The gaming industry is serious business. New titles fight for the top spot on people’s shopping list and fans pre-order upcoming titles months in advance of their release. The development houses fight over great developers who will work on projects lasting many years to churn out decent games.
To augment the games, there is an complimentary hardware industry that releases devices to interface with the games. These accessories range from car-steering wheels, to aeroplane joy sticks, to foot pedals and gear levers to make that rally car slide around the next sand dune.
One element that is critical to the a game is good sound. The difference between playing a game with a regular computer speaker to playing the same game with a decent headset is the equivalent of going on the kiddie-ride at the amusement park compared to going on the massive rollercoaster. Both give you a rush, but the latter is experienced on a whole new level.
I received the Razer Kraken 7.1 surround sound headset to play with. “it will change your life” was how it was described and those are some serious fighting words. But did it ? see the hands-on review below:
Look and Feel
Right from the outset when you see the box and the logo, you know you are dealing with serious kit. Flipping open the cover you are greeting with a welcome note from Min-Lian Tan, the co-found, CEO and creative director and from Robert Krakoff Co-found and President. The note starts with the words “Congratulations, there is no going back”. <gulp!>
The headset itself just looks like it is ready for battle. It has soft ear cushions inside a very sturdy and expendable frame that will adjust to suit your skull. It is very light and comfortable to wear and even after hours of gaming it doesn’t feel like there is a helmet on your head. The headset has the Razer logo on both the left and the right ear cuffs which light up in green as soon as it is connected to the computer’s USB slot. I almost expect it to start pulsating.
The hidden Mic
The headset has a retractable microphone that is neatly tucked away by the left ear cup. The tip lights up when the headset is connected and can be adjusted so you are ready to command the assault team. The mic offers exceptional sound quality not only in the game but when using applications such as Skype or Dragon Dictate.
The Sound of Silence
The one feature that almost seems counter intuitive is just how the Kraken headset blocks out noise. Place the headset on your head and instantly the world get quieter. The calm-before-the-storm. Once the game loads then silence is the last thing you will hear. There is a companion app that downloads to your computer where a helicopter flies around you allowing you to fine tune the surround sound to your liking. For me it was perfect right out of the box and I didn’t change a thing. The Razer Synapse 2.0 is downloadable from the website too and not only allows you to set up your personal sound preferences but it stores them in the cloud so you can just log in on another device and your settings are just ready for you.
The sound quality that this headset produces is crystal clear and crisp and the 7.1 surround sound system just takes sounds to a new level. Whilst playing PayDay and Assassin Creed, there is a creepy feeling that the enemies are literally surrounding you. The headset bring the gaming elements to life as they seem to engulf you from all sides scaring the daylights out of you. Even the auxiliary sounds of background music and sounds are clearer and just seem to pop out at you. This includes sounds from MP3 and videos that all of sudden seem to have extra notes and background sounds that you didn’t notice before.
When it comes to battling it out, gun fire and explosions are just uncanny. Its the same gun fire that I heard many times before but not like this. Now it seems almost too real as bullets zip past my head whilst franticly looking for the crouch button.
If I could change anything on this headset I would add a volume button. Whilst in the middle of the game I don’t want to stop what I am doing and look for the software volume option with my mouse on my laptop. It would have been great to be able to just tap something on the headset to increase and decrease the sound. Perhaps a jog wheel like the iPod has…
Whilst some other manufacturers have a Bluetooth version of the headset, I like this one as there is no charging involved. The ultimate Plug and PLAY. The USB cord is around 2 meters and is long enough to be tucked away so it doesn’t interfere as you slam the opponent into the wall whilst yelling at the team to attack the castle.
So in Summary:
When it comes to gaming, I am not a pro. I like my gaming and chopping a Zombie’s head off is a good stress reliever at the end of a meeting-full day. One thing that took me completely by surprise is just what a difference a great audio headset makes. Everything just came alive. I have now heard the sound and can never go back.
This is a superb headset that must be on the Christmas list or the Hanukah list.
The Razer Karken is available at around R950 and can be bought online at various stores.
More info can be found at: http://www.razerzone.com/gaming-audio/razer-kraken-71