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Razer BlackShark V2
July 30, 2020
Original: $99 USD
When you imagine a gaming headset, it’s hard not to think of something from Razer. The big bulky headphones, LED-riddled chassis, and jet black exterior of most of the company’s products basically codified the product category. Now, this Razer gaming headset is setting itself apart by jettisoning almost all of that. The Razer BlackShark V2 features a pared-back, simple look. There are no lights, bulky headphones, or any other aesthetic flourishes at all really.
Stripped of so much flash, does the BlackShark V2 have the substance to back it up?
Editor’s note: this Razer BlackShark V2 review was updated on March 9, 2022, to include an updated frequency response chart and add context to the sound quality section. We also expanded the contents menu and included a disclosure box to address the non-standardized microphone demo included here.
Who is the Razer BlackShark V2 for?
- Gamers looking for something comfortable they can use on every platform.
- At-home workers who need something with a mic they can wear all day without overheating.
What is the Razer BlackShark V2 like to use?
From the outset, it’s obvious the Razer BlackShark V2 is a gaming headset; from its boom mic, to the extra prominent volume dial, to the neon green accents. However, there’s a degree of aesthetic restraint here that other Razer gaming headsets lack. The headphones are smooth and not as bulky as something like, say, the Razer Kraken Ultimate or Thresher—there aren’t any strange design flourishes or colored LEDs. Even the Razer logo is rather small compared to other headsets. Basically, it looks more like a regular pair of headphones than most Razer headsets.
Start here: A guide to Razer gaming headsets
The Razer BlackShark V2 is primarily metal construction, with a headband covered in a soft foam cushion wrapped in a mesh fabric. The wireframe hinges don’t feel terribly sturdy, but I never ran into any issues over the course of reviewing the headset. The headphones have a pretty large tilt range, so people with wider heads shouldn’t have to worry about finding a comfortable fit. The ear pads are made of memory foam covered in layers of leatherette and mesh fabric—they’re very soft, and achieving a decent seal is extremely easy.
How to control the Razer BlackShark V2
Actually using the headset is pretty straightforward. There’s very little in the way of onboard controls, with just a volume dial and a mic mute button on the left headphone. The volume dial sticks out rather prominently from the side of the headphone, but there’s enough resistance that an accidental bump won’t change anything, and it actually feels pretty satisfying to turn—it has a built-in catch at the midpoint of the knob for some reason.
How do you use Razer Synapse with the BlackShark V2?
The headset’s more granular controls and additional features, like surround sound, are handled by Razer Synapse 3, the company’s universal (sort of) companion app. Synapse works well enough—the latest iteration of the app is better laid out than most gaming headset apps, but it’s still a little clunky, similar to pretty much every other app like it.
The software lets you customize your EQ and mic settings, and soon after launch, it will include a suite of THX-tuned game profiles, to tailor your sound to games like Apex Legends, Valorant, and more. These features are nice to have, but you won’t miss much if you skip Synapse, especially if you’re not interested in games that use surround sound.
Is the Razer BlackShark V2 good for gaming?
Playing games with the Razer BlackShark V2 is easy to do for long periods of time. This is a very light and comfortable gaming headset, and paired with the mesh ear pads: I never ran into any strain or heat issues—even after hours of use. The headset’s compatible in one way or another with basically every gaming platform; just ditch the USB sound card and plug into your PlayStation 4 or 5, Nintendo Switch, or Xbox One via 3.5mm.
On PC, the Razer BlackShark V2 gains access to THX Spatial Audio through Razer Synapse. While surround sound isn’t the kind of thing to really make you better at any game, it works pretty well here. Virtual surround sound standards often depend as much on the game as the headphones, but multiplayer games like Valorant, Overwatch, and the recently remastered Halo 3 all sound great with the BlackShark V2. In all of these games, picking out directional audio cues like footsteps and gunshots was easy, and I never felt like I didn’t have at least a rough sense of where a sound was coming from.
