Last summer, Razer issued a huge challenge against the world of gaming audio with the launch of the Razer BlackShark V2 family. The cheapest V2 “X” version quickly became the talk of the proverbial town. Overnight, it was suddenly the most recommended gaming headset in the online tech-review-o-verse.
Razer Blackshark V2
That onslaught of consistent recommendations is why I decided to cover the cheapest model first, and why I waited so long to try the more expensive standard variant. I shouldn’t have waited. The V2 X might have an attractive price point and impressive overall value, but the normal BlackShark V2 is a better product in every single way, and the best Razer headset you can buy right now.
The BlackShark V2 is a closed-back, wired gaming headset that sells for the industry standard price of $99 (official site here). The default color option is black with Razer green accents, but if you want to spend about ten extra bucks you can buy special edition colorways through Razer’s web site. As of this writing, there’s a much greener variation and a blue and gold one themed to streamer CouRageJD.
In the box you get the headset itself, a simple cloth carrying bag, a THX spatial audio USB dongle, and a detachable microphone. You can pay $40 less to get the X variant, and while I think it’s nice in a vacuum(particularly for bass lovers)…I think it’s worth stepping up to this level if you’re interested in this headset. If you want to go all-in and have too much money lying around, you can pay an extra $80 to get the wireless BlackShark V2 Pro, which is essentially the same as this wired model but with Razer’s excellent HyperSpeed wireless tech inside. The $80 wireless version premium is pretty high compared to the industry-average $50, so keep that in mind.
Sound quality wise, this does everything the BlackShark V2 X does…but so much better. It’s not quite as flat or accurate as some of the popular audiophile/studio headphones,or as Razer’s own Opus, but it’s as close to that level of performance as you can get out of a Razer gaming product. The bass is punchy and neutral, and the titanium driver coating helps gives these a perfect level of midrange and treble accuracy, with plenty of detail for gaming and music but no overt harshness or sibilance. Where the Barracuda X and BlackShark V2 X both have a fun, warm, bass-focused sound, the BlackShark V2 provides clean, awesome, wonderful sound that I can’t complain about at this price point.
Comfort is also exceptional. The BlackShark V2 uses plush memory foam padding inside its ear pads and headband that’s luxurious and soft. The flexible frame fits with excellent balance around my larger-than-average head, and also has plenty of adjustment to fit most head sizes. The seal and fit of this headset is among the best I’ve ever experienced from a gaming product. It’s comfortable and stays that way for hours, and provides lots of background noise isolation also. I can only gently hear the mechanical keyboard I’m typing this on.
Glancing at the product pages and other reviews over the last year, it seemed like the build wouldn’t be that different between the V2 and its cheaper X brother, but I was wrong. The materials on the V2 are much better, and absolutely worth the $40 dollar premium. The cloth over the padding is nicer and better at wicking away moisture. The foam is much higher quality. The pads attach in a more seamless way with clips instead of just being stretched over the cups. The plastic feels better and has a nicer coating on it. And the wiring is upgraded to Razer’s “speedflex” mouse cabling. It’s super flexible and doesn’t tangle, which is a big improvement over the rubbery cabling on the cheaper model.
The V2 is only about 20 g heavier than the 240 g V2 X, but feels way more premium. And it’s more comfortable, too.
You don’t just get a better build for the extra money, you also get an excellent USB dongle and the ability to detach the microphone. The USB sound card has the best implementation of Razer’s THX Spatial Audio I’ve used so far, though you’ll need to install Razer Synapse to use it. It has an automatic mode that will detect your software/game and adjust the settings automatically, something I desperately wanted. It also has plenty of manual adjustments if you like to tinker. You can adjust the width of the virtual “room,” adjust speaker placement, and toggle on different profiles for each game in your library.
The mic gets the same great software treatment as the audio, with plenty of EQ options, a noise gate you can toggle on or off, and real-time mic monitoring. The HyperClear mic capsule doesn’t sound much different from Razer’s other current headsets that use the same mic, but the software adjustments push the quality up a bit compared to the barebones implementation on the cheaper models.
Here’s a mic test I recorded:
I love everything about the Razer BlackShark V2. It’s exceptionally comfortable. It offers clean, powerful, accurate audio that sounds better than any other Razer headset out right now. If you love powerful bass above all things, you might prefer the sound of the BlackShark V2 X, but you’ll be missing out on a ton of extra polish that enhances the experience. The Razer Barracuda X is the same $99 price for a wireless model, but it’s lacking in extra audio features compared to the BlackShark and not as comfy.