At the CES briefing, I audibly groaned during the Razer press briefing when they announced the new Kraken V3 HyperSense. My immediate thought was here we go again with the haptic gimmicks. Razer already tried this with the Razer Nari headsets a few years ago to questionable response from gamers. The premise behind HyperSense is that you feel the audio in as much as you hear it. The new Kraken V3 HyperSense therefore adds haptic feedback into the ear cups to rattle your head appropriately. Does it work? Absolutely. Does it work perfectly? Absolutely not. But make no mistake, these new Krakens sound fantastic thanks to the combination of great fit, 50mm Triforce drivers and of course HyperSense.
Razer Kraken V3 HyperSense
Retailing for AUD $225, the Kraken V3 HyperSense isn’t the cheapest headset but you certainly get what you pay for. Razer has outdone themselves and this is the best looking, fitting and sounding headset they’ve ever made. The Kraken name is kinda infamous, having been around for a long time and this refresh undoubtedly shares the DNA but has a greater polish to it. The first time I saw the Kraken V3, it looked like an expensive audiophile headphone.
The steel-reinforced headband is thick, generously padded and lightweight. It sits lightly on your head while supporting the giant circular ear cups that swallow your ears and shroud them in a hybrid fabric and leatherette memory foam cushions that are wonderfully comfortable to wear for ages. I wear glasses and had no problem with these muffs which is great considering the pounding the HyperSense can give your ears at it’s highest setting. The cups can tilt a few degrees vertically making it easy to find a great fit on different head shapes.
Outside of each cup is the gorgeous milled grill pattern that surrounds a circular indent housing the appropriately RGB lit, triple snake head logo. It looks very tasteful with a matching glowing ring around the inner lining of the circle. The only controls on the cups are the volume and mic mute toggle on the left cup and the HyperSense sensitivity toggle on the right cup. There are four levels to choose from; low, medium, high and off.
The Kraken V3 HyperSense connects via a fixed USB-A braided cable that is really long at 2meters which is more than adequate for most desk setups. It will work with Windows PC’s, Macs and even the Playstation 4/5 but if you plan on couch gaming, you’re going to need a much longer cable. Technically, the Kraken V3’s will work plug and play thanks to the haptic driver engine being built into the headset itself but to really get the most out of the Kraken V3’s, you will need a Windows device that can run Razer Synapse software and THX Spatial audio drivers.
The software opens up a world of customisation including EQ’s, mic controls, spatial audio configuration and so much more. Honestly, it’s a bit much and I think the Kraken V3 would have profited from a much simpler software controls but it’s fine. Speaking of mic’s, the Kraken V3 has a detachable flexible boom mic that uses Razer’s HyperClear Cardoid tech. There are a ton of control options in Synapse to adjust how the mic sounds but overall, it sounds pretty good. My voice sounds very clear with enough tonality to not sound tinny or compressed. The additional windshield does great a keeping those plosives away and I don’t think anyone will be unhappy with this mic.
Thanks to those 50mm Triforce drivers, the Kraken V3 HyperSense sounds fantastic across games, music and video. The drivers have three separate chambers for highs, mids and lows so that the audio is clean across the frequencies. It’s not audiophile level clean and I did notice a fair bit of muddyness in the bass especially when the HyperSense feature was active. Nevertheless, the drivers do a great job at capturing spatial positioning which is important in games. Additionally, the Kraken V3 supports THX Spatial audio for an even more immersive, surround experience especially in games like Call of Duty Warzone and Forza Horizon 5 which are THX Certified.
But the addition of HyperSense is what truly makes the Kraken V3 special. It uses Lofelt L5 haptic drivers in each ear cup paired with a built-in Digital Signal Processor or DSP that does real-time processing of audio to produce the relevant haptics. This allows the haptics to work on any device without the need of software. However, what this means in practice is that the haptics can be a little hit and miss because they aren’t programmed into the game and so the headset is trying to work out by itself what should rumble and what should tingle.
So, in some games, the haptics were excellent, matching beat for beat with my gunshots and explosions. In other games like Doom Eternal, it was a bit of a mess with so much going on that the headset seemed to get confused. In CoD: Warzone, anything other than the highest setting was barely noticeable and yet the highest setting is far too disorienting because your head is rattling from the pounding. It’s also near impossible to properly ping enemy footsteps when the HyperSense is so high. Bear in mind that there are four levels of haptic sensitivity to choose from where low is very subtle, almost imperceptible while high is a headache inducing pounding. Everyone has different tolerance levels but I found the medium setting was the best overall for most games.
Listening to music is honestly where I appreciated the haptics even more than gaming. I’m a self-confessed bass head and I love the sound of rumbling bass. But the experience of feeling the rumbling bass compared to just hearing it is something I can only equate to my younger years of hanging out with friends whose cars were kitted out with absurd subwoofers. Try listening to Hellwalker from the Doom Soundtrack with haptics turned to the max and tell me you weren’t impressed. I experimented with the levels and found that the low, sometimes medium, setting was enough to give all my music a richness without utterly muddying the lower frequencies with all the vibration going on.
However, it’s not all sunshine and disco ponies. The HyperSense is absolutely atrocious at handling human voices in dialogue such as on Youtube, movies and worse, game chat and Zoom meetings. The headset rumbles like crazy to peoples voices and it desperately needs to be patched to better ignore voices.
The Razer Kraken V3 HyperSense are the most exciting headsets I’ve reviewed in a long, long time. As I said at the start of this review, I wasn’t a believer but after a few days of using them to listen to jams on Spotify or finish the Halo Infinite campaign, I was convinced that Razer are on to something. Even though the haptics don’t always work correctly, most of the time it’s just a push of a button to adjust the levels and find something that works for the particular medium your are in. If you are a puritan, audiophile or someone who wants absolutely precise audio so you can hear enemies breathing from halfway across the map, then these are most certainly not the headsets for you.
But for anyone who just wants a jolly good time with some tunes or satisfying gunshots, the Kraken V3 is for you and honestly, there really isn’t anything else quite like them. I can honestly say that when I really want the highest immersion into my games or music, I reach for the Kraken V3 HyperSense because it just puts a smile on my face in a way no other headset can. Well done Razer.