On PlayStation 4, Persona 5 Royal’s particular blend of music and game sounds come through very well, too. Everything was easy for me to pick out, even when voiceover, backing music, and combat sound effects were layered over one another.
How do you connect the Razer BlackShark V2?
This is largely a plug-and-play device. Once the USB soundcard installs its driver, you don’t really need to do anything to get it to work on PC. On consoles, you need to do even less (just plug it into the 3.5mm headphone jack of the controller).
Does the Razer BlackShare V2 block out noise?
The Razer BlackShark V2 has very good isolation compared to any gaming headset we’ve tested. There’s no active noise cancelling (ANC) here, but this headset still blocks out more sound than quite a few noise cancelling headphones including Razer’s own Opus. That may sound extreme, but remember: isolation is more important for blocking out incidental sounds (the clattering of dishes or a baby crying)—ANC is most effective at getting rid of droning sounds (the whirring of a fridge, or low rumble of an engine).
Regardless, if you’re looking for a good headset for keeping the noises of your household at bay, you could do a whole lot worse than this.
How does the Razer BlackShark V2 sound?
The Razer BlackShark V2 outputs very good sound for a gaming headset, though it still deviates from our ideal consumer curve. Unlike the usual audio hallmarks for a gaming headset, the BlackShark V2 under-emphasizes bass notes, which deviates from a large portion of Razer’s own catalog. This kind of frequency response means that you’ll better hear enemy footsteps. You still shouldn’t have any trouble hearing explosions since gaming audio engineers usually mix those to be the loudest sound anyway.
Lows, mids, and highs
Instrumental music that relies on bass guitar and drums will sound good, but you may notice some lacking loudness in particularly bass-laden tracks. Still, this will make it easier for you to hear generally quieter sounds from things like strings and hi hats. In The Seatbelts’ anime-jazz classic Tank!, the opening rhythmic bass guitar line sets the pace of the song and it never gets overshadowed by the brass or drums that take over later on with the Razer BlackShark V2.
The sound of in-game explosions shouldn't impact your ability to hear your teammates' voices.
Frequency response like this is also well-tailored to just about any kind of game you’re into. The slight under-emphasis in the mids might make the sounds of footsteps in games like Valorant or Fortnite a little quieter, but not so much that they’d be hard to hear.
How is the microphone on the BlackShark V2?
Unfortunately, the Razer BlackShark V2’s microphone can’t match its audio output and isolation. Like most gaming headset microphones, there’s a steep under-emphasis in the bass and mid range here, as well as a slight boost in the high range. This means sibilant sounds (F, S, and SH sounds) will come through more clearly, but people with deeper voices will sound a little distorted.
Related: What is the proximity effect?
This is a cardioid microphone, which means points at your mouth and doesn’t pick up sound much outside that area. Case in point: while recording this sample, Slack notifications pinged over my speakers multiple times. See if you can hear it.
Razer BlackShark V2 microphone demo (Old):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Hold up! Something’s different:
We’ve made a big improvement to how we demonstrate the microphone performance of products we review. We now use a standardized test setup that plays back pre-recorded phrases from a calibrated artificial mouth in our test chamber, either with or without simulated background noises, simulated reverberant spaces, or artificial wind. This means that samples from every product can be directly compared, which makes it far easier to make meaningful comparisons between products in terms of the raw speech quality or the product’s ability to reject noise.
It will take a while to update our backlog of old test results, but we will update this review (and many others!) once we’re able with improved microphone demos. These will be made obvious in each new sample which begins with the phrase, “This is a SoundGuys standardized microphone demonstration …”
Thank you for bearing with us, and we hope to see you again once we’ve sorted everything out.
Should you buy the Razer BlackShark V2?
The Razer BlackShark V2 absolutely nails the balance between comfort, audio quality, and features that headsets around its price aim for.
The sub-$100 USD range for gaming headsets is pretty much the most competitive part of the whole market. It’s a space littered with very good and great options that pair accurate audio with lots of great features. Given all that, it’s pretty uncommon to feel comfortable unreservedly recommending a headset at around this price, unless we’re talking about the HyperX Cloud Alpha—frankly, this headset gives the Cloud Alpha a run for its money.
