Aural acuity is paramount when it comes to situational awareness in any game these days. Unfortunately sound isn’t the problem with this latest headset from Razer.
Razer has been catering to gamers with a variety of peripherals for a long time. Such dedication to an obsessively meticulous crowd demands countless hours researching and developing new products. This latest headset however is neither an original creation of Razer, nor has it been properly tested to make sure the product is even comfortable. Perhaps there are some out there that have absolutely no problems with the design of the Razer Piranha. I’d like to argue that they’re a bit masochistic in their endeavor to get quality audio.
|Interface||USB + 3.5mm|
Packaging & Contents
Razer never fails to impress with trendy packaging that exudes the stylistic product it encloses. Since this is just a headset, packaging is straightforward. There’s nothing else in the box worth mentioning really. While we emphasize peripheral reviews are subjective, we try to eliminate factors such as fat, oblong heads by testing the product on other gamers. In the case of the Razer Piranha, a secondary tester with a small skull size and shape (in contrast to yours truly) also verified the headset was painfully uncomfortable. More on that later.
The headset is rather light weight. Composed primarily of plastic, it’s very durable and doesn’t feel fragile. Although the pictures taken show signs of dust, it’s unnoticeable for the most part in real world conditions. The soft cloth material lining the ear cups is smooth and doesn’t feel sticky when your ears get sweaty after prolonged gaming sessions. The headband offers a seemingly useless gap in the middle, perhaps to minimize weight, or to distract from the fact that it’s based off of a Sennheiser design. The actual point where the cables enter the headphone feels strong, so those of us that rip our headsets off in agony or joy need not worry. The USB and 3.5mm cord length is extremely long at 9′8″.
The microphone is non-removable which is great since you won’t lose it, but if you prefer your microphone on the right side you’re out of luck. In terms of flexibility, what you see above is the maximum the microphone can bend. This may seem rather conservative but it never proved to be an issue with teammates and co-workers commenting on the excellent clarity of the microphone compared to that of a Zalman clip-on alternative. The deep, rigid notches make adjusting the headband easy and precise. The Razer logo only has one brightness setting, and is powered by the lone USB connector. If you have other Razer peripherals like the DeathAdder it’ll match up nicely. In time the LED might fail, but usually Razer Support can take care of these things, usually. Overall the construction is high quality. With time the headband padding might lose grip, but other then that it’s tough enough to take to your next event.
About 2′5″ into the cord is the in-line remote sporting another blue Razer logo. The volume dial works fine, as does the clip on mechanism. What I found extremely irritating was that the mute switch found on the side of the remote was overly sensitive. Several times I would be trying to coordinate ubers as a medic in Team Fortress 2 only to get killed because my teammates couldn’t hear me. Oh, the mute was accidentally triggered. Again. Sigh. The reason this occurs is because there is little tension between the two settings, so simply brushing it across your lap could easily trigger mute. A visual ID signifying whether or not the switch is in the mute position or not would be helpful, but it’s still terrible.
Testing of the Razer Piranha involves using the headset in a variety of popular first person shooters. No other genre benefits from accurate sound as much as shooters. Games like Call of Duty 4 and Team Fortress 2 are played at multiple volumes with a variety of audio settings and modes native to the sound output device – in this case an AuzenTech X-Fi Prelude. As a gamer I want a headset that is simply accurate. The Razer Piranha provided this throughout all testing. The difference between a good headset and a terrible one, say for playing Counter-Strike: Source, is that I’m able to distinguish where my opponents are coming from 3D space and how far away they are. What’s great is that this headset did not sacrifice bass to do so.
Many manufacturers understandably emphasize mids and highs and leave out any potential bass that could mask footsteps and other important sound triggers. This causes the headset to suffer in non-gaming applications such as music and movies. Although we primarily test games, it’s important that headsets deliver an immersive experience. Dropping bass altogether as some headsets do leaves you with a sense of longing, not only when playing games non-competitively, but in your favorite tunes as well. Coupled with an excellent audio source, the Razer Piranha is no slouch when it comes to audio. Unfortunately it’s unbearable to wear.
Using the Razer Piranha on a daily basis is very uncomfortable. I wish to emphasize this point so as to make clear that throughout our months of testing I couldn’t manage to make this headset comfortable. Attempting to leave the headset atop a six pack of beer for a week to stretch out the frame for a looser fit did nothing. Testing with another individual as mentioned earlier proved fruitless. When wearing the headset, the natural curve places too much force on your ears. Certainly anyone who prefers circumaural solutions knows this, but the Razer Piranha felt like it was literally pinching my ears. No one should ever have to attempt to play through pain. On several occasions I cut my nightly gaming routine short because my ears were too red and tender from the pain to play any longer.
If you do prefer using on-ear solutions, you may enjoy the Razer Piranha. If you love the Sennheiser series you’ll be glad to know this headset is practically identical in all aspects. The splash of Razer chic is the only real difference. Unfortunately I don’t really care how good the sound is on any headset if it makes me want to take it off as soon as I put it on. If this is the case then it’s practically worthless. Razer’s website states that the Piranha’s are “comfortable, ergonomic and adjustable head phones suitable for prolonged use.” Well no. No they aren’t suitable for prolonged use. Not even fifteen minutes worth without starting to feel pinching pain.
Conclusion & Value
- Excellent Overall Sound Quality
- Durable and Lightweight
- Superior Microphone
- Easy to Access Volume Dial
- Extra Long Cord
- Extremely Uncomfortable
- Mute Switch Too Sensitive
- No LED Off Switch
Unfortunately the Razer Piranha is the victim of poor ergonomic design. The sound really is excellent in both gaming and desktop applications. Despite the niceties and classy nature of the headset, it all means jack if I can’t wear it for more than fifteen minutes at a time without my bloody ears turning red. If you like your cans on your ears, then you should give these a shot because the audio is really good. If you’re used to wearing headsets that go around your ears, avoid these like the plague.