
The orange traces represent the effect of the "adaptive" ANC setting. No setting was adjusted in between the two traces. The only difference ? The one similar to the ANC "off" result was done in a quiet environment, while the one similar to the ANC "max" was done with my oven and hood at full blast.
 
Last edited:

Jimbob54

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On ear so a big no thank you from me
 
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