Gamers are the type who enjoy decking-out the style and performance aspects of their tech purchases whenever possible. When it comes to gaming it's often difficult to find affordable products that offer both killer performance and a super-stylized presentation.
In the niche sector of high-performance headsets, another problem exists as manufacturers have a hard time landing squarely on a fully-realized product. Their scattered focus tends to land most products somewhere awkwardly between a good-looking one and a good-performing one, with little consideration for value, the core of what makes us take the plunge.
Does the Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma play the game differently?
The Kraken 7.1 Chroma headset is refreshingly straightforward. Tethered to your computer via a lengthy and durable mesh-wrapped USB cable, the headset's boasts an awesome presence with a lightweight, travel-friendly design that gets out of the way so you can game long into the wee hours.
Emblazoned with a radical green rendition of the company's name, the leathery topside of the headband is stylish and is complimented nicely by the coating of breathable material on its underside. It stretches wide too, accommodating gamers with especially large brains.
Housed in the plastic frame extending down from the headband, the pivoting ear cups look great and make a tight, sound-proof seal when they're equipped during gameplay. Each speaker is thoughtfully detailed with matte-finished metal around their perimeter. Moving toward their apex, a mesh grille comes into play and is one of the boldest design features on the headset.
But the real heart of the headset are its subtleties, and once you plug in the Kraken 7.1 Chroma, they ignite with color. Logos on each ear cup light up and put on an alluring full-spectrum display. Let's not discount the microphone, which is cleverly coiled into the left earcup. The mic band can be pulled out to whatever length you choose, and is at most, the length of a pen. An inline mute button, once active, turns off a slick LED indicator on the mic.
The Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma is an affordable and attractive addition to Razer's sterling lineup of gaming peripherals. But how does it sound? Out of the box, they're a solid stereo headset with a nicely equalized sound and deep bass. But with Razer's command center software, Synapse, the Kraken has indeed been released.
Razer Synapse is the free, easy-to-use software needed to unlock the Kraken 7.1 Chroma's potential. Driver updates, surround sound calibration, numerous equalizers, and LED color customization are great, but the real motivation behind using the software is for the 1-year warranty.
Once the headset is configured to your preferences, you're ready to get to gaming. I've been playing Titanfall on and off since launch, but I found myself more engaged than I had been previously, mostly because the sound is just spectacular. The sound of titans dropping was was even more satisfying and I could hear some nearby skirmishes that would have gone unnoticed if not for the virtual surround sound.
I had heard that Hotline Miami had an unforgettable soundtrack, so I booted that up. The sound presentation as a whole is so crucial to that experience that I can't play now without this headset.
Other types of experiences sounded wonderful, too. Music of all kinds sounds pretty good, it just feels and looks a bit overkill to be wearing a gaming headset for casual music listening.
Whether I was using the headset on my PC with Synapse activated, or popping it into a USB port at work, the headset sounds great. I do encourage using Razer Synapse if at all possible, however. The warranty is too good to pass up and it isn't very hardware-intensive.
The Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma are a good option for those interested in an affordable, well-built, capable gaming headset with a good warranty.
The sound performance, the LED-infused design and the solid software to back it all up make for an attractive package.
I experienced some mild discomfort on my ears after about two consecutive hours at the computer. The headset is generally comfortable, but after a while you start to feel pressure on the ear cartilage.
The mute button is difficult to find without looking, which makes it hard to press if you're in a pinch.
In the realm of gaming peripherals, $100 isn't too much, but it might be just outside the average gamer's budget.
Within the boutique gaming peripheral space, it's hard to find a device that's a jack-of-all-trades. Some manufacturers focus solely on style, while others focus more heavily on performance. The Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma headset comes close to achieving something great, but a few minor problems hold it back.
If $100 tops off your budget for a gaming headset, it might be worth it to save for something more comfortable, like the slightly more expensive Roccat Kave XTD. Otherwise, if you're just in the market for a cool-looking headset offering great performance, the Kraken 7.1 Chroma is worth your money.