Headphones are an unusual piece of kit as despite mostly looking the same they serve very different purposes. An audiophile could pick up the Krakens and think it was a waste of money. It’s £89.99 for a big pair of headphones that don’t sound particularly clear or crisp. A gamer on the other hand is likely to be blown away by them, because they have nearly everything a gamer could want.
The Krakens are not truly surround sound headphones. Rather than having separate drivers in each ear they use a virtual surround sound system to emulate the same effect. This has the bonus of making the headphones much cheaper than true surround sound set ups and also much lighter, and therefore more comfortable. The way the surround sound system work with just two speakers is basically just magic as far as we can tell, the science behind it is incredibly complicated but the point is that it works. During the set up with Synapse (Razer’s driver suite) you get to test each direction and modify it if necessary (although it was perfect for us) and it really shows off how well it can trick your brain into imagining directional sound.
The actual speakers lack clarity but in a way that’d only really be an issue if you were listening to music. Gunfire and engine noise come across fine, even at very high volumes, and the bass is astounding due to the large drivers. While playing Battlefield 4 with them we were amazed at how immersive it was with the sound turned up high and being able to tell where every vehicle was and the direction of much of the shooting. Surround sound is a huge advantage in games where situational awareness is king and the Krakens do a brilliant job of relaying that information to you.
Another cool feature is the microphone which is on a flexible boom that extends out of the headset or can be pushed back in when you’re not using it. The quality from the mic is perfectly clear and there’s a tiny button on the mic itself that allows you to mute it. The Kraken works very well as a headset for gaming and although the sound quality might not be the best, the surround sound, solid mic and impressive volume work together to make it a very satisfying package.
The earcups themselves are also incredibly comfortable and anyone who has used Razer headsets before will understand. There’s a lot of cushioning over each ear and it properly envelops you, doing a good job of blocking everything else out. The headset is also light enough to wear for extended gaming sessions without any discomfort.
The one big downside to the Kraken is the lack of any controls. There’s no volume control at all so you have to do everything on your system which is always a pain if you’re in a game. The edition of a simple inline volume wheel or couple of buttons would make a world of difference but sadly any such feature is completely absent. After being used to the excellent controls provided with Roccat headsets it is a big letdown and enough that we’re not going to be picking up a pair of these ourselves. As soon as the problem is fixed in a future edition we’ll pick them up day one.
If you want a headset exclusively for gaming on PC, the KRaken is a solid pair of headphones that will serve you very well despite the couple of small annoyances. If you want something to listen to music or you’re some kind of audiophile, unfortunately you’re going to have to be paying a little more to get what you want. At this price point the Kraken is a slightly luxury headset for many, but it easily justifies its value with excellent surround sound emulation and an incredibly comfortable shell.