Finding a good pair of gaming headphones is not as easy as you might think. Just about every gaming peripheral manufacturer produces a multitude of models and you often can’t judge the quality by price point alone.
Coming from an audio background I am usually pretty sceptical about the various claims made about gaming headphones. I tend to stick to brands that I know perform well in the professional audio realm.
I’m critical of claims for many gaming headsets that are “tuned to perfection” with “professional quality” microphones on horrible rigid booms that seem designed to stick up your nose.
Razer Kraken Tournament Edition Review
There are headsets with bright and distracting lights, with vibration and a million different inline controllers and converters.
In the end though what most gamers need is a headset that provides an accurate representation of game soundscapes as well as sharp clear voice chat and is comfortable for extended gaming sessions.
Razer’s Kraken Tournament Edition headset seems to have been designed with these core criteria firmly in mind.
As you might expect, my first impression of this headset was “well its green!” It’s not a colour I normally associate with serious gear and that Razor signature colour gives these cans a significant hi-vis vibe.
For the more fashion conscious people out there this may or may not be a good thing and there is a black version available. For me, the only downside was that with the retractable mic boom extended, the bright green mic could be a little distracting in my peripheral vision.
Luckily, said mic seems to be of very good quality. The flexible boom is rigid enough to hold in whatever position you put it in and just the right length for most users, providing clear sharp voice comms.
While providing excellent frequency response from low rumbling 30hz and clear up to around 18khz, voice comms is definitely what these headphones are tuned for. With boosts in the low mid and very high mid frequencies, I must admit listening to music through these for the first time, I was a little disappointed.
There is a slight boxiness to the sound of these headphones that is especially evident if you are listening to rock or heavier genres of music but definitely adds to vocal clarity and for incoming comms. If you are using the headset with just the 3.5mm jack and inline volume/mute control there is little you can do to address this.
However, if you use the provided USB controller and want to install Razer’s Synapse software a whole lot of options open up to you.
The USB controller gives you all the usual basic controls, Volume and mute are duplicated here, and nicely the mute button has a red light to indicate whether it’s active or not.
There is a bass adjustment dial and a button to toggle THX. The most useful part I found was the game/chat dial. Quite simply you can change the balance of chat comms or game audio with a touch and it makes all the difference if you need to concentrate on something in-game or to pay more attention to your team in a critical moment.
Once Synapse has detected the Kraken Headset controller you are able to use EQ to tailor the sound to the source you are listening to; be that music, gaming, movies or your own custom preset. You will also have access to mic processing such as a gate and normalization.
Synapse also enables the use of THX spatial audio. This technology provides a more 3D soundscape depending on the game you’re playing. Just be aware that if, like in Battlefield V, there is already a 3D headphones mode, stacking THX is going to give you some very odd results.
Despite the somewhat toyish look of the green Kraken variant, these are a headset worth serious consideration considering the midrange price point.
Solid build construction and materials, comfortable even over extended gaming sessions, crystal clear comms and cinematic THX enhanced game sound all add up to a very solid and aural experience.
Razer Kraken Tournament Edition was reviewed using a set provided by Razer.
Product Name: Razer Kraken Tournament Edition
Offer price: $160
Solid comfortable construction.
Great, possibly distracting, hi-vis properties.
Slightly boxy sound with out EQ adjustment.