I recently had the chance to go hands-on with the Razer Nari Ultimate. When I was told this new headset would “physically enhance the way I play games” I wasn’t skeptical, but I sure as hell wasn’t expecting this: the Razer Nari Ultimate has haptic feedback.
In short–it is a hair-raising experience.
The Nari Ultimate is the most expensive version of the brand-new Nari line of headsets. While the Nari was announced today, the Nari Ultimate (which is what I reviewed) won’t be out until sometime in Q4. I’m going to be talking a lot about the haptics, but do note that everything about the headset besides that relates to the other versions of the headset as well.
I’ve been using the Nari Ultimate for over a week now, putting it through its paces in just about every area where this headset will see use. I played through the first two missions of DOOM (2016), sampled a ton of music, and–of course–tried out some ASMR… simulating a barbershop. Nothing too weird.
Having your face shake while playing doom is nuts. There is something unsettling about hearing a demon’s footsteps as it approaches you not only through audio but your touch sense too.
Let’s start with the design. Picture the Razer Kraken TE. Now imagine it’s wireless, has adjustable ear cups, an eight-hour battery life, and vibrates on your head. It features those same cooling gel inserts that come on the Kraken, and they’re still incredibly comfortable and cool to the touch, even after long sessions of gaming.
I’ve never had a headset sit so comfortable on my head. Thankfully, Razer opted for plastic on some components to ensure that the headset remained lightweight enough so that it doesn’t hurt your neck after long sessions. (Which the ear cups allow for). Despite the lightweight, the Nari Ultimate still feel like a $200 headset; they’re not going to fall apart.
The headset also has a metal band around the top to ensure that your investment doesn’t get damaged and that’s especially important because I believe these open up a whole new realm of possibilities when it comes to listening to music on the go.
The headset communicates via a 2.4 GHz wireless USB adaptor. It tucks away nicely into the headset when you’re in transit, but it doesn’t connect via Bluetooth. Still, connecting this beast to your phone via the included 3.5 mm adaptor is well worth the wired life. There may be higher fidelity headsets from Bose or Steinhauser, but nothing compares to having that floor-shaking bass of a subwoofer translated to an on-ear experience.
It’s a discreet audio solution that replicates a 7.1 surround sound bar setup in your house, but only you can hear it. Whether I was on a plane, or in the subway, the only vibrations I was feeling were the ones going on behind the drivers.
Everything from Darude’s Sandstorm to John Coltrane’s Giant Steps is enhanced in a way we’ve never seen before at the wearable level. It’s like you’re in the room with a kick drum, but the bass is gliding through your head and not your chest.
Electronic music really shows off just how spacious the inside of a headphone can feel. It creates another layer of sound entirely. It accentuates the upright bass in Jazz tracks so you can feel it walking those chord patterns while listening to the melody.
Hip-hop is, because of its nature, less benefitted by the haptics (since the bass is usually boosted anyway)–that’s to be expected, but having bass feedback in your ears bumping like this is something you have to experience for yourself.
Thankfully the haptic feature can be turned down because using it for too long can cause a bit of fatigue if you don’t lower it. It sort of tickles your ears, but with the right intensity level, can be enjoyed for the entire length of its battery life.
I even watched some TV.
The Game of Thrones episode titled “Battle of the Bastards” was wonderful. Horse hooves, giant’s steps, and orchestral cues are all made better with Razer Hypersense.
Sabaton’s Lost Battalion (a German power metal track) was explicitly mixed for Razer Hypersense. An interesting partnership sure, but listening to it made me think that artists were going to start having to incorporate this new layer of mixing technique into all albums going forward. Haptic mixing in the music industry can further elevate the experience for audiophiles.
Now back to gaming: there’s a sense of panic as you hear bullets hitting your car in PUBG. A sense of triumph as you hear a spell you’ve cast in World of Warcraft come crashing down on your target. It just dramatizes these gaming experiences in the best way. That’s important because we gamers spend so much time between our headset that we don’t get to experience our fancy sound bar TV setups all the time. You could be gaming at 4 am and though you’re not waking anyone up, it still feels like you’re at a movie theater.
Now haptics are a new thing for headsets. The Razer Nari Ultimate is in a league of its own.
It’s important to note though that these haptics also trigger on people’s voices. So it can be important to manage the haptic intensity so that the bassieness of people’s voices isn’t reverberating too much. This is important because many of us spend hours talking to friends in Discord or Teamspeak, or perhaps listening to gaming-related podcasts.
The headphones are still a quality product even without the haptics if, for example, if you go for one of the cheaper versions of the Nari, you’ll still get the same level of comfort, and likely an even longer battery life without having Lofelt’s haptics beating every few seconds.
During my demonstration, I wasn’t even made aware that the THX Spacial Audio feature wasn’t enabled. Razer Hypsersense alone was convincing me that I had spacial audio running the whole time. Thankfully that software will be implemented now that the headset is being released. The same goes for Razer Synapse. I wasn’t able to toy with the Nari Ultimate in Synapse, but from experience, I know that the Razer ecosystem itself is another incredible selling point. I can’t wait to get my Chroma synced up on my headset.
The Razer Nari Ultimate is like nothing else on the market. When I walked out of the demo, I realized that these were the next step in audio hardware. I just didn’t know that Razer would be at the forefront. They’ve created an aurally pleasing concept in a comfortable and well-built headset. It looks good, it sounds even better, and it’s absolutely my go-to headset for the foreseeable future.
The Razer Nari is available today on the Razer store. The Razer Nari Ultimate ($200), with Razer Hypersense, won’t be available till Q4 along with the Razer Nari Essential ($99). It’s currently wirelessly compatible with computers and the PS4 and works with the 3.5mm wire for Xbox One and Switch.