Razer BlackShark gaming headset review
Razer takes influence from the military for its £90 gaming headset
£90 is a lot to charge for a headset, but there's certainly a market for gamers who want premium sound, comfort and features. It's precisely this market that Razer is targeting with its gamer-oriented BlackShark, based aesthetically and functionally on the design of the headsets used by military helicopter pilots.
With it's bold green and black styling, the BlackShark is likely to tick the style box for some while missing it completely for others. Nevertheless, the metal chassis means the headset is very sturdy and durable, and though it makes it rather heavy, the soft padding on the headband ensures this isn't an issue in use. The plastic on the ear cups is also well constructed, although its glossy finish is prone to picking up fingerprints and dirt. The exposed cabling is protected by a rubber sheath and routed closely to the headset.
The ear cups are not the biggest available and only provide a truly comfortable fit for small ears. Being able to tilt and turn means they're adaptable to the shape of your head, which is always a plus, and the padding on them is very soft too. They cut out a fair amount of background noise, but your ears can get a little hot during extended sessions due to the lack of air circulating around the small space.
The adjustments you can make to the BlackShark are numerous and secure. Through a combination of thumb caps on the headband and steel pivots on the microphone, once you've set the headset to the shape that works for you, it won't be changing form any time soon. The boom mic is also fully detachable and rotatable, but its weight can produce a subtle feeling of unbalance when you have it attached.
The BlackShark utilises 3.5mm jacks to provide audio. The 1.3m cable actually only leads to a single jack for devices that support audio input and output through a single connection, but a splitter is also provided in case you're using a traditional soundcard with separate ports for each. As it lacks a USB interface, there's no customisable software available, but worse is the fact Razer does not even provide a in-line controller, which means there's nowhere on the hardware itself to mute your microphone or alter the volume. This is very disappointing for a £90 headset.
Sound quality stays on the better side of things for the most part, but still suffers from the typical gamer headset symptom of overpowering bass. While the quality of the bass itself is pleasing, it tends to intrude on the mid-range, which consequently loses detail and sharpness. It's fine, and even enjoyable - in games and action movies, for example - but it's not as compelling for listening to music. The microphone quality is also perfectly acceptable but nothing special.
The excellent build quality, high comfort levels and overall good sound quality (especially for gamers) are favourable aspects of the BlackShark. Its price, however, is not. Better sounding headsets are available for less and also come with more features, and the lack of an in-line controller is a big oversight. The BlackShark certainly isn't a bad headset, then; it's just overpriced.
• Price: £89.72
• Manufacturer: Razer
• Website: www.razerzone.com
• Required spec: 3.5mm input/output jack or stereo and microphone 3.5mm jack