Razer BlackShark V2 headset review: The competitive PC gamer's new best friend
Razer is bringing back one of its earliest gaming headsets and for the competitive gamers out there it's the one to get.
If you're searching for the best PC gaming headset around then there's one brand that will always be on the radar. Razer has been making headsets for a long old time and this latest is a rebirth of an old legend. The BlackShark V2 is a successor of sorts to the original BlackShark, a headset that was introduced way back in 2012.
It's a rebirth of a famous old name that retains much of what made the original great while bringing it firmly into line for 2020's competitive gamers. Like many recent Razer products this has been designed in conjunction with a number of top professional gamers to produce something exquisite for the esports scene and anyone who spends a lot of time grinding their favorite games. Despite being fairly a fairly new product there's still chances coming up before 2020 ends to score a deal, too. Razer is no stranger to events like Black Friday and any good discounts on its regular $100 asking price make it an instant buy.
Bottom line: One of Razer's very first headsets is reborn, updating a classic design for the demands of today's competitive gamers.
- Lightweight design
- Extremely comfortable
- Updated THX spatial audio with dedicated game profiles
- Detachable microphone
- Built-in controls
- USB sound card cable is too short
- Console users lose all the neat features
Razer BlackShark V2 tech specs
|Frequency response||12Hz to 28kHz|
|Impedence||32 Ω @ 1 kHz|
|Speaker size||50 mm TriForce Titanium drivers|
|Connection||3.5 mm with additional USB audio controller|
|Compatibility||PC (USB), console (3.5 mm)|
|Microphone frequency response||100Hz-10KHz|
|Microphone pickup pattern||Unidirectional|
The BlackShark V2 has a number of interesting features on the hardware front, starting with the all-new drivers at the heart. The TriForce Titanium 50mm drivers are an all-new design patented by Razer which splits the audio driver into three specific parts. This allows for individual tuning of highs, mids and lows, while the thicker speaker cavity allows for greater clarity on each and extra volume.
Particular attention has also been paid to the audio balance, which has added benefits combined with the THX Spatial Audio system. The BlackShark V2 focuses on accurate directional sound.
What you'll like about the Razer BlackShark V2
If you were a fan of the design of the original BlackShark then you'll love the updated version here. The BlackShark V2 retains the distinctive "helicopter" design from the original but is much more refined. The cables are still visible and still green, but in keeping with Razer's current aesthetic, everything else is matte black apart from the company logo on each ear.
It's a striking design, yet highly functional, too. There's no inline remote to worry about fumbling for at the crucial moment, instead the volume and mute controls are on the headset itself on the left-hand side by the microphone. You have additional audio controls available through Razer Synapse on PC, but whether you're gaming on PC or console you have the critical functions close at hand.
What stands out the most about the hardware, however, is just how incredibly light it is while still feeling like a quality product. At only 262g, the BlackShark V2 is lighter than most of its direct competition which in turn makes it exceedingly comfortable to wear for long periods. I've sat with it on from 9am to 6pm almost solidly over a number of days in a fairly warm office with no discomfort, no fatigue and no reason beyond listening to my children to take it off at all.
And you do need to take it off if you're needing to hear someone or something from the real world. The BlackShark V2 is designed to create a complete seal around your ears, which it does without feeling at all tight or like it's pinching. This seal helps create highly effective passive noise cancellation leaving you to focus on the game in front of you.
The cups are also trimmed in fabric with memory foam padding beneath for added comfort but also to reduce the effect of perspiration. Nothing will ever completely eliminate this, especially in warmer rooms, but the Flowknit fabric does a stellar job at keeping it to a minimum which all helps reducing overall fatigue.
The microphone has also been a focus of attention from Razer, and I'm pleased to see this. Previous headsets like the Kraken Tournament Edition I criticised for having too quiet a microphone, but that's not the case here. As an example, I took the headset off to go and answer the door while playing PUBG with some friends and they could hear me talking to my wife as I was halfway down the stairs.
