- Improved Ear Cups for Prolonged Use
- Microphone Hides in Plain Sight
- Upgraded Custom Drivers
- The THX Spatial Audio Works!
- Sounds better on it's own
- Only works well with Games
- Tends to fall on the Flatter Side with Movies and Music
- The Design needs to be Revamped
One of the things that we look forward to whenever we purchase a Gaming Headset, it’s the audio quality and the support for Surround Sound – be it from the infamous Dolby, DTS and even THX. Stepping the game a bit further in the audio realm could be a challenge and Razer pulled out an impressive tech from their hat. They have taken their popular headsets – the Razer Kraken and has combined THX Spatial Audio along with it. As we have used it for a month right now, continue reading this as we give our opinion in this Razer Kraken Tournament Edition Review.
Design and Build Quality
Let’s start off with the headset itself. The Razer Kraken looks exactly the same as the normal Kraken without the THX Spatial Audio Accessory. We received in this green color that pops and if you were to wear it around your neck – it’s definitely an eye catcher because of it’s color. Other than that, the design of the Kraken is simple and we have seen it before. It has an Oval Shaped Ear Cup that covers over the ear and has huge drivers to run these headphones. Following that, it has a simple head band with the name RAZER printed on it. Sadly, there isn’t any RGB or Chroma on the headphones to make the whole thing pop even more or take advantage of the Razer Synapse.
In terms of build Quality, the headphones are rather solid. The Metal adjustable straps on the side is easy to adjust the earcup according to your height and your comfort. Placing it over your head, you’ll notice it has a balanced and light weight feel to it which is good for prolonged gaming experience. The earcups are pretty comfortable and has a faux leather texture that feels nice. The Microphone tucks in really well with no issues and since it’s flexible, it’s a lot easier to flex around and adjust the microphone according to your liking. The Kraken TE carries the same characteristics and design that we have seen previously, which is alright. What they did is – if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.
The Razer Kraken TE may look the same on the outside. But on the inside, it gets a bump in the drivers it uses. The Kraken TE houses a Custom Tuned 50MM Drivers which gives better soundscape in general. Following are as follows:
- Frequency response: 12 Hz – 28 kHz
- Impedance: 32 Ω @ 1 kHz Sensitivity (@1 kHz): 109 ± 3 dB
- Input power: 30 mW (Max)
- Drivers: 50 mm, with Neodymium magnets
- Inner ear cup diameter: 54 mm x 65 mm
- Connection type: Analog 3.5 mm
- Cable length: 1.3 m / 4.27 ft.
- Approx. weight: 322 g / 0.71 lbs
- Oval ear cushions: Designed for full-ear coverage with cooling gel, perfect for long-wearing comfort
The Microphone specification are as follows:
- Frequency response: 100 Hz – 10 kHz
- Impedance: 32 Ω @ 1 kHz
- Signal-to-noise ratio: > 60 dB
- Sensitivity (@1 kHz): -42 ± 3 dB
- Pick-up pattern: Unidirectional ECM boom
The Razer Kraken Tournament Edition works with the THX Spatial Audio USB Control. As it’s a USB based Dongle, the audio gets rerouted to the dongle instead – this is how it takes the control of the audio. In order to use most of the features, you’ll need Razer Synapse – to get it up and running. If not, you’ll be missing out – a lot of features.
First, you’ll have the Sound – where it will recommend you to do some fine tuning to make the whole experience better and the shortcut to the Sound Properties. Next you’ll have the THX Spatial Audio control and the option to calibrate it. Third will be Enhancement – this option will allow you to do Sound Optimization and the option to have a Voice Clarity. Fourth is, Equalizer – EQ, where you can change the whole audio settings to your preference. Finally we have the Microphone Settings – where we get to control the Mic Volume, Sidetone and have enhancements.
How Spatial Audio Works?
The headphone only tells part of the story. Let’s address the elephant in the room – the THX Spatial Audio Dongle. Before that, what is Spatial Audio?
THX Spatial Audio creates a depth and immersion by stimulating a 360 degree sound with pinpoint accuracy for greater awareness during gameplay. In short, the Spatial Audio is a virtual Surround System that gives you the most realistic feel possible. Now, it doesn’t only work with Games. You could even use it for Movies, and much more. Adding features like EQ helps you in stepping up the listening experience as much as possible.
Instead of compressing the feature into the headphone, they have made this standalone dongle which pretty much allows you to use any other Gaming Headsets from Razer to take use of it – which I personally like. Do take note, THX Spatial Audio ONLY works if you have Razer Synapse 3 installed.
On the dongle, you have the Volume Controls and a Mic Mute Switch. On the right side, we have the THX Spatial Audio Button and a switch that allows you to toggle between Game Audio and Chats. On the other side, you have a Bass control – which I think is pretty essential and handy to have access to physically.
The Earcups on the Kraken TE is amazing. As it was made for longer duration of usage – they have infused a Cooling-Gel Layer that reduces heat build up and the Memory Foam just fits nice and snug. If you wear glass, well, good news – it has hidden indented Eyewear Channels as well.
Let’s talk about the audio quality of the Razer Kraken TE on it’s own. I personally use the Razer Kraken and I can tell the huge difference in the audio quality. The sound staging in the headphone is a lot more nicer compared to the Original Kraken. It has better audio quality overall with a much more nicer surround effect by default. The Original Kraken has this Studio like sound staging which creates this echo effect whereas the TE has a much more normal sound staging which I personally prefer with acceptable details. Vocals in music is clear but sometimes the music is way clear than the vocals – which makes you want to tinker the settings via the EQ Settings. The bass is rather flat and there’s minimal treble.
Now with the THX Spatial Audio Dongle. The Spatial Audio dongle without the THX enabled allows you to pump the drivers with audio further. So, in this case, the vocals were a lot clear and the bass response was enhanced and you can feel the thumping feel. Turning on the Spatial Audio prioritizes the audio over the vocals and it gives this surround feel to it. The Spatial Audio works best with games, obviously and you cannot tell much if you are just listening to songs.
So, we fired up one of my favorite games – DmC: Definitive Edition and Evil Within 2. The characters movement sound was realistic enough that for a second I just had to take my headphone off to see if things around me was okay. The vocals with a bit of bass to it was nice to hear – like in DmC when it says “Kill Him” or “Destroy Him”. It was really nice. I was impressed. Another good thing about this is, you could even connect it to your PS4 but you’ll be limited to the 2.0 Channel only.
The real star of this show is not just the Kraken TE, but the THX Spatial Audio Dongle because it finetunes the sound quality and the whole experience. Also, I am glad that they have upgraded the drivers on this because I tried using it with my own kraken and the sound quality is nothing like the Kraken TE. For RM 549, it is a tough pill to swallow and knowing the fact that there’s a lot of options good as this (if not, better) out there for this price tag, the Kraken Tournament Edition is still an alright option to consider. Despite that, Razer needs to spice things up with the design to make it stand out – hopefully with the next one.
Update: The Razer Kraken Tournament Edition is now priced at RM 455 in Malaysia.