Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma Headset Review
Here we have our second of three reviews in Razer’s latest and first multicoloured Gaming range, the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma headset (8886419370536). Another rather stylish looking peripheral from what many would consider to be the worlds most renowned manufacturer of PC Gaming peripherals. Now I’ve been PC Gaming for ermmm… Quite a long time actually (probably since before many of you were born…). I’ve also had various Razer Gaming mice throughout the years including the Boomslang, Copperhead, DeathAdder, Mamba and Lachesis (loved this mouse to bits and interestingly Razer’s first RGB backlit product), I’ve even owned some of their Gaming keyboards in the form of the Tarantula, Arctosa, Lycosa and BlackWidow. However I’ve never even seen a Razer Gaming headset in the flesh let alone used one (odd eh?). So what does the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma bring to the table?
Apart from offering typical Razer styling, the Kraken 7.1 Chroma is a Razer Synapse enabled Gaming headset, with a closed ear cup and circumaural design, an enhanced retractable digital microphone, 7.1 virtual surround sound, powerful 40mm neodymium drivers, foldable design for ultimate portability and 16.8 million colour options courtesy of the Chroma backlighting.
‘CHROMA LIGHTING WITH 16.8 MILLION CUSTOMIZABLE COLOUR OPTIONS
Made to give you all the freedom you need to set yourself apart, your Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma opens up a world of extreme personalization possibilities. From your own custom uniquely programmed palette of colours, to preloaded lighting effects, all set easily through Razer Synapse, the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma lets you express yourself in a way that’s unique only to you.’
All sounds good on paper, perhaps we should take a closer look?
I must admit I’m a big fan of neon green and the familiar packaging for Razer products is always really nice to see. Just like the majority of their products, the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma arrived in a stylish satin black box with a Razer green name and logo, the Kraken 7.1 name in chrome, the Chroma name in a spectrum of colours and a rather nice glossy image of the headset itself. The box front also gives us a few of the headsets key features:
- True-To-Life Positional Audio
- Personalized Audio Calibration
- Enhanced Digital Microphone
Over on the back and in the same contrasting style, the box gives us a breakdown of all the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma features as well as an image of the headset pinpointing the key features as follows:
- Closed Ear Cup Design For Optimal Sound Isolation
- Advanced 7.1 Virtual Surround Engine
- Enhanced Digital Microphone
- Powerful Drivers For Highest-Quality Gaming Audio
- Lighting Effects On Headset Logo
On the right side the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma box gives us fairly detailed descriptions of the Chroma features of the headset, 7.1 virtual surround engine and personalized sound calibration.
Whilst on the right the packaging gives us details on the Kraken 7.1 digital microphone and offers comparisons to a standard microphone (please see specifications/features below).
Popping open the box gives us a good view of the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma in the flesh via a removable plastic window and I must admit I rather like the look of it. On the inside of the Razer green door we have the usual ‘Congratulations, there is no turning back’ and ‘Welcome to the Cult of Razer’, which kinda gives me both a sense of both excitement and foreboding. 😮
With the window removed we can clearly see how safely packaged the headset is inside a moulded plastic tray and kept in place by two reusable tie clips.
- Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma Headset
- Product Information Guide
- Product Rewards Certificate
- Razer Case Stickers
courtesy of Razer
‘ADVANCED 7.1 VIRTUAL SURROUND SOUND ENGINE
True-to-life positional audio
The Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma comes equipped with an advanced 7.1 virtual surround sound engine that immerses you deeper into the game. The engine is capable of ultra-low latency audio processing and modulates the audio source to simulate a 360⁰ surround sound experience that is usually achievable only by incorporating more than one positional driver in each ear cup.’
‘PERSONALIZED AUDIO CALIBRATION
Razer’s powerful Synapse unified configuration software is capable of a high degree of customization, allowing you to tweak the engine to specifically position each surround sound channel, boost bass levels and even balance incoming voice audio for astounding aural precision.
