The Razer Kraken Ultimate, the latest competitive gaming headset from Razer featuring THX Spatial Audio technology is out, but does it live up to its name?
Coming off the back of the entry-level Razer Kraken X, the Ultimate follows the same design sensibilities, but with some very obvious differences. The Kraken Ultimate’s build is noticeably more solid than the Kraken X, with the latter’s plastic frame replaced by a more robust metal frame. The aluminium and steel frame still remain lightweight though.
The large cooling gel-infused ear cushions completely cover the ear and are easily adjustable, with numbered notches, for you to find the right fit. The frame, ear-cushions and padded headband provide long-lasting comfort during extensive gaming sessions.
The cooling-gel cushions also help reduce heat build-up and take into consideration the comfort of gamers that sport corrective or blue-light glasses with discreet eye-wear channels. The volume dial and THX Spatial Audio button are conveniently located at the back of the left ear cushion.
Probably one of the most innovative aspects of the design, of any headset I’ve seen, is the microphone. Unlike the Kraken X, which has a pretty decent fixed microphone, the Kraken Ultimate’s noise cancelling microphone retracts back into the frame. The true genius of the design though is that Razer has turned the mic receiver itself into the mute button.
Gently press the business end of the mic and it lights up a red ring that indicates it’s muted. It’s design innovation at probably one of the most overlooked, but essential feature, of a gaming headset. The active noise canceling microphone provides clear audio transfer over in-game chat and Discord without lag or drop-off.
Beyond design, the Kraken Ultimate continues to impress. Powered by custom-tuned 50mm drivers, the Kraken Ultimate comes equipped with THX Spatial Audio technology – an advanced positional audio solution that produces sound in a 360-degree sphere that allows for better awareness and heightened immersion during competitive gameplay, allowing gamers to locate enemies, avoid bullets, and detect threats before anyone else.
Tested while playing Overwatch, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Pathfinder: Kingmaker, the soundscape is immersive and captures auditory detail extremely well, allowing you to pick up even the slightest nuance in sound and use it to their advantage. Annoyingly though, while playing Kingmaker late into the night, I kept thinking there was a cat in the house, only to realize that it was actually the audio from the game when I was walking through the market-square of my city.
While great for games, listening to music in general the Kraken Ultimate comes across slightly flat- of course, this isn’t what its tuned for.
One small gripe that I have though is that the ear-cushions, while comfortable, offer almost nothing when it comes to passive noise cancelling. I often find myself with a headset on, without any audio playing, just to drown out the background noise and focus on the work at hand. However, The Kraken Ultimate wouldn’t be my go to headset for that role.
Aesthetically, the Kraken Ultimate looks good. It features highly visible backlit earcups powered by Razer Chroma, supporting 16.8 million colors and a suite of lighting effects controlled from within Razer’s Synapse 3 software. While not a big fan of LED lights and glowy-stuff in general, it just looks good and really pleasing to the eye while its soft contrast off the black frame.
The Razer Kraken Ultimate is extremely easy to set up – literally plug and play into any USB port – which is also its limitation. The Kraken Ultimate is meant for the PC gamer. It’s not going to be a headset that you can bring around for your tablet or mobile phone gaming needs.
Unlike the Razer Kraken X which is a lot more flexible in that aspect with a 3.5mm jack, the Kraken Ultimate can only be used with a USB port – which in turn allows it to do all that it can do and sets it apart from the others.
Available at a recommended retail price of $129.99 USD the Razer Kraken Ultimate is a very good gaming headset that blends performance, design and isn’t too heavy on the wallet.