While the Razer BlackShark V2 headset costs $99.99 (opens in new tab), the BlackShark V2 X brings the price down to $59.99 (opens in new tab). You keep the basic hardware from the V2 while losing extra bells-and-whistles, like the USB sound card and detachable mic. This one's aimed at providing the best gaming headset with 7.1 virtual surround sound at a relatively low price, especially for Razer.
The headband and inside of the earcups are covered in a soft leatherette, while the part of the earcups that rests on your face are standard fabric. The earcups themselves use a light memory foam that compresses easily, meaning they'll rest on your head nicely. I could see the fabric absorbing sweat, and during my testing, it was good enough.
I'm not a huge fan of the way Razer decided to attach the drivers to the headband. The company landed on a metal fork design with an exposed wire. The metal forks don't feel that sturdy; I gave them a bit of flex to test them, and they could probably be bent, similar to a good coat hanger. There's no swivel to them either, and I feel like this headset is going to get bent if it's packed away for travel. Likewise, the exposed wire feels like it could get caught on something and torn.
Speaking of wire, the 4.2-foot cable is wrapped in some soft plastic-like material, not the braided version that you'll find on the BlackShark V2. The included mic splitter extension cable is made from the same material, and there's no USB sound card with this model.
Razer touts its new Triforce 50mm drivers, which are designed to act like three different audio drivers in a single unit. The idea is treble, mid and bass should sound more distinct, leading to more audio clarity and a richer experience. Dropping into some K-pop, I could definitely feel the lower thumps of the bass, but there was a little muffling on the high end out of the box. I also found there was a bit of clarity lost in the spoken dialog while watching the Tenet trailer.The BlackShack V2 X comes with a single 3.5mm plug, meaning you can use it with most modern devices outside of your gaming PC, including the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and mobile phones. Virtual 7.1 surround sound is limited to Windows 10 (64-bit). You'll need some sort of USB connection in order to use the Razer Synapse software or 7.1 surround sound app, which doesn't come in the box. I used a Turtle Beach Atlas Edge Audio Enhancer to connect the BlackShack V2 X via USB for surround sound testing.
The 7.1 surround sound app did work. This is a separate download, activated via a code that comes with the headset. However, Razer Synapse software didn't see the BlackShack V2 X as one of its headsets. This prevented me from using the Razer Mixer to change the sound profile of the headset.
The more premium BlackShack V2 offers THX Spatial Audio for a surround sound experience. For $19.99 you can add that to the BlackShark V2 X as well (more in the Features and Software sectoin). The standard 7.1 surround sound app for our review focus just lets you turn surround sound on and off, while the full THX Spatial Audio app gives you sound calibration tools, EQ customization and per-software profiles.
The BlackShark's V2 X's surround sound app works by setting an audio output in the app itself and then setting your Windows sound to "7.1 Surround Sound." Turning on the 7.1 surround sound, I was treated to a fuller, richer sound overall. Even two-channel YouTube audio felt a bit richer, leading me to believe that Razer designed the drivers with surround sound in mind.
I was lucky to be testing Horizon Zero Dawn on PC during this review period. The soundscape of Guerilla Games' open-world adventure is fantastic and marks a great test of surround sound. In the village of Mother's Watch, I walked around and heard the chants of a singer on stage behind me as rhythmic drums boomed around me. I could also pick up snippets of conversations coming from different directions. Out in the wild, hiding in some tall grass, I was able to track a Scrapper patrolling around me purely by sound. The screech of metal as my arrows sheared off bits of armor and a droning scream as a machine went down all sounded great over the BlackShack V2 X.
The leatherette and memory foam earcups are designed with passive noise cancellation, covering your ears to allow for better sound isolation. In practice, that's absolutely what happened. If you need to hear sound outside of your PC, you probably shouldn't be using the BlackShack V2 X; I didn't hear someone talking directly at me while listening to Spotify. In reverse though, the sound leakage is noticeable. Those in the same room will probably hear the assorted beats, explosions and whatnot from your gaming. But if you're trying to shut out the world, this headset will do the job.
