Razer Kraken 7.1 V2 USB Headset Review: A Great Choice for PC Gamers
The $99 Razer Kraken 7.1 V2 is an awful lot like the very good $79 Kraken Pro V2 I reviewed last year. It adds a USB connection with built-in DAC/Amp, a longer 6 foot cable, Razer Chroma RGB lighting, and surround sound processing for PC/Mac.
It also has my personal favorite microphone in gaming headsets, with exceptional digital noise-cancelling and vocal clarity.
Is it worth the $20 premium over its little brother? If you’re a PC gamer…probably? If you’re on console however, I wouldn’t even look at this headset.
Like the Kraken Pro V2 before it, the 7.1 V2 has an impressively balanced sound signature compared to its predecessor. Don’t get me wrong, it still leans towards the warm/bassy end of things. And honestly, that’s a good thing, because that’s what’s popular right now and that sort of boomy sound lends itself well to a lot of game mixes. Fortunately, you’re not giving up the clarity in the mids and highs to get that punchy bass.
The free Razer Synapse software has options for a bass boost, and fully customizable EQ if you want to go nuts and craft your own sound. That stuff only works on PC/Mac, even though the headset will also technically connect to a PS4.
Synapse also unlocks the Surround Sound features, which are great! Razer’s Surround software is some of the best in the business, and here you get access to the Pro features of that software free of the usual $20 charge, and with processing assistance from the headset. The surround sound is wide and impressively smooth in its channel transitions. It’s even pretty good at spreading out standard stereo audio into the room around you. A very convincing and fun thing to use that will certainly help you position enemies in games.
The soundstage of these headphones helps with that, too. The 7.1 V2 has absolutely massive ear cups that stick out far from your head. The 50mm drivers are sitting an impressive distance from your ear, giving these an almost Beyerdynamic-esque level of soundstage. Even in stereo mode, you’ll get a nice sense of separation and spatial awareness in spite of this being a fully closed headphone.
The build and design are nigh-identical to the Kraken Pro V2, which means you get a sturdy bauxite aluminum frame and absolutely ginormous ear cups.
Just look at this.
They’re massive! This is a different picture than the one I took for my last review, but it might as well be the same one, as on the surface they look identical save for the lights.
A couple of little differences do separate the two models. The 7.1 V2 does not feature an inline microphone mute and volume control. Instead, the microphone mute button is on the end of the boom mic, and it turns on a little red light. Volume is handled in software on your PC, Mac, or PS4. The lack of a dedicated volume control is a slight bummer for a model that costs more… but it’s not a dealbreaker.
The headband is nicely contoured to the head, and if the ear cups were smaller this would be a svelte pair of headphones. But they’re huge-huge-hugey huge. They’re really wide. They’re not quite the silliest-looking headphones I’ve ever worn in public, but they’re in the top third.
Fortunately, the aluminum frame is really solid, as are the size adjustments. I’d wager these will last a long time, and they’re much better built than the old Kraken Chroma 7.1s.
In the world of headphones, and long gaming sessions, comfort is king. Fortunately, the Kraken 7.1 V2 competes with the best of the best. It’s just a tiny bit less comfy than the absurdly adjustable Steelseries Arctis line, but still perfectly wearable for hours and hours and hours. The 7.1 V2 is just a touch heavier than the Kraken Pro V2 due to its inclusion of sound hardware and RGB lights, but I didn’t really notice this extra weight on my head.
The headband is very light and squishy, and it contacts a large amount of surface on top of your head, which is great for spreading out weight and lowering fatigue. The ear pads are huge and soft and plush. They feature what Razer calls “inmold channels” to help glasses wearers, and from what I can tell this really works. My glasses don’t seem to impact the seal or comfort negatively at all. Razer also sells oval-shaped ear pads if the round openings aren’t to your liking, but I find them to be one of the few circular ear pads I’ve enjoyed.
Isolation is decent thanks to the leatherette pads. These are suitable for use in louder environments…if you can handle the weird looks you’ll get for looking a touch goofy.
Like the original Kraken Chroma 7.1, the microphone here is amazing. Full stop. It’s a bit better than the exceptional Arctis mic, making it the best one I’ve used. It’s good enough that I’ve done voice recording with it. It features enhanced digital noise cancelling that the Kraken Pro V2 mic doesn’t have. If you’re a microphone snob, then congrats, this is the PC headset you want.
The Chroma RGB lighting is really fun, and like on other Razer products, very easy to set up and customize. The headset has two LEDs, one in the Razer logo on each ear cup. You can sync it to your other Razer stuff. It’s not a must-have for everyone, but the implementation here is nice.
Razer’s Synapse software provides a very easy way to set up and control the Kraken 7.1 V2…and you have to download it to access most of the features, like surround sound, lighting, and enhanced mic features. Otherwise, you get a basic subset of the functionality and stereo sound. Same goes for if you’re using the headset with PS4: it’s stereo only. If you’re the sort that hates to use outside software packages, then this might not be for you…but then most gaming products use their own software now, and Razer’s is some of the best I’ve used. So it’s worth the download.
I’m using this on my MacBook right now, plugged into a USB-C dongle. It totally works. The Mac version of Synapse is almost as functional as the PC version. Gaming is not as prominent on the Mac, and surround sound mixes aren’t as much of a given as they are on PC…but yes, these will work on a Mac, if that’s your thing!
The headphones don’t fold down. The cable doesn’t detach. There’s no carrying bag. You can find some or all of these features on other headsets in the price range…but they won’t have a mic, lighting, or surround sound this good, so I think it’s a fair trade.
At $99, the Kraken V2 7.1 goes head to head with the Arctis 5, which is honestly a more fully-featured headset. That one has a removable cable, washable headband and ear pads, RGB lighting, a USB sound card with DTS Headphone:X, and a microphone that’s almost as good. It’ll work with anything that has a 3.5mm jack, and provides extra features on PC through the sound card.
The Kraken 7.1 V2 can only connect to PC/Mac/PS4, and doesn’t feature a revolutionary new type of suspension head band. So, the Arctis 5 is the better buy at the price.
But uh. Here’s the thing…
Just like the Kraken Pro V2 before it, I still really like the Kraken 7.1 V2.
Razer’s lighting is better- implemented. Their surround software “just works” without the sometimes-fiddly profile system of DTS Headphone: X and it sounds amazing. The Synapse Software is more user-friendly than the Steelseries Engine software. It’s easier to find what you want and get things adjusted quickly. The Kraken isolates a little bit better thanks to its pads, and is 95 percent as comfy.
The Arctis is a better “Every device I own compatibility” sort of product. But if you’re just a PC player, then the Kraken 7.1 V2 is an exceptional, viable choice, especially if you’re already inside the Razer ecosystem. You get great surround, a great mic, great lighting that’ll sync to other Razer gear, and easy-to-use software.
You just can’t plug it in to an Xbox or a phone. And you’re limited to basic functions on PS4.
Here’s Razer’s official product page! Thanks for reading.