After a long history of releasing garish, green snake-laden products conceived with hardcore gamers in mind, Razer is reconciling itself to the fact that its audience is growing way beyond its roots. Ten years ago, Razer may have been a gaming company, but today it's a great deal more than that. The company is rising to mainstream prominence, thanks to its release of the Razer Phone and its sequel, the Razer Phone 2, as well as its ownership of George Lucas-founded audio company THX.
Although it was released over two years ago, the Razer Kraken Pro V2 feels like it emerged from the Razer of today – conscious of its widespread popularity outside of the traditional gamer-sphere – rather than the purely gaming focused Razer of the past. At $79.99 / £69.00, its pricing suggests it belongs on the same playing field as the Turtle Beach Elite Atlas ($89.95 / £89.99) and the SteelSeries Arctis 5 ($99.99 / £89.47). However, it still comes in cheaper than the vast majority of its competitors while still offering roughly the same audio quality. In some cases, the Kraken Pro V2 sounds even better than its closest rivals.
That said, if output sound quality were of the utmost importance, I'd be here talking about headphones, not PC headsets for gaming. Oftentimes, comfort and design distinguish a gaming headset from its music-emitting counterpart. Fortunately, for Razer, the Kraken Pro V2 is as intransigent in those aspects as it is about delivering frequencies from its 50mm neodymium drivers, through its speakers, and into your ears.
Razer Kraken Pro V2 - Design
At first blush, the Kraken Pro V2 bears an unusual appearance considering it's a Razer product. It's almost boring. Like the song by Buddy, you'll be "rocking all black" because "everything is black" on this headset (unless you own the Xbox-green version, where everything is, er, green). From the band to the cushions to the cans themselves, the Razer Kraken Pro V2 I was sent for review is decked out in an all-black finish. Hell, even the canonically green tri-snake logo imprinted on the outside of each can is outlined in black. It's monochromatic to the nth degree.
Thankfully, Razer recognizes that everyone is a geek goth like me. As such, the Razer Kraken Pro V2 is available in three different outfits, green and white being the other two besides black. I've used the white one, too, which is probably the best looking of the three. On that one, the inside, nylon part of the headband is black, as are the ear cushions and the perforated aluminum grilles embellished on the left and right headphone. The green model resembles the shade of Razer Kraken Tournament Edition GamesRadar reviewed last month. In fact, they're almost identical. As Sam mentioned in her review, the biggest difference is that while the Tournament Edition features a USB amplifier, the Kraken Pro V2 does not.
On the contrary, the Razer Kraken Pro V2 is an analog joint, wielding the forbidden powers of the 3.5mm auxiliary headphone cable Tim Cook once sought to kill. Well, you may have cleaned your rifle, Mr. Cook, but you haphazardly missed your shot. Unlike most other headsets I've used in the past, the input end of the cord is by no means detachable and therefore you're stuck with what it comes with. On one hand, that's fine because I like the built-on cable. It's braided, therefore hella sturdy, and it has a basic volume roller slash mic muter about a third of the way down the cord that I very much appreciate. On the other hand, that sucks because what if my cat eats the cable? Not only do I have an expensive vet bill on my hands, but now I also have to buy a new gaming headset. I'm stressed out just thinking about it.
Still, I have to hand it to Razer. Though you wouldn't expect it given the low price point, the build quality on this thing is fantastic. I've put it through hell and back transporting it to and from work every day, and yet the Kraken Pro V2 continues to emerge unscathed. In its marketing materials, Razer claims it's "been tested extensively to withstand the rigors of pro gaming." Well, now it's been put through the wringer of pro commuting too. Much of its durability stems from its unibody Bauxite frame, that is, a sedimentary rock material largely composed of aluminum.
For the sake of comparison, the SteelSeries Arctis 5 and the Turtle Beach Elite Atlas are both made of plastic. Come to think of it, in this price range, an aluminum (or Bauxite, whatever) skeleton is a rare sight. Only the HyperX Cloud Alpha, whose sticker price exceeds the Kraken Pro V2 by $20, has a similarly unyielding metal frame. At least in regard to how it looks and feels, the Razer Kraken Pro V2 is unmatched. Unfortunately, it's barebones in the features department. Seeing as there's no option for USB connectivity, it's inherently incompatible with Synapse, Razer's desktop software for personalizing its devices and accessories.
Razer Kraken Pro V2 - Features
When I say the Razer Kraken Pro V2 is a no-frills gaming headset, I mean it. I mean, look at it: do you see any frills? There are none. It is frilless, without frills. In terms of features, there isn't a whole lot to say that I haven't addressed already. I guess I should mention that the headband is adjustable, so no matter the size or shape of your head, you can bank on unmitigated comfort.
