The Razer Kraken is a headset that's become synonymous with gaming, thanks to the efforts of Ninja, and a whole world of esports pros. There's a reason why they've become so iconic: they're solid, reliable and don't break the bank. With the release of the Razer Kraken Ultimate, it's safe to say the headset has reached its zenith.
The Razer Kraken Ultimate is the big daddy of the Kraken line, encompassing years of revisions into a neat little package. It's got smooth, multi-directional sound, an extendable noise-cancelling mic and ample earcup space for the big-eared.
At $249, it's on the middle tier of gaming headset pricing, and competing with the likes of the Audio Technica G1 and HyperX Cloud Flight headsets — but it doesn't face particularly robust competition in the space. Many gaming headsets occupy the lower $80 rung for the casual gamer, and premium sets with a greater range of features like total noise-cancelling will lean closer to the $499 mark. For its price point, it's not significantly well-featured, but it does feature impressive sound quality, and a solid mic to boot.
The Razer Kraken Ultimate is a bulky headset, much like its predecessors — the Razer Kraken V2 and the Kraken Tournament Edition — but it has one key difference. This go around, the Razer Kraken Ultimate comes in only one colour — black — because the earpads are ringed by glowing RGB lights.
The lights themselves are pretty nifty, and hooking the headphones up to the Razer Synapse app means you can control how they roll, whether you want rainbow lighting, or something simpler. The lights aren't particularly bright, and if you're not streaming on-camera, you're not likely to notice. They're more an aesthetic choice, rather than a practical one. They're just "extra", and that's fine.
Some gamers just want a solid machine to play their games on. I'm not here for it. If I can't be extra, then I don't want to game. Give me the stupid lights and the cat airs on my headphones. Give me that obnoxious putrid green on everything. Razer is clearly leaning very heavily into my exact demographic, and I'm not too ashamed to admit that I'm a sucker for it.
Razer currently appears to be on a mission to insert glowing lights into any hardware they can find, from microphones to mice, and now, the Kraken. While the Kraken Ultimate doesn't pop me nearly as much as the Kraken Kitty Editions do - they're so cute it makes me want to die - the lighting is still a neat little touch.
Unfortunately, the addition of the lights also makes the headset marginally heavier, and harder to wear for longer periods of time (390g vs the Kraken Tournament Edition's 322g). The difference isn't overtly noticeable unless you've been using both sets of headphones for a while, but it does mean that those with more sensitive heads will take issue with the comfort fit.
The headset band is fairly well-padded, but I still experienced discomfort and a light burning or itching sensation after about 40 minutes. It's a common issue I've had with gaming headsets because the bands rest so heavily on my crown, but it's not a problem I had with the original Kraken V2 headset. Because the Kraken's earcups are so large and weighed down, the headset naturally rested near the front of my head, and I had to change its position every hour or so to maintain comfort.
But it's not all bad news when it comes to the ginormous earcups, because they afford enough room that the rest of the headset sits so comfortably you'll barely feel it. It felt a bit like being cupped by a soft pillow, and there's enough ventilation via the inner cooling gel pads that the headset doesn't get hot easily, and I never felt sweaty or overheated when wearing it.
Beneath the comfort and snazzy lighting, the Kraken Ultimate maintains the solid and impressive sound quality that the Kraken line has become known for. It rocks its THX spatial audio, a feature which traps wearers into a sphere of explosive sound — super useful if you're trying to track down which animal is shooting you from behind in a gunfight. It's crisp, clear and great for gaming.
While I didn't have much use for the mic — this lady flies solo — the samples I recorded for testing came out clearly, with little to no white noise at all, and it even managed to cut out the neighbour's children screaming in their nearby backyard. The retractability of the mic is also welcome, because there's nothing more distracting than having a giant cord stuck in your peripheral view if you don't need it.
Overall, the Razer Kraken Ultimate is a solid little package. It tweaks the classic Kraken formula with only mild improvements — there really isn't such a leap between this release and the Tournament Edition, in terms of noticeable performance — but adds in some colourful flair in exchange. This added jazz does make the whole package a bit heavier and more uncomfortable though, so while it rocks the shit out of its sound and mic quality, longer gaming sessions may be disrupted by discomfort.
After a full month of use, I had to ask myself whether the added lights are really worth the pain — but as I set my lighting to glow a brilliant, bright purple (to match my keyboard and mouse), I rather think I'm heading towards "yes, yes they are." Fashion wins, every time.