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We tested 23 mainstream gaming headsets to find the best

Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma

Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma

Style and lights!

- Design: closed-back
- Interface: analog
- Audio: 3/10
- Microphone clarity: 5.5/10
- Comfort: 3.5/10
- Detachable cable: no
- Extras: LED lighting
- Price: $100

Razer’s Kraken series are probably the company’s most popular headset and it’s easy to see why. The company made a good play on Beats’ headphones and the simple styling is appealing to many. The Kraken is a lightweight headset that boasts LED lighting effects, and if those were the pluses, there are unfortunately many more negatives.

Frequency response

Frequency response

Distortion

Distortion

Left/right driver balance

Left/right driver balance

Latest prices on Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma

Right off the bat, the Kraken sounds dry and muted. The sound is compressed and soundstage is basically nonexistent. Razer also chose to make the Kraken bass-heavy. The bass lacks total control, isn’t musical at all, and sounds boomy. In fact, the bass response completely ruins all the other frequencies.

The mids and highs sound raspy, and there’s no detail resolving ability. In terms of resolution, the Kraken falls short here too: S-sounds are replaced with sh-sounds, and the overall tone of the Kraken lacks depth.

In the charts, the Kraken 7.1 Chroma begins to fall steeply after 300Hz. This is well within the vocal range, and so communication quality suffers in general, as well as with vocal heavy music. The drivers then climb up again after 2kHz, and although the transients are piercing, it almost sounds like the drivers are being either covered up, or the drivers are just of poor quality.

Convenience wise, both the cable and the microphone are non-detachable. There’s also no in-line volume adjustment or mute switch, which is something included in the Kraken Pro.

The Kraken 7.1 Chroma is mainly designed with appearance in mind, and I’m starting to feel like headsets that have LED lighting on them are mainly designed to be worn by sponsored esports players so that brands can show off which headset is being used. If the Kraken 7.1 Chroma was designed with advertisement in mind, I’d say it does this well. For everything else like gaming and music, your $100 is much better spent somewhere else.

Razer Kraken Pro

Razer Kraken Pro

Identical in audio performance to 7.1 Chroma.

- Design: closed-back
- Interface: analog
- Audio: 3/10
- Microphone clarity: 5.5/10
- Comfort: 3.5/10
- Detachable cable: no
- Extras: None
- Price: $80

The Razer Kraken Pro is identical to the Kraken 7.1 Chroma. However, it forgoes LED lighting, and the simulated 7.1 sound (which doesn’t work). It does however, include in-line volume adjustment and a mute switch.

Frequency response

Frequency response

Distortion

Distortion

Left/right driver balance

Left/right driver balance

Latest prices on Razer Kraken Pro

The Kraken series does not perform well in any form. My recommendation is skip, unless Razer comes out with a new Kraken that truly focuses on performance.

Razer Tiamat 2.2

Razer Tiamat 2.2

Tiamat, the dragon!

- Design: closed-back
- Interface: analog
- Audio: 3/10
- Microphone clarity: 5/10
- Comfort: 5/10
- Detachable cable: no
- Extras: None
- Price: $100

The Tiamat 2.2 is the smaller brother to the Tiamat 7.1. The design language is almost the same and some may find it appealing. It’s got a rugged, almost military style to it, and is large enough for extra big heads. It’s lightweight and self adjusting so it sits well on your head, but for the most part, the ear pads are stiff and become uncomfortable after an hour.

Frequency response

Frequency response

Distortion

Distortion

Left/right driver balance

Left/right driver balance

Latest prices on Razer Tiamat 2.2

On the audio front, the Tiamat 2.2 doesn’t fare much better than the Kraken series. There is a lot of bass, but it’s got loads of distortion—well above 10% and well above 100Hz. This isn’t bass. At least, it’s not musical bass. It’s just a lot of uncontrolled rumble. It’s so boomy that even the microphone rattles, which is annoying.

In terms of tone, the Tiamat suffers the same fate as the Kraken. There’s very little resolution and detail retrieving ability, and its transient response has strange spikes and dips. The overall sound has an emphasis on mid-bass frequencies and essentially nothing else, so there’s no clarity to audio. There's also a fair amount of discrepancy between the left and right drivers. This indicates

The Tiamat 2.2 is an exercise in appearance design and little else. Its saving grace, which isn’t much, is that it’s better than the Tiamat 7.1 in audio performance. But then again, the sound from the Tiamat 7.1 is simply awful.

I do not recommend you spend a hard-earned $100 on this headset.

Razer Blackshark

Razer Blackshark

Maybe a bit more dark gray than black?

- Design: closed-back
- Interface: analog
- Audio: 7.5/10
- Microphone clarity: 8/10
- Comfort: 8/10
- Detachable cable: no
- Extras: None
- Price: $100

If you’re in the market for a headset and must have a Razer, the Blackshark is the company’s best headset. In fact, it’s the company’s only good headset. Unfortunately, the design, which is like a helicopter pilot’s headset, is not for everyone. But it’s well made , feels strong, and provides a remarkable difference in audio quality from every other Razer headset.

Frequency response

Frequency response

Distortion

Distortion

Left/right driver balance

Left/right driver balance

Latest prices on Razer Blackshark

The Blackshark’s audio quality is relatively good, and is easily Razer’s top performer. In terms of performance, the Blackshark has both resolution and good soundstage. Music on the Blackshark is balanced and there’s very few sudden spikes or dips. However, there’s a gradual slope from 500Hz to 4kHz which makes the mids sound slightly muddy. Performance returns above 5kHz and the Blackshark is able to produce crisp and clean highs. Its transient response is good as well, and clearly helps in its soundstage performance, again, easily Razer’s best in this category.

I do wish that the Blackshark had better low-frequency extension, even though its bass is clean and has a good amount of slam. There’s a drop after 40Hz that decays from 80dB down to just about 60dB at 10Hz but overall the tonal quality remains good.

Comforts are a strength for the Blackshark too. The earpads are very comfortable to wear and headclamp strength is good and never inducing unwanted pressure. Out of all of Razer’s headsets, the Blackshark is the best in terms of constructions. It’s mostly metal, and yet still lightweight. Even though the microphone is all metal and industrial-like, it’s fully detachable. It’s the most comfortable headset Razer offers.

Tuan is the Editor-in-Chief of Maximum PC, and loves all things tech. He's been building PCs and ruffling feathers in the industry for 20 years, and isn't afraid to call out bad products and services. In fact, it's very common to hear the words "this is shit" escape his lips. If you want to know if something is "Kick-Ass" or not, email or tweet him.