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Wireless peripherals are all the rage these days, especially when one is looking to tidy up the mess of wires present at their home entertainment console or their personal computers.
We're lucky to live in an era where wireless technologies do not exhibit any noticeable latency between two connected devices. Bluetooth 5.2, Razer’s Hyperspeed and Logitech’s Lightspeed are a few wireless technologies available today that provide an almost latency-free connection on devices.
However, one of the caveats of current-day wireless peripherals is that it almost always requires it to be paired with a specific platform to be utilised to its fullest potential.
Wireless headsets that utilise a USB dongle like the Razer Blackshark V2 Pro are only interchangeable between the PC and the PlayStation.
Even Bluetooth wireless headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM series or the Bose QuietComfort series need to be constantly re-paired to the devices that you want to connect it to, especially if you have paired them with something else before. Swapping around can be a pain, especially when you want to keep connecting these peripherals to multiple devices for use.
Enter the Razer Barracuda X, Razer’s latest foray into the wireless headset market that aims to solve all of these problems (at least in the headset department).
Audio Driver: Razer Triforce 40mm Drivers
Mic: Detachable Razer HyperClear Cardioid Mic
Earcups: FlowKnit Memory Foam Cushions
Wireless Compatibility: PC, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, Android Devices
Wired Compatibility: Devices with 3.5mm jack
Listed Battery Life: 20 hours
Here's what's in the box which Razer sent over:
Wireless USB-C receiver
1.5m USB-A to male USB-C cable (for charging)
1.5m USB-A to female USB-C cable (to insert the receiver)
1.3m 4-pole 3.5mm analog cable
On the headset itself, you have the power button, a volume control slider, the microphone jack, a mute switch for the microphone, a 3.5mm jack, battery/charge indicator and a USB-C port for charging.
The earcups are Razer’s FlowKnit Memory Foam cushions which closely resemble velour earcups. The headband is also padded with cushion that is protected by some form of faux leather.
Accompanying the headset is the wireless UCB-C receiver. From our conversations with Razer’s Product Manager, Melvin Ng, we understand that the receiver had to be shaped this certain way to contain the circuitry needed for the effortless swap between devices, as well as to maintain the lightweight and unobtrusive nature of the USB-C dongle.
The device doesn’t come with any form of RGB, and has a sleek, matte black finish with only the (black) Razer logo present on both side of the earcups. Overall, it is something that you could wear out of the house, if you’re someone who is not into flashy headphones.
Let's start by saying that we could wear this all day. The memory foam cushion on the headset is extremely comfortable, and because it is fabric, it has the benefit of being very breathable.
The headband’s cushion is moderately firm but comfortable, allowing the headset to rest on your head without any added pressure to the skull. The weight of the headset is pretty light as well, at only 250g. To put it into perspective, that is 4g lighter than Sony’s WH1000XM4.
The earcups are relatively small, compared to something larger like the Razer Blackshark V2, and fit just nicely to the shape of the human ear. You are also able to swivel the earcups to fit your head, so that factors in to its comfort.
From the outset, the headset looks and feels like it has good build quality.
The Barracuda X may come off as cheap-feeling at first due to how light and plasticky it is. But when we tested it, we could twist and turn the headband and it still remained pretty sturdy.
Although we've only had this headset for two weeks as of the time of this review, albeit used every day, we didn’t notice anything glaring or out of the ordinary. The headset holds up well (for now).
This is where the headset really shines.
Razer claims that Barracuda X is a 4-in-1 wireless device that will work with the Nintendo Switch, Android phones, the PlayStation and PC, so we tried to see if this would work with any device that has a USB-C and sound output.
So far, yes. It does work with everything that we have inserted the dongle into, be it multiple PCs, Macbooks, several Android-based phones (that supports USB-C audio), the Nintendo Switch undocked, the Nintendo Switch docked (although you will need to use the USB-A to USB-C extender in this case), the PlayStation 4, the PlayStation 5 and even on an Android smart television. All you have to do is just connect the USB-C receiver, and you’re done. Sound transmits flawlessly to the headset, and you have to be further than 8m away from the receiver before the sound starts to cut off.
