Razer Kraken 7.1 V2 Review: The surround sound gaming headset, refined
Razer continually refines its products, always striving to make the ultimate gaming hardware. The manufacturer's latest revamp is the Razer Kraken 7.1 V2 headset. It sports killer surround sound, Chroma lighting, active noise cancelling for noisy environments, and a new headband design.
Razer Kraken 7.1 V2 at a glance
Razer released two similar headsets at the same time: the Kraken 7.1 V2 and the Kraken Pro V2 (the latter lacks surround sound). The Kraken 7.1 V2 connects via a lengthy braided USB cable. It is compatible with Windows, Mac, and PlayStation 4 (sadly, Xbox One does not support USB headsets).
These are the Kraken 7.1 V2's features in a nutshell:
- Advanced 7.1 virtual surround sound engine for pinpoint positional audio
- 50mm audio drivers custom-tuned for balanced in-game audio and communications
- Active noise-cancelling digital microphone for crystal-clear communication
- Unibody aluminum frame for extended durability
- Maximum comfort and zero fatigue
- Razer Chroma lighting with 16.8 million customizable color options
The standout features in the Kraken 7.1 V2's physical design are its new frame and headband. The frame itself is made of aluminum metal, and should prove sturdier than typical headsets with plastic frames. Like most headsets, the frame can be extended to accommodate larger heads. The extensible portion of the frame has engraved centimeter markings to help with adjustment – a cool touch.
Covering the frame is a cloth band bearing the Razer name on the outside and a thin layer of cushion on the inside. The padding could be thicker, perhaps, but I still find it comfortable atop my head.
The Kraken 7.1 V2's ear cups are massive, with the audio drivers jumping from 40mm in the old model to 50mm in this model. The exterior of each cup features a slick grill design with the Razer logo in the center. The logos each light up in a single color that can be customized with three different patterns (static, breathing, and spectrum cycling) or turned off.
The ear cushions are made of memory foam and cover the entire ear, blocking out a fair amount of external sound. I'm a wearer of thin-framed glasses, and the cushions never cause me any level of discomfort. They're some of the best I've used.
The microphone extends and retracts from the left ear cup and flexes in any direction for easy positioning. Clicking in the button on the end of the microphone will mute it, activating a red light on the tip that's easy to see while you're wearing it. The headset has no other physical controls, so volume adjustments must be made through the computer.
Whereas the Kraken Pro V2 features an ECM boom microphone, the Kraken 7.1 V2 features a unique digital microphone. This allows for several advanced features, including active noise cancelling, ambient noise reduction, volume normalization, and mic monitoring.
The active noise reduction, a feature you toggle on or off, is designed to maintain voice quality in noisy environments such as eSports tournaments. The other mic features can be adjusted incrementally, so you get a lot of control over how you sound with this headset. But in my experience, the microphone sounded perfectly sharp at default settings.
Virtual surround sound
The first time you connect the Kraken 7.1 V2 to a Windows machine, you'll be prompted to download and install Razer's Synapse software. Synapse is used to control lighting, microphone effects, and surround sound. The software's frequent updates can be annoying, but the way it saves user settings on the cloud is handy.
After installing Synapse, you'll go through the virtual surround sound setup process. The headset will play sounds from seven directions, prompting you to adjust a slider for any direction that sounds off. It's a bit confusing, but leaving the slider for each virtual speaker at the default position worked well for me.
The virtual surround effect is quite strong, and could potentially help detect things coming from behind you in first-person games. The Kraken 7.1 V2's sound is great all around, with strong high and low frequencies, and optional bass boost.
The Razer Kraken 7.1 V2 is one of the best USB headsets I've used. It really has no flaws – the frame, ear cups, microphone, and even mute button are all perfect. Along with great build and sound, you also get some visual customization thanks to the Chroma lighting. The Kraken 7.1 V2 retails for $99, and I have a hard time imagining a better headset for the money.
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Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!