Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC review: Superb sound with nice noise-canceling tech

Windows Central Recommended Award

To go with its first phone, Razer developed a set of USB-C in-ear headphones to join the Hammerhead family. As the Razer Phone 2 is hitting shelves around the world, the headphones, too, have been given a spruce up.

And just like the phone, this is a mild upgrade, but one that makes some pretty important additions. This year we're getting a better design and active noise cancellation (ANC), which is powered by your phone.

What is active noise cancellation and how does it work in headphones?

And the best part is that they're not just for the Razer Phone 2.

What you'll like about the Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC

In the box with the Razer Phone 2, or likely any other phone, tablet or laptop that does not have a 3.5mm headphone jack, you'll get a dongle to connect your headphones. That's good, but it's something that's easily lost. USB-C headphones like these remove that issue entirely. The digital-to-analog converter (DAC) is in the headphones, so you just plug in and go. The cable is nice and long, too, so there's no trouble stashing your phone in a pocket.

Hardware wise, here are some of the things you need to know about the Hammerhead USB-C ANC:

  • Dual-drivers.
  • Frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz
  • USB-C connector.
  • Custom-tuned DAC.
  • ANC powered by your phone.
  • Ear tips in three sizes plus a set of Comply tips.
  • Inline remote.

Razer redesigned this latest incarnation of the Hammerhead over its predecessors for the better. The earbuds are now angled, not straight as before, so they're more comfortable and less likely to slip out of your ears. You get a trio of different size silicon tips to choose from and a single pair of Comply foam tips that will mold to your ears much better and provide better sound isolation.

The Hammerhead USB-C ANC ticks every box.

It's the first time I've used this particular brand of tip, and I'm instantly a fan. The fit is sublime, and combined with the ANC you get great isolation from the world around you. In a truly noisy environment, such as a plane, you'll probably still hear some of the background noise, but for their size, the Hammerhead does a very good job.

I've been using the Hammerhead USB-C ANC with the Razer Phone 2, with its built in Dolby Atmos always turned on. The sound quality is excellent, with plenty of range, detail and volume for something so small. They aren't overpowering with bass, though Razer has bass adjustment on its phone in the settings for Dolby Atmos if you want a little more.

The ANC is the big inclusion on the latest Hammerhead, and the good news is it's powered entirely by your phone, so no batteries and no charging. It will, inevitably, have some impact on your phone's battery life, but with the Razer Phone 2, I can't say there has been any noticeable drain that would cause any concern.

I've had no issues using these headphones with any USB-C phone I've tried or on a laptop running Windows 10.

What you'll dislike about the Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC

There's not much to dislike there.

Even though the USB-C Hammerhead is more convenient and just better than carrying a dongle, in this case, the Razer Phone 2 dongle has a THX DAC inside that sounds amazing. With a good pair of headphones attached it blows the Hammerhead away.

You get a case with these headphones, which is something you'd expect given that this is a quality product. But it's a small, soft case and it's actually not as good as the one you get with the less expensive Hammerhead USB-C.

This, in turn, goes with the change from a flat, tangle-free cable to a round, braided cable. It's a good cable, but you have to basically stuff the headphones into the case which without fail just leaves you with a tangled mess.

This is also a fairly expensive set of headphones, at $100.

Should you buy the Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC?

While the dongle you get with the Razer Phone paired with a good pair of headphones still sounds much better I'm happy to take that trade-off for not having to carry a dongle at all. Especially for headphones that sound this good.

You can get the same great sound quality from the cheaper version of the USB-C Hammerhead, but the $20 extra is worth it for ANC and those ridiculously good Comply foam tips. The newer version is also more comfortable and less prone to falling from your ears.

Sure, the case is rubbish, and they're going to tangle up a lot inside it, but as far as USB-C in-ear headphones go the Hammerhead ANC ticks every box. So, yeah, you should buy these if you need new headphones and everything described here sounds good to you.

Richard Devine
Managing Editor - Tech, Reviews

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