The sophisticated engine also allows you to control surround and positional audio settings for each individual program, ensuring that you get the best possible experience whether you are playing a game, watching a movie or listening to music.’
‘ENHANCED DIGITAL MICROPHONE
The left ear cup houses an enhanced digital microphone boom that pulls out only when you need it, maintaining the headset’s sleek form factor while protecting the microphone during transportation and storage. The flexible design and integrated mute button allow the microphone to be adjusted to individual needs, ensuring that it is always positioned the way you need it.
The omnidirectional digital microphone comes equipped with an optimized algorithm, promising a pristine voice quality unachievable through traditional analog microphones. Boasting an impressive signal-to-noise ratio, extended wideband frequency response and higher sensitivity rating, the Kraken 7.1 Chroma’s digital microphone is capable of:
- Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma surround sound gaming headset
- Advanced 7.1 virtual surround sound engine
- Enhanced digital microphone
- Designed for extended gaming comfort
- Chroma lighting with 16.8 million customizable colour options
- Razer Synapse enabled
- Powerful drivers for highest-quality gaming audio
- Closed ear cup design for optimal sound isolation
- Foldable ear cups for maximum portability
- Drivers: 40mm with Neodymium
- Frequency response: 20Hz–20kHz
- Impedance: 32Ω
- Sensitivity @ 1kHz: 112dB
- Output power: 30mW
- Connector: Gold plated USB
- Cable length: 2m/6.56ft braided USB cable
- Approximate weight: 340g (including 2.0m cable)
- Frequency response: 100Hz–12kHz
- Sensitivity @ 1kHz: -40dB ± 4dB
- Signal-to-noise ratio: 63dB
- Pick-up pattern: Unidirectional
- PC / Mac with USB port ;PlayStation 4 (when plugged into PS 4 only spectrum cycling lighting effects is available)
- Windows® 8 / Windows® 7 / Windows Vista® / Mac OS X (10.7-10.9)
- Internet connection (for driver installation)
- At least 100MB of free hard disk space
Out of the box and my initial impressions of the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma are good. Despite its styling and slim appearance, the headset feels deceptively heavy weighing in at 340g. The design reminds me of some of the SteelSeries headsets we’ve seen before (or should that be vice-versa?), which is certainly no bad thing. I like the satin black look with the contrasting Razer name on the headband and the build quality feels pretty good all round.
The right ear cup offers a nice and fairly uncomplicated design. Featuring an arm made of a quality plastic in satin black, which doubles up as a large frame for the inner cup. Which itself again is black, it’s an ever so slightly different tone and features a honeycomb glossy black mesh detailing surrounding the Chroma illuminated Razer tri-snake logo.
The left ear cup is nigh on identical bar the USB based audio cable protruding from the bottom and a retractable microphone.
Despite the different shades of black, I personally think this does not detract from what I think is a good looking headset.
The outer headband is covered in a very soft and slightly textured (perhaps natural looking) matte black leatherette. This combined with the loudness of the neon green Razer brand name offers a great contrast and looks good.
The inner headband features what what seems to be a soft microfibre waffle texture cloth covering, with a very thin foam padding. Whilst I can see the benefit of the fabric covering throughout lengthy Gaming sessions, I’d had preferred the same soft leatherette as used on the outer headband.
Looking more closely at the ear cups shows they feature both an up and down tilt on the main body, then the over ear part features a left and right tilt. To help make the movement of the secondary tilt a little smoother and help dampen the sound, the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma has a thin sponge covering, which I think is a nice touch.
The inner cup is of a round circumaural (over ear) design with a covering made of the same soft leatherette as the headband. The foam padding is approximately 25mm thick which combined with the tilt adjusters should be more than enough to keep the Kraken comfortable. The 40mm driver within the cup has a black elasticated fine mesh covering.
