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Review: Razer Kraken Forged Edition - Bring on the Bass

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Razer's been branching out and sound is an area they've been dabbling in for quite some time now. The Kraken Forged Edition headphones is just another example of this. This pair of cans cater for both the casual user as well as gamer by coming with a pair of cables with both an in-line microphone and standard 3.5mm stereo jack. Razer has tried to make it the best of both worlds. With a foot in each door, how does it work?

What it's good for:

  • Strong Bass
  • Noise Isolation
  • Weightiness makes it feel solid
  • Multiple connectors and adapters
  • In-line microphone for mobile use
  • Great for gaming

The not so good:

  • Imbalanced sound
  • Too bass-heavy
  • Weight becomes difficult to manage with long sessions
  • What's with that price?

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It's no lightweight

At first glance the Kraken Pro is quite a large unit. The drivers fit in a heavy plastic casing branded heavily with Razer's logo. This is quite a heavy pair of headphones. Connectors provided include two 3.5mm stereo cables along with a 1/4inch phono adapter. The second cable provided has a three-prong plug as opposed to a two-prong and includes an in-line microphone. At 32ohms, electronic resistance is low enough for it to work with low power connectors found on the likes of laptops or smaller music devices like Ipods or cellphones. Cables, adapters and headphones fit in a hard plastic case provided with the product.

Build quality feels solid and the Kraken Forged Edition feels properly weighted on your head. The large size of the ear cups also help to heighten immersion in the games you play since they block out everything around you. The pads are also comfortable enough to use for a couple of hours. As a bonus the entire unit holds together well and you never feel that there were short cuts in the assembly of these headphones.

Sound is far too imbalanced

As comfortable and strong your headphones may be, it's the sound they produce that remains most important. The drivers had too strong a bass response which muddied up mid-range frequencies. Higher notes got suppressed in the barrage of emphasised booms and crashes. The end result was an imbalanced sound that drowned out vocals and made warm pieces sound colder than they actually were.

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I even tried to process the the output of these headphones via Elecri-Q (an advanced audio equaliser) with no success. Dubstep and Deep House fans will appreciate the bassiness of the Kraken Forged Edition. Others looking for clearer representation of audio content won't be happy with this product.

Get them in the game

While these headphones didn't perform well with musical application they were brilliant for gaming. The large size of earcups combined with strong bass were a blessing. Once volume levels were right, the Kraken Forged Edition felt completely at home. This is because games don't make use of the full spectrum of sound that most speakers provide. I tested the headphones on both a Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 with various games. Far Cry 3 became more enjoyable when I heard gunshots from enemies in the right places. Gran Turismo 6 and GRID 2 were even better when I could hear opponents tailgaiting my vehicle. The Kraken Forged Edition works for gaming.

Two channels, not six

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Then there's the price point. You're going to pay close to R3000 for a set of stereo headphones.  These headphones retail for $299.99 in the USA. The Kraken Forged Edition is not a native surround headset, but works tandem with Razer Surround. Razer Surround is a piece of software designed to upmix stereo signals into surround sound. Proper surround inputs provide audio sources with five channels and up while stereo only provides two at a time.

Razer Surround for gaming because of its ability to create a more suitable 'head space' for headphones.  This is because sound cards output sound for speakers. Razer Surround is also available for anyone with a working sound card. Keep in mind that Razer developed its Surround software for gaming and not music. 

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If want to boost musical performance look at setting up Dolby Headphone with Foobar2000. Believe me when I say that it's worth the set-up time.

The in-line microphone provided by Razer lacked clarity and accuracy in comparison to the earbuds provided with my Samsung Galaxy S3. The Kraken Forged Edition is best used as a single microphone-less gaming headphone at the end of the day.

It does not bring balance to the force

In summary the Kraken Forged Edition unit I received worked well for a single purpose: Gaming.  R3000 is no small amount of money. If you're paying that much brilliance is demanded and the Kraken Forged Edition doesn't shine at that price point. When you consider the bulkiness of the headphone, it's not going to be practical enough to be used on the go. Spending R500 or so will get you a Sennheiser HD202 or Sony MDR-ZX300 which offer significantly better quality  for the cost.

Zubayr’s Twitter | Facebook | Blog MWEB Gamezone Twitter

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not MWEB Connect (Pty) Ltd

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