I think I like the idea of Razer products more than I enjoy actually using them. There’s something magical about getting new Razer gear, thanks to the thoughtful, pristine, and engineered packaging that, without fail, lets you know that you’ve treated yourself. I genuinely have a sense of giddiness when opening a new bit of tech emblazoned with Razer’s ubiquitous triple-headed snake.
I tend to dislike the products themselves though. Not because there’s anything wrong with them, but the usually angular and pointy peripherals are studded with lights, gimmicks and other bits of peripherals instead of focusing on just being good products. Razer’s BlackShark V2 is the antithesis of that design ethos, dialling just about everything back to deliver a sleek, sexy, and almost minimalist gaming headset. There are no lights, the earpieces aren’t big and bulky and – apart from a bit of Razer’s trademark green – is bereft of unnecessary flourish.
It’s back-to-basics and zero frills. but most of all, it’s a really damned good headset. A little lighter and a lot less hulking than other headsets in Razer’s stable, the Blackshark V2 eschews the great big circular earcups for more modest, more conventional oval cups. The cups are made of a nice matte plastic, each of them adorned with Razer’s neon green logo. The cups are each attached to the headband with metal wires, supported by cylindrical stanchions, with bright green fabric-bedecked wires running up from each cup into the headband. There’s no manual adjustment on the headband, with the set-up instead relying on vertical pivoting and stretching for sizing. Despite that, it’s still decidedly comfortable on my own medium-sized noggin. That’s thanks to the memory foam earcups which are covered in a light, breathable fabric. The underside of the headband features the same padding and material, while the top of the thing is covered in faux leather. It’s genuinely light and comfortable – the sort of headset you could wear for hours without working up a sweat or strained neck muscles.
On the outside of the left cup, there’s a nice rotary volume knob, joined by a button that mutes the removable boom mic, which connects to the headset with a mono 3.5mm jack. The nearly 2m long, braided cable from that same cup terminates in a 3.5mm jack too. A disappointment with this set is that said cable is unfortunately permanently fixed to the headset, which makes replacement of the cable alone a bit troublesome. The version I received comes with a tiny USB sound card that accepts the headsets 3.5mm jack. With the combination of the USB card and Razers somewhat clunky Synapse software, this gives the set THX approved 7.1 spatial audio. The software also allows for more granular control, with full customisable EQ and microphone settings, and unlocks THX sound profiles for a handful of modern games. As usual, the virtual 7.1 surround is hit or miss for me, but at least here it doesn’t sound like you’re an empty warehouse. Positional audio within games is more than good enough for most games, and good enough for competitive ones too.
What most impressed me with the set though is its sonic accuracy, which is unusual for a gamer-focused headset. While there’s a bit of emphasis on the bass and the mid-range is slightly sculpted, it’s far less tuned for big bass than most gaming headsets, let alone Razer’s fare. The headset also has superlative sound isolation. While there’s no active noise cancellation, the headset creates a fantastic yet breathable seal. Coupled with the great accuracy and that superb isolation, and you have one of the best headsets available in its ultra-competitive pricing space (the Blackshark V2 with the USB soundcards retails in the US for just under $100, with local pricing still to be confirmed).
Unfortunately though, the microphone isn’t up to the spec of the headset itself. While Razer bills it as a “hyperclear” cardioid mic, there’s a weird and unnecessary de-emphasis on the vocal range. It means that voices come through sounding hollow and tinny, and those with extremely deep voices might end up sounding slightly distorted. Thankfully, the “cardioid” bit works quietly nicely eliminating sound that isn’t coming from your mouth.
While I still have reservations about Razer products, this back-to-basics approach delivers a headset that’s easy to recommend.
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Last Updated: September 2, 2020