My search for a good wireless headset is absolutely over. The Razer Nari Ultimate delivers on what I want and need from a gaming headset. It has great sound quality, the mic works for in-game coms, excellent range and is really comfortable.
But wait. Haven’t you heard something much like this before, oh faithful reader?
We’ve previously reviewed the Razer Nari wireless headset when Leo took a turn. Ironically, he called it the ‘ultimate’ gaming headset but that might no longer be true.
The official Razer Nari Ultimate is here to potentially usurp that position. It does that by being the excellent headset Leo reviewed with an extra feature.
Vibrations. Straight to the brain.
Razer Nari Ultimate Review
The main feature in this upgraded headset is haptic feedback. Razer is calling the technology HyperSense. What this means is your headphones are equipped with a fancy rumble pack.
It’s like having a vibrating controller strapped to your head.
This idea really got my attention when I previewed these cans alongside the new Razer Blade laptops. I’m primarily a PC gamer nowadays but I have a lavished history of console gaming. One of the main things I’ve missed in moving to PC, or more specifically keyboard and mouse is haptic feedback.
I still find myself missing cues in games because nothing is vibrating. Important cues, like that I am being shot at or taking damage.
This is why I’m bad at games. It’s not me, it’s my lack of haptic feedback.
The unfortunate thing is that these headphones haven’t really helped with that. The Razer Nari Ultimates have helped in other ways. They’ve definitely provided me with better spatial audio than my previous pair, allowing me clearer information to guess where enemies are coming from.
However, the vibrations themselves, while offering a new experience, don’t really make me any better.
Rumble Pack for Your Head
The sad thing is that while HyperSense is super cool, it mostly works by just picking up the bass. Turns out, getting shot doesn’t trigger this as much as other things, like my own gun firing or just even in-game music.
Sometimes it’ll pick up on other sounds like footsteps of enemies but not consistently enough over a different, innocuous sound for me to rely on it.
I tried this out on a few different games. The first one I put to the test was Overwatch as it’s the game I arguably play the most that could benefit from this boost. I noticed vibrations mostly on my own actions rather than those of enemies. Traditional sounding guns like Soldier 76’s seemed to get a reaction but other weapons like Moira’s didn’t pick anything up.
There didn’t seem to be any sturdy connection to my health going down and my head vibrating.
I moved on to Destiny 2 but quickly found that the energy weapons that seemed everywhere didn’t give any queues to the haptics. The soundtrack rumbled nicely on my head, though and I really appreciated this odd sense of ambience I found this added.
The clear answer here was I needed a game with more realistic guns so I swapped to The Division 2. Pretty much every weapon is mechanical and fires some sort of metal at someone else, so it seemed like a good pick.
I absolutely noticed rumbling associated with my own fire but again not so much with taking damage. It seems getting hurt is somewhat higher in pitch than dishing out. I did have a grenade go off next to me setting off a nice rumble but that was a bit too little too late.
So while these may not save my life, I kept casting back to Destiny 2. The atmosphere was undeniably enhanced by vibrations on my head and I wanted to explore this further.
It’s the Vibe of the Thing, Your Honour
I loaded up Void Bastards, a new indie stealth shooter that has you explore abandoned space ships. There are a lot of audio cues like the sound of footsteps in other rooms, or even conversations. It also provides a lot of ominous music and noise. There’s this constant sense that you’re about to be discovered by an enemy paired with dread by being alone in space.
The vibrating headphones absolutely took this experience up a notch. The small building rumble that paired with the occasional swell in the soundtrack added intensity my already anxious exploration.
I was on high alert, more so than usual. If anything, this was a bit much for a coward such as I but that’s where the option to turn the vibrations down, or even off comes in.
I didn’t try anything scarier because I know my limits. For purveyors of horror games looking to take it up a notch, I think something vibrating on your head might be just the ticket.
After that, I tried Ape Out – another game locked very closely to its soundtrack. This one is a top-down action game where you build momentum as a gorilla taking out enemies. It features a kinetic jazz drum soundtrack that builds with your movements. It’s a pretty intense experience that reminds me of playing Hotline Miami.
Again, while the experience didn’t help me be better at the game it still added something. Switching between having the vibrations off and on were different experiences. I generally found it more difficult to keep calm while my head was vibrating. The experience was much more intense and if anything I was probably a bit worse at it than without.
