Razer Nari Ultimate Review
Pros: Comfortable for larger heads, haptics can be a cool addition to games
Cons: Weak bass, falls off most heads easily
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Our Analysis and Test Results
This headset finished right behind the Logitech Artemis Spectrum and just barely ahead of the Corsair HS50. The Logitech is the most comfortable and easy to use of this group, but has the worst audio quality and a mediocre microphone. The Nari has slightly better sound quality than the Artemis and both retail for about $200. The Corsair matches the Nari when it comes to comfort, audio, and microphone quality, but isn't as convenient. However, it does retail for about a quarter of the price of the Nari, making it a much better bargain buy.
To pick out which gaming headsets are really the greatest, we did extensive research, then bought all the products that looked like they had the most potential to claim the top spot. We tested them all out head-to-head, with the Razer's results discussed below.
The Nari Ultimate got off to a solid start in our series of comfort evaluations, meriting a 6 out of 10. We had a panel of testers try out each headset for a decent period of time, then score the headband, the earcups, and the overall fit of the headset. Altogether, these three tests make up 40% of the final score for each product.
Our panel had a mixed response to the Nari, with a few testers finding it to be quite comfortable, but the rest finding it to be a bit too large and cumbersome to want to wear on a daily basis. The judges that liked this headset were fine wearing it for 7-8 hours at a time, while the other judges only were happy having it on for 3-4 hours before calling it quits. We did like the mesh fabric headband, but the fit is a little on the looser side for most people, with the headset easily falling off if you leaned over.
The ear cups are absolutely giant, making them a favorite of our testers with larger ears.
They are very well padded and feature "cooling gel" inside the padding, but we found it only worked so well, with our testers noting their ears did start to get warm after extended use.
Next, we assessed and scored the quality of the drivers of each headset, looking both at how they sounded when listening to music and another player talking. In addition to having our panel of judges score the two aforementioned attributes, we also compared how easy it is to locate the origin of an in-game sound with each headset and how well they block out external noise, as well as their performance in a set of audio benchmarking tests. The Razer did quite well, earning a 6 out of 10 for its performance in this metric, which constitutes 30% of the overall score.
Our panel wasn't terribly enamored with this headset when it came to listening to music, rating it somewhat below average. Most people didn't think the sound was all the balanced and full, instead sounding a bit hollow and empty. We thought the mid-range tones come across particularly strong, but the treble and bass are a bit lackluster, with the bass coming across especially tinny. However, the Razer does feature haptics that somewhat hides the weaker bass, though they can literally rattle our head when turned up all the way.
This headset did about average at blocking external noise, reducing the volume of a fan or a TV in the background by about 15-20%. However, it did do an excellent job in our positional tests, allowing our testers to correctly identify where an in-game sound is coming from almost 100% of the time.
It does fairly well playing other player's voice, with their speech sounding quite clear and crisp. However, it does distort the tone slightly, making them sound like they are talking with a stuffy nose. It finished out our audio metric with a solid showing in our benchmark tests, doing very well in our binaural and driver matching tests overall. It did lose some points by delivering a poor performance with tons of parasitic buzz in the bass quality test — with the haptics off — and having a weird tone anomaly at the upper frequencies in our driver matching test, ruining what would have been an otherwise perfect result in that test.
Following our audio assessments, we next looked at the microphone quality of the Razer Nari, which is responsible for 20% of its overall score. We based this score on the quality of our transmitted voice, as decided by our teammates, and on how well the microphone filtered out external noise, like background music or side conversations. The Nari Ultimate did alright, earning a 5 out of 10 for its middle-of-the-road performance.
The Razer did about average when it came to transmitting our testers' voices, with players on the other end of the line noting that it sounded a bit more echoey and a little lower than in real life. It also had a tiny bit of feedback when having a conversation.
It does a little better when it comes to blocking out background noises, doing about average with background music and white noise — like a fan — and above average and filtering out side conversations.
Ease of Use
For the last 10% of the overall score, we compared the ease of using and operating each headset. We specifically scored each product on the ease of muting the mic, if the mic is detachable, if there are any onboard controls, and if you can enable a mic sidetone. The Nari Ultimate wrapped up our tests with a slightly above average performance, earning a 6 out of 10.
This headset is wireless, so it earned some points right off the bat, as we graded the wired headsets on if the cord is detachable. However, the Nari has a relatively short charging cable, meaning you can't really wear it and charge it at the same time.
The Nari does have onboard controls, allowing you to mute the mic and adjust the volume with buttons right on the side of the headset. You also have the option to enable a mic sidetone, but you can't detach it. However, it is retractable.
This wireless headset isn't a great value, as there are models that cost quite a bit less and only scored a few points worse.
Overall, the Razer Nari Ultimate is a solid headset with a few cool features, but not enough to redeem its otherwise mediocre showing and topple our award winners.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer