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Razer Kraken Tournament Edition Review

By David Holmes on October 04, 2018 | Hardware Reviews | Comments

Razer Kraken Tournament Edition Review

Razer loves to put new and specialized versions of their products. So it comes as no surprise that we find ourselves with a new and improved version of the Razer Kraken, the Tournament Edition. It boasts a host of features including a new-to-this-line USB audio controller that can level the playing field on your levels. Let’s dig deeper to see what it does. This is our review of the Razer Kraken Tournament Edition Gaming Headset.

Specifications

Headphones

  • Frequency response: 12 Hz – 28 kHz
  • Impedance: 32 Ohm @ 1 kHz
  • Sensitivity (@1 kHz): 109 ± 3 dB
  • Input power: 30 mW (Max)
  • Drivers: 50 mm, with Neodymium magnets
  • Inner ear cup diameter: 56 mm / 2.2 in
  • Connection type: Analog 3.5 mm
  • Ultra-durable Kevlar™ reinforced cable
  • Cable length: 1.3 m / 4.27 ft.
  • Approx. weight: 322 g / 0.71 lbs
  • Oval ear cushions: Designed for full-ear coverage with cooling gel

Microphone

  • Frequency response: 100 Hz – 10 kHz
  • Impedance: 32 Ohm @ 1 kHz
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: > 60 dB
  • Sensitivity (@1 kHz): -42 ± 3 dB
  • Pick-up pattern: Unidirectional ECM boom
  • Controls: Vol up/down, Bass up/down, THX Spatial On/Off*, Mic mute, Game/Chat balance*
  • USB Audio Controller
  • Cable length: 2.0m

Let’s talk about what all those specs mean first.

Frequency response: 12 Hz – 28 kHz, Impedance: 32 OHM @ 1 kHz & Sensitivity (@1 kHz): 109 ± 3 Db

Frequency response shows the tonal range of how low in the deep bass a driver can reproduce (usually starting around 20 Hz) to how high in the treble ranges it can reproduce (20 kHz generally accepted as the upper limit of human hearing). Thus, you get a good spectrum of sound from the Kraken Tournament Edition. The extended range featured on the Kraken means that it should be able to produce every audible signal without any distortion or loss of clarity.

Impedance is an electrical unit which expresses the combined Resistance, Inductance and Capacitance of the headphone's voice coil. This allows the amplifier to exert more control over the headphone. For example, lower output impedance of an amp results in a higher damping & more efficiency.

Sensitivity is how effectively an earphone converts an electrical signal into an acoustical signal.  The sensitivity of earphones tend to range from 80 to 125 dB.

Technical jargon aside, the Kraken TE is a well-controlled earphone with a wide range of response for any game, movie, or music you might use it with.

50mm Drivers with Neodymium Magnets

The size of a driver unit for most earphones come in the range of 20mm to 50mm for most over-ear headphones with the average gaming headset coming in at 40mm. Generally, the bigger the driver unit is, the larger the speaker, and more powerful is the output. Neodymium is a rare earth metal and a special material that when combined with iron and boron creates some the currently strongest permanent magnets in the world.

As a result of these larger driver units, the Kraken can produce powerful sound, even more so thanks to the USB controller.

Signal-to-noise ratio: > 60 dB & Pick-up pattern: Unidirectional Electric Condenser Mic Boom

The signal-to-noise ratio helps to compare the level of signal power to the level of noise power. Generally, it’s expressed as a measurement of decibels (dB). Higher numbers usually mean a better specification, since there is more useful information (the signal) than there is unwanted data (the noise).

The unidirectional condenser microphone is a mic that picks up sound waves from a single direction usually using a Cardioid, or heart-shaped pattern, while rejecting sound behind it for optimum clarity.

That’s the techy stuff out of the way, so let’s dig into my thoughts on the Razer Kraken Tournament headphones themselves: they’re great. The sound comes through clear and, depending on your volume preferences, nice and loud. I found them to have great sound reproduction on both ends of the spectrum and had a tight control of the bass thanks to the USB audio dongle.

Speaking of the dongle, it was nice to not only have audio level control, but also the ability to raise or lower bass, enable/disable THX Spatial audio.

THX was purchased by Razer back in 2016 but it’s only recently we’ve seen them make an appearance in Razer’s gear. THX Spatial Audio is Razer’s take on next generation surround sound, not unlike Windows Sonic or Dolby Atmos. Rather than rely on channels, like 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound, Spatial Surround Sound uses audio objects and scenes to create a full 360-degree audio environment. This also includes above and below you. In games, this makes a big difference though can vary quite a bit from game to game. Games designed for spatial audio, like Overwatch, fare best and the results can feel downright next-gen.

The other new feature is the ability to balance in game audio and voice chat. I tend to play a lot of multiplayer games with friends and this new feature was really nice for whenever I wanted to just enjoy the game or cutscene. On the other side of that, being able to easily turn down the game was nice when I wanted to focus more on talking with my friends as we relaxed while playing together.

Being someone who tends to wear headphones for all their audio needs, comfort is just as important as sound to me. The ear cups fit my big ears and head quite well. I felt little to no sweating while wearing these for long time periods thanks to the quality of the cups as well of the cooling gel infused in each cushion. The Kraken TE offers a nice soft feeling around your ears that whisks away heat.

This is the first headset I’ve worn with its last killer feature: channels for the arms of your glasses. This is a feature that I've wanted for a very long time and I’m sure other glasses wearers can relate. The Razer Kraken Tournament has indented channels in each cushion and you can feel the difference.  Not only is this something long needed to for people like myself, but also gamers who use things like Gunnars as well.

The cord length was great, longer of course if you use the USB dongle to connect to things, but the audio jack option is there as well. This means you can’t use the dongle’s bass feature, THX Spatial audio or balance in game audio/voice chat, but it does mean that the headset can be used for different devices or taken on the go.

While I generally use a separate microphone, the boom mic on the headset is of a good quality with very nice capture. It also easily stores inside the cup when it’s not in use and can be drawn out with no problem.

Final Thoughts

Overall the Razer Kraken Tournament Edition is a welcome addition to anyone's audio arsenal at the suggested price of USD $99.99. Not only does it provide quality sound with THX Spatial audio, but the ability to control bass and game/chat balance on the fly is excellent. The mic is also good, offering a clear sound for your streaming or chat escapades. All together, the Razer Kraken Tournament Edition feels sturdy and well-built with an eye not only to audio but also comfort for those extended play sessions.

Pros

  • High quality audio
  • Ability to control Bass on the fly via USB dongle
  • THX Spatial audio
  • Controlling the balance between in game audio and voice chat
  • Quality unidirectional ECM
  • Comfortable to wear for long hours
  • Small hidden indents for glasses

Cons

  • Cord may be too long for some
  • No RGB