Skullcandy Hesh ANC

Lightweight, portable Bluetooth over-ears with ANC and ambient mode

Skullcandy’s Hesh ANC are compact, wireless over-ears for everyday use that are tuned for bass and designed to suppress or amplify ambient noise as required. In addition to Bluetooth 5.0, optional tracking via the Tile app is supported so that these headphones can be found if they get lost.

These handy over-ears are designed to be extremely light at 227 grams, and they have tilting, swivelling and retractable cups, which allow for space-saving storage in their transport bag, which is made of lined nylon fabric and comes with the package. The Hesh ANC also adapt well to the shape of your head, especially since the oval-shaped cups are suspended to sit at a slight angle, which means that your ears are enclosed snugly by the padding. At the same time, the fit is neither too tight nor too loose so that there is sufficient support if you break into a run while on the go. However, the fit of these headphones seems to be optimal primarily for small to medium-sized heads, as the size adjustment does not cover a particularly wide range. There is also not much room under these headphones due to the generous amounts of padding, which could lead to problems for those with larger ears.

In terms of battery, the Hesh ANC offer a runtime of just under 24 hours at higher volume levels with active noise cancellation, and this increases to more than 34 hours without noise cancelling. A powerful quick-charge function can be activated for spontaneous use, and this provides capacity for a good five hours or three and a half hours in ANC mode after a ten-minute charge via the USB-C port. A full charging cycle is completed after almost 100 minutes. Alternatively, these over-ears can also be used wired, as there is a 3.5 mm audio input. A corresponding mini-jack cable and a USB-C to USB-A charging cable are included in the package.

Operation

These wireless headphones have a total of four large buttons on the right earcup, and these have a non-slip rubber coating and clear pressure points. These are the ANC button, at the top, and a functional 3-button remote for device control. Pairing the Hesh ANC, which had a stable range of about ten metres within an urban environment, can be done by pressing and holding the middle remote button, which switches these over-ears on and puts them into pairing mode. If there is a wireless connection, a single press controls playback, and this button is also used to answer and end phone calls; a double press activates voice assistants such as Siri or Google Assistant. The volume can be controlled in a classic way using the plus and minus buttons, and these also enable track selection, you press and hold the plus button to skip forward and press and hold the minus button to skip back. Pairing the Tile app to keep track of your headphones is activated by holding down the middle and plus buttons at the same time.

While the device controls are very intuitive and work flawlessly, handling the ANC button requires a little more attention. Since noise cancellation is switched on and off by simply pressing it and ambient mode by pressing it twice, it’s easy to activate ANC mode instead of ambient mode if your double-click is too slow. However, after a short period of familiarisation, your timing should be right. When making a phone call, a minor loss of speech intelligibility must be accepted, with your own voice being reproduced quite softly. On the other hand, the person on the other end of the line can be well understood.

Sound

The Hesh ANC’s tuning is decidedly tuned for listening pleasure, with a powerful, rich bass response and a massive low end, which sounds quite defined apart from a bit of dullness; it also works across different genres. At high volume, however, the ample lower range can lose contours, and this is mainly evident in bass-oriented productions. Pleasantly, the midrange is not smothered by the bass, and the warm, soft mids are enjoyably clear, enhancing the overall sound and offering agreeable voice reproduction. The highs are more restrained but do not fall off at all. While sibilants seem softly rounded and no harshness is noticeable, the high frequencies may lack a bit of lively verve and freshness. It would have been nice to be able to connect to the Skullcandy app, as using the EQ settings would have increased these headphones’ tonal flexibility. The Bluetooth standard SBC and the higher-quality AAC format are available as audio codecs. Support for aptX, on the other hand, has been omitted. In this respect, Android devices that have to make do with the SBC codec may experience a slight offset between picture and sound, especially when watching action-packed films and series.

Noise cancellation and ambient mode

In ANC mode, a slight background noise is perceptible, but otherwise, the noise-cancelling really doesn’t do a bad job, as outside noises are reduced over a relatively large range. Only in the high-frequency range does the effectiveness diminish somewhat so that a discreet whisper of a boiling kettle remains detectable. Pounding rain and the rumble of thunderstorms, on the other hand, are barely audible, while construction and street noise, as well as background voices, are clearly attenuated. The sound also seems slimmer as the bass content is reduced, and this lowers the playback volume somewhat. This sound change is not noticeable in Ambient Mode, which is impressive except for the background noise. Voices, in particular, are amplified cleanly so that public transport speaker announcements are easily understandable when playback is paused, and a conversation can be held without any problems. Even at medium volume, people in the immediate vicinity can still be understood. Furthermore, a good feature is how the ANC and ambient mode can be used when the headphones are wired, by briefly pressing the middle remote button as soon as these over-ears have been switched on.

Maike Paeßens
1 month ago by Maike Paeßens
  • Rating: 4
  • Sound
  • Handling
  • Price/Quality
  • Function

The Hesh ANC by Skullcandy score points with a successful reduction and amplification of ambient noise, even if the noise-cancelling and ambient mode have a perceptible background noise. It seems unusual that these handy Bluetooth over-ears are not supported by Skullcandy’s own app, which means, among other things, that there is no option to adjust the sound. A bass-strong sound is, therefore, the order of the day!

Technical specifications

  • Ear couplingOver-ear
  • Typeclosed
  • Transducer principledynamic
  • Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20.000 Hz
  • Impedance+/- 15 %: 32 ohms
  • Sound pressure level (SPL)99,63 dB
  • Weight with cable240 g
  • Weight without cable227 g

What's in the box

  • Mini jack cable
  • USB-C to USB-A charging cable
  • Carrying pouch

Special features

  • BT codecs: AAC, SBC
  • BT version: 5.0

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