Razer is famous for its gaming accessories, most notably the Kraken series of gaming headsets. At one time, not every player could afford the popular line, so in 2016 Razer released the Razer Kraken Essential budget headset, a simplified version of the famous Kraken Pro.
Ever since then, every gamer has been able to buy the coveted serpentine ears, and in this review, we’ll see if the Kraken Essential is worth the $50 price tag.
|Model||Razer Kraken Essential|
|Principle of operation||Closed|
|Frequency range, Hz||20–20 000|
|Headset connection interface||4-pole mini plug (3.5 mm)|
|Frequency range, Hz||100–10 000|
Contents of delivery
The Razer Kraken Essential comes in a stylish solid cardboard box with expensive printing and a minimalistic design. Branded black and green colors available. On the front of the box there is a large image of headphones, on the back there are smaller pictures and from three angles.
The lid of the box is fastened with Velcro. Inside the headset is fixed with rubber fasteners.
A thin pack of waste paper and a 1.2-meter adapter cord with classic microphone and headphone outputs were hidden under the cardboard insert. The main Kraken Essential cable, soldered into the base, has a length of 1.3 m and ends with a combo TRRRS connector for modern PCs, laptops, smartphones, tablets and consoles.
The headset is plastic, looks stylish and compact. The wire is enclosed in a silicone braid of acid-green color. The design bends perfectly, but the rocker is strong and will not crack just like that.
A thin metal base is visible inside. The arcs are extended by 3.5 cm, and due to a number of notches they can be blocked in the selected position.
The headband is covered with smooth leatherette on both sides. Foam rubber inside to a minimum, but it does not cause inconvenience to the head. The manufacturer’s name is engraved on the outside of the headband.
The speakers adjust to the users’ heads, but move only in a vertical plane. The Razer Kraken Essential ear pads are very hard to detach from the base. Here it is worth acting carefully so as not to tear them off with the «meat». Like the headband, they are covered with leatherette, and reach a diameter of 50 mm.
Inside are 32mm drivers with neodymium magnets.
The ear cups are round and plastic. On the outside, there is a decorative metal mesh and a plastic insert with the Razer logo in the center. Unlike older models, there is no talk of backlighting.
Attached to the left speaker is a flexible unidirectional microphone with a plastic tip. It will not work to disconnect it, and if it interferes, then it bends up. When lowering or raising, a loud click is heard. This is how the headset tells you when the microphone is turned on or off, so you should not worry about what was said if the microphone is up.
With a weight of 300 grams, Kraken Essential looks neat and fashionable. They do not creak, do not play and do not make other incomprehensible sounds when used. According to the manufacturer, eco-leather on the headband and ear pads allows air to pass through and prevents gamers from sweating. In fact, the situation is the opposite. Perhaps this leatherette breathes, but the ears and head are prey even under air conditioning. We are not talking about rivers of perspiration, but there is moisture and it is unpleasant. The plastic is easily soiled and collects fingerprints. Leatherette is resistant to operation and does not retain traces of use.
Ergonomics and ease of use
The Razer headset sits tightly on the head, and after the first hours of use, some discomfort was felt. The pressing force helps to cope with noise isolation, which is not ideal, but it still dampens most sounds. From such pressure, using Kraken Essential is unpleasant at first. In my case, the inconvenience disappeared after three days of use for 5-7 hours, while I constantly rubbed my ears so that they would not hurt so much.
The box with the Razer Kraken Essential headphones contains an activation code for the Pro version of the Razer Surround software. In addition to opening a number of settings and a couple of dozen sliders, this software allows you to take advantage of virtual 7.1 surround sound. It helps to better navigate shooters and calculate the distance to the noise source.
The sound of the speakers is controversial and narrow-profile, which is not surprising. The Razer headset is primarily designed for gamers, so the sound is packed with enhanced bass. The middle here is deaf and inexpressive, and the speakers seem to be unaware of the presence of high frequencies.
In games, especially in shooters and action games, you can hear every little thing — the sound is split into components and one by one passes through the ears, delivering the feeling of any movement in the game to the eardrums. Explosions, shots, impacts, epic cuts in difficult places sound bright and prohibitively loud. But in projects where powerful sound is not in the first place, for example, in RPGs, quests, runners, and so on, I did not notice any special differences from my duty and more affordable Plantronics GameCom 388.
Kraken Essential also perform well when watching movies. As you already understood, it’s cool to watch action games and action movies in them. When running a love comedy where sounds are not the main thing, the difference, again, is minimal.
Listening to music is also not the primary purpose of this headset. Therefore, the sound quality is in the zone from mediocre to average. Although there are nuances here. Styles dominated by bass sound decent and loud. But running classical music, jazz, rock, string styles and songs where vocals are important on the Razer Kraken Essential is definitely not worth it. Although, users who are not picky about sound or those who have “a bear stepped on their ear”, will not feel the difference, but they will probably be happy with a powerful sound, where the bass is always falling.
If these headphones get to music lovers who know a lot about music, the sound situation will more or less be corrected by an inexpensive external sound card. I used ASUS Xonar U7. It equalizes the frequencies and brings the quality of the music to acceptable sensations for me, a former musician with 10 years of experience.
Microphone impressions are mediocre. The voice is loud but muffled. If you want to stream, then you should not do it through the Kraken Essential microphone. On the same Plantronics GameCom 388, it is several times better. I am glad that the microphone here is unidirectional and does not transmit extraneous sounds of the environment. Therefore, Dotka or PUBG teammates are unlikely to hear mouse clicks, keyboard squeezing, or household conversations.
The Razer Kraken Essential is an affordable, compact and stylish headset. This gadget is exclusively for gamers who do not want to spend hundreds of dollars on fashionable «ears», but want to have a device with branded snakes on the logo. Priced at $50, the Kraken Essential features a durable plastic body, metal earcups, and leatherette ear pads and headband. The headset has a powerful bass sound that is made for FPS and action games, but hardly stands out in other genres. The accessory is great for watching dynamic movies, as well as listening to music where the bass rules. Compete with music headphones, this model can not, and should not. The budget version of Razer is worth the money, but if you want something more, you can pay another $ 50 and take the older model from the same manufacturer or one of the competitors.