With the Kraken Ultimate, Razer throws another mollusc into the squid tank of gaming headsets. Brightly coloured ear cups, THX Spatial Audio, and ear cushions filled with cooling gel are just some of the features of their new creation.
Besides the headphones, there are only instructions and the obligatory stickers (for fans of decoration) included in the box.
The Kraken Ultimate offers a fixed USB cable of two metres in length. When connected to the computer, the Synapse software installation window opens immediately if it is not already installed on the computer. This software basically controls everything, and here we also find the Chroma Studio where you can change the colour of the logo on both ear cups to one of many variations. There are 16.8 million colours to choose from. In addition, the colour changes can be configured with nice effects, so they respond to a certain rhythm or to the incoming audio signals. These effects can also be layered, so you can create a very individual colour design. If you already have other Chroma devices from Razer, then you can put together an impressive light show.
The audio settings that are available in the software are at least as extensive. Here, you can activate THX Spatial Audio to enjoy surround sound, and you can make fundamental improvements such as bass boost or audio normalization. This is complemented by a 10-band EQ with ready-made profiles, and you can also save user-defined settings.
The pull-out microphone can also be adjusted via the software. In addition to the volume, the sensitivity can be adjusted and “monitoring” can be switched on. You can also activate noise suppression, volume normalization and speech quality, which are intended to filter out background noise. All these settings can be stored as profiles. If you switch from your PC to another system, the active headphone settings are retained.
Operation on the headset itself is limited to a volume wheel and a button to activate Spatial Audio. If you pull out the microphone, you’ll find a mute button which, when activated, will show as a circle of red light around the microphone.
When you put them on your head, Kraken Ultimate immediately makes a very high-quality impression. The 390-gram headset is obviously designed for use in longer gaming sessions. Your ears are completely covered by the oval ear pads, even when wearing glasses. To keep your head cool, the ear cushions are filled with cooling gel. If, and this is not a recommendation, you find that you remove the headset in frustration, be reassured that these headphones can stand it – the frame is made of aluminium and the headband of stainless steel. The Kraken Ultimate not only makes an impression of high-quality, but also a very stable one.
With the standard EQ profile the Kraken Ultimate sounds OK, but that is all. Neither heavy basses nor clear highs get through. This may be a problem for those who use these headphones on another device like a console rather than on a PC with the software. The sound gets better when you click through the EQ presets in the Synapse software. Here, we find preset sound adjustments for games, movies and music. The change from “standard” to “music” while listening to it is not only audible, but also noticeable: low frequencies are raised and the trebles open up.
The “Game” preset behaves in a similar way, while the “Film” preset also amplifies the mid-range, and this ensures better speech intelligibility. If you still don’t like the sound, you can create your own user-defined profile. One of the predefined profiles can serve as a starting point. The software automatically switches to the user-defined profile when the fader is changed. If a custom preset is not enough for you, you needn’t worry, because you have the ability to create numerous more presets. This is a good solution, letting you have different EQ settings for every sound source.
While the Kraken Ultimate give a fairly average first impression, more or less “standard”, Razer uses the software to prove that these headphones can sound really good! Provided you use Synapse and don’t shy away from clicking through the frequency bands yourself. This is the only way to get a good sound out of the Ultimate Kraken, with heavy bass, clear treble or, if you like, a completely natural, balanced sound.
Spatial Audio then opens new space at the push of a button. A 360-degree sound is then reproduced. In this way, positions of sounds, whether in a game or film, can be heard. What was previously limited to left and right can now be located exactly. A clear improvement for movies and a clear advantage for gaming! Spatial Audio can be tested, configured and activated in the software. Very practically, Synapse recognizes open programs, or at least some of them. These are then listed in the software and you can specify whether each setting runs with or without 3D sound. You can start games with Spatial Audio activated, while music apps can start in normal stereo mode.
The built-in microphone can be pulled out of the left earpiece and flexed perfectly into the desired position. If you want to hear yourself through the headset, turn on “Listening”. If you have a noisy fan in your PC, or are playing music in the background, you can activate noise suppression, which actually erases everything that is not a voice very well. But that’s all you hear, the more the noise suppression has to intervene, the worse the speech quality becomes, but it always remains understandable.
Playing in Practice
How does Razer’s Kraken Ultimate do in practice? That’s what we wanted to know and started with our Gaming PC playing “Darksiders II”. While we were fighting our way through the game to the death, we kept switching back to the Synapse software to adjust the sound, whether through the equalizer or bass boost. While you accompany the Apocalyptic Rider through his campaign, when the right settings are found, the Kraken Ultimate sounds good. Music, as well as sound effects and voices, come though the headphones as really “fat”.
However, if you want to connect this gaming headset to your game consoles, you have to expect some serious limitations. On the Xbox One you can enjoy the lighting, but those who expect sound will be disappointed. The Kraken Ultimate are PC headphones so if you only play on a Microsoft console, you should take a closer look at the Razer Kraken for Xbox One. Sony’s Playstation 4 recognizes the headset immediately, although the volume wheel doesn’t function, these settings must be made via the PS4 itself. The Nintendo Switch also recognizes the headset immediately and with this, the volume wheel can be used. Spatial Audio cannot be switched on with any of these consoles. The two metre long USB cable could also be somewhat restrictive, especially if you have your consoles under a large TV and usually play with some distance between you and the screen. Unfortunately, the USB has to be connected directly to the console; if you have a mini jack on your controller, you can be much more flexible.
The Razer Kraken Ultimate is a high-quality headset for PC gamers that, thanks to the software, is highly customizable. There’s not much to complain about in the microphone, but there’s a lot to adjust in the sound. The factory setting is rather mediocre. But, if you take your time and create your own profiles, you’ll end up with good sound. If you don’t just play on a PC, but also on a console, it’s probably better to choose an alternative, and Razer have plenty on offer.
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20.000 Hz
- Impedance32 ohms
- Weight with cable390 g
- Cable length200 cm