The microphone on the BlackShack V2 X is Razer's HyperClear Cardioid. Its cardioid nature means it does its best to only pick up sound in front of the mic. It's hard to tell where that front is with the pop filter, but overall I found the mic picked up my lower voice pretty well. Recorded voice sounded slightly more nasally compared to when recording with my more expensive headsets, and a little quieter to boot. Mic quality was not as good as on my Audio-Technica AT2020 (opens in new tab)desktop mic, of course. But the BlackShark V2 X's mic stands up next to other headset mics in this price range.
That said, when recording a podcast, I tend to mute myself on the headset. With the BlackShack V2 X, pressing the mute button sounded like a tiny thump in my audio, regardless of how lightly I pressed the button. This was annoying, given the specific way I tend to use headsets. The volume control is less of a problem, though. Occasionally, the internal vibrations from my fiddling with the dial was captured.
As I noted before, the BlackShark V2 X does not come with a USB sound card like its bigger sibling does. That meant I was locked out of the features of Razer's robust Synapse software, like many will be if they are just picking up the V2 X.
The problem is the design itself doesn't feel like it has longevity, especially when compared to Razer's own Kraken X (opens in new tab). The latter headset has a more standardized design without the metal forks and exposed wiring on the BlackShack V2 X. It also offers 7.1 surround sound, and although Razer lists it with a $79.99 MSRP, it's been selling for $49.99 (opens in new tab) for the past few months. It's unfortunate Razer didn't roll it's new drivers into a new Kraken headset.
In surround sound systems with Dolby Atmos speakers, things can get even more complicated. If you have height speakers installed overhead then it is common to think there is nothing coming from them.
That said, it is the combat sounds that are the most jarring upgrade. Hearing your enemies gaining on you from all sides, AND being able to recognize the weapons they are using as they approach is nothing short of hair raising, especially the first time you play.
Featuring field-recordings of island animal-life, this game perfectly captures the whoosh of air, the call of birds, and the crash of falling rock. Be warned: with sound this dynamic, it might be hard to tell where you end and where Nathan begins.
Still wondering if a surround system could bring your gaming experience to new heights? The answer is a resounding yes! If you want true immersion into your virtual world, without distraction, you need a system that you can configure to suit your needs and your environment.
Press Home on your remote control and go to Settings > Sound > Expert Settings. Select Digital Output Audio Format > Dolby Digital+ or Auto to play Dolby Atmos content from streaming apps. If you hooked up a Dolby Atmos soundbar through an HDMI eARC port, select and turn on HDMI eARC Mode and Dolby Atmos Compatibility.
First, make sure you're using a Fire Stick or Fire TV device with Dolby Atmos support and a compatible sound system. Go to Settings > Audio > Surround Sound > Best Available. Play Dolby Atmos content and then choose Options > Audio > Audio output > Dolby Atmos.
Dolby Atmos is a surround sound technology created by Dolby Laboratories. It uses software to simulate having multiple audio sources, thus giving you a realistic, three-dimensional audio experience.
Dolby Atmos cinemas typically use a 64-speaker setup distributed to the front and back, along the sides, overhead, and behind the screen. Each speaker is independently assigned a specific audio feed. This allows more accurate sound reproduction, thus giving the audience a more immersive audio experience.
Multi-driver headphones deliver more expansive sound. Audio quality is also better because each driver is tuned to specific frequencies, giving them a wider frequency range ideal for true surround sound.
Dolby Atmos-enabled headphones deliver more accurate sound reproduction, allowing you to pick up subtle audio cues that enhance your gaming performance. But then again, if you are a hardcore gamer, you likely already have a pair of high-end headphones that can perform almost as well as Dolby Atmos-enabled headphones.
As expected, Dolby Atmos-enhanced sound is quite extraordinary. The soundstage feels enormous, and its depth and clarity are exceptional. The accuracy with which sound moves makes it easy to pinpoint its origins. And your favorite music rendered in pristine 3D quality is a treat that could win over any staunch music fan.
A 7.1 system, less common than 5.1, uses four surround speakers apart from left, right, and center. The idea here is to split the side and rear sound effects. In this layout, two of the surround speakers are placed to the side of the listener (close to 90 degrees) and another two to the rear. 2b1af7f3a8