Few headsets sound as accurate as Razer BlackShark V2. Fewer still are as comfortable. Virtually none offer comparable isolation. Even if your budget stretches far higher than $99 USD, you’d be hard-pressed to find something better.
What should you buy instead of the Razer BlackShare V2?
The Razer BlackShark V2 Pro features significant improvements over the standard BlackShark V2, including wireless connectivity and a significantly improved microphone. While its isolation and sound quality may not be as good as its non-pro counterpart, the BlackShark V2 Pro is still a great wireless headset—especially if you’re already invested in Razer’s accessory ecosystem.
Of course, with these improvements comes a premium price tag, with the BlackShark V2 Pro available for around $179. It’s not the most expensive gaming headset on the block, but it may leave a dent in some people’s bank accounts.
If you want a headset that is comfortable, accurate, and more typical of Razer in aesthetics, the Razer Kraken V3 is also a great option at the same $100 price point with THX Spatial Sound capabilities and a solid microphone.
What wireless gaming headsets should you get instead of the BlackShark V2?
If cords are a problem for you, a gaming headset like the SteelSeries Arctis 7+ Wireless brings best-in-class battery life and multiplatform wireless audio. Also, If you’re only interested in something for consoles, you don’t need to spring for something with as many PC-centric features—headsets like the Fnatic React or Sennheiser GSP 300 would suit you fine.
Must read: Razer BlackShark V2 vs HyperX Cloud Alpha
Frequently asked questions about the Razer BlackShark V2
Yes. Amazon is selling the Razer BlackShark V2 for $79.99 USD.
You can remove them, but Razer doesn’t currently sell replacements.
If you’re plugging the headset into something other than one of your PC’s USB ports (using its own sound card), you won’t have access to Razer Synapse and the various software features the BlackShark V2 offers.
If you choose to connect to a gaming platform via 3.5mm, like through a console controller, you lose out all Razer Synapse support, which includes virtual surround sound, headphone EQ settings, and microphone customization settings. Additionally, the Razer USB soundcard is responsible for some audio processing, but not so much that you or your game will sound notably worse.
No. The Razer BlackShark V2 get it’s surround sound via the included USB soundcard, paired with Razer Synapse.
The 7.1 virtual surround sound offered with Razer Synapse won’t work with Xbox One, but plugging the headset into the console and turning on Windows Sonic spatial audio in the console’s settings should work just fine.
On a basic level, the Razer BlackShark V2 is a 3.5mm wired gaming headset, so it works just fine with the Xbox One (and Xbox Series X/S, for that matter). Just plug it into the headphone jack on your controller and you’re good to go. If something wireless is more your speed, the Razer Kaira line is built for wireless audio on any Xbox from the Xbox One onward.
We noted a slight difference in isolation performance, but otherwise, it’s really just the wireless functionality.
Unlike the Razer BlackShark V2, the Razer Kaira Pro is specifically oriented toward Xbox consoles, specifically the Xbox Series X. When you use the BlackShark V2 with an Xbox console, you must plug the headset in via 3.5mm cable, but the Kaira Pro supports Xbox Wireless dongle-free audio. If wireless audio is a must-have, and you want to give Windows Sonic surround sound a try, the Kaira Pro may be a justifiable purchase. Otherwise, if you want something more versatile for less, stick with the BlackShark V2.
If your phone has a headphone jack, it’s fine. It’ll function like any other pair of headphones with a mic.
No, but the USB adapter is, so you can still use the headset via 3.5mm.
The Razer BlackShark V2 offers a more comprehensive software experience, and far better isolation. The HyperX Cloud Alpha S struggles with isolation in comparison, largely because of its adjustable bass vents, which let you adjust the bass volume by opening ports in the headphones to varying degrees. If you’re looking for something that’s more reliable for blocking outside noise, get the BlackShark V2. If having more physical control, granular though it may be, over your sound output is more important, get the Cloud Alpha S.