Full disclosure, a few years before I started writing for GamesRadar, I purchased and owned Razer's Kraken 7.1 V2, a surround sound USB headset that apparently released on the same day as the one I'm reviewing here. Weirdly enough, the Pro V2 seems to be more comfortable though. Whereas the cups on the 7.1 V2 felt tight around my ears, often scrunching up my lobes into awkward, unnatural positions, the Kraken Pro V2's earcups are comparatively more spacious. I can wear this headset for hours on end, not a worry in my mind that my ears are going to wind up looking like dried apricots. Because it's old school as hell, what with its aforementioned 3.5mm aux cord, the Kraken Pro V2 is also more ubiquitously supported than the Kraken 7.1 V2. You can plug it into any headphone jack-sporting device – be it the PS4, Xbox One, Switch, or PC – no additional setup required.
Along with the headset itself, included in the box initially housing the Razer Kraken Pro V2 is a 6.6-foot PC splitter cable serving two purposes. First and foremost, it's an adapter for plugging the headset directly into your motherboard if you're playing on PC. Moreover, it extends the length of the onboard cable to nearly 11 feet. Lastly, the Razer Kraken Pro V2 has a retractable unidirectional microphone in its grasp. It's rubberized, thus not as sturdy as some of the plastic and metal designs, but it is flexible and practical nonetheless. Whenever you're not using the mic, you can slot it right back into its little cubby, where it will rest until it's next summoned.
Razer Kraken Pro V2 - Performance
In some ways, the Razer Kraken Pro V2 surpasses its pricier competitors – and per our mention earlier, even the company's own Kraken 7.1 V2. In other ways, it's yet another shining example of how gaming on a strict budget can only take you so far. Due to its exclusive analog connectivity, it's technically impossible for the Kraken Pro V2 to support native virtual surround sound. Should you care enough to simulate the effects of spatial sound, you can enable Windows Sonic on PC or Xbox One. Upon testing it out for myself, however, I failed to notice a difference in sound quality.
With or without Windows Sonic turned on, the Razer Kraken Pro V2's 50mm speakers demonstrated a much stronger bass range than the Turtle Beach Elite Atlas. At higher frequencies, such as at the midrange and upper midrange, the Kraken Pro V2 was slightly weaker. Luckily, in everyday gaming scenarios, it's not enough to put a damper on things. While playing the Resident Evil 2 remake on PC, the groaning and hissing of oncoming zombies still scared the hell out of me. In Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, dialogue came through clearly, as did the sound effects and music. Again, the sound quality is nothing remarkable, but it is good enough to justify the $79.99 / £69.00 price tag.
Of course, I don't expect active noise cancelling from an $80 pair of cans, but it would have been nice had the Kraken Pro V2 been designed to prevent outside noise from squirming out of the mouths of my colleagues and into my ears amid our open office plan. As someone who prefers to listen to ambient music at a low volume as I'm working, I get distracted from my writing the moment someone else's words pop into my head. For that reason, I'm almost always rocking the Sony WH-1000MX3 noise cancelling headphones I can't recommend enough right now. Sadly, they cost four times as much as the Kraken Pro V2.
For online multiplayer games like Apex Legends, the retractable mic on the Kraken Pro V2 is flawed but fine. Playing the Titanfall spin-off myself, my teammates had no issues hearing my off-topic tangents as I continued to frustrate them by getting myself shot within the first two minutes of each match. As is the case with most gaming headsets, the one downside is that your teammates may begin to hear a faint crackling if you start to raise your voice. Then again, what better incentive is there to speak like a civilized human being using your inside voice? Sorry, just trying to make the best of a less than ideal situation.
Overall - Should you buy it?
Ultimately, the Razer Kraken Pro V2 is a tough one to beat, dollar for dollar. At $79.99 / £69.00, it occupies an unusual midpoint between a headset that costs $50 and one that costs $100. It's the Tournament Edition stripped down to its bare essence, but it serves its purpose well, delivering audio from virtually any gaming device on the market by way of a lengthy 3.5mm headphone cable. From the hardwired volume controls to the lack of software and RGB lighting, everything about it it can be summed up as rudimentary. If that's what you want, I say go for it! Sometimes a basic headset is all you need to pwn n00bs, or whatever the 2019 equivalent of that antiquated gamer slang might be. It may not employ the longest list of features, but it's comfy and doesn't cost a whole lot, and that really is its beauty.
If you're looking for more features the Tournament Edition's USB amplifier adds much to the newer model. If you'd prefer to have the option to mess around with an equalizer in Synapse, oftentimes you can find the Razer Kraken Tournament Edition on sale for just a few dollars more than the Kraken Pro V2. In that case, I'd advise shelling out a quarter portion more for the tourney version. But overall, at the price, it's hard to beat the Kraken Pro V2.