The Razer Kraken has lengthy been a favourite of individuals shopping for a gaming headset on a budget. Listing at $80, and infrequently discounted even decrease, it’s one of many cheaper name-brand headsets available on the market.
But what if it have been even cheaper? The new Razer Kraken X retails for a mere $50, or $30 cheaper than its sibling. That’s proving to be a preferred value currently, with each HyperX’s Cloud Stinger and Astro’s A10 vying for budget-conscious patrons lately. The Kraken X boasts a number of benefits over the competitors although, together with rudimentary 7.1 assist and the basic Kraken look.
It’s nonetheless not an superb headset, thoughts you—however for $50? You might do (quite a bit) worse.
This evaluate is a part of our roundup of best gaming headsets. Go there for particulars on competing merchandise and the way we examined them.
Taking one other crack at it
I’ve mentioned prior to now: Just since you need an affordable headset doesn’t imply you desire a cheap-wanting headset. Luckily, Razer understands that sentiment higher than simply about every other producer. The Kraken X could promote for under $50, nevertheless it appears near-identical to its full-price predecessor. Jet black, with the identical steel mesh and three-headed snake emblem on the ears, the Kraken X blends proper in with the remainder of Razer’s headsets.
Only the main points differ. For occasion, the Kraken X’s microphone is unable to retract. An enormous deal? No, not likely. It’s not such as you’d need to take the Kraken X out of the home even with the microphone eliminated. That single change wouldn’t magically make it look much less like a gaming headset. But I want having the choice to get the microphone out of my face, both by retracting it, flipping it up, or detaching it fully. With the Kraken X, the microphone is all the time there in your peripheral imaginative and prescient, and that may be annoying at occasions.
Razer additionally reduce a number of corners on construct high quality. The Kraken X headband is plastic right through, with out the faux-leather trim or the steel reinforcement that underpins the usual Kraken. It’s additionally much less padded, with solely a skinny layer within the heart of the scarf. The different Kraken fashions lengthen the padding to the perimeters of the scarf as properly, an all-encompassing cushion.
That mentioned, Razer will get away with it as a result of the Kraken X is extremely light-weight. The all-plastic development brings the Kraken X in at a mere 8.9 ounces, in comparison with 11.3 ounces for the usual Kraken. That won’t sound like a lot nevertheless it makes an enormous distinction in a tool you put on for hours at a time. The Kraken X even manages to greatest HyperX’s aforementioned Cloud Stinger, which weighs 9.7 ounces.
It’s surprisingly comfy because of this, even when Razer skimped on padding. The match is a bit tight at first, and the scarf changes are clunky and stiff, however the Kraken X feels nice as soon as damaged in. Give the scarf a number of mild flexes if you take it out of the field to hurry that course of alongside.
And Razer lastly moved away from round earcups, which is nice as a result of…properly, ears aren’t round. It’s arduous to inform, however the Kraken X’s earcups are barely elongated. The ensuing oval-shaped hollows are cosy in comparison with Razer’s previous headsets, however kind a greater and extra even seal towards the cranium, blocking out extra ambient noise.
All in all, it’s a strong effort—particularly for $50—although there are a number of weak factors. The wire is stiff rubber, a far cry from the silky braided cloth Razer makes use of on its different peripherals. The earcups additionally maintain a lot of warmth. That’s an issue with leatherette typically, however the Kraken X appears particularly unhealthy. I’ve had sweaty ears sporting the Kraken X right here in San Francisco, which nearly by no means occurs. And the microphone mute button is awkward and unintuitive, hidden on the rear of the left ear. Click it in and also you’re muted—however you possibly can’t even inform with out reaching again to really feel the swap’s place once more. It’s a ache.
Still, I’m impressed. Razer trimmed $30 off the Kraken’s value with just a few minor adjustments. You couldn’t ask for way more.
The Kraken X sounds fairly good too. Like the Cloud Stinger and A10, the Kraken X is geared in direction of mid-range response. It’s an honest wager for these entry-level headsets to make. The mid-range is accountable for a lot of what we hear day-to-day, and pushing it to the forefront helps dialogue pop. First impressions of the Kraken X are pretty optimistic.
