Razer Kraken 7.1 V2 Review
Pros: Exceptional sound quality, very comfortable
Cons: Microphone quality is so-so, not as convenient to use as other products
Our Analysis and Test Results
While the Kraken by Razer is an excellent headset, it failed to claim an Editors' Choice, with that distinction going to the HyperX Cloud II, even though it scored a point lower than the Kraken. This is mainly due to the extreme discrepancy between the performance of the Kraken in our audio and in our microphone tests, with our thoughts that most people would rather have a solid audio and microphone performance, rather than sacrificing microphone quality for slightly better sound --especially as these two headsets have the same list price. The Kraken did fall short of the GAME ONE by a single point, with the GAME ONE having outstanding audio and microphone quality, but costing around $70 more.
To draw conclusions about which headset is really the best, we looked and close to a hundred different currently available products and consulted our hardcore gaming friends, then picked the 11 most promising models to purchase and test side-by-side. We split our testing process into a handful of weighted rating metrics, with the Kraken's standings against its peers discussed below.
Comprising the largest portion of the overall score at 40%, the set of tests that make up our Comfort metric are the most significant to each headset's final score. Our testers loved the ample padding and spacious ear cups of the Kraken, helping it earn an 8 out of 10 in this metric — putting it close to the top of the entire group.The majority of our testers were more than happy to wear the Kraken for periods in excess of 10 hours, but one or two of our testers thought it put a bit too much pressure on the ears. Another common complaint with this headset is that it always seems to be exceptionally loud, so most testers developed the habit of turning their volume all the way down, putting on the Kraken, and then creeping up on an acceptable volume level, rather than continually blasting their eardrums switching between headsets.
The headband and the ear cups are both padded with leatherette. The fit is a bit on the snug side, but the soft padding somewhat makes up for this. The ear cups are decently large, measuring about 2.25" across in length and width, but we did notice the leatherette padding can get a bit stuffy and sticky on warmer days, compared to the velour or microfiber mesh. This headset is on the heavier side at almost 12 ounces, but it's balanced enough that it doesn't feel too hefty.
Our next metric — audio quality — is where the Kraken truly shines, receiving one of the top scores that we have seen to date. This metric is worth 30% of the total score, improving the Kraken's final score considerably.
This headset got off to a great start in our music quality test, doing an outstanding job. It's almost perfectly balanced, with just a slight emphasis on the bass to make it even more immersive when playing a game with a rich, orchestra-heavy soundtrack.
It also solidly clamps around your ears to minimize outside sound or conversations, reducing the noise by approximately 20-40% — quite impressive, without active noise canceling.
It delivered another phenomenal performance in our voice test, portraying our teammate's voices exceptionally crisp, clear, and understandable with full sound — similar to real life.
This headset continued its dominance in our trio of benchmarking tests as well. It displayed exceptionally rounded and full bass tones in our bass quality test, with only a minuscule amount of parasitic buzz. The tone stayed almost perfectly centered between left and right throughout the frequency spectrum in the driver matching test and the binaural test perfectly conveyed the illusion of someone knocking on a wooden door to your sides and behind you.
For 20% of the overall score, we evaluated the quality of the microphone on each product. The performance of the Kraken plummeted in this metric, earning a rather mediocre 5 out of 10 — a bit disappointing, considering its prior stellar performances — and dropped to the middle of the pack.
The microphone on the Kraken transmits voice that comes across clear and understandable, but it sometimes sounds slightly distorted and off — as if you were talking to someone from across the room, rather than face to face. However, we did appreciate that we hardly ever got feedback when using this headset and there wasn't any persistent buzzing in our tests. We also found the volume to vary wildly while in use — this microphone works great when it does work and is super finicky when it doesn't. This lack of reliability is the main factor for its mediocre score.
The Kraken does do an excellent job of filtering out side conversations and other external sounds, with the mic hardly ever keying up for anything besides the wearer talking, but this wasn't enough to redeem its overall unreliable voice transmission.
Ease of Use
For the remaining 10% of the score for the Razer Kraken, we evaluated how convenient it is to actually use and looked for anything that caused frustration. The Kraken again failed to impress in this metric, earning a 5 out of 10 for its somewhat underwhelming performance.
There aren't any inline controls or controls on the headset to adjust volume, but you can use the button on the mic to mute it, which you can do reasonably fast, but not as fast as the models that have you simply lift the mic out of the way.
The cord on this headset is also a little on the shorter side at 6.7', which can be a bit restricting. Neither the cable nor the mic is detachable, but you do have the option to enable a mic sidetone — a handy feature, as the earcups do such a good job of blocking out external noise that it can be hard to hear yourself talk.
The Kraken is a solid headset at a reasonable price, making it a solid value. You can get more well-rounded headsets for about the same price or ones that are only slightly worse for about half the price if you are shopping on a tight budget.
While the Kraken does have some drawbacks, notably the inconsistent microphone quality and being slightly less convenient to operate than some of the other products, but it is hard to argue with its superior audio quality if that is what you look for in a gaming headset. If you don't care as much about getting an unparalleled soundtrack listening experience, then you would be better served by a more all-around headset that doesn't sacrifice microphone quality.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer
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