"If it ‘aint broke, don’t fix it". That’s how the saying goes, right? Well, Razer’s been ignoring that piece of advice over the last few years with reimaginings of their best-known peripherals. We got the redesigned Razer BlackWidow keyboard earlier in 2019, and now it’s the Kraken headset’s turn. Enter the Razer Kraken X and Kraken X Lite; two of the latest in the long line of quality Razer headsets.
Designed as cheaper alternatives, these budget Krakens aim to prove that you don't need to spend the earth to get good quality audio. However, do they carve out a space on our best PS4 headsets list or best Xbox One headsets guide? Although they're not perfect, these new offerings are definitely worthy of the Kraken name.
Despite being at the lower end of the scale in terms of price, both the Kraken X and Kraken X Lite offer some cool features. At just 250g or 230g respectively, they're incredibly lightweight and promise "a near-weightless feel on your head" according to the marketing blurb. That's accompanied by memory-foam cushioning with eyewear channels, positional audio, and a built-in microphone that’s flexible but permanently attached.
The crown jewel is the downloadable 7.1 virtual surround-sound that’s available when you’re using the headset on PC, though. Simply turn on a desktop app and away you go.
What's the difference between these two models, then? It comes down to onboard audio controls. The Kraken X has volume control on the headset itself, while the Lite doesn't.
The X and X Lite hold on to that classic Kraken design even as they smooth over a few edges. Most notably, they give the illusion of a continuous loop rather than twin bars connecting the headrest and body as per their predecessor.
While this is a sleeker look that’s more evocative of non-gaming headsets, it’s also somewhat plainer. Which is only appropriate, I suppose - the X range is a lot less expensive than the Kraken-proper.
However, it's worth mentioning that there's an array of colours available now so you really do get a good opportunity to pick the best colour and style to suit your setup. One of our favorites is the Mercury White edition released earlier in 2020 - it makes for a sharp and stylish alternative to the black headsets we're generally used to.
No matter which version you choose, there’s less fabric at play here than on other Kraken models. Other than a pleather cushion at the top, these headrests are entirely made of plastic. The distinctive mesh effect and comfy leatherette earcups have stayed put, though.
As per every model in the Kraken line, the X and X Lite don’t disappoint. They balance sharp, clear highs with rumbling lows, and the positional sound is pretty good as well. Yes, the latter’s unsubtle (audio is dumped entirely onto the left or right ear the moment you turn away, for instance) but it’s not bad for an affordable headset. If you have the standard Kraken X, it’s easy to fiddle with the volume and/or activate the mute button via on-board controls as well.
The issue is that microphone. A flexible cardioid affair, it’s powerful (almost too powerful, according to those I tested it with - they could hear everything in the room around me despite claims of noise-suppression) yet isn’t detachable. While that’s hardly the end of the world, it’s a nuisance nonetheless because it limits your options. Using the X to play music on your morning commute would look odd, for instance.
Not that you’d want to. The X’s plastic seems easily scuffed, and the leatherette gets a bit sweaty in use.
However, both the X and Lite are comfortable. Like, really comfortable. I could sit with these on for hours, and you’ll want to if you’re using either on PC. Its 7.1 virtual surround sound app transforms your experience for the better. Although the X was good before, now it’s on another level. Alongside richer audio and a greater depth of sound, the surround is more subtle and immersive as a result. I just wish this feature was available for consoles.
Are the Kraken X and Kraken X Lite headsets worth it? Generally speaking, yes - especially if you’ll be using them on PC. While there’s an argument to be made for saving up and grabbing the superior Kraken Tournament Edition instead, these are still some of the best PC headsets for gaming we’ve gotten our hands on. There’s a lot to like here, and you can be guaranteed a sense of quality you won’t always find in other gaming cans.