Razer Kraken Tournament Edition Review–Keeping up With the Competition
The Razer Kraken Tournament Edition provides affordable access to the Razer ecosystem while also producing good audio and great usability.
The Razer Kraken Tournament Edition (TE for short) strikes an impressive balance between cost, comfort, and a high caliber of quality. It not only serves as a refresh to their popular Kraken line of headsets but also to introduce THX Spatial Audio into the headset game. While there is a lot of competition at the $100 USD price range, the Kraken TE manages to stand out.
Razer’s recent comfort innovations have come in the form of cooling-gel cushions and a comfortable grip. These things aren’t coming off your head unless you want them to and that’s a feature I always look for. The Kraken remains comfortable because I was able to keep it in a position where I knew it was comfortable.
The cooling-gel cushions debuted on the Kraken 7.1 V2 as an optional upgrade, but here they come standard. It’s important for a headset to make a seal around your ears in order to provide accurate spatial audio and that seal could make you really hot–these, thankfully, don’t. In addition, they have an indented channel specifically made so that eyewear doesn’t hurt your head. Even if you don’t require a prescription, this means you could splurge for some Gunnar glasses and not have to worry about having your skull squeezed. For me, this made all the difference compared to my Astro A40s.
Another standout feature of the Kraken TE is the USB audio controller. Other similarly-priced controllers will put a mute and volume button on the 3.5mm wire itself, but Razer has included those controls, as well as the ability to adjust the bass and toggle the THX spatial audio on and off. It’s, by no stretch of the imagination, meant to hold a candle to the off-board mix amps you see paired with something like the SteelSeries Arctis Pro but it’s nice to see Razer putting in the effort to include it nevertheless.
The sound quality is where the Kraken TE shines the brightest. I can’t stress enough how impressive the sound coming out of this $100 headset is. The highs and mids were clear whether I was listening to music, playing PUBG, or watching a stream on Twitch–but it’s the bass in tandem with THX Spacial Audio that made me respect what this headset has accomplished. The audio fidelity surpassed that of my more-expensive Astro A40s.
THX was purchased by Razer a few years ago and we’ve been waiting to see what the company was going to do ever since. Luckily, they’ve used the company’s assets to create a solid 360-degree simulation. Though it took me a bit to get acclimated to, THX Spatial Audio made differentiating between different layers of sound even easier. On a technical level, THX Spatial Audio is translating data from sources that may include object-based audio and Ambisonics. You shouldn’t expect it to magically improve a game’s audio encoding, however; PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds sounded a little janky, meanwhile, other AAA titles made better use of the Kraken TE’s tech.
The microphone is nothing to write home about though. It can neatly be stored within the left ear of the headset as it is fully-retractable, but despite over an hour of toying with Razer Synapse and Discord I just couldn’t get my input to sound good and my teammates kept reminding me. This negative would have a larger role in this review if I weren’t confident that PC gamers continue to shift towards table microphones and XLR solutions. Pairing this headset with my Blue Yeti worked great. The microphone did appear to work better (or at least I was getting fewer complaints) when I shifted to Xbox One. The headset is also compatible with PS4 and Switch–though I didn’t get a chance to use it on those consoles.
Lastly, we need to talk about the new Razer Synapse.
Razer’s first-party software is enough to sell this headset. Seriously, it’s UI is fantastic, especially if you’ve integrated multiple Razer peripherals into your setup. After all, that’s why the Razer brand has been so successful. Sure, Chroma looks great, and their products are, on the whole, aesthetically pleasing, but being able to EQ the frequencies of this headset in Synapse felt like I was using an entirely different tier of device.
While I was reviewing the Razer Kraken TE, I kept having to remind myself that it’s retailing for $100. It feels like it costs more, and with the customizability of Synapse and the implementation of THX Spatial Audio, it sounds like it costs more. It’s a solid pickup for anyone who is looking for an aural solution that gets them into the Razer ecosystem for a reasonable price.
The Kraken Tournament edition is available on the Razer website for $99.99 USD. It’s compatible with PC, Mac, Xbox One, PS4, and Switch.