I’m not the technical wizard that Carolyn Koh is when it comes to headsets, but when I got my Razer SWTOR Gaming Headset in the mail (I really needed a new one aside from the one tethered to my Xbox 360 controller) I knew I was in love. It may look a little silly (unless you’re a Star Wars fan like me), and the cost may be a bit high, but the comfort and sheer fidelity of the sound to my ears was well worth looking dorky to my wife. Besides, once I’m in any game the 7.1 surround makes sure I can’t hear her laughter and poking jokes (note: my wife isn’t that cruel, she’s just being used for ‘t3h funn3h’ here). It’s not noise-cancelling, and it’s not endorsed by the MLG, but it’s comfortable, it sounds great and glows pretty colors. For my needs: it’s perfect, though it may not be for everyone.
The headset comes equipped with full 3D positional Dolby 7.1 virtual surround sound… in short? Blasters that come from behind will sound like they’re from behind, and when you’re not facing your companion you won’t hear their incessant whining while trudging through Balmorra. It’s not TRUE surround sound, but only the most adept audiophiles will be able to tell the difference.
The earpads themselves are circumaural (meaning they encompass the entire ear) and do a decent job of delivering sound without bring noise-cancelling. The speaker units themselves are 50MM, which is rather large which is a pretty standard size for a headset of this nature. The microphone is a boom-mic with unidirectional reception, which makes the sound really crisp and clear when chatting with people. The idea behind unidirectional mics (for those who don’t know) is that it’ll only hear sounds from one direction: ideally your mouth. Background noises and the like are then lost and no one should be able to hear everything else going on in your house.
There are volume controls for the headset itself behind the right ear, with a mute button, and a second set for the mic behind the left ear. These come in really handy, but if you’re not careful merely picking them up and putting them down can find you accidentally muting them and you’ll be talking to yourself while your group or guild goes on seemingly ignoring your rant about why Huttball isn’t as fun as it could be.
My only real complaint with the performance of the headset so far has been that if I press on the where the mic connects to the ear (which I did just to situate the ear-cup once) it caused my mic to spaz out and emit static over Skype… then it was fine once we restarted the call we were on. It doesn’t seem to happen in any games so far, but one wonders why it would in Skype.
The basic functions and performance of the headset are well and good, and gamers looking for a SWTOR-branded headset have precious few options to choose from anyway. But what about the comfort? What about looking awesome (or as awesome as one can look while playing a Star Wars MMO and hunched over at your desk)? Like the rebranded Naga mouse, the headset comes complete with interchangeable emblems for each ear so you can represent the Empire or the Republic (or both). The set also has the same alternating LED glow for that extra ambiance, and even if you can’t see it, you know you look futuristic.
The earpads themselves are hexagonal in design, obviously intended to evoke thoughts of the Tie-Fighter, and the whole thing shares the same smooth gray exterior of the mouse and KB with droid-like lines etched into the veneer. A mix of gray, gold, and black, it’s definitely a unique looking piece. While I personally loved the aesthetic, my wife wondered aloud why it wasn’t all black and “Vader-y”. To each their own, I say. The pads are very soft and comfortable, and I only once found myself with that familiar ache around the ears after a few hours’ use. Simply adjusting the headband an extra notch or two seemed to remedy this however.
Ultimately, there are better and more versatile headsets on the market… but they often come a lot more expensive than Razer’s SWTOR-branded headset. Sure it’s not anything to scoff at with a $129.99 price-tag, but I guess it depends on a.) how much you like SWTOR and b.) how much you like Star Wars in general. It’s a great looking and performing headset and a much needed upgrade for me personally. But your mileage will obviously vary. All I know is the sound is phenomenal and The Old Republic’s voice acting is a real pleasure with this thing wrapped around my noggin.