Razer Kraken V3 X Gaming Headset Review

The worst modern Razer headset?

Photo taken by the author.

he new Razer Kraken V3 X, at $69, is the cheapest headset in their lineup to offer full Chroma RGB lighting support. It’s also using the pads and microphone from the $59 BlackShark V2 X, the frame from the $39-$49 Kraken X, and new smaller 40mm TriForce drivers. It’s a true recycled product cobbled together out of other Razer designs that baffled me on first announcement and launch last week.

After a week of use, it didn’t really redeem itself. It works fine when considered in a total vacuum, but up against Razer’s other audio gear I’m not sure why it exists.

NOTE: 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.

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Photo taken by the author.

OVERVIEW

The Razer Kraken V3 X is a $69 closed back wired gaming headset that exclusively uses a USB connection (official site here). That means it works best on the PC platform, but it’ll also connect to consoles that work with generic USB audio like the PS4 and PS5. In the box, you get the headset itself, a code to download Razer’s basic 7.1 surround virtualization software, and some manuals and Razer Chroma stickers.

The presence of “V3” in the name is a little bit misleading, since this is the second version of the cheaper Kraken X frame that Razer launched a few years ago. I’m hopeful that this is a clue that Razer is also going to update the bigger Kraken with new drivers and a new microphone and call it the “Kraken V3” without an X, but they’ve been quiet about that so far.

Unfortunately, although it’s nice to see the technical innovations from the totally awesome BlackShark lineup come to the Kraken X…the sound quality is bad.

In head- to- head listening, the standard Kraken sounds much better, and can be found for less money depending on the model you select. I imagine that will remain true if a V3 of that bigger model launches later this year, too. Photo taken by the author.

SOUND QUALITY

The Kraken V3 X is the first Razer headset to use their new smaller 40mm TriForce drivers. The TriForce driver first appeared in the revised BlackShark V2 lineup, and then again in the Razer Kaira Pro. Both of those models use a 50mm TriForce driver variant that sounds incredible, with deep bass, accurate mids, and highs that are tuned to not cause fatigue over time.

Here, all of that nuance is gone. The Kraken V3 X is a boomy, bass-heavy nightmare thing. It reminds me of the early attempts at gaming headsets from almost a decade ago, when a powerful low end ruled the day over detail. The sound signature is bass, some more bass, and then just a little bit more bass to round things out.

As a result, the midrange is inaccurate, with a dark warm sound that makes female vocals in music sound thicker and more resonant than they should, and muffles directional cues in games. The treble is similarly recessed, with only a little bit of energy up top that saves these from being a total mess.

This isn’t the absolute worst gaming headset on the market, but every other Razer headset I’ve experienced over the last two years sounds better. The BlackShark V2 X does this same type of boomy profile with so much more control and clarity, offering bass that’s powerful and precise instead of muffling the midrange. The standard larger aluminum Kraken offers a better sense of soundstage and more detail throughout the signature. Oh yeah, and both of those headsets are cheaper than the Kraken V3 X.

Razer surround is still a decent 7.1 implementation, but the software is done no favors by the muddy sound here. The sense of soundstage width and localized audio isn’t quite as clean as it is on other headsets that come with this software.

I’ve loved every other implementation of Razer’s TriForce driver design…but this one is a real disappointment. Unless you just want bass.

These pads were also great on the BlackShark V2 X, but on that other headset’s flexible frame they seal better on my head. Photo taken by the author.

COMFORT

The light weight of the Kraken V3 X’s frame and the excellent pads from the BlackShark V2 X go a long way towards making this headset comfortable. It has plenty of adjustment range for larger heads, and a soft pad along the headband.

Unfortunately, there’s no horizontal swivel of any kind on the ear cups. That wasn’t as much of a problem with the standard Kraken X, as it used softer ear pads that were still able to conform to my head. The pads here use a denser memory foam, and the lack of adjustment horizontally means that the backs of the ear cups try to pull away from the back of my head behind the ears.

This requires me to fiddle with the headset each time I put it on to get a proper fit and seal. And then I’m rewarded with muddy boomy sound. But at least I can wear it for hours once it’s in the right place.

The cheap plastic came with some free scuffs right out of the box. Not great at a $70 price point. Photo taken by the author.

BUILD/DESIGN

For a $40 or $50 headset, the Kraken X was built just fine. But at this $70 price point…the all-plastic build isn’t nearly as impressive. Every component here is made of a basic light plastic, including the adjustment mechanisms which have a rough feel to their clicks. Nothing about this headset inspires confidence, and while it didn’t develop any creaks over a week of use, it’s just not that exciting.

The matte finish on the headset is prone to scuffs and scratches, and mine shipped with a few fresh ones right out of the box.

The cheaper BlackShark V2 X has a much sturdier build, with metal supports for the ear cups, a larger range of adjustment, and a denser headband. And again, it sells for a lower price.

MICROPHONE/FEATURES

The mic is the best aspect of the Kraken V3 X. It sounds pretty good, with plenty of sensitivity and a nice vocal tone. You can hear a test I recorded right over here on my personal web site.

Unlike some other Razer USB headsets, Razer’s Synapse software contains zero adjustments for the Kraken V3 X mic, and there’s no side tone available either. Those features would go a long way towards justifying the price here.

The RGB lighting in the cups is decently bright, and simple enough to control with Razer’s software. Without the software running, it defaults to a basic spectrum cycling effect. Both the mic mute button and the volume wheel on the left ear cup work just fine.

I have to tilt this back a little further than normal to achieve a good seal. The original Kraken X had no such issues on my head. Photo taken by the author.

FINAL THOUGHTS

With better sound tuning, some swivel in the ear cups, and mic control options in the software, the Kraken V3 X would be a good $70 product. But in its current state, it’s outclassed by cheaper Razer products like the BlackShark V2 X in every category except RGB. It’s a little too hard to achieve a proper fit, and the sound signature just has too much bass and muddiness.

The boomy sound can be fun for certain games and genres of music…but I expect better out of $70 headsets at this point in time. You could throw a dart at all the other $70 gaming headsets on the shelf right now and get a better-sounding one, whether you’re looking at choices from Razer or from the competition.

I still hope that Razer keeps bringing this mic and the TriForce driver tech to other headsets in the future, but with a bit more nuance and thought. Maybe they have some research that suggests budget headset consumers love a lot of bass and boom, but anything over $50 isn’t truly a low budget price.

Get the BlackShark V2 X or the standard Kraken instead. Or even the older Kraken X models, with their softer leatherette pads. You’ll be happier with any of them. You won’t have RGB, but you’ll have better everything else.

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