Immersion is what we’re all looking for in video games, and while game developers strive to make worlds, narratives and gameplay experiences that draw you in deeper than ever before, there’s ways that you can give them a leg up. You can shut those curtains and turn down the lights, but a decent headset should be the deciding factor in any modern gaming set-up. Razer are one of the most reliable peripheral makers out there, but with the Nari Ultimate they’re trying something new, beefing out the headset with Hypersense vibrating haptic motors so you don’t just hear the sound, you feel it.
It sounds weird, and frankly it is. The Nari Ultimate gives a satisfying little buzz when you first turn it on – to let you know that it’s now lying in wait to pound your ears into submission – and in use those HyperSense haptic motors fire in tandem with any deep or bass-heavy sounds. You’ll feel explosions, gun fire pulses as it zips past you, and loud music thumps like you’re in a club and you’re stood halfway between the bar and the dancefloor.
You can crank up the effect if you fancy actually becoming a subwoofer rather than just being near one, or turn it down if you don’t want to cause permanent damage, but only if you’re using the Nari Ultimate on PC with Razer’s Synapse software. If you’re using the headset in wired mode via the 3.5mm jack it’s a pleasant surprise to find that you can still power it on and use the haptic feedback, and while it’s a notable omission that there’s no physical control for the HyperSense, I found that you can still find a usable level by balancing the input volume and the headset’s.
Sony had a slightly less effective system in their PS3 Pulse headset, with Bassimpact doing much the same job, and that unique selling point has kept the Pulse as one of my favourite headsets for a number of years, despite being pretty damn uncomfortable after wearing it for about half an hour. The Nari Ultimate is finally forcing the Pulse into my dedicated cupboard for retired headset, not just because it features a more nuanced feedback system, but because it’s one of the most comfortable headsets on the market right now.
Putting the Nari Ultimate on your head is like attaching two dangerous pillows to your ears, and part of that is due to the fact that its exceptionally soft earpieces are huge. The cushioning is filled with the weird cooling gel that fans of Turtle Beach’s Elite headsets have come to love, and they’ve clearly also borrowed the idea of providing space within them for glasses wearers so there’s no untoward pressure for those with less-than-perfect vision.
When they’re coupled with the padded floating headband, the Nari Ultimate becomes the type of headset that you’ll barely notice wearing, even after many hours. That’s probably helped by the overall size of headset being particularly large. Unless you have an absolutely huge bonce I can’t imagine that these are going to be tightly clamped upon anyone’s head, and while that maximises the comfort it does allow for quite a lot of noise bleed for those around you. If you’ve got a smaller head it’s worth seeing if you can try them out before buying as they might actually not fit you at all.
At least the noise being pumped out is top quality, and the Nari Ultimate is up amongst the top sounding headsets on the market. It might not have quite the same level of detail as the Steelseries Arctis Pro with its top-tier DAC, but for those looking for a headset with a huge bass response and clear, powerful audio, then nothing else really comes close. It’s got a pleasingly spacious soundstage thanks to sporting a semi open-back (another reason why it bleeds audio) and If you’re into games with plenty of action and explosions then it’s the perfect audio companion. If you’re playing on PC you’ve also got access to THX Spatial Audio, which did a decent enough job of simulating a 360 degree soundstage but which created too much distance for my liking. I stuck with Dolby Atmos in the end, with the results translated efficiently by the Ultimate’s 50mm drivers. Both Battlefront II and Crackdown 3 really benefitted from playing with the Nari Ultimate, but you’re not going to get the most out of it if you prefer quieter contemplation.
That’s where you probably have to put the most thought into buying the Nari Ultimate, which comes with a £200 RRP. It’s the ideal headset for playing action games or listening to thumping electronic music, and while the battery is rated for 8 hours with all the skull-throbbing features, it stretches to 20 hours without. I also had an amazing amount of fun watching action flicks like Power Rangers and Avengers: Infinity War as the crunching bottom end really brought the cinema experience home, but if you’re not pumping this sort of stuff into them you might be better off pushing the boat out for the slightly more expensive and nuanced Arctis Pro Wireless, or saving yourself a bundle of cash by going for one of Logitech’s headsets. There really is nothing else out there quite like the the Nari Ultimate though.
Despite its monster earcups it’s a smart looking piece of kit, and when it’s powered up the Razer logos glow luminous green – or whatever colour you choose, if you’re playing on PC – so you can match it up with all of the other bits of glowing kit you’ve got. The rest of the unit is fashioned from solid carbon grey and black plastics, while the main headband is made from two metal bands. I think they’re probably too large to take about the place with you, but (so long as you turn the lights off) no one would think too much about them if you did, which is always a bonus for a gaming headset. Thanks to the Nari Ultimates standard jack you can plug it into most things still clinging onto 19th century technology, and it works surprisingly well without any power – minus the haptic feedback, of course.
The left earpiece plays host to your power button, a game/chat audio wheel, mic mute and the power and 3.5mm ports. Sat in the front is an extendable mic arm as well, with the mic performing admirably during a number of terrible Apex Legends sessions. I’d love to have something to blame, but my inability to play wasn’t the headset’s fault. The right earpiece features the all-important master volume control, as well as – in one of my favourite pieces of industrial design – a cubby hole for the mini USB dongle that allows you to connect wirelessly.
The downside to the dongle being contained within the headset is that it’s very small, which is fine if you’re permanently attaching it to your PC or if you have easily accessible USB ports, but on something like a PS4 Pro that has recessed USB sockets it’s something of a challenge to get the dongle back out again. You’ll manage it, but you might worry that you’ll do damage to either console or dongle over time.
The Nari Ultimate is a brutally powerful headset that’s unlike anything else on the market. If you’re into loud, bombastic entertainment that could actually take your head off then it’s the perfect headset for you, and while the audio might not be caressing your ears, the headset’s awesome comfort levels will.