Contemporary from the Razer elements bin and the minds at…SteelSeries?
The new Barracuda X wi-fi gaming headset from Razer is a bizarre factor. The field touts “4-in-1” connectivity, nevertheless it connects to the very same vary of units as most different USB headsets and solely helps connecting to 1 factor at a time. The Barracuda branding comes from a decade-old lineup of headsets and sound playing cards, and this new mannequin shares nothing in widespread with them. Razer makes use of an “X” of their naming scheme to point the funds model of a headset, however proper now there isn’t a more-expensive Barracuda product available on the market.
Oh and right here’s the massive one: the options, USB-C dongle, worth level, and total idea are a suspicious and apparent one-to-one match for the favored SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wi-fi I reviewed a 12 months and a half in the past.
It’s common for headset corporations to take inspiration from one another. It’s not even odd for them to make use of the identical OEM chip suppliers for issues like wi-fi dongles and internals. Skyworks/Avnera , one of many largest suppliers of such tools, has an workplace proper up the highway from the place I’m writing this text.
Whereas Razer did use a few of their trademark elements and industrial design ideas on this headset, in addition they appear to have purchased the identical third get together wi-fi system and dongle that SteelSeries used two years in the past, after which simply stamped their very own brand on it. Both that, or they’ve shamelessly copied an in-house SteelSeries design. That’s bizarre for a longtime model like Razer to do, particularly once they already make their very own “HyperSpeed” dongles for different wi-fi gear.
Not one of the advertising and marketing for this headset mentions Razer’s wonderful in-house wi-fi protocol, and the one point out of HyperSpeed within the headset’s official supplies comes from a small Q and A field on the very backside of the website online. That’s what has me leaning in the direction of pondering there’s truly some third-party tech inside this dongle, as a result of if it had been Razer’s personal speedy system, wouldn’t they continuously point out it all over the place?
The attainable OEM re-badge nature of this headset turns into extra obvious whenever you uncover that it has no software program integration with Razer Synapse by any means. That’s nice for a fast setup, however dangerous for these deeply entrenched within the Razer ecosystem like I’m.
Notice: I purchased this headset with my very own cash from Finest Purchase. I don’t get a kickback in case you purchase one, and not one of the hyperlinks on this article are affiliate hyperlinks. In case you’d wish to learn my full evaluations coverage, please click on right here.
The Razer Barracuda X sells for $99 (official website right here) and is available in a primary matte black end. It’s a closed-back wi-fi headset with a USB-C dongle, and an optionally available backup 3.5mm wired connection. Within the field you additionally get a removable microphone, a USB-C charging cable, a USB-A to USB-C extension adapter, and a few Razer stickers and documentation.
As that is touted as a cellular headset, I’d have cherished to see it embody the fundamental carrying bag from the Blackshark collection, nevertheless it doesn’t.
The headset weighs solely 250g, which is spectacular, and has a battery life that you would be able to stretch to twenty hours in case you don’t blast the quantity. The shortage of software program integration means there’s no actual option to understand how a lot battery you may have left till it nears demise and the facility mild adjustments.
Razer put their proprietary 40mm Triforce speaker drivers contained in the Barracuda X. They’ve a wonderful, highly effective, moderately correct tuning. Though these identical audio system had been used within the atrocious Razer Kraken V3 X, this new headset fortunately sounds nothing like that one.
Bass is barely a bit extra thumpy and punchy than it might be on “flat” studio headphones, however that further heat is ideal for the rumble of sport mixes. The midrange is balanced and pure, with a luxurious and welcoming sound that’s nice for all sorts of list
ening. The treble is freed from harshness or edgy sibilance, however detailed sufficient to deliver out footstep and positional noises in video games.
These have an exquisite sound that’s proper in step with what I’ve come to anticipate from most different Triforce-containing Razer headsets, and is actually wonderful for this worth level. I used to be apprehensive that the 40mm Triforce driver mannequin is perhaps flawed after how dangerous they sounded within the Kraken V3 X headset from earlier this 12 months, however they’ve been fully redeemed within the Barracuda X.
I feel these sound higher than the Arctis 1 they’re so clearly impressed by. The Barracuda X has a extra highly effective, impactful sound, with out the intense ethereal edge that numerous SteelSeries headsets favor. The Barracuda X additionally sounds equivalent whether or not utilized in wi-fi or wired mode.
Due to a mix of a ridiculously mild weight and delicate ear pads, the Barracuda X is a mild all-day-capable headset. It clamps tight sufficient to remain in place however doesn’t trigger any hotspots or discomfort, and I’ve a pair further clicks of adjustment room on my massive head.
The cups have loads of swivel to get a superb seal, and though they don’t isolate fairly in addition to the Blackshark collection, they nonetheless do a good job of blocking out background distractions.
