Razer BlackShark V2 X Gaming Headset Review
Razer helped define the early path of the “gaming headset sound” with their original Kraken series. Bold colors and large highly-padded ear cups delivered powerful bass into the ears of gamers everywhere, and won the company an early lead in the market.
Eventually, the bass-heavy sound of the first gaming headsets faded out of popularity. Gamers constantly demand more performance as time goes on, and now want detail, clarity, and soundstage depth to go along with the fun rumbles.
The Razer audio gear lineup has grown up along with the times. They released one of the best-sounding Bluetooth headphones I’ve ever used, in the Razer Opus. They bought THX, George Lucas’s legendary sound company that has long been a pioneer in refining sonic presentation for movies and games. They also developed the new TriForce driver, a highly-tunable speaker diaphragm that powers a number of their new headsets.
Most of Razer’s audio gear now puts out a much more balanced, refined, accurate sound than their original legacy. But tucked down near the bottom of their price ladder is a fun treat: a headset that combines some of their latest audio technologies with a hint of the original Kraken’s fun tuning.
That headset is the BlackShark V2 X. Here’s my long-term review, based on a couple months of regular use.
I bought this headset with my own money. I don’t receive a kickback if you decide to buy one, and none of the links in this article are affiliate links. I wasn’t sponsored to write this, and I had full editorial control over this article.
The Razer BlackShark V2 X is a closed-back, wired gaming headset that has a standard price of $59 (official site here). In the box, you get the headset itself, a PC splitter cable, a redeemable code for Razer’s 7.1 surround software, and a simple cloth carrying bag. The headset’s microphone is permanently attached, and mute and volume controls live on the left ear cup.
If you want to step up the features and price, Razer offers the BlackShark V2 for $99, which includes a THX spatial audio dongle, a removable microphone, and nicer build materials. It also has a titanium coating on the drivers that boosts the high frequency response. Finally, at the top of the lineup is the BlackShark V2 Pro, a wireless version that’ll set you back $179.
All three use what Razer calls an “Esports” design, seemingly inspired both by the original BlackShark from a few years back and the old Plantronics GameCom Commander headset often used in gaming tournaments. In an uncommon move, none of these headsets offer Razer’s Chroma RGB lighting, and all three offer 3.5mm analog connection support. That’s an impressively hardcore design move to make right now. Even though I’m a personal fan of RGB, the BlackShark V2 X still offers enough of Razer’s characteristic style that no one will have trouble telling who made your headset.
And the sound signature is perhaps the most explosive and fun you can find at this or any price point.
The BlackShark V2 X is all about powerful, punchy, energetic low end. And it’s beautiful. The headset presents you with impressive bass from minute one and never stops. It’s deep. It’s luxurious. And it’s perfect for maximum immersion into games, movies, and music.
Fortunately, unlike the thumpy headsets of yore that were copying the original Kraken, the TriForce drivers at the heart of this model also provide enough midrange and treble detail to keep the bass from melting your brain. Both of these areas are relaxed more than they’d be on a neutral headset, giving the sound a dark, bass-heavy tone. But they’re still just vibrant enough to make music enjoyable and provide enough stereo image and soundstage detail to make locating enemies a simple task.
Other Razer products also make use of these drivers, but the BlackShark V2 X has a more aggressive tuning. The Kaira Pro I reviewed recently offers more in the way of true treble and midrange detail, and has a “cleaner” sound overall. But the BlackShark V2 X isn’t really about anything fancy like that. It’s about hilariously clean and fun bass first and foremost, with enough performance in the rest of the range to make you smile.
This type of warm profile also helps slightly improve the already-excellent passive noise isolation of the headset. With sound playing at a moderate volume, the click of the mechanical keyboard I’m typing this on is inaudible.
The sound here leans more towards fun than accuracy, but is still versatile enough for most listening tasks. Also, I love it. It’s a breathtaking execution of the classic boomy gaming headset profile, showing that there’s still a place for this type of sound in gaming audio when it’s done well.
The BlackShark V2 X has class-leading comfort, rivaling the efforts of famous competitors like HyperX. The pads are big and soft, and filled with a nice memory foam. It seals easily around my glasses and has plenty of adjustment range thanks to friction-based sliders on each side.