It has a more focused voice pickup area while rejecting noise from the back and sides coupled with a new housing designed to promote accurate voice reproduction. All this is important for competitive gamers because the clarity of communications is absolutely key, and besides just being a better microphone than some of Razer's recent efforts, there are a number of controls built into Synapse to help you customize it just so. It's also detachable so you can set it aside completely if you're gaming solo.
And of course, the sound quality is excellent. I feel like it offers a more rounded sound overall than some previous Razer headsets. For general gaming and even media consumption, it's excellent, but it really comes into its own when you're playing competitive games where directional sound is of added importance. I'm far from being a pro gamer but it's pretty clear even to me which direction shots are coming from.
Updated THX Spatial Audio
A special mention needs to be made of the updates to the THX Spatial Audio system included with the BlackShark V2. We've previously covered this incredible audio system for gamers, but for the BlackShark V2 it's getting some additional goodies.
New for this headset are dedicated game modes where the boffins at THX and Razer have engaged directly with game developers to provide dedicated audio settings for some of the top games. Each supported game will have two profiles, environmental and competitive, and will be automatically enabled when you launch a game.
The competitive mode, for example, will enhance further the spatial audio cues from within the game, giving you an edge in a shooter like Rainbow Six Siege. One example THX gave is how they worked with Respawn on supporting Apex Legends. They've considered the specs of the rooms across the map and the reverb these will generate while also widening the scope of the virtual surround sound for enemy localization.
The full list of 18 supported games at launch is:
- Apex Legends
- Call Of Duty :Warzone
- Resident Evil 2
- Metro Exodus
- Tom Clancy's Division 2
- Call of Duty Modern Warfare
- Call of Duty Black Ops 4
- Doom Eternal
- Rainbow Six Siege
- Red Dead Redemption 2
- Destiny 2
- Final Fantasy: XIV
- Monster Hunter: World
- Battlefield: 1
- Half Life: Alyx
These profiles were planned to launch alongside the BlackShark V2 but have been pushed back a week and will be available to use from August 6.
What you'll dislike about the Razer BlackShark V2
The BlackShark V2 is a brilliant, brilliant headset, but there are some small things that are worth pointing out if you're looking at buying one.
The first is probably the biggest, in that while you can use this on a console, it shouldn't be your first choice at $100 for console play. You lose all the neat THX Spatial Audio features, which is understandable, but this headset is made to take full advantage of the software to provide a supreme experience. And you just can't get that on a console.
Other, albeit minor things, include the fact that if you're looking for a headset that folds up in anyway for easier travel, this doesn't at all. But you do get a carry bag included in the box, and it's hardly a huge headset either, so it's hardly a dealbreaker even if you do travel a lot.
The big personal annoyance I have with the BlackShark V2 is that the USB sound card has the shortest cable imaginable on it. If your PC lives under a desk, as mine does, plugging in the headset to use with my PC and unplugging it to use with anything else involves some minor gymnastics and frequent banging of the head. I would have liked to see it as long as the cable you get on the USB audio controller you get with the Kraken Tournament Edition so it's just easier to live with.
Should you buy the Razer BlackShark V2?
If you're into PC gaming, be it competitive or not, absolutely give this headset a try. It's one of the lightest headsets I've ever worn, and as such it's one of the only headsets I've been able to wear all day, every day, without getting tired.
But especially if you're a competitive gamer, this headset is made for you. We already knew how good THX Spatial Audio is and with the added game profiles coming soon it'll be even better paired with this headset in supported games.
There's little doubt that for the competitive gaming scene, this is the headset to get. It's comfortable, it sounds great, the microphone is decent and perhaps best of all, it's quite affordable at just $100.
The Razer BlackShark V2 is available to order from July 30.
A legend reborn
A competitive PC gamer's new best friend
This revisit to an iconic Razer headset has produced something that competitive gamers will love with better than ever THX Spatial Audio, a crazy lightweight body and supreme comfort.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine