From their bold designs to taking risks on different technologies, it’s never dull digging into a Razer product and the new Razer Hammerhead Duo, a pair of in-ear dual-driver earbuds, are no different. They build on the Hammerhead series to bring an even more articulate-sounding product and, at just $59 (£59, AU$109), they don’t break the bank, either.
What makes the Duo different than other mid-range in-ear earbuds? The “Duo” in the name refers to the use of two different drivers in each ear which produce more balanced and detailed audio than a pair of single-driver headphones.
Just how good are they? We took them for a test drive to find out.
While the Razer Hammerhead Duo is a somewhat straightforward affair, a lot of care went into its design. The triple headed snake logo is the only sign of color anywhere on the headphones, splashes of green peeking out of each earphone.
The earphones themselves are set in aluminum frames, not much bigger than a set of airbuds, and look like they can take quite a beating. The matte black finish matches the rest of the Duo’s mostly chromatic look and also gives it a little polish.
The Razer Hammerhead Duo also comes with a nice braided cable that is robust and helps fight tangling. However, when they split for left and right, the cables are just protected by a more typical rubber tubing.
For better or worse, however, this is an analog-only affair as the Duo only comes with a 3.5mm jack. Of course, you can use it with just about any source (with an added dongle for iphone users), it just won’t be HD audio.
Probably the most interesting design choice however is the dual-driver technology Razer employs which also gives the headphones their namesake. A dynamic driver sits in the aluminum frame while a balanced armature driver sits in the tip of each earphone to provide a more precise experience. Dynamic drivers have been the bread and butter of headphones for a long time. The balanced armature driver, however, is the what typically drives hearing aids and as such allows for further fine tuning of the frequency range, which does indeed provide more detailed audio.
Features and performance
The Razer Hammerhead Duo comes with a typical set of features one would expect with high-quality in-ear buds: The tips allow for the use of 3 different sizes of replaceable silicone earbuds so that you can customize the fit to your liking. Not only will these tips help make the headphones sit more comfortably in your ear, but having a nice, tight fit also reduces outside noise. So while they’re not technically noise-cancelling, they can be truly immersive.
It also comes with an inline mic and controls which consist of three buttons: volume up, play/pause, and volume down. They work as intended and are a nice addition for those wanting to use this set while playing, watching, or listening on their phone.
So how does the Razer Hammerhead Duo sound? It’s actually quite nice for the most part with a balanced sound throughout the frequency spectrum. The bass sits just in the pocket so you shouldn’t expect to be shaken every time there’s an explosion but it’s present enough to feel like you’re getting the full experience.
The sound quality isn’t perfect, however.
Possibly due to the tuning of the balanced armature driver, there’s a high-end frequency lift, probably meant to give the audio sources a bit more clarity, that can get a bit fatiguing. When listening to music, cymbals sizzle a bit too much and any sibilance (when a singer pronounces S) is very noticeable.
We tested these headphones with movies as well and found that that same high-end frequency bump did show up time and again. While watching Hateful 8, the bells on the horses seemed to jingle quite loudly and in Solo: A Star Wars Story, blaster sounds were also surprisingly prominent.
These are minor issues in the grand scheme of things. In fact, the lower high-end frequency, mids, and lows were all balanced in a very pleasing way, and this high-end frequency issue didn’t seem to affect gaming - the sound effects, atmospherics in games such as Tomb Raider, Sekiro Shadows Die Twice and Call of Duty WWII were crisp, detailed and balanced.
The sound stage was also very good. The Hammerhead Duo provided an immersive experience in Call of Duty, for example, as we could hear planes fly overhead and into the distance while bombs go off in a completely different direction. In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, we could hear individual NPC’s pass behind us as we stealthily crept or wandered around them.
Probably one of the most underrated consequences of the dual driver technology is the consistent frequency quality as we turned up or down. Often sound quality can get muddy when speakers or headphones are turned down or they can get distorted as the volume gets close to its limit. With the Duos, however, no matter where we set the volume, we heard the same audio, just quieter or louder.
The Razer Hammerhead Duo are an excellent set of earbuds, especially at their relatively affordable price tag. They offer a very detailed experience that's generally very well-balanced with good sound separation, a crystal-clear response regardless of the volume and as good of a sound stage as you can expect from in-ear headphones.
The build quality is also top-notch from the braided cable and the aluminum frame of each headphone to the fact that Razer was able to fit two drivers in what looks like the space of one. While not a perfect headset, it is definitely a contender for those looking for a high-quality sound in a small package.
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