Razer’s Kraken 7.1 USB Headset gets an upgrade with the new V2, and with that new incarnation comes some improvements in sound quality and a better mic, along with the fancy-pants Chroma RGB lights almost all Razer peripherals sport these days.
You can find the Razer Kraken 7.1 V2 USB Gaming Headset on Newegg for $99. There's also an analog version with no lighting available for $79.99.
Design And Comfort
While this Razer isn’t the prettiest set of headphones on the block – the bulky design and gigantic earcups leave a lot to be desired – the Kraken is far more comfortable to wear than it looks.
While I initially thought the sheer size of the Kraken would make it uncomfortable and awkward to wear, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Kraken sat nicely on my head. The thick Bauxite aluminum headband had a decent flex to it that conformed to the shape of my skull. The thick padding on the earcups, while not great to look at, formed just the right seal around my ears, and was tight, but not oppressively tight.
While I wish the earcups were a tiny bit larger in diameter to fit my ears, they didn’t push down unnecessarily hard on my lobes. I was also happy to learn that the ear cushions are interchangeable, and you can buy oval-shaped ones from Razer separately if the circular ones bug you. While I experienced some slight fatigue after a couple hours, I never felt like I had to rip the Kraken off just to get some relief. I tip my hat to Razer for making such a clumsy-looking headset feel this lightweight.
As much as I like the feel of the Kraken, I’ve got some bones to pick with the design. The biggest sin is that the earcups aren’t foldable, meaning there’s no way to comfortably rest them on your neck or easily throw them in your bag. I understand that portability isn’t the greatest concern for a gaming headset, but I wish the option was there, as I’m frequently taking off my headphones to talk to a co-worker or to help focus up and finish writing a review.
The Kraken Chroma V2 also features RGB lights on the earcups. With Razer's Synapse software you can configure the lights to breathe in and out, stay a solid color, or cycle through a variety of colors. While it’s pretty cool and I love all the customization, the question remains – how can you enjoy the lights while the headphones are on your head? Unless your gaming setup is near a full-length mirror, the lights are ultimately little more than a gimmick to impress your friends. But maybe I’m just old and out of touch.
Features And Performance
50 mm drivers power the Kraken, giving it a big, beefy presence. Unlike some other gaming headphones though, the Kraken’s low end never felt overwhelming, nor did it overpower other frequencies. If you can’t get enough bass, Razer’s Synapse software has a Bass Boost setting that’s entirely adjustable, allowing for bass bumps from the very slight to bone-rattling.
I listened to a wide variety of music on the Kraken, from indie rock to folk to hip hop, and all of it sounded good. Treble and mid-range frequencies were bright and clear, and I was able to hear subtle nuances in tone and instrumentation. The Synapse software has a bunch of EQ profiles designed for all sorts of different genres, but truth be told, I never felt the need to use them. Switching EQ profiles was far too cumbersome, and the Kraken sounded just fine with a flat EQ.
The big feature of the Kraken is 7.1 virtual surround sound, and it sounds great in-game. In competitive FPS games like Overwatch, I was able to easily tell where my teammates were and where gunfire was coming from. Unfortunately I was still dying every thirty seconds, but that’s less on the Kraken and more on my lack of skill.
The mic on the Kraken is excellent. It retracts into the headset, allowing you to get it out of your face when you don’t need it. A push button mute on the tip of the mic is handy, too, but I found it difficult to reliably switch on and off with just one hand. The Synapse software allows you to tweak a bunch of different mic settings, including the volume of the mic’s headset monitor, noise cancelation, and ambient noise reduction.
It’s important to note that the Kraken is strictly a USB headset. The lack of a 3.5 mm connection is a big deal for me – it pretty much kills portability, and if you’re out of USB ports, you’re just straight out of luck. While I highly doubt any gamer is starving for USB ports these days, 3.5 mm is still the general audio standard, and it makes it harder to recommend a pair of headphones that flat-out won’t work in a lot of setups.
Overall, if you’re gaming all the time, the Kraken is a great headset to add to your setup. The sound quality, comfort, and price makes it easy to overlook some slight weaknesses in the design. If you care about portability or compatibility with a wide array of devices, you’ll want to look elsewhere, but otherwise you’ll have a good time gaming with the Kraken.