Razer has just launched the new Razer BlackShark V2 Pro as a sort of mid-generation 2023 update to its original V2 Pro. But really, I'd have probably forgiven it for slapping on a V3 moniker as Razer has genuinely improved on what is still one of our favourite wireless gaming headsets.
But is it sufficiently improved to co-exist in a world where the original V2 Pro is still being sold by the bucketload, and getting on for near $100 less? That positioning and potential fratricide is the real issue for this 2023 edition of the headset, because otherwise it's a great set of cans.
And, impressively, comes with a great headset mic, too. That's a welcome trend in modern gaming headsets, and I'm glad Razer is getting onboard because the mic on the OG version was pretty ropy if I'm being honest.
Still, the original Razer BlackShark V2 Pro gaming headset was the one that made me cheat on my previously beloved Audeze LCD-1 planar magnetic cans. The desire for a wireless headset was stronger than the admitted improvement in audio quality of Audeze's audiophile headphones. And, thanks to its Cloud Alpha-aping multi-chamber earcup design, the BlackShark V2 Pro's TriForce Titanium drivers deliver a really damned good aural experience whether we're talking in-game or with high-res audio music files.
The quality of life updates are likely the first things you'll notice about the new BlackShark V2 Pro 2023, such as the USB Type-C connection, tweaked volume knob, and an added audio profile switch button on the right ear cup. One of the benefits of that Type-C connection is that it's able to offer fast charging of the headset.
You get a reported 70 hours of battery life out of the new V2 Pro, which is on the 2.4GHz wireless connection, and some 90 hours if you stick to a Bluetooth 5.2 connection. But, while you can charge and listen at the same time, just a 15 minute charge should net you up to six hours of game time.
I've been using my set for just over a week now, straight out of the box, and still haven't had to charge yet. As of right now I'm on 55%, so I've still got a long way to go.
The wireless connection is rock solid, as was the original V2 Pro, but I will say it's a touch disappointing to be without the option to use a 3.5mm audio cable as Razer has pulled that option from this 2023 update. It's only a small thing, but it does cut a little of the versatility of the headset. Still, wireless audio is why you pay the big bucks for a V2 Pro, so we can't be too upset to lose the analogue option.
Razer has also added a little extra padding to the headband, and reportedly fixed up the fitting adjustment sliders on either side of the frame. Razer had a few issues with those breaking over time with the previous version of the V2 Pro, and so has added a little strengthening to the perceived weak point.
Razer has also removed the need to have Synapse running on your system. I can sense the reflected joy from that statement; I too have felt the pain of Razer's sometimes painful, often intrusive software ecosystem. This 2023 edition comes with a set of audio profiles built into the headset itself, accessible from that new profile switch on the side. A long press of which also cues up some pro-tuned, per-game profiles for Apex Legends, Call of Duty, CS:GO, Fortnite, and Valorant.
You can still use Synapse though, with its mic adjustments and audio enhancements, and that will give you the ability to tune the custom EQ and upload it to the headset, too. But it's nice not to be wholly tied to the Razer app.
It's worth talking about that mic, because that's arguably the biggest change with this 2023 edition. The mic is still detachable, but it's been seriously and tangibly enhanced. For one the actual boom arm itself is more rigid and should stop it drifting away from your mouth over time, but the actual quality has been stepped up. A lot.
You can hear the quality of the mic from our out of context gaming quotes script. It's rocking a 32KHz sampling rate, but also manages to cut out a whole load of background noise while it's at it, too. We've seen a load of new gaming headsets prioritising their microphones—it's a welcome trend for sure—and Razer has made a really significant upgrade to the BlackShark V2 Pro in that regard.
The overall sound quality hasn't changed, by which I mean it's still excellent. I was always a big fan of the Razer TriForce drivers since the original BlackShark V2, and their appearance in the V2 Pro and this 2023 update make just as much of an impact. They're clear, tight, and deliver a genuinely impressive, immersive soundscape for a closed back set of cans.
That's largely down to the multi-chamber design, cribbed from the Cloud Alpha drivers, which somehow manages to get close to the same sort of broad aural experience I normally associate with an open back headset. Switch on THX Spatial audio and listen to your game worlds really come to life, really the tonal separation is surprising for a closed back headset.
I've thrown my usual high-res audio tracks down its wireless tubes, too. The War on Drugs soar, Swifty slaps, and the slap bass of Rage Against the Machine comes through precise and without the sort of muddiness you'll get from more standard gaming headsets that prioritise bass over everything else.
You can do that with the BlackShark V2 Pro 2023 headset if you wish—the movie EQ is particularly thumpy—but that means you do lose some of the clarity in the mid tones.
✅ You need a good headset mic: The super wideband microphone on the new BlackShark V2 Pro is seriously impressive. With a 32KHz sampling rate, and some excellent sound isolation, it comes through super clear.
❌ You can find the original BlackShark V2 Pro on sale for less: The original headset still has the same rock solid wireless connection, and the same great-sounding drivers, which means it's only the mic that makes a big difference here.
I still think the Audeze Maxwell wireless headset, with its gorgeous planar magnetic drivers, is the pinnacle of cable-free gaming headphones, but that's also another $100 more expensive than the new BlackShark V2 Pro. But at $200 it's not like this 2023 edition is cheap. And that's going to be an issue when you can still buy the original V2 Pro headset for $120.
We don't know when Razer is going to stop making the older version either, because as of today I believe they're in production. That means it's going to be a long time before they get entirely replaced by the 2023 version.
Which makes a final recommendation trickier than it would have been in isolation. The $200 price point is steep, but it's a lot cheaper than the excellent Audeze headset or the more SteelSeries Nova Pro, or Turtle Beach Stealth Pro and gives an aural experience I would happily put up there with both of those premium sets. But that aural experience is largely the same as you'll get from the $120 BlackShark V2 Pro from 2020, which means you're paying another $80 for an admittedly great headset mic, and some less tangible quality of life updates.
Once the OG V2 goes away, it's a no-brainer, but until then, as good as this 2023 update is, this audio quality is available for less in an almost identical form. Just with a bit of a ropy mic.