I was really surprised when I unboxed the all-new Razer Kraken X headset. It is literally the smallest, and lightest Razer gaming headset I’ve ever seen. Traditionally, Razer headsets have gigantic ear muffs that swallow up your head – presumably to ensure total immersion. The Kraken X is so compact that it honestly look rather mismatched with the glowing Razer logo.
But make no mistake. The exterior might look different but the Kraken blood flows through its plastic shell. The Kraken X delivers excellent gaming immersion with surprisingly good virtual 7.1 surround sound and all while costing less than $100. And it does so without making your head look ridiculous in the process.
Fit and finish
The new ultra-light headset weighs only 250g which makes it perfect for several hours of use. The Kraken X is made out of a light plastic frame with memory foam ear cups and foam underneath the headband. The plastic creaks quite a bit when you stretch the headband out but it’s solid and well constructed.
The Kraken X comes in three colours; ours was the Classic Black but there is also Console Black/ Blue and a gorgeous Mercury White. Each ear cup has a green backlit Razer logo which unfortunately can’t be changed. This isn’t Razer Chroma lighting like on the Kraken Ultimate.
The left ear cup has the only controls — a volume knob and microphone mute button. Here’s where you also find a bendable cardioid microphone that sounds pretty decent. I’ve been wearing them all day long for the last month. Thanks to the current virus crisis, I’ve been fortunate to be able to continue working from home. This means a ton of video calls each day.
The Kraken X mic has worked flawlessly with no complaints from my callers about my volume or clarity. It doesn’t have any fancy noise-cancelling tech like some higher-end mics so be prepared for listeners to pick up your noisy mechanical keyboard and screaming kids.
Unlike the Razer Threshers, the mic on the Kraken X can’t retract into the ear cup. However, I like that you can easily bend it and nestle it against the ear cup to get it out of your face.
The ear cups on the Kraken X are significantly smaller than those on the bigger Kraken or Kraken headsets but you still get great ear coverage. The cushions are nice and soft and are glasses friendly. I don’t get any pressure around the temples when wearing the Kraken X.
I do find the overall clamping force a bit strong and that’s because the plastic headband doesn’t really mould to the shape of your head like some other designs. Thankfully, the soft foam on the headband eliminates any pressure on the top of my head. You can also adjust the height of the band to fit your preference.
Impressive surround sound
The Kraken X has 40mm drivers with a 12 Hz – 28 kHz frequency response. What that translates to in real-world listening is a fairly neutral sounding pair of headphones. They aren’t heavy on the bass but can go deep with the right inputs. The mids and highs are very clear. If you’ve used a Razer Thresher headset, you’ll be familiar with the sound profile here.
The Kraken X uses a USB Type-A connector instead of a 3.5mm audio jack. This enables the software powered virtual 7.1 surround sound. You will need to install the Razer software and an activation code (which is supplied with the headsets). Once installed, you’ll need to sign in with your Razer ID to get it working. Once that’s done, you will notice a marked improvement in the audio coming out of the Kraken X. The sound profile becomes brighter and wider.
I played a lot of The Division 2 while wearing the Kraken X and I was very impressed with their spatial accuracy. I could easily pinpoint Hyena suicide bombers running up from behind me when I was in cover. Footsteps came through very clearly and more often than not, I found myself checking my physical surroundings to be sure what I was hearing was just in-game and not in the real world. Virtual surround sound is very much hit and given that the Kraken X are budget cans — this is a big win for Razer.
Listening to music, however, shows the limitations of the Kraken X’s tonal range. Hip-hop and bass lovers will be underwhelmed. A track I like to use to test frequency response is Killmongers Theme from the Black Panther OST. The intro section has a really deep bass beat that only good headphones will reproduce distortion-free. The Kraken X sounds anemic in this test, especially when compared to something like the incredible Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9 headphones. To be fair, the H9’s are five times as much as the Krakens. However, when watching movies and videos, the dialogue is crystal clear but explosions and other boomy sounds lack power and effect.
Razer says the Kraken X is a multi-platform headset however, it’s important to note that the virtual surround is exclusive to PC users; particularly those running Windows 10 64bit installations. Which means while you can use The Kraken X with your Xbox, PS4 or MacBook, you won’t get the surround sound or the audio amplification that comes with it. So it’s definitely something to keep in mind when making a buying decision.
Verdict: Should you buy?
The Razer Kraken X retails for about $90 which is a very reasonable price especially for a Razer headset with surprisingly good surround sound. The cardioid microphone is quite good and the ear cups are very light and comfortable. However, it’s a bummer that you can only get the most out of the Krakens with a compatible Windows 10 PC. Yes, you can use it with other devices but you won’t get the best sound.
It’s also a shame that you can’t adjust the lighting of the logos on the ear cups and the plastic headband isn’t the best. In saying all that, there’s really little to complain about with the Kraken X. If you are on a budget and only need headsets for your PC, then the Razer Kraken X is hard to beat.
The Razer Kraken X was provided to PowerUp! by Razer Australia for the purpose of this review.