Gaming headphones afford plenty of tangible benefits to enthusiast and professional gamers alike. One of the biggest roadblocks to investing in a headset is the cost. Fortunately, the Razer Kraken X cracks down on ridiculously priced alternatives and can be had for $50. Gamers don’t get much in the way of features but the onboard controls, boom mic, and 7.1 surround sound cover the necessities.
Editor’s note: this review was updated on June 12, 2019, to include microphone data and updated scoring.
Who is the Razer Kraken X for?
The Razer Kraken X headset is made for gamers on a budget and works just as well for anyone who needs over-ears with an integrated boom mic. They’re not intended to leave your gaming station and include a dedicated audio/mic splitter cable for computers with separate inputs. These are cross-platform compatible. You can use them with PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and mobile devices.
What’s it like to use the Razer Kraken X?
Using the headset couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is plug it in and get to playing. If your desktop has separate audio and mic inputs, you’ll need to use the included splitter for full functionality. The flexible cardioid boom mic is very forgiving in terms of placement. For optimal voice quality, place the diaphragm parallel to your mouth.
The Razer Kraken X works with virtually any platform, making it a valuable contender within the gaming headset market.
Polycarbonate-ABS, a durable thermoplastic, makes up the headband and slider. This lightweight material in tandem with the hidden eyewear channels makes these comfortable to wear with or without glasses. Said channels alleviate pressure at the temples. What’s more, the memory foam ear pads contribute to general comfort. Unfortunately, the ear pads aren’t user-replaceable but Razer provides a limted two-year warranty.
The headphones lack in-line controls but do feature a volume dial and mute button on the left ear cup. I’d like to see a bit more resistance from the dial. That said, the mute toggle requires just the right amount of resistance and provides a satisfying click when depressed or released.
What’s it like to game with the Razer Kraken X?
It’s great. The 40mm dynamic drivers reproduce a natural representation of three-dimensional space, something gamers should require from any headset. This realistic perception of sound makes it easier to spatially understand where enemies are located. When playing Destiny, alien footsteps were easy to identify and I predicted which doorways potential threats emerged from.
If you want to take full advantage of the 7.1-channel surround sound, you need to use a PC operating on Windows 10, 64-bit. This is an annoying caveat; however, Razer provides a complimentary download code.
What does the Razer Kraken X sound like?
While the frequency response chart appears rather odd, the headphones sound good for their price point. Bass notes receive the most emphasis—typical for gaming headsets—as this makes explosions more impactful. Vocal frequencies are nearly as boosted, making it easier to character and teammate dialogue. The broad dip from 1-6.5kHz isn’t as dramatic as it looks, but does subject high-pitched frequencies, like harmonics, to auditory masking. This is most notable in music playback rather than gameplay, as it can be difficult to hear a chord’s resonate detail.
Isolation is fine but nothing spectacular: Hot Pocket lovers will still hear the microwave running. While I played music through the headphones, the microwave’s hum at least was rendered null. If you need to stay undisturbed during gameplay, find a secluded room to set up shop.
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Lows, mids, and highs
Chastity Brown’s song Colorado is a great song to listen to with the Razer Kraken X. The headset’s amplified bass response lends itself nicely to Brown’s folksy style, stressing the drum kicks. Meanwhile, the light midrange emphasis highlights Brown’s voice even more than the mix intended, which works well for the genre.
Treble reproduction, however, falls short. Tambourine shakes are difficult to hear, particularly from 2:15 on. Brown’s vocals and backing vocals at 2:35 mask the treble frequencies. The tambourine remains audible but clarity isn’t the greatest as a guitar is played at this same moment.
Is the mic good for gaming?
Yes, voices come through the Razer Kraken X microphone loud and clear. The dip from 100-300Hz is odd seeing as most vocal fundamental frequencies fall in this range. That said, real-world use demonstrates the Kraken X has a great boom mic, which is heard in the demo below.
Razer Kraken X microphone demo:
If you listen closely, you can hear some reverb from my voice. The microphone doesn’t do a great job at mitigating ambient noise, but if you’re in a quiet room it shouldn’t be too noticeable. What’s more, because of the de-emphasis around 180Hz, my voice sounds a bit higher pitched because the harmonics are greatly emphasized.
Should you buy the Razer Kraken X?
The Razer Kraken X is a reliable budget headset that meets all the requirements of a good gaming headset. The eyewear channels are a must-have feature for anyone with glasses. If you want a straightforward pair of gaming headphones with cross-platform compatibility the Kraken X is a user-friendly option. If you’re able to splurge on a similarly sized gaming headset with a slightly more neutral sound signature, look into the Plantronics Rig 500 Pro.
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