What’s in a name? Ask that question to the general public these days, and you are probably going to get a varied response, with unnecessary (and sometimes straight-up false) adjectives being used in advertising all the time.
We can say, with equal parts relief and certainty, definitely not! This headset is the ultimate culmination of years of hard work and dedication by Razer to bring the best gaming headset to consumers, for a more than competitive price.
The combination of top-shelf hardware (that you just won’t find in cheaper offerings, such as Discord-certified mic and THX Spatial Audio), comfort, styling, and control left us with feelings of satisfaction and luxury that are rare to find in this category. During our testing period, we indulged in long gaming sessions and were blown away by the comfort levels provided.
There is a multitude of reasons behind why these were the number one, best selling gaming headset sold between January 2017 and December 2019.
So, join us as we explain why we think these should be your next PC gaming headset in our Razer Kraken Ultimate review…
As we mentioned in the introduction, comfort and wearing enjoyment were two design points that were obviously of the highest priorities for the Razer Kraken Ultimate headset. Us gamers know exactly how important comfort levels are for headsets. With ear heat levels and” head squeeze” being the two most important factors.
Razer have truly done a fantastic job here, ensuring through a combination of cutting edge tech, that these can be worn for long sessions without soreness, overheating or irritation.
Well, the first interesting addition we noticed was the cooling gel that has been infused into the breathable foam padding of the leather-like finished ear cups. Not only does this help keep your ears nice and cool during those (what can sometimes seem like) never-ending raids or rambling FIFA tourneys. But they also help to provide a high level of noise isolation.
In previous iterations of the Razer Kraken, the earcups have always been too large, and usually made from cheaper feeling and looking materiels. Razer have remedied this here, with the Razer Kraken Ultimate earcups still feeling large but no longer out of place when worn, and materials being much higher quality.
On the belly side of the headband (adjustable, with numbered notches), we see the same super squishy foam. This provides the same high level of comfort as the earcups. The headband is large enough to eliminate the possibility of “head squeeze” for users with larger heads, while never feeling loose and still being small enough to work for younger gamers.
The chassis is a combo of ultra-durable, lightweight steel and aluminum. This will ensure these will last through any punishment thrown at them years to come. The long, braided USB cord is also more than durable enough.
Razer have kept things simple in terms of buttons. On the left earcup, we find a classic wheel knob for volume control plus a spatial audio toggle button. The microphone mute button is handily located on the mic itself, and there is a small LED strip on the retractable mic arm that lights up red when muted.
More RGB lighting is also found under the grill of each ear cup with, what Razer calls “underglow”. The color output is controlled by the “Synapse” software included in the purchase.
We did not hold our punches when it came to testing for this headset, and boy did they hold their own. An important point to bear in mind is that this is a gaming headset first and foremost. So we were not surprised when the Razer Kraken Ultimate smashed our expectations out of the park for gaming performance!
What better place to start a PC gaming headset test than a motorsport game? With the huge range of sounds produced in these games, we chucked in DiRT Rally 2.0 to see how they would handle.
As soon as the growl and rumble of the Subaru Impreza WRX STI blessed our ears, we knew we were in for a real treat. The background game music and the car racing sounds were perfectly blended to produce a clean, balanced sound.
Where the Razer Kraken Ultimate really came into its own, though, was when we switched games to BATTLEFIELD V, where keeping on the move and knowing what enemies may be just around the corner is vital.
Through the use of THX Spatial Audio (which provides simulated surround sound), Razer brings unparalleled surround sound with 360 degrees of “spatial sound” to your fingertips (or should we say ear tips!) It is pretty rare to see this type of tech in headsets at this price point, and we are very impressed by its inclusion.
Razer have tuned the soundscape to be slightly mid and high heavy, to make footsteps and other tactical noises pop a little more. We were saved more than once by this technology, as it gives such amazing feedback to the user about enemy positioning!
If this does not suit your style of play, simply open up the Razer Synapse software, and you will find access to a ten band customizable equalizer with multiple presets. You can also switch among a number of EQ profiles or create your own.
Synapse comes with presets for music, movies, and games, as well as modes for bass boost and voice clarity. You also have the option to quickly switch between the “THX spatial sound” and regular stereo sound, or you can easily program Synapse to specify which sound type different applications should use.
Each time you launch a new application while Synapse is open, Synapse will add that program to a list, and you can then choose whether you want stereo sound or THX. It’s a very simple, straightforward way to manage all of your software sound needs. Other customization options found in the Synapse software include LED light options, microphone settings, and a full mixer.
The Razer Kraken Ultimate may be marketed purely as a PC gaming headset, but we think they are selling themselves a little short here!
We started with the hauntingly beautiful track “White Gloves” by Khruangbin. The first few bars are filled with a background of rainfall, leading the electric guitar and vocals in. This track is mid-heavy and is handled beautifully by the custom-tuned, 50mm drivers found in each earcup.
Next up, we heard “Rita is Gone” by the Marcus King Band. This is a big band song, with many layers of sound happening at the same time. The clarity of the separate tracks, especially the bass, was commendable.
Recently while working, we tend to listen to mostly LoFi Hip Hop, which can sometimes be extremely bass heavy. The Kraken Ultimate had zero problems delivering pure, clear tones that we found a dream to work with.
Depending on what you are looking to use it for, in this instance, mostly gaming chat and calls, we think that Kraken Elite’s microphone is excellent for a gaming headset. We found recordings to be crisp and clear, and during realtime testing online, there were absolutely no complaints from our teammates.
As mentioned earlier, this is a Discord-certified mic, meaning it has been rigorously tested and is approved for Discord app usage.
Although the microphone did pick up a small amount of background noise, as soon as we switched on the active noise cancellation option in the Synapse software, the issue disappeared completely. This did add some slight artifacts, not enough to be any problem at all but worth noting. However, we would recommend keeping this feature turned off unless you are in a noisy environment.
If you are looking for a headset with an inbuilt microphone that is up to standard for high-level podcasting, then you may need to look elsewhere, but for most other circumstances, this is a great little mic.
Excellent Headphone Options
We clearly love the Razer Kraken Ultimate, but it might not be for you? If so, and you’re looking for a pair of headphones for both gaming and music? Then check out our in-depth review of the Beyerdynamic Custom Game. Also, our reviews of the Best Xbox One Headsets or the Best Headphones with Microphone may be of interest.
However, if a more general-purpose pair of headphones is needed, take a look at our review of the SteelSeries Arctis 7 or the V Moda Crossfade M 100. The Sony WH 1000XM3 or the Bose QuietComfort 35 II are also excellent options worth considering if you’re budget will stretch that far.
Razer Kraken Ultimate Pros & Cons
- THX Spatial Audio is a great software-driven surround sound.
- Great sound quality.
- Sound and Mic software customization options.
- Super comfortable with cooling gel in earcup foam.
- USB only.
- Not wireless.
The Bottom Line
When we first got out hands on the Razer Kraken Ultimate headset four weeks ago, we have to admit we were slightly apprehensive. The large ear cups with RGB LED lighting are usually a sign, in our opinion, that the company is overcompensating for something lacking elsewhere in the design.
Not the case here, with the Kraken Ultimate, Razer set out to make a top-class wired USB PC headset, and that’s exactly what they have done.
So, If you are in the market for a very well constructed headset, with all the sound customization you could ever want, and a great microphone, then look no further! The Razer Kraken Ultimate is the perfect headset for you!