You might recognize Razer as a gaming accessory company, but they’ve also expanded into other areas like smartphones as well. Seeing as the smartphones the company makes also don’t have headphone jacks, it was only a matter of time before they began to make some audio peripherals that made the choice to exclude the port seem worth it, kinda. Enter the Razer Hammerhead USB-C earbuds which, aside from being Type-C headphones, also tout active noise cancellation. So how are they?
Who are these for?
- Commuters. The active noise cancelling on these are pretty solid if you don’t mind the glowing green logo on the side of each earbud.
- Anyone with a Razer phone. While the Type-C connector is supposed to be universal, it isn’t. Razer has a full list of compatible phones it’ll work with, but if you have a Razer phone these are guaranteed to work perfectly.
How’s the build of the Razer Hammerhead earbuds?
Taking them out of the box I was surprised by how heavy these headphones were, and not in a bad way. After just reviewing the OnePlus Bullets USB-C headphones which were more of a flimsy bang for your buck option, the weighty feel of the Razer ‘buds was welcome a welcome change. The earbuds are fairly large and made of a lightweight aluminum, and the control module on the Y-split is as well. It’s heavier than the plastic, but not by much and results in a solid feeling product that I think could survive living in my pockets and backpack.
There’s still a small microphone on the cable connecting the right earbud, but because most of the tech is further down the cable I find these don’t feel like they’re being pulled out of my ears. The control module has three circular buttons on it with just the right amount of click for feedback and also feature a small switch on the side for turning the active noise cancelling feature on or off, more on that later.
The Hammerhead USB-C ‘buds come with silicone ear tips, but we almost immediately swapped them out for the included Comply memory foam ones because better isolation means better sound. While the cables connecting the earbuds to the module are made of plastic, the wire that you plug into your phone is made of a braided fabric and it’s surprisingly thin. It’s also sturdy and stays straight when my phone is riding in my pocket, so I don’t have to deal with the cable curling up on itself the way that the plastic Google USB-C earbuds do. That said, they’re not tangle-proof so if you stuff them in the carrying case without properly rolling them you’re probably going to end up spending a few seconds untangling them the next time you use them.
Okay, so we made it this far in and now we have to address the elephant in the room that might be a dealbreaker: the earbuds have small LED lights in them that make the Razer logo glow green. Seriously. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised considering this is Razer we’re talking about, but you can’t even change the color like you can on some of their other products. Better yet, I would’ve liked the option to turn them off. I don’t mind glowing when I’m in the comfort of my own room, but literally glowing in public is something I try to avoid. Still, I’m sure some people might like this feature but for me, this is a dealbreaker. Earbuds aren’t meant to be flashy, and these literally are.
How is the connection?
As USB-C earbuds, I keep hoping to find a pair that works perfectly with every USB-C phone because that’s what universal means isn’t it? Unfortunately, you might run into some hiccups with these. Thankfully, Razer has a list of some compatible phones so you can see if yours will work. While I enjoyed the sturdy build of the control module, I was unfortunately on the unlucky side of the compatibility list.
I’m not sure if it’s an issue with my phone or not as I experienced the same problem with the OnePlus Bullet earbuds, but the only controls I had access to with my Pixel 3 was volume, pausing and playing music, and accessing the Google assistant. The option to skip to the next song or return to a previous song by double and triple tapping the middle button evaded me, which is annoying because I consider those controls more essential to adjusting volume.
Sound quality and active noise cancelling
This is where these earbuds surprised me. They don’t just sound good, they also have surprisingly good active noise cancelling. Don’t get me wrong, these aren’t going to replace your over-ear Bose QC35 II’s, but I could easily see these being used on airplanes to help drown out the outside noise. The ANC alone is fine by itself but when you combine that with the memory foam tips it does a great job at blocking out most of the sound from passing cars and the chatter at the local cafe.
Sound quality is also a strong point here. For a company that usually deals with gaming products, I was surprised with how much I liked listening to the Razer Hammerhead Type-C ANC ‘buds. The lows weren’t overly emphasized and songs that are meant to have a subtle bassline to bop to maintain its subtleties.
The bass in the song Para Que Sufrir by Natalie Lafourcade isn’t supposed to be a banger, and the Razer Hammerheads stay true to that. True there is slight emphasis on lower notes, but that’s just to help you hear the low notes while you’re out and about. Vocals in the mids also sounded really good, and I found myself swooning to Frank Ocean’s rendition of Moon River all over again.
My one sore point here would be the clarity of the highs which are fine, but not truly great when compared to other earbuds in the $100 price range. That said, giving up a little clarity in the highs for some solid ANC is a fair trade in my book.
I’m not a huge gamer, and while I’ve been impressed with Razer’s audio products in the past I was never tempted to actually buy a product for myself in the same way I have with some other audio products that have come across my desk. These earbuds were the closest I’ve come to buying some headphones from Razer. They sound good, aren’t insanely expensive, and have pretty good active noise cancelling to boot. We finally have a truly great pair of ‘buds that without a doubt earned a spot on our best USB-C earbuds list. All that to say, I won’t be buying these headphones because I don’t feel like glowing when I walk around. But hey, that’s just me.
Read next: Best USB-C headphones