The headband is arguably over-padded to handle the light weight of the headset, and when combined with the perfectly-balanced clamping force, I can wear this all day without issue.
Although the more-expensive BlackShark V2’s and the Razer Kaira Pro both offer Razer’s fancier “FlowKnit” ear cushions, the standard hybrid cloth/leatherette cushions on the V2 X are still wonderful. The cloth helps them dissipate heat reasonably well.
Inside the ear cups the drivers are slightly angled, so you shouldn’t feel anything touching your ears. This can stand right against any headset on the market for comfort. You’d have to step up to pads with cooling gel included to exceed this level of comfort in the gaming headset space, something both Razer and Turtle Beach provide if you want to spend some more money.
On first holding the headset, these feel light and a little springy, but not exactly cheap. The wire support system for the ear cups shaves a lot of weight away from these compared to the usual gaming headset build. In a nice design touch, the screw holes just near the support wires are covered with small rubber plugs.
The aviation-inspired design and shock green accents might not be to everyone’s tastes, but I totally love the way this headset looks. And it feels just as good to hold and wear as it did when I first bought it last year. The swivel mechanisms for the cups are nice and stiff, and it has no significant creaks or squeaks to speak of. The headband is rigid and reinforced, and although the plastic is basic and not too thick, it has a nice fingerprint-resistant matte coating.
If I shake the headset around a little bit when it’s not on my head, there’s some light clicking from the metal supports hitting the plastic swivel mechanisms, but that’s just the design and not any sort of build issue. The rubber cable above my left ear cup has what looks like a small bubble in the mold of the plastic, but this is a small cosmetic issue that probably won’t show up on other pairs. The bendable mic is very stiff and holds its position well.
It baffles me that the GameCom Commander never had a wider period of retail availability, and clearly someone at Razer thought that as well. This is built quite well for the price, and although its design makes you look like a pilot out in public, every piece of its form has a purpose that improves its function.
The microphone here is phenomenal. It is, full stop, one of the best microphones on the market. The “Hyperclear” mic has lived up to its name on every product I’ve tested it on so far, and getting this level of mic audio on a $59 headset is kind of crazy. Only the Astro A10’s mic sounds this good at the same price point. Everything else is hoping for a distant second, at best.
You could use this microphone for any type of voice task without fear. Your friends/co-workers will probably be surprised at how good you sound, just like my friend who I game with weekly is whenever I use the BlackShark V2 X.
The rest of the headset is fun, great, and well-executed…but the microphone is truly market-leading.
In a remarkable twist for a sub-$99 product, the BlackShark V2 X comes with some extras! In the box is a basic felt-like cloth bag, and a code for Razer’s surround software. This is not their customizable THX Spatial Audio system I’ve reviewed previously, but rather their simple on/off solution designed for Windows 10 machines.
It’s easy to get it set up and installed, though you will need a Razer ID to redeem the code and license the software. Once you’ve selected it as your default output device and pointed it at your headphone output, one click is all you’ll need to turn it on and off.
Razer surround provides a nice virtualization effect with little in the way of echo or room simulation. It does have a little bit of extra kick in the bass to simulate the presence of a subwoofer, and when that’s combined with the extra punch the BlackShark V2 X already has in the low end it can get a little bit cluttered and boomy in some games. Still, it works well, and it’s a nice alternative if you don’t want to use Windows Sonic. I’d recommend turning it off for music, and on for movies or games.
The bag is nothing fancy but I’m always delighted when I get one. It has the Razer logo embossed into one side, and a bright green drawstring that matches the color accent of the headset cable. Getting the headset inside is a little bit difficult thanks to the permanently-attached mic, but it’s got plenty of room once you figure out how to squish the mic down.
I wanted to review this headset when it first launched last summer. I got one, but it had a few small manufacturing issues and I decided it wasn’t fair to review. At the time, it sold out so quickly I couldn’t get a replacement.
Around the holidays, I finally managed to snag another one, and that’s why it appears on my Best New Headsets of 2020 list.
Just like the Roccat Elo X Stereo I reviewed recently, this is a standards-crushing product for the price point. The Roccat model will appeal more to those that want a light suspension fit, cleaner treble, and a detachable mic. But if you want phenomenal fun bass and one of the best mics ever included on a gaming headset, the BlackShark V2 X is an amazing buy.