Punchy and powerful, just the way we like it.
By Seth G. Macy
Editor’s note: IGN is ramping tech and hardware reviews back up, one product category at a time. We’re kicking off with deep dives into some of the best-of-the best headsets, GPUs, Mice, Monitors, and keyboards from the last few years.
Razer has long been synonymous with PC gaming hardware, and its headset lineup is a bit confusing due to the weird names it gives all its products. It helps to have an education in dangerous snakes, rodents, and mythological creatures, but for the layman the Kraken Pro V2 is its mid-range wired headset designed for eSports in that it’s light (crucial for long gaming sessions) and affordable at $80 (See it on Amazon).
As its name implies, the Kraken Pro V2 is a step above Razer’s Kraken Pro, with 50 mm audio drivers instead of 40 mm, and an aluminum unibody construction. Both the Pro and the Pro V2 have an inline volume and mute control and retractable mic. The Kraken Pro V2’s improvements also increased its price a bit over the Pro, making it something of a “premium” entry-level headset. It’s also compatible with PS4 and Xbox One, or anything with a 3.5mm audio jack.
The round ear cushions are quite large and provide good over-ear coverage, and if you have tall ears (as opposed to round) you can swap the cushions out for a set of oval-shaped cushions, but sadly they are sold separately for $20. Generic ones are available on Amazon for as little as $5 though. The cushions themselves are soft and have a decent amount of give, and even while wearing them over glasses there’s no pressure, and they feel comfortable. They don’t breath particularly well though, and after a short gaming session in a warm room I found the cushions were toasty and a bit sweaty.
The Kraken Pro V2 deliver serious punch on the bottom end thanks to its 50 mm audio drivers. Gunshots, explosions, and bass-heavy music can be heard and felt, and the Kraken delivers bass without muddying or washing out the mids and highs too. The retractable, unidirectional microphone is a nice touch and gives the headset versatility outside of gaming. As opposed to a detachable mic, you don’t have to worry about misplacing it, and it’s quite nice to not have to worry about losing it when using the headset strictly for listening to music or podcasts. The mic retracts easily and essentially disappears into the headset when you don’t need it, making it less cumbersome than a flip-up design. When used during gaming, the mic captures great sound. You probably wouldn’t want to use it to record a podcast, but for in-game voice chat, it’s perfect. It maintains a nice, even level without peaking or coming across to listeners as muffled or muted. It lacks a foam pop filter/windscreen, which would interfere with its retractable design, but it doesn’t seem to negatively affect voice chat. There’s also a handy inline control that lets you quickly mute the mic if you want to talk to someone in the real-world, a nice feature we wish more people online should take advantage of.
The frame is adjustable to fit most head sizes, and the headset works really well with PlayStation VR. Wearing the Kraken Pro V2 is a really great way to experience PS VR, as the over-ear design helps keep the real world out of your virtual experiences. The great fit means you’re more likely to tire of wearing the VR headset than the audio headset.
Like all of Razer’s products, the Kraken Pro V2 uses its suite of Synapse software to let you make adjustments to the soundscape. The Kraken Pro V2 doesn’t offer surround-sound per se, but you can install an add-on named Razer Surround Pro and calibrate it for a virtual 7.1-surround experience. It includes presets for a ton of Razer’s headsets, but at the time of this writing, only the Kraken Pro, and not the Kraken Pro V2, was available from the pull-down menu in the software. The software also offers a graphic equalizer, and optional enhancements like bass boost, sound normalization, and one called “voice clarity.” It’s well done and gives more flexibility to the set, at least when using it on PC.
The Kraken Pro V2 produces good sound when gaming or listening to music. The 50mm drivers add an extra layer of effectiveness to sounds, especially in a game like Doom. The dozens of explosions, raucous gunfire, and screaming heavy metal soundtrack all come through and truly add to the overall experience of playing the game. In CS: GO, there’s enough range in the earpieces to keep an ear out for the footsteps of an approaching enemy, and the mic does a fine job delivering helpful advice to anyone you just defeated. Listening to music on an iPhone, the Kraken Pro V2 is leaps and bounds above the earbuds that come packaged with the device and are a huge upgrade.
The Razer Kraken Pro V2 Gaming Headset has an MSRP of $79.99, which is what you’ll find it selling for online as well. It’s the same price currently on Amazon:
Razer Kraken Pro V2 Gaming Headset
The Razer Kraken Pro V2 Gaming Headset is outfitted with larger drivers than its predecessor to offer a louder and richer soundstage than ever before. You’ll feel like you’re right at the center of all the gaming action, while ensuring your team’s shotcalls are heard with absolute clarity.
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The Kraken Pro V2 is a well built, great-sounding gaming headset at a price that seems just about right. It’s much better than a bargain bin headset but won’t necessarily blow your mind. The ear cushions are comfortable, even when worn over glasses, but tend to get hot, and the retractable mic is slick. They look kind of generic though, so I’d probably spring for the Chroma model since it has true 7.1 surround and fancy lighting for just $20 more.