It lacks a sure one thing although, at occasions. Bass response is anemic, and the treble vary (particularly cymbal crashes) fails to interrupt free from the combination the way in which you’d need. It’s not often unhealthy sufficient to be distracting, however I in all probability wouldn’t attain for the Kraken X first if I had different choices. You lose the depth and energy of a well-mixed motion sequence, and the nuance of the quieter moments.
It will get the job accomplished although. As an entry-level gaming headset? The Kraken X conveys the required tactical data, and sounds midway first rate doing so. Like the Cloud Stinger and A10, it’s “good enough,” and that’s actually all we should always count on from a $50 headset.
I additionally talked about up prime that the Kraken X boasts 7.1 encompass sound assist. Now this was stunning. Traditionally software-driven 7.1 has been reserved for USB headsets. The baseline Kraken X terminates in an ordinary 3.5mm jack although. How was Razer going to drag off 7.1 assist with a tool that doesn’t present up in its Synapse software program suite?
And the reply: Razer didn’t use Synapse. You must obtain a very separate program as a substitute, the aptly named “7.1 Surround Sound.” Note that it solely works on Windows 10 PCs. You’ll additionally want the activation code that got here along with your Kraken X, so don’t throw it out otherwise you’ll have to go fishing in your recycling bin. (I positively didn’t have that occur. Nope. Not me.)
Anyway, it’s an 84MB utility that makes an attempt to duplicate the 7.1 capabilities of Razer’s USB headsets for the 3.5mm Kraken X—or for any audio system you connect to your PC. You can set the “Output” area to something, so you possibly can technically apply Razer’s 7.1 encompass resolution to a high-end pair of headphones or a Logitech headset or your monitor’s built-in audio system or something else that outputs sound. It’s not magic, and certain received’t sound nice, however you are able to do it.
The supposed vacation spot is your PC’s headphone jack although. Plug within the Kraken X, run the utility, and also you’re capable of toggle 7.1 encompass on and off. And then…not quite a bit occurs, in my expertise. I’m notoriously skeptical of software-driven 7.1, however I’ve been impressed by Razer’s previous efforts, together with the high-end Kraken Ultimate. The Kraken X, not a lot. It does broaden the soundstage a hair, and may give a slight benefit in shooters, however the stereo sound might be simply as helpful in 95 % of eventualities.
It’s fascinating to observe Razer attempt to deal with this downside although. As I mentioned, 7.1 assist is sort of completely reserved for headsets with built-in USB soundcards. While Razer’s outcomes aren’t very thrilling but, I’d like to see it evolve. After all, software-driven 7.1 was universally panned lower than a decade in the past. Now it’s—properly, not superb, however at the very least serviceable. Maybe this 7.1 Surround utility shall be simply as “okay” at some point.
Finally, it’s value mentioning that the Kraken X’s microphone is loud. It picks up a ton of background noise. Again, it is a downside that’s usually solved by headsets with USB soundcards, as they make use of noise gates. The Kraken X doesn’t have that luxurious. It performs advantageous in quiet environments, however in the event you’ve acquired talkative roommates or avenue noise or perhaps a whirring field fan sitting close by? This won’t be one of the best headset for you.
Like the Cloud Stinger, the Kraken X principally suffers from being the entry-level model of a headset that’s not that rather more costly. The Cloud Stinger performs second-fiddle to the Cloud Alpha. The Kraken X sits within the shadow of each the Kraken and the Kraken Tournament Edition, a no-frills tackle a headset line that had few frills to start with.
That’s not likely a downside. Razer has a headset for everybody, at each value level, and the Kraken X is a strong choice at $50. It’s comfy (sufficient), it sounds first rate (sufficient), and the microphone works. It’s not thrilling, nevertheless it checks all of the bins I’ve come to count on on this value vary.
Still, it’s arduous to advocate going with the somewhat-less-comfortable Kraken X with its somewhat-less-impressive audio when for simply $20 or $30 extra you possibly can have a a lot better headset. It’s a comparatively small distinction in value and a comparatively giant distinction in efficiency, and for most individuals, the usual Kraken is the higher choice—or any of quite a lot of totally different headsets within the $80 vary.