Tech review: Razer Kraken Tournament Edition is affordable and comfortable

The latest product to get the THX treatment since Razer acquired the audio firm in 2016 is its affordable Kraken gaming headset.
The latest product to get the THX treatment since Razer acquired the audio firm in 2016 is its affordable Kraken gaming headset.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM RAZER.COM

Since acquiring audio firm THX in 2016, Razer has been adding THX technology to its gaming hardware.

The latest product to get the THX treatment is its affordable Kraken gaming headset. The new Tournament Edition model adds THX positional audio technology to help gamers determine the direction of in-game sounds, like gunfire and footsteps. This is supposed to give users a competitive edge, like being able to detect an enemy sneaking behind them in a game.

This THX Spatial Audio technology comes in the form of a USB amplifier that is housed in a small plastic control box. The headset connects to this control box via the 3.5mm audio jack while the box is connected to your computer via a USB port.

This daisy-chain arrangement sounds messy and cobbled together, especially as the colour of the amplifier and its cable (black) do not match the headset's neon green aesthetics. There is also some duplication as the control box has volume controls and a microphone mute button, similar to the headset's own in-line controls.

On the other hand, you can still use the Kraken headset with game consoles and smartphones via the 3.5mm audio jack, albeit without the positional audio feature.

The control box also lets you adjust the bass level as well as tweak the balance between the volume of the game audio and the in-game chat. I found the latter feature useful in team games where coordinating with team mates via voice chat is crucial to victory. The headset itself has the usual retractable microphone that can be adjusted to fit near your mouth.

But the problem with these controls is that there is no visual indicator. For example, I have no inkling if the bass level has been set to zero. And while the Razer Synapse software lets you adjust the surround audio settings, such as enabling THX Spatial Audio only for a specific game, it does not show the current bass level.

  • SPECS

    Price: $159.90

    Frequency response: 12Hz - 28kHz

    Drivers: 50mm

    Weight: 322g

    RATING

    Features: 4/5

    Design: 3.5/5

    Performance: 3/5

    Value for money: 4/5

    Overall: 4/5

The headset itself is similar to previous models. It looks bulky, but it is relatively lightweight. If the neon green is too loud for you, Razer offers a more restrained black version.

More importantly, it feels comfortable even after using for a couple of hours. The headband is padded and the headset does not exert too much pressure on the ears. The ear cushions, too, are infused with cooling gel to reduce heat build-up, though this effect wears off after a while. The passive noise isolation is decent, blocking out most ambient noise.

Compared to other headsets with surround audio, the THX positional audio effect seems more natural and not as exaggerated. It works better for certain game genres, like action and shooting games.

But it is middling at best for music. The audio sounds muddled and flat, with the mid and high frequencies lacking any excitement and impact.

Verdict: The Razer Kraken Tournament Edition feels comfortable and is relatively affordable. Its positional audio feature is useful for some games, though it is less impressive for music.