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Skullcandy Hesh 2 Wireless review: A decent budget Bluetooth headphone option for less-critical listeners

Skullcandy's Hesh 2 Wireless may not be a great wireless headphone, but it's a reasonably good value at $100.

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David Carnoy
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David Carnoy

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Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable e-reader and e-publishing expert. He's also the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks and Nook e-books, as well as audiobooks.

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Skullcandy's Hesh 2 Wireless, also known as the Hesh 2 Unleashed Wireless, is the Bluetooth version of Skullcandy's affordable and somewhat bulbous-shaped over-ear headphone, the Hesh 2. The two headphones look very similar, but for the privilege of adding wireless, you'll have to pay $100 USD (£80, AU$200) instead of around $60.

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6.9

Skullcandy Hesh 2 Wireless

The Good

The Skullcandy Hesh 2 Wireless sounds reasonably good for a $100 USD Bluetooth headphone, has decent battery life (15 hours), and is fairly comfortable to wear. Its integrated three-button remote works well and is easy to operate by feel.

The Bad

Sound quality is good, but not great; design is fairly generic.

The Bottom Line

If you don't want to spend more than double or triple the cost on the Bose SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth or Beats' wireless headphones, the Hesh 2 Wireless is a decent budget Bluetooth headphone choice.

Now, in this sub-$100 price range, Bluetooth headphones are a tricky business. The LG Tone series are pretty good (some models are as low as $60 to $80), and the early version of the Sol Republic Shadow Wireless (due later in 2015) I just listened to sounded downright great for a $100 wireless model. But both of those are in-ear models, not around-ear ones like the Skullcandy Hesh 2 Wireless.

Indeed, the Hesh 2 Wireless manages to offer reasonably good Bluetooth sound. Or as some of the more discriminating listeners in CNET's New York office told me after listening to it, "It's not bad."

I know that sounds a tad negative, but in the world of budget Bluetooth headphones, it's fairly high praise. Some of the other positives are that the headphone's build quality seems decent enough, and the headphone is pretty comfortable to wear (it hugs your head snugly but not too snugly and noise isolation is good). You don't get the plush padding or memory foam of premium models -- rather, you're looking a regular foam and faux leather -- but I had no problem wearing the headphones nonstop for 30 to 45 minutes.

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The headphone comes with a very simple nylon carrying pouch and a cord (with remote/microphone) that allows you to use the Hesh 2 Wireless as a wired headpone. Sarah Tew/CNET


The headphone is equipped with a three-button remote on the right ear cup and a microphone, though the remote doesn't work like a lot of remotes I've used. While the multifunction button serves as the power on/off button, call answer/end button, and pause/play button, which is typical, the large and clearly labeled volume buttons (you can easily operate them by feel) double as track advance/back buttons when you hold them down for 3 seconds.

No complaints there. But the placement of the Micro-USB charging port is a little troublesome. It's hidden at the top of the left earpiece and you have to pull the 'phone's headband back to get to it, then jam the USB cable into the slot you create. It's not terrible -- and I like that the port is hidden -- but it's a little awkward.

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The control buttons are well-placed on the right ear cup and easy to operate by feel. Sarah Tew/CNET

Performance

As I said, this headphone sounds reasonably good for the price. What I mean by that is that is that it's fairly well balanced, with some bass push but not so much that it will overwhelm you. The headphone's on the warmer end of the audio spectrum, which means it's a little soft. However, it's got enough detail to keep it from sounding muddy or dull. That said, I wouldn't call this an exciting headphone that will bring out the best in your music.

Rather, it seems designed not to bring out the worst in your music. In other words, it smooths out poorly recorded tracks (think MP3s), and I thought it worked well with a streaming service like Spotify.

The ear pads are covered in faux leather. Sarah Tew/CNET

When you attach a cable and listen to this as a wired headphone, it sounds different though not necessarily better. There's more bass and treble, so the headphone sounds more hyped and has more edge to it, for better or worse.

Battery life is good. It's rated at 15 hours, and your phone or tablet should show a battery-life indicator that lets you know how much juice you have left (we tried the headphone with an iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy S5). With some full-size Bluetooth headphones, you can do a little better with battery life, but 15 hours is solid.

Conclusion

The Skullcandy Hesh 2 Wireless is not a great Bluetooth headphone. It won't make your music sparkle. But it sounds pretty decent for a $100 USD wireless model; it's reasonably comfortable and seems fairly well built. I'm not going to tell you that it's a superb value and to run right out and buy it -- such advice would be a lot easier if and when the price drops to, say, $80. Buy if you don't want to spend $250 on the Bose SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth or $300 or more on Beats' wireless headphones, this is a decent budget choice that less-critical listeners should be happy with.

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6.9

Skullcandy Hesh 2 Wireless

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 7Sound 6Value 8