Razer Kraken X – Design and Features
It’s probably fair to describe the Kraken X as the Kraken Lite. Trimmed, slimmed, and reduced, the Kraken X is a lighter and cheaper headset that retains the overall aesthetics of its bigger brother. And the weight saving is significant. The first thing you’ll notice is how incredibly lightweight it is – 8.8 ounces, or just a hair over half a pound. The regular Kraken are 0.71 pounds, so it’s a big difference.
No doubt, the molded all-plastic construction helps un-tip the scales. Even the headband and earcup assembly are plastic, which suggests you shouldn’t go crazy with stretching it when you slip it onto your head. Razer even warns you about this in the quick-start guide.
Though it’s all plastic from stem to stern, the Kraken X looks great (though I have a fondness for understated aesthetics, so your mileage may vary). Available in any color that rhymes with black, the top of the headband is etched with the Razer name, and the cups encircle the Razer logo with a snazzy honeycomb pattern.
The headband extensions have numbered detents so it’s easy to keep the two earcups symmetrically extended.
Headphones in this price range generally tend to skimp on comfort features. But while you won’t find breathable mesh fabric or stitched leather on board, the headband is (very) lightly padded on the top, and the earcups have generously thick memory foam. Given how lightweight this headset is, any more padding might be overkill.
The left earcup is where all the action is – you’ll find the audio cable, integrated microphone, volume control, and mute button. The controls are around back where they’re easy to find by feel, and the volume dial turns smoothly, neither stiff nor sloppy.
Perhaps Razer’s biggest concession to the price point is what’s under the hood; the cans are powered by 40mm drivers, which is pretty typical in this price range. Moreover, another cost-conscious decision is that nothing here is removable. The 4.5-foot audio cable is built in. But before you worry that won’t be long enough, keep in mind that for most PCs, you’ll probably need to split the audio into separate headphone and mic jacks. Razer includes a Y-splitter which doubles your run length to about 9 feet in total, which is surely more than enough for most rigs.
The microphone isn’t removable either – it’s a flexible stalk that you can position as needed, or bend out of the way when you don’t need to talk. It’s serviceable, but a removable microphone would be less distracting (this one was almost always in my peripheral vision).
The Kraken X is an analog device, so it doesn’t come with any sort of audio command center. But perhaps the most surprising feature is that it supports 7.1 surround sound – after a fashion. It’s only available on Windows 10 64-bit PCs, and to enable the surround, you need to install Razer’s 7.1 sound utility. (There’s a card in the box which has an install code for the software.) There’s not much to see here – install it, activate it, and then choose the output device that the headphones are connected to.
Razer Kraken X – Gaming
The Kraken X is a multi-platform headphone. The analog cable allows it to work with the PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch, and even your smartphone, assuming you still have a headphone jack. Plugging into my old standby, Wolfenstein, I found that the headphones are, frankly, a little disappointing. Sound was adequate, and especially solid for in-game dialog and voiceover. But for the meat of the game, the headphones sounded too bright, with not nearly enough punch both in the bass and midrange. I also felt that extended gunfire, with its high end pop, fatigued my ears to the point that I needed to take breaks from the action lest I get a headache from the mix that the Kraken X was sending to my ears.
While I was jazzed about the novelty of getting 7.1 audio in a pair of $50 headphones – and analog ones at that – I’d describe the overall effect as subtle. I didn’t feel like the headphones were sending strong positional cues to my ears in either Wolfenstein or Fortnight.
That said, the integrated microphone was solid. I tried a little chat in Fortnight and also took a Skype call, and in both situations, the cardioid mic effectively isolated my voice from a low din of background noise in the other room, and the sound was solid and clear.
On the other hand, I can’t emphasize enough how incredibly easily the Kraken X sits on your head. I left these cans on for most of the day for several days in a row, and it never got too heavy or felt like they were crushing my ears. Unfortunately, on one particularly warm day, they did overheat my head a bit. As we approach summertime here in LA, I found that that the vinyl-like headband padding trapped heat– probably more so than a headband with breathable fabric would in the same conditions.
But because these headphones were so easy to wear all day long – especially on cooler days – I also wanted to hear what music sounded like. After all, any headphones you wear a lot will inevitably do double duty. Unfortunately, these headphones clearly aren’t made for music, and I would advise against listening to any songs you like through them. I tried a range of styles, from the Beatles to Throwing Muses. And like the weak midrange and too-bright high-end that I experienced in games, all the music was noticeably brash and harsh, lacking midtones. Bottom line: it’s just not super pleasant to listen to music through these cans.
The Razer Kraken X has an MSRP of $49.99 and they’re the same price online.
Razer Kraken X
This article was originally published by IGN.COM