How do you step-up your online gaming skills without sinking a lot of cash into a fancy gaming headset? Razer hopes to have cracked the cheap gaming headset code with the Razer Kraken X, a wired, no-nonsense headset that costs just $50 USD. Gamers don’t get much in the way of features but the onboard controls, boom mic, and 7.1 surround sound cover the necessities.
Editor’s note: this Razer Kraken X review was updated on November 17, 2020, to address how the headset compares to the Corsair HS60, and to expand the list of buying options.
Who is the Razer Kraken X for?
The Razer Kraken X headset is made for gamers on a budget and works just as well for anyone who needs over-ears with an integrated boom mic. They’re not intended to leave your gaming station and include a dedicated audio/mic splitter cable for computers with separate inputs. These are cross-platform compatible. You can use them with PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and mobile devices.
What’s it like to use the Razer Kraken X?
Using the headset couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is plug it in and get to playing. If your desktop has separate audio and mic inputs, you’ll need to use the included splitter for full functionality. The flexible cardioid boom mic is very forgiving in terms of placement. For optimal voice quality, place the diaphragm parallel to your mouth.
The Razer Kraken X works with virtually any platform, making it a valuable contender within the gaming headset market.
Polycarbonate-ABS, a durable thermoplastic, makes up the headband and slider. This lightweight material in tandem with the hidden eyewear channels makes these comfortable with glasses. Said channels alleviate pressure at the temples. What’s more, the memory foam earpads contribute to general comfort. Unfortunately, the ear pads aren’t user-replaceable but Razer provides a limited two-year warranty.
The headphones lack in-line controls but do feature a volume dial and mute button on the left ear cup. I’d like to see a bit more resistance from the dial. That said, the mute toggle requires just the right amount of resistance and provides a satisfying click when depressed or released.
Is the Razer Kraken X good for gaming?
It’s great. The 40mm dynamic drivers reproduce a natural representation of three-dimensional space, something gamers should require from any headset. This realistic perception of sound makes it easier to spatially understand where enemies are located. When playing Destiny, alien footsteps were easy to identify and I predicted which doorways potential threats emerged from.
If you want to take full advantage of the 7.1-channel surround sound, you need to use a PC operating on Windows 10, 64-bit. This is an annoying caveat; however, Razer provides a complimentary download code.
How does the Razer Kraken X sound?
While the frequency response chart appears rather odd, the headphones sound good for their price point. Bass notes receive the most emphasis—typical for gaming headsets—as this makes explosions more impactful. Vocal frequencies are boosted, making it easier to character and teammate dialogue. The broad dip from 1-6.5kHz isn’t as dramatic as it looks, but does subject high-pitched frequencies, like harmonics, to auditory masking. This is most notable in music playback rather than gameplay, as it can be difficult to hear a chord’s resonate detail.
Isolation is fine but nothing spectacular: Hot Pocket lovers will still hear the microwave running. While I played music through the headphones, the microwave’s hum at least was rendered null. If you need to stay undisturbed during gameplay, find a secluded room to set up shop.
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Lows, mids, and highs
Chastity Brown’s song Colorado is a great song to listen to with the Razer Kraken X. The headset’s amplified bass response lends itself nicely to Brown’s folksy style, stressing the drum kicks. Meanwhile, the light midrange emphasis highlights Brown’s voice even more than the mix intended, which works well for the genre.
Treble reproduction, however, falls short. Tambourine shakes are difficult to hear, particularly from 2:15 on. Brown’s vocals and backing vocals at 2:35 mask the treble frequencies. The tambourine remains audible but clarity isn’t the greatest as a guitar is played at this same moment.
Is the Razer Kraken X microphone good?
Yes, voices come through the Razer Kraken X microphone loud and clear. The dip from 100-300Hz is odd seeing as most vocal fundamental frequencies fall in this range. That said, real-world use demonstrates the Kraken X has a great boom mic, which is heard in the demo below.
Razer Kraken X microphone demo:
If you listen closely, you can hear some reverb from my voice. The microphone doesn’t do a great job at mitigating ambient noise, but if you’re in a quiet room it shouldn’t be too noticeable. What’s more, because of the de-emphasis around 180Hz, my voice sounds a bit higher-pitched because the harmonics are greatly emphasized.
How does the Razer Kraken X compare to the Razer Kraken Pro V2?
Both headsets are branded with the Razer logo and follow the company’s basic over-ear design. The Razer Kraken Pro V2 comes in four colors (black, green, pink, and white) while the Razer Kraken X is only available in black.
The Kraken Pro V2 headset boasts a retractable boom mic which is nifty but other than that it offers few extra features compared to the Kraken X model. The earpads and headband padding are more substantial, though, which is helpful for extended sessions.
Razer Kraken Pro V2 microphone demo:
Rather than including the onboard controls on the side of the ear cup, the controls are integrated into the braided cord. If you’re between the Kraken X and Pro V2 models, you’re better off with the Kraken X or jumping up to one of Razer’s more premium models.
Razer Kraken X vs Razer Nari Ultimate
The Razer Nari Ultimate is a more premium gaming headset that has a louder design with its LED lights. One of the biggest features of the Nari Ultimate that other Razer headsets lack is Hypersense. This enables haptic feedback that forces the ear cups to vibrate along with the bass of whatever you’re listening to. It’s a great way to make games more engaging, but may prove annoying during music playback.
Another big difference between the Razer Nari Ultimate and Razer Kraken X: connectivity. The Kraken X is a wired-only gaming headset, while the Nari Ultimate supports a wireless connection via the USB adapter. The Nari Ultimate is compatible with PS4, Xbox, and PC when used wirelessly, and affords a 12-meter wireless range. Alternatively, you can just use the 3.5mm cable to connect to any source with a headphone jack.
While wireless support is nice, it also means that you have to be aware of battery life: the Nari Ultimate provides 8 hours, 22 minutes of playtime before you have to recharge them. This is okay, but may not suffice for marathon gamers. Another annoying bit: the microUSB input.
Neither headset reproduces accurate audio, because both exaggerate bass notes and de-emphasize treble notes emphatically. Isolation, however, is notably better with the Nari Ultimate than it is with the Kraken X. If you want all the bells and whistles, the Razer Nari Ultimate may be worth it, but casual gamers will enjoy the quality of the Kraken X and the extra $150 they save over the Nari model.
Should you buy the Razer Kraken X?
The Razer Kraken X is a reliable budget headset that meets all the requirements of a good gaming headset. The eyewear channels are a must-have feature for anyone with glasses. If you want a straightforward pair of gaming headphones with cross-platform compatibility the Kraken X is a user-friendly option. If you’re able to splurge on a similarly sized gaming headset with a slightly more neutral sound signature, look into the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless.
Read next: Best Razer gaming headsets
Frequently Asked Questions
Both the Razer Kraken X and Corsair HS60 wired gaming headsets retail for around $50 USD. They share other similarities too, like a spacious over-ear design, and onboard controls. The Kraken X mic is non-removable, so if it breaks, you're out of luck. The Corsair HS60 has a removable boom mic, which could extend the product's life cycle. Per our reader microphone polls, most of you feel the Razer Kraken X mic sounds better than the HS60. Both headsets are perfectly fine for casual gaming, and support 7.1 surround sound.
The Razer Kraken X works with the Xbox One, but if your Xbox One controller is old enough, you may need an adapter to be able to plug a 3.5mm headset into it. If your controller already has a headphone jack, you're all set!