It’s good to note that these tests lead to some long play sessions and I didn’t feel fatigued by the vibrations. I often get fed up with wearing headphones because of general discomfort.
If anything I lasted longer in the Razer Nari Ultimate with full vibrations than I do in most other pairs because they’re so comfortable. If I found it too much I also had the option to turn them down or off, so I don’t see this as a real problem with the unit.
Bangers and Mash
Games aren’t the only reason I have to pull out a pair of nice headphones. I listen to a lot of music and the notion of chilling out to some tunes while I get a free head massage has almost limitless appeal to me.
It’s important to note you’re not going to get anything while using your phone as the PC Synapse software is needed. This means train head massages are a bit more difficult to arrange with the Razer Nari Ultimate.
I specifically went through to find bassy music I thought would pair well with vibrations. Predicting what would work seemed almost impossible and was weirdly hit and miss. Some songs would provide nice vibrations and others were, well, unpleasant.
For example, songs where the bass of a kick drum is what gets picked up, can actively suck. It’s a constant thud on your head and can quickly become annoying or even potentially induce a slight headache. Again, the option to turn this down or even off is paramount at times like these.
Other songs that had longer, less harsh transitions in their bass can feel really good. One track I frequently came back to is 6 Underground by Sneaker Pimps. It’s a really smooth mix of a chill song, combined with literal good vibrations. It feels like the kind of thing I could have playing and fall asleep to.
That’s not to say intense songs are inherently bad it’s just a case by case of the bass. Heavy Metal songs would range from feeling really cool to just being too juttery depending largely on the sub-genre and song.
Start a Riot by Duckwrth and Shaboozey (from the Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse Soundtrack) is a loud and heavy song but the bass is long and low making it very satisfying to listen to. To wrap it up perfectly, I went through a whole album by the Arctic Monkeys – who are known for being pretty bassy with heavy drums – and my opinion changed with each one.
The tough part with this is it can be pretty hard to pick what’s going to work. Songs I thought would be excellent didn’t always turn out to be any good. It does add a weird fun to sorting through your music library though.
It also had me wanting to listen to songs louder to sort of counteract the vibrations. I easily spent hours scrolling through songs eager to see what the next one was like to listen to with this added feature. The hearing impaired could also potentially really benefit from this.
But, Do they Resonate?
This is part of why it’s been so difficult to pinpoint how I feel about the Razer Nari Ultimate headset. The vibrating feature is cool but not for everything.
It’s very much a sometimes food and it’s great that you can turn it off but does that make it worth the extra $100. This is very much going to come down to personal preference. It’s absolutely something you’ll probably want to try before you buy, just to see if it drives you nuts.
I think I kind of love it. It’s really cool to spend a few minutes each day just appreciating some music in a new way. I also like being able to play with it and see how this small feature changes my experiences in games. It feels very much like early adopter tech which appeals to the curious but not to the masses.
Because of this, for the general consumer, it’s not quite there yet. Especially not for games. The Synapse app is how the vibrations work, which means it’s controlled specifically by software.
This gives me the hope that perhaps in the future, headsets like these could have rumble programmed like controllers. Why not have the option for it to pick up when a controller would vibrate and use that cue, rather than just bass? Or even the option to swap between this and the way it currently works. I think that would make for a better gaming headset addition than what HyperSense currently achieves.
The difficult thing here is the jump in price for the Razer Nari Ultimate over the regular Nari. You could probably spend the extra money and get a headset that has extra qualities or better sound. It’s hard to justify such a jump when you’re essentially getting a feature you may not use most of the time.
If you’re happy with everything about the regular Nari (which is legitimately, very good) and you have the cash to spare then absolutely get the Razer Nari Ultimate. It’ll give you a weird perspective on a lot of things and probably reconnect you with your favourite playlist.
I wouldn’t expect to suddenly gain a sixth sense in games like some of the adverts try to imply. However, you may feel a little bit more out of some of your games and the free head massages are a nice plus.
A pair of Razer Nari Ultimate headphones were provided by Razer.
Product Name: Razer Nari Ultimate
Product Description: Introducing the Razer Nari Ultimate, featuring Razer HyperSense — a wireless PC gaming headset equipped with intelligent haptic technology developed by Lofelt™ that converts sound signals into dynamic touch-sensory feedback in real time.