In case you wish to put on your headset round your neck and take a break, be suggested that whereas these have lateral rotation, the ear cups can solely go flat in an upward place which makes them level in the direction of the ceiling whereas in your neck. I feel that is so you possibly can lay them flat on a desk or in a bag, however they’re not essentially the most “neckable” headset on the earth because of this curious rotation restrict.
The ear pads and headband pad each use a delicate reminiscence foam, nevertheless it’s not as dense or squishy as on another merchandise, or as on Razer’s personal Blackshark fashions. Nonetheless, it does its job simply high-quality. The drivers are angled contained in the cups and there’s loads of room so my ears don’t contact something.
The Barracuda X makes use of the identical design language as Razer’s latest Opus and Kaira Professional, with a basic client headphone look that’s fashionable and delicate. They don’t stick out removed from the pinnacle, and look extra like common headphones than most gaming merchandise.
Sadly, the construct and supplies don’t fairly stay as much as the smooth design. The sunshine weight may be very spectacular and helps with the consolation, however the matte plastic end feels uninteresting and a bit bit low-cost. The perimeters are sharp and easy, and the cups really feel extra hole than dense. Once more, this was in all probability all carried out for weight discount, nevertheless it’s extra practical than spectacular. I’ll replace this part sooner or later if I’ve any points with creaking, squeaking, or cracking, as typically these points present up outdoors a assessment interval.
UPDATE 9/4/2021: I’ve had some minor points with the glue that holds the headscarf padding in place. Each week or so a few spots will begin to peel and I’ve to press them again in. It’s not fairly a deal-breaker, however one more instance of the missing construct of this headset.
On the plus facet, the adjustment sliders are metal-reinforced they usually have a very sturdy click on. The rotation hinges additionally really feel good, they usually have loads of clearance above the pads, avoiding the scraping difficulty I loathed on the Arctis 1.
On the again of the left ear cup you’ll discover a mic mute button, quantity wheel, and energy button. The quantity wheel works in each wired and wi-fi modes, and it has a clear rotation and is freed from channel imbalance points. The charging port is USB-C, nevertheless it doesn’t help any form of fast cost operate, which means that it takes about 3 hours to completely cost a depleted battery.
In case you’ve hooked the dongle as much as a supported gadget, you need to use the facility button to pause your music or skip tracks, which is a pleasant contact.
The microphone is removable, and has a keyed-in sample so it will possibly solely insert a technique. It’s utilizing the identical nice “HyperClear” mic capsule that numerous different present Razer headsets use, and it sounds good when used wirelessly, with solely a touch of thinness and digital compression current.
It sounds clearer when utilized in wired mode, but additionally suffers from the identical inside crosstalk difficulty that plagues numerous wired headsets that includes removable mics, the place your playback audio will leak a tiny bit into the recording channel. The wi-fi mode doesn’t have this difficulty.
Right here’s some brief exams of the mic I rec
In case you register your headset on-line, Razer will ship you a free activation code for his or her encompass sound software program. The headset can also be suitable with Home windows Sonic and Dolby Atmos.
The 20 hour battery life, sluggish charging velocity, backup wired connection, quantity wheel that works in each modes, and removable mic are all primarily equivalent options to these on the Arctis 1 Wi-fi. I choose the sound of the Razer Barracuda X’s audio system and mic, however in case you already personal that older SteelSeries pair, there’s no cause to purchase this.
Additionally, SteelSeries affords an Xbox model of the Arctis 1 Wi-fi that has all of those features and provides Xbox help to the dongle, because of a bit toggle swap. Whereas Razer was copying their options, it might have been good in the event that they’d copied that too.
The Barracuda X does have a greater sound signature and industrial design than its apparent inspiration. However I want Razer had gone additional and made this idea extra their very own, with out simply slapping on advertising and marketing that it has “4-in-1” help. Perhaps in the event that they’d used their very own HyperSpeed dongle, or higher reminiscence foam within the ear pads, or provided some Synapse integration, or a free improve to THX spatial audio, then this wouldn’t really feel like such a bizarre rip-off.
Razer isn’t any stranger to borrowing from their rivals. I’m engaged on evaluations of two of their mice proper now (the Orochi V2 and Basilisk Final) that each clearly took inspiration from Logitech. However these mice additionally each supply noticeable design enhancements over the competitors, and construct on Razer’s lengthy legacy of in-house ideas.
Other than the Triforce audio system, Opus-esque ear cup form, and “HyperClear” mic capsule, the Barracuda X feels as very similar to a generic off-the-shelf USB wi-fi headset because it does a real Razer product. I’m mystified that it doesn’t at the very least tie into synapse, or are available in some totally different colours just like the Opus X.
Even with all that stated, it’s nonetheless an superior headset in a vacuum. It has numerous features and I really like the way in which it sounds, and I’ll in all probability hold utilizing it a bunch in my private gaming time. I prefer it greater than the Arctis 1 Wi-fi, however solely by the tiniest hair, and it’s unhappy that it doesn’t supply a lot innovation over that previous mannequin.