Razer Kraken 7.1 V2 Sound Quality
What about how they actually sound? The open nature give the Kraken 7.1 V2 a surprisingly open and airy quality to them. This is with all the virtual surround turned off, by the way. The best term to describe this would be as being very spacious. It’s almost like the sound envelopes you in a way that almost belies the price tag. This is a good thing. It allows games to sound like they’re happening all around you by virtue of good design decisions and not from an algorithm alone. Adding in the 7.1 virtual surround algorithm just heightens the sense of volume of the sound. In Battlefront, a game that has very well done sound engineering, it sounds almost as if you’re in the universe in terms of positioning of blaster bolts and the telltale deep wave of Luke using the force to shove you to your death.It’s all rendered where you’d expect, and it sounds as if it’s coming from those directions.
The sound itself has a more full characteristic than I ever remembered from any audio device from Razer. They’ve learned how to source the important components, and have found a supplier for inexpensive and good quality drivers. The 50mm drivers are full-range, and deliver a startlingly good sound. It’s detailed, the bass is quick and not overpowering and the highs are very well represented. They do tend towards getting sparkly at the very top end, which isn’t good, but overall it isn’t terrible at all. The mids are slightly less represented and “hidden” from your ears. It’s subdued and this means that voices can sometimes be a bit hard to hear, though the overall sound is quite good all things considered.
But isn’t all roses. There’s a bit of trouble with the separation of disparate sounds at times. That is, certain sounds tend to sound a bit muddled if there’s a lot going on. Sometimes the requisite sound isn’t even that complex, and it sounds a bit muddled. Even worse is how some higher pitched sounds can take on a scratchy quality that’s actually quite terrible. Not all the time, mind, but enough that it becomes annoying and a problem. Furthermore, the natural sound right of the box is a bit more hollow and slightly tinny. A little EQ and that’s solved, though the Kraken V2’s aren’t always so willing to accept your adjustments on the extreme low or high end of the spectrum.
Virtual surround isn’t always the ideal way to create that sense of space that accompanies having a surround sound system. But with headphones and the lack of space available to really include that many discreet sound sources, you’re limited. And really, we’ve come a long way since the early days of these algorithms. What Razer uses here is actually pretty convincing. In general, there’s an increased amount of depth in the sound field. It’s very lively and pretty well done.
At times, though, it’s as if the algorithm is trying to hard and some sounds are slightly distorted or seem come from not a natural position. That effect is instantaneous and only lasts microseconds, so isn’t really that noticeable anyway. It’s there, though, for the discerning audiophile. The effect is pretty good and though it’s not perfect, it’s damn convincing most of the time.
And then there’s the lighting. Lighting is absolutely useless for a pair of headphones. It’s pointless, and a waste, really. The only light that makes sense to include is the red LED on the microphone. This is actually very useful because you can see whether or not you’ve muted the mic by using your peripheral vision. The rest is pointless.