The Razer Kraken Tournament Edition seems to tick all the boxes for a great gaming headset. Razer has obviously gone to great lengths to make this headset super comfortable, pack it with a ton of useful features and ensure that the mic is top-notch. But, when it comes to sound quality, it’s not an all-rounder.
That doesn’t mean that this is a case of style over substance. The Razer Kraken Tournament Edition’s soundstage is immersive, especially when turning on THX Spatial Audio in games. And it can be tailored somewhat to offset its shortcomings. But you won’t be picking these up to listen to music anytime soon.
Still, esports gamers will prioritize the ability to pinpoint elements accurately on a soundstage as well as the ability to wear a headset for long sessions over a headset’s frequency response. They’ll also appreciate all the additional, adjustable features. So, the Razer Kraken Tournament Edition does have a place for gamers.
And considering the price, a headset like this is bound to have some shortcomings. There’s a lot of choice in the under $100 range, but most don’t come with nearly the amount of features or are stereo-only. There’s a lot going on here.
Razer Kraken Tournament Edition review: Design and features
The dongle contains all the controls you might want to use mid-game, although the cable leading to the headset does have inline controls for volume and mic mute for use when the dongle is unplugged. The dongle itself houses volume buttons as well as a mic mute on its face, a bass volume wheel on one side, and a game/chat mix and THX on/off toggle on the other. While we had fun toggling the THX modes in-game, most will find that chat mix very useful when you want to tune out an annoying friend and just listen to the game audio.
The Razer Kraken Tournament Edition doesn’t stray far from the Razer aesthetic. It comes in either vibrant green with black accents or all black. The Razer logo is emblazoned on the outside of each ear cup surrounded by an aluminum mesh grill. In fact, the construction outside of the padding is plastic and aluminum, making for a fairly light headset.
Not only is it light, but it is also comfortable. There’s not much in the way of clamping force – we found that the fit was a bit loose. This might be an issue for some but not for us, especially considering the painful clamping force that some other headsets come with from the factory floor. It also still fits well. On a related note, it’s an extremely pliable headset where you can bend it every which way (within reason of course) without doing any harm to the Kraken.
The cushioned headband is not very thick, but it sits light on the head and the earpads – composed of a cooling gel layer and soft memory foam – seem to work as advertised. They feel like little pillows for the ears. The earpads are covered in a leatherette-and-soft-cloth combo that offers a luxurious feel. The soft cloth covers the part of the ear pads that make contact with your ears to avoid any sweating.
Not only are they perfect for long gaming sessions without your ears overheating or getting fatigued, but they’re also easy to wear for gamers with glasses – an important and underrated feature. Unfortunately, the earcups don’t swivel or tilt much, but that doesn’t affect its overall comfort.
The braided cable is certainly durable and leads to a dongle that lets you plug into any USB port. If you want to use the headset on a 3.5mm source, you can just disconnect the dongle then port directly into your audio source. This versatility means you can use this headset with just about any source you want, not just a PC. Of course, all the additional features like THX are only available on PC. However, you can plug the dongle into a PlayStation and use it there (sans THX of course).
Razer Kraken Tournament Edition review: Performance and software
Unfortunately, the Razer Kraken Tournament’s sound quality doesn’t meet the same standards as the other aspects of this headset. There’s plenty of volume and bass. The high-end sounds are okay as well, if not particularly detailed. The mids, however, sound hollow yet muddy at the same time though the headphones did improve slightly over time. If you’re a bass-head who just cares about that low end, you might enjoy using these for music. However, I didn’t particularly enjoy listening to music on them.
That said, its issues with the frequency range are manageable when gaming. That’s in part because the soundstage does a very good job of making you feel like you’re right in the action. I could tell exactly where all the elements on the sound stage were as I moved around in games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Red Dead Redemption 2 and Cyberpunk 2077, whether it’s an enemy approaching or some animal passing by.
With the THX Spatial Audio enabled, the soundstage widens quite a bit, almost engulfing you. It’s not quite a full 360-degree soundstage, but it does a good job for virtual surround sound. Unfortunately, the THX Spatial Audio doesn’t always engage, requiring us to restart the Razer Synapse app and sometimes even the PC.
The mic is another strong point for the Kraken Tournament, with a clear and full representation of the user’s voice. Your friends will hear you easily when using this headset, and that’s without any of the enhancements available in the Razer Synapse app.
Besides being able to adjust mic volume, sensitivity and Sidetone toggle, and volume in Synapse, you can also turn on and adjust three enhancement settings. Volume normalization will save your fellow gamers’ eardrums if you get a little too excited, as it limits volume spikes. Ambient noise reduction rejects unwanted background noise, and voice clarity boosts certain frequencies to help gamers cut through the mix, especially those with low voices.
The software has a lot of other functionality as well. You can toggle the THX Spatial Audio on and off as well as select different modes (namely, stereo or surround sound) per application and game. And, while surround sound can be applied to all apps, some have more fine-tuned surround sound modes. Red Dead Redemption 2, for example, has an “environmental game mode” that is a more finely tuned virtual surround sound mode.
You can also calibrate the positioning of the surround sound, as well as turn on, and adjust enhancements, such as voice clarity, which is a mid-boost, and sound normalization, which limits volume peaks and makes quieter parts louder. Naturally, you can also adjust a 10-band EQ or choose from a few preset EQ profiles, such as Game, Movie and Music.
Razer Kraken Tournament Edition review: Price and verdict
While the sound quality isn’t perfect and the software can be glitchy, you would need to pay significantly more to get anything else with these features, let alone better sound.
Esports gamers on a budget will also appreciate the Kraken’s mid-range price tag of $99 (£99.99, AU$184.95), in fact, you can often find these discounted to as little as $65 – which makes them an absolute steel.
On the whole, the Razer Kraken Tournament Edition does have a lot to offer. It’s a comfortable and feature-rich headset that delivers on almost everything except where it matters most. Razer has made sure that its Kraken headsets are comfortable to wear, particularly the cooling earpads that make it easy to game for hours, even for those wearing glasses.
The inclusion of THX Spatial Audio also makes you feel like you were placed in the middle of the action, making it a boon for esports gamers. Plus, the mic on this headset not only sounds good, but there’s a lot of adjustable features to make you sound better or reject background noise.
Razer Kraken Tournament Edition review: also consider
There are a lot of options in the sub-$100 price range. The Roccat Elo 7.1 Air offers some of the same features plus wireless capability at $99.99 (£89.99, AU$199.99) but doesn’t have the same wide platform support as the Kraken.
If detailed sound is your priority, the Logitech G635 is a well-made headset that retails for $139.99 / £130, but you can currently find it for as little as $85. It has a lot of options for customization on PC and Macs, though has less on offer for consoles.
PlayStation gamers should look at spending a little more ($150 / £159.99) to get the SteelSeries Arctis 7P Wireless. While compatible with a range of systems, PS5 users will get the most out of them.