Whilst nicely designed, one potential issue for the cups themselves is the shape. They are perfectly round and circumaural, but the inner diameter that actually covers the ear is just 47mm. This means anyone with slightly larger than average ears might find them sitting on their ears rather than over them.
As mentioned before, the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma features a partially concealed and retractable microphone. This is always a good feature to have on a headset as you can easily hide the microphone boom away without removing and potentially losing it (not that I’ve ever done so heading off to LAN parties).
When fully extended the microphone boom has a soft black plastic coating and measures 123mm from ear cup to microphone tip. The microphone itself features an LED at the tip, which illuminates white whilst the microphone is on. On the inside of the tip we not only have the microphone itself, but a mute button. Another nice little feature by Razer as I’m always fumbling around with an in-line remote trying to find that mute button.
Taking a look at the adjustable sliders on the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma shows an a maximum extension of 40mm either side, which should be plenty enough for almost anyone.
Given that headsets aren’t always the most convenient things to hide away when not in use (wouldn’t you rather be showing them off anyway!?) and often not easily packed away for LAN events. The Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma not only features the retractable microphone, but also a very flexible plastic headband and the ear cups can be folded up inside the headband to minimise their footprint and for ultimate portability.
The Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma is a plug and play headset powered via USB. So it’s a very easy install for the Test Rig. Of course to reap the full benefits of the 7.1 virtual surround sound and Chroma features, an install of Razer Synapse 2.0 was also required (available here).
The Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma was tested using our Test Rig, running Windows 7 64bit (service pack 1) with all necessary Drivers installed as well as Razer Synapse 2.0 to allow us to test the additional features.
The following Games were used during testing:
- Battlefield 4
- Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
- Metro Last Light (benchmark)
- Unigine Heaven (benchmark)
The most important attribute of any headset is of course its audio performance and this will be subjective to the end user. Out of the box and with factory settings the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma is a little bass heavy (which I personally rather like), but does come at the expense of dulling the sound a little within both mid and high range tones (this seems most evident during narration or in game character chat), whilst the 7.1 virtual surround actually sounds pretty good in my opinion and helps immerse you into some of the more atmospheric Games like Shadow of Mordor and Metro Last Light, it also gives a slight echo to audible vocals which isn’t always ideal. With a few tweaks within Razer Synapse 2.0 you can quite easily (and with a little patience) get a sound that your more than happy with and doesn’t disappoint. If you decide 7.1 virtual surround sound really isn’t your thing, you can even switch the Synapse mixer to stereo which is also application specific which is a nice touch.
The Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma is one incredibly comfortable headset. The up/down, left/right tilt adjust, 40mm adjustable arms combined with the 25mm foam ear cushions with their soft leatherette covering are lovely and will fit almost any head very comfortably.
However with a 45mm diameter hole in the middle of the cushions, they are unlikely to fit over ear on a lot of people (luckily for me I have rather small ears).
The Kraken isn’t just incredibly convenient with its retractable unidirectional microphone, but it is easy to position given its flexibility, looks great with its sleek design and tipped with a white LED, but what does this matter if it isn’t up to the task in hand? Luckily the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma microphone performance is pretty good and does the job just as well as any other Gaming headset.
Despite being a plug and play USB headset, to really get the best out of the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma you’ll also need to install Razer Synapse 2.0 (available here). The software is nice, easy to use and pretty flexible. The first header gives you the option to fine tune Kraken’s 7.1 virtual surround sound using the audio effects of a helicopter (oddly once you close your eyes it does sound like its flying around your head). The audio header allows for simple volume control, bass boost, sound normalization (adjusts sound frequency and balances them out offering a more stereo type quality when set on high). Whilst voice clarity offers you presence level (allows you to alter incoming communication by adjusting audio filtering, this can give a slight delay and echo to incoming vocals which personally I didn’t like) as well as your incoming volume level. Mic is pretty self explanatory and gives you mic volume, sensitivity, mute, volume normalization and ambient noise reduction.
