Audio

Affordable wireless earbuds with decent sound

Razer's Hammerhead True Wireless has a battery life of four hours, with an additional 12 hours with the charging case.
Razer's Hammerhead True Wireless has a battery life of four hours, with an additional 12 hours with the charging case.

It seems like every other tech company is jumping on the true wireless in-ear headphones bandwagon after the roaring success of Apple's AirPods. Gaming peripheral company Razer is the latest to do so with its Hammerhead True Wireless.

On first looks, the Hammerhead True Wireless looks like a replica of the AirPods, except it is finished in Razer's usual matt black. It has an AirPods-like stem, albeit a shorter one, attached to its bulbous body, which has a green Razer logo.

Unfortunately, the logo does not light up, unlike with many of Razer's audio products. Still, for Razer fans, they will look cool wearing it.

As usual, there is a charging case to hold the earbuds. Finished in matt black as well, it is shaped like an elongated pillbox with a USB-C charging port at its rear. It does not support wireless charging though.

But the bigger downer is the earbuds placement. Razer has decided to place the right earbud in the left side of the case and vice versa. This is rather confusing, as one would naturally take the earbud from the right side to put into the right ear. So it will take a while to get used to this.

In addition, I found the earbud's fit not ideal for my ears, with the earbuds slipping out during use. This was greatly alleviated after I installed the included silicone earbud sleeves though. Still, this is not a pair of earbuds I would wear for jogging.

The earbuds come with their own app, the Hammerhead True Wireless (available on Android and iOS). But this app is rather limited. It can be used only for pairing (you can still pair it without the app), update firmware and play tutorials on how to use its touch gestures. The app also allows you to change the equaliser (EQ) settings from three presets - default, bass boost and treble boost.

The earbuds' music output is surprisingly decent. At default EQ, it provides a nice and pleasant balanced of bass, mids and highs. The bass boost EQ dulls the vocals, while the treble boost EQ makes the bass lifeless. I will take the default EQ any time.

As you might expect, there is a Game mode in the headphones to cater to the gaming audience. This mode is said to reduce the earbuds' latency.

  • FOR

    • Looks cool

    • Affordable

    • Decent music quality

  • AGAINST

    • Confusing placement of earbuds in charging case

    • Redundant Game mode

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $158.90

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth 5.0

    WEIGHT: 8g (earbuds), 37g (charging case)

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3.5/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 3.5/5

To activate the Game mode, triple tap the Razer logo and hold the last tap for two seconds. This is too troublesome for a mode in which it is difficult to hear the benefits. At least I cannot hear the difference between playing Robot Wars and PUBG Mobile with and without the Game mode.

There is also no active noise cancellation (ANC). But I think it is a tad too much to ask for ANC in a pair of true wireless in-ear headphones that cost only around $160. It is quite affordable considering that AirPods start at $239 while other such headphones from premium audio brands can cost more than $500.

Battery life of these earbuds is rated at four hours, which I can confirm from the testing and which is average for true wireless in-ear headphones. The charging case adds another 12 hours.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 18, 2019, with the headline 'Affordable wireless earbuds with decent sound'. Print Edition | Subscribe