The company Razer is all but synonymous with gaming at this point. It knows who its target audience is and the company also knows that good audio can really take your gaming experience to the next level. That confidence leads to some really interesting products. Case in point, the Nari Ultimate gaming headset. Razer touts “supreme wireless immersion” thanks to specialized drivers in each earcup that provide haptic feedback to vibrate along with the bass. So is it good or just a gimmick? Let’s find out.
Editor’s note: This post was updated on October 8th, 2020 for clarity and to update the overall style with our current reviews.
Who are these for?
- Gamers. Obviously. The company slogan is “For gamers, by gamers”. So yeah, these are for gamers. I don’t know too many other kinds of people that would want a pair of headphones that vibrate along with whatever they’re listening to, which definitely gets annoying with regular usage.
- People who work from home. As someone who spends most of my time working at my desk from home, I found the built-in retractable mic to be extremely useful during conference calls.
What’s so special about the build of the Nari Ultimate?
We’ll get into the connection, battery life, and sound quality down below, but it’s important to start with the build quality because there’s a lot to get into. The biggest feature of note is what Razer calls Hypersense featuring haptics by Lofelt. This provides haptic feedback for the low end via specialized drivers in each ear cup. It reminds me of a haptic watch I tried at CES a while back from the company called Lofelt. It bumped along with the bass of whatever you were listening to and sure enough, the haptic feedback here was made by the same company. The feature adds depth to the game you’re playing by letting you physically feel what’s going on in the game. This covers the “immersion” part of the marketing for these headphones.
Unfortunately, the feature pretty hit or miss as far as practicality goes. It’s particularly annoying when watching movies or YouTube videos, as seemingly every sound sets off a small vibration that has nothing to do with what’s going on. And when it comes to listening to music it can be both enjoyable and annoying. The haptics feel way too strong to me even during regular listening. According to Razer you should be able to adjust the intensity but it’s a little wonky, leading to plenty of questions like this on forums.
These headphones are a fairly heavy pair of headphones weighing in at 432 grams . That is one of the heavier pairs we’ve reviews which is weird considering that if you’re going to be wearing these for longer gaming sessions you’d want something light to avoid fatigue. Still, they are fairly comfortable even with their heavy build. The earpads of the Nari Ultimate are similarly huge and made of a synthetic leather. They’re super comfortable and even have hidden divets in the cushion for people who wear glasses which is a nice touch. Attention to those kinds of details is what I look for and Razer didn’t disappoint here.
Razer obviously put their Chroma RGB lighting in these
Just like the Nommo Chroma speakers, these have a minimal approach to RGB lighting. The Razer logo on the side of each ear cup glows but isn’t super bright and is way more subtle than I expected it to be. It’s pretty great, especially in low light situations. What isn’t great are the two wheels on each ear cup which feel cheap. The buttons are fine, but the wheels are not smooth at all. Scrolling with them just isn’t as smooth as a pair of headphones that cost $199 should be.
How is the connection strength?
The connection strength here isn’t bad. These are wireless headphones but that title comes with a catch. To use these wirelessly you have to plug a USB adapter into your computer or console. Luckily, this little USB adapter can be popped in and out of a storage spot on the bottom of the right ear cup which is super nifty—but it means that if you want to use these with your smartphone: you can’t. It’s only for devices with a standard USB, so unless you plug in the included 3.5mm audio cable (which requires the use of a dongle even if you use Razer’s own phone) you can’t use it.
While gaming, one of the little wheels is also dedicated to mixing game and chat audio together. You can switch between game audio and chat audio, and everywhere in between. Just scroll the wheel to get the perfect balance for you. Above that is a dedicated mute button, and below is the power button, which also lets you know how the battery is doing depending on what color it is.
How to connect the Razer Nari Ultimate to PS4, Xbox, or PC
In order to connect the Razer Nari Ultimate to your PS4, Xbox, or PC you’ll need the wireless adapter that comes with the headphones. It’s a tiny USB dongle that you need to plug into your preferred machine. Using the dongle should give you a slightly longer range than usual. You’ll get 12m of range as opposed to the typical 10m you find in most Bluetooth devices. This means that you can enjoy audio from across the room with minimal lag, and this worked perfectly in my experience.
