There are plenty of questions you should be asking when choosing a gaming headset: What are the connection options like? Is it comfortable to wear? What does it sound like? When it comes to reviewing Razer’s brand-new Kraken TE (for Tournament Edition) headset another major question was added to the list: do you like luminescent green?
If you don’t, then luckily it does come in black, but if you do, then you’re in luck! It just so happens that our review headset arrived sporting the most lurid, loud, luminescent green humanly possible. That might be a tough sell to plenty of people its other features do soften the blow of having to stick it on your head. At least you can’t actually see it when you’ve got it on…
Clocking in at 240g it’s nice and light, and Razer have definitely done their homework on making it comfortable to wear for a long period of time. While the majority of the external casing and coverings are emphatically green, the soft padding is all black, with large gel-cooled earpads and breathable mesh on the headband. They’ve also continued to crack on with the helpful hidden notches that let you wear glasses without causing yourself irreparable damage – something which will be welcome news for the myopic across the land.
The Kraken TE offers a versatile selection of connection options too, and alongside a good old universal 3.5mm connector you can hook it up to your PC via its diminutive USB breakout box. This dinky box doesn’t feel like the most premium piece of kit you’ll ever pick up – in fact it feels like plasticky tat – but it does give you access to a bunch of the headset’s extra features, including the game/chat balance, volume and bass boost.
You can connect the Kraken TE to your PS4 by USB if you so wish, but the box won’t actually do anything beyond provide basic audio and chat. You might as well just plug straight into your controller rather than have a long cable laying across the floor. The attached headset cable itself boasts an in-line controller with a volume wheel and a button to mute your mic, but that’s all your getting if you’re just going to play on console. You might be better off just going for the cheaper Kraken Pro V2 if you are.
If, on the other hand, you’re playing on PC, the Razer Synapse software opens up a huge array of options that will allow you to get the best out of the Kraken TE. THX Spatial Audio taking pride of place as the headline feature and the USB breakout box helpfully has a dedicated button so that you can directly turn the effect on or off without diving into the software. That’s great for those people who hop from one type of media to another.
The software also gives you access to sound normalisation and voice clarity sliders so that you can tweak things to your heart’s content, as well as a fully adjustable EQ. While there’s a bunch of presets for music and gaming, I found I was able to get things just right using a custom setup. Again, you’re not going to have access to these niceties if you’re just using the basic 3.5mm connection, but luckily the Kraken TE’s 50mm drivers have been tuned to give you a great-sounding response from the off.
This is a headset that’s capable of pumping out some seriously loud sounds without distorting, and across a range of different entertainment I enjoyed every moment. There’s more than enough bass for those that want it – with even more possible on PC – while I was still able to pick out the more detailed elements of music and speech. Flying around the world of Anthem, the Kraken TE kept me fully immersed, helping to bring Bioware’s somewhat maligned looter shooter to life.
For those playing similar multiplayer-heavy games, there’s a retractable mic arm that unwinds from within the left earcup, and it does exactly what is asked of it. It’s not going to blow anyone away – you’ll want something a bit more high-end if you’re looking to record voice chat or podcasts – but for those who’re just shouting at your teammates it performs admirably.
The main downside I found during my time with the Kraken TE was that you can hear cable noise if you move around while the top half of the cable is resting against you. While I was playing on console I didn’t find it so noticeable because of the way I was sat, but it was something that raised its head a few times while on PC. It’s not a dealbreaker by any stretch but worth bearing in mind since there’s no inline clip to help minimise cable rubbing.
At the £90 mark the Kraken TE makes a bold stake for the mid-range wired headset crown, and it’s a worthy contender. It’s got tough competition though, and it’s worth considering Roccat’s Khan Aimo or Pro, which just have the edge on audio performance, but lose out on versatility. There’s also the slightly older Logitech G433 which remains a personal favourite, but Razer’s offering is more comfortable for long gaming sessions.
The Razer Kraken TE is a great-sounding mid-range headset that boasts a ton of versatility, but which really flies when you hook it up to your PC.