For the final three headers, Razer Synapse 2.0 features a mixer (yep, exactly that. More or less the same as Windows open volume mixer), EQ (graphic equaliser which if I’m honest isn’t great given the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma is a Gaming headset (music played back over 7.1 virtual surround must be an acquired taste and one I certainly don’t share). Then we have the key feature of all the Razer Chroma line-up, lighting. In here we can choose static lighting (one colour) which is customizable to any of 16.8 million colours, breathing with the same choice of colours, or the Chroma showcase effect which is spectrum cycling (this cycles slowly through a preset selection of 40 colours).
All in Razer Synapse 2.0 is pretty comprehensive in the audio stakes, however like many other audio driving software suites available, you’ll probably only use it a handful of times before forgetting it’s there. However this is something you will certainly not want to do! Why you ask? Well for a lot of applications such as music, some films and VOIP software 7.1 virtual surround sound can either sound awkward or downright terrible. If we head back to the mixer tab within Razer Synapse 2.0 there is a little icon beside the individual application mute which allows you to switch from 7.1 virtual surround to standard 2.0 stereo. 🙂
Hot on the heals of our recent Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Chroma keyboard review, we have our second product in the Chroma range, the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma headset (you may want to keep an eye out for a third coming real soon). Although it is always nice to have a matching set of peripherals for aesthetics alone, you’ll also want the performance to match. So how well does the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma actually perform?
The Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma arrived in a good looking satin black and neon green box with glossy imagery as is typical of the Razer design. Inside it was suitably well protected in a fabric covered and moulded plastic tray, then held in place by reusable rubber ties.
Once out of the box and on closer inspection, I found the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma to not only look good with its predominantly satin black colouring and wonderfully contrasting neon green Razer logo on the headband, but to also have a build quality to match. Which for some odd reason I wasn’t really expecting. It really is very good. The Chroma multicoloured LED lighting is just a bit of a bonus really. The colour representation is bright and vibrant, whilst spectrum cycling looks great, but only the ear cup logos light up and as a result it is something you’ll never notice whilst in use (although it will surely be admired by others 😉 ).
Whilst not hugely heavy weighing 340g, the Kraken offers full sized circumaural ear cups, with plush 25mm foam ear cushions and soft leatherette coverings. Combined with the multi tilt adjustability and retractable arms allowing 40mm of play either side, makes the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma one very comfortable headset. The only downside to the design of the ear cups is the fairly small diameter of the hole your ear sits in. At only 47mm, the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma runs perilously close to becoming less of a comfortable over ear headset and more of a less comfortable on ear headset for those with larger than average ears.
So far the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma has got the style, quality and comfort, but how does it sound? Well the good news is as a Gaming headset it performs pretty well. Sure, out of the box and whilst using 7.1 virtual surround sound it is fairly bass heavy (which incidentally I like when Gaming), that has the side effect of dulling down the mid and high tones a little (this is especially evident during narration and in game vocals), but it can be adjusted via Razer Synapse 2.0 to better suit your requirements. If the 7.1 virtual surround isn’t something you want whilst running an application (certainly not in VOIP), you can simply switch it using the Razer Synapse 2.0 mixer to stereo. So it turns out to be very good for Gaming (the bit we’re interested in) and with a little tweaking here and there, not bad for everything else too.
With an SRRP of £79.99 the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma covers all the necessary bases, however there is a lot of competition in the Gaming headset market and while I really liked the headset (I’ll emphasise that too!), I can think of at least two slightly cheaper alternatives that I’d personally rather own. Sadly neither have multicoloured lighting or offer the same storage and portability advantage. One thing the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma far excels other headsets in is matching up with the other Razer products, so if your planning on buying the BlackWidow Chroma and/or DeathAdder Chroma you probably shouldn’t be asking which headset you should be buying. 😉
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Many thanks to Razer for providing this sample for review