How to connect the Razer Nari Ultimate to a phone
If you tend to play games on mobile or even on the Nintendo Switch which doesn’t have any USB ports for the dongle to fit into, then you’re going to need to go wired. Thankfully these do have a 3.5mm input so you can just use any standard audio to plug into your source device. Depending on your phone this does mean that you might need to use another phone-specific dongle. Anyone with an iOS device will need a Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter and many Android phones also require a USB-C-to-3.5mm dongle as well.
Will the Razer Nari Ultimate work on the PS5?
While we can’t be 100% certain that these headphones will work with the PS5 until the console is released, we can be fairly confident that they will be. The Playstation 5 will have two USB 3.1 inputs and a single USB 2.1 input, which means that the wireless dongle should work perfectly fine. Again, keep in mind that we’ll have to wait and confirm this once the console is released.
How is the battery life on the Razer Nari Ultimate?
As far as battery life goes, we were able to get these to last us exactly 8 hours and 22 minutes when we put them through our standard test of streaming music constantly from our computer. As always, we had the headphones to output around 75dB which is the recommended listening level if you want to avoid noise-induced hearing loss.
How do you charge the Razer Nari Ultimate headphones?
Charging is simple as you just need to plug in the included micro USB cable into the bottom of the earcup. Unfortunately, these headphones don’t charge via the newer USB-C, instead going for micro USB which is a weird move, considering even the Razer phone charges via the newer standard. This is especially annoying given the price of these headphones. Nothing that costs $199 USD should be coming with an outdated charging port. That’s inexcusable.
How do the Razer Nari Ultimate sound?
The first thing we should probably discuss is the microphone quality, because the Razer Nari Ultimate have a retractable mic that you can use when you need it, and hide when you don’t. For a quick sample of how it sounds in use, click the video up above.
The Nari Ultimate’s mic doesn’t have too much trouble clearly reproducing the sounds of the human voice, but it struggles with the low end. As you can see from the graph, frequencies under 1000Hz are very de-emphasized, which means those of us with deeper voices will sound a little distorted or tinny.
As far as sound quality goes when listening to audio, I was torn. I’m sure it’s fun while gaming, but when listening to music the overpowering haptics ruined it for most modern songs. A good example was in the song Run by Vampire Weekend, where because of the rolling drums and bassline, it just felt like the headphones were constantly shaking. That said when it works, it really works.
This feature was insanely fun while listening to older New Orlean’s style Jazz. During the song Trouble in Mind by Snooks Eaglin the soft feedback of the headphones really made it feel like I was listening to a live performance, with a soft rhythmic thumping that I could easily mistake for a bass kick at a show. That alone made these worth it for me as I mainly listen to old Jazz while I work.
That said, mids were definitely lacking in clarity which is weird considering part of the reason you’d get these is to communicate with people while gaming.
The Nari Ultimate starts de-emphasizing sound starting around 300Hz, affecting a the mids and highs. For a gaming headset this can be a bit of an issue in some games. Subtler sounds like footsteps, speech, and non-explosion noises typically occupy the mid range, and they can get lost in the booming sounds of explosions.
The lack of emphasis in the highs can distort the sounds of musical instruments like strings and cymbals. On high volume, the claps in Frank Oceans Pyramids all but disappeared after their initial hit. There’s none of the reverb I’m used to hearing. It’s all pulled back to avoid harshness, which is good if you’re going to be playing games with the volume blasted (again, don’t do that).
Do the Razer Nari Ultimate have good isolation?
On the isolation front, the Nari Ultimate does a decent job. The headset can’t compete with ANC-sporting devices, but it can keep the sounds typical of home life at bay. You shouldn’t have any trouble ignoring noisy roommates in another room or the occasional sound of traffic out a window. The low rumbles and noises of walking around a city will still come through, but you probably won’t be doing a lot of walking around with these.
Are the Razer Nari Ultimate worth it?
Though I’m not entirely sold on the build quality of the Razer Nari Ultimate—especially at the price of $199 USD—I have to admit I really enjoyed using them. Though you can use them for music (and I used the hell out of them for that if you can’t tell), they’re made to provide another layer of immersion when gaming… and they do the trick. Now to be fair: I’m no gamer. I own a MacBook Pro, not a PC. I also ditched my PS4 in favor of a Nintendo Switch. So as proud as I am of my Splatoon 2 skills, I’m probably not the person that is going to get the most out of these headphones. And yet I still liked using them. Sure, they don’t sound as great as you’d expect when listening to music, but if they’re anything, they’re fun. And what is gaming supposed to be if not fun?