Audio

Cool earbuds cancel noise well

The Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC is a pair of USB-C earphones with active noise cancellation (ANC) technology.

Like most Razer products, it has an all-black design, from the tangle-resistant braided cable with in-line remote to the sturdy aluminium earbuds.

The Razer logo on each earbud lights up in Razer's signature green when the earphones are plugged to a USB-C device. It looks pretty cool, like you are wearing illuminated Razer earrings, and will surely draw glances when you are on the MRT.

But there is no way to turn off the logo illumination for those who want to stay under the radar.

The in-line remote has three buttons for volume and playback controls, and a switch to turn the ANC on and off. Razer should have included another switch to turn off the illumination.

The earbuds are nicely designed. The angled ear tips prevent them from slipping out of your ears.

The Hammerhead comes with a black carrying pouch, three extra pairs of silicone ear tips in XS, S, L (the M-sized silicone tips come attached to the buds) and a pair of memory foam ear tips.

  • SPECS

  • PRICE: $159.90

    FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 20Hz to 20kHz

    IMPEDANCE: 32ohms

    CONNECTIVITY: USB-C

    WEIGHT: 21g

  • RATING

  • FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3.5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3.5/5

    OVERALL: 3.5/5

I use the memory foam ear tips for this review, as they provide better noise isolation. This effect is immediately apparent when I put on the Hammerhead. Even without turning on ANC, the ambient noise is cut down drastically.

Still, the combined passive and active noise reduction capabilities cannot matchthe almost-perfect ANC capability of my Bose QuietComfort 20 (QC20) ANC earphones.

I do a comparison on a 17-hour flight back from CES 2019 in Las Vegas and the result isobvious - the QC20 is able to block out most of the engine noise, while the Hammerhead could not.

That said, the QC20 costs twice as much as the Hammerhead.

Despite being a pair of USB-C earphones, the Hammerhead is not compatible with all USB-C devices. Razer has a webpage to show the devices that are compatible.

Obviously, the Razer Phone 1 and Phone 2 have full compatibility with it. Other smartphones with full compatibility include the Google Pixel 2 and 2XL.

I try the Hammerhead with a 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro, the latest iPad Pro, a Samsung Galaxy Note9 and my Nintendo Switch.

It failed to work (no sound output) with the Switch. And you cannot use its call functions with the Note9, although you can still use it to listen to music.

But it works fine with the two Apple devices.

Overall, these earphones deliver great sound with nice mids, crisp details and solid bass. The bass has oomph without being overbearing.

• Verdict: The Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC is a great pair of noise-cancelling earphones that looks cool and sounds great, especially if you have a Razer Phone.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2019, with the headline 'Cool earbuds cancel noise well'. Print Edition | Subscribe