You could effortlessly swap the receiver between any of these devices, and the headset just works. This is the convenience that Razer is marketing with the Barracuda X, and we are glad to say that it functions as advertised in this regard.
The only devices that aren't really supported by the wireless dongle are the Xbox family of devices. Microsoft typically requires a certification for their wireless peripherals, and this will also limit the wireless dongle’s compatibility with the Nintendo Switch and the PlayStation.
Unfortunately, we gave the iPhone a miss, because Lightning.
Razer explained that that made the decision to have the Barracuda X be compatible with more devices than to limit it. However, if you do want to pair this headset with an Xbox, you are able to connect it to the Xbox’s wireless controller using the included 4-pole 3.5mm analog cable.
One thing that we would have loved to see is a compartment to house the USB-C receiver and the microphone on the headset itself. Since the headset is also compatible with Android phones, we also wish it was more convenient to use outdoors. The mic needs to be kept in a bag or pocket if you want to attach it to the headset to receive calls, and the wireless receiver has a chance of being misplaced once you pull it out of your phone.
Thankfully, we found a way to “house” the receiver on the headset by plugging the receiver into the headset’s charging port. Of course, this is less than ideal, but Razer's reasoning is that space constraints, as well as keeping the headset as small and light as possible, mean that there were no avenues to house the mic and dongle on the headset itself. Any attempts to do so would have increased the size of the earcups and made the headset bulkier, Razer said.
Razer claims that the Barracuda X was tuned to have a deeper, stronger sub-bass. In our testing against Razer’s own Blackshark V2 Pro, the bass on the Blackshark V2 was actually more pronounced, but the mids and highs on the Barracuda X were immaculate.
Vocals and instruments coming from games and music were extremely clear, and the Barracuda doesn’t exhibit the overly-rumbly bass that you would find in most gaming headsets. For a wireless headset, the Barracuda actually performs really well in the sound quality department.
However this is unlikely to be your cup of tea if you do love the deep bass tones that are present in most gaming headsets.
Since the headset comes with fabric earcups, the seal on the ears is not as tight as one with leather earcups. You will be able to hear sounds around you, so it may be a positive or a negative point, depending on your use case.
One thing we wish the Barracuda also came with is active noise cancelling (ANC). Lifestyle headphones like the Bose QuietComfort and the Sony WH1000XMs come with ANC to actively block noises coming from your surroundings, but frankly, at the Razer Barracuda X’s price point (more on that later), we’re into nit-picking territory here.
The volume slider on the headset works great as well. No complaints there.
We’ll be absolutely blunt; the mic quality is nothing to die for. It is still passable, but sounds muddy. It is very similar to the Blackshark V2 Pro’s mic quality. If you are using this just to communicate with your friends on Discord or taking calls on your phone, it is sufficient. We would not recommend using this mic for any kind of professional audio capture.
Wireless headsets that come with a microphone option will always have a disadvantage over their wired counterparts when it comes to sound quality.
There is only so much bandwidth that is available with wireless technologies, and if most of the bandwidth is taken up to transmit good sounding audio, the microphone quality will suffer.
That is why dedicated wireless mics like the Antlion Modmic Wireless still sound much better than the ones on wireless headsets, because the Modmic uses the full bandwidth of the wireless technology to transmit the sound captured from the microphone.
To prove this further, the microphone actually sounds much better when we connected the headset via the analog 3.5mm jack to our PC. It is much clearer and you can tell that there is a bump in the mic’s audio quality.
Razer claims that the Barracuda X is able to last 20 hours on a single charge. In our testing, it lasted about 18 hours from a full charge, give and take.
Once it drops to 30 per cent charge, the headset actually gives you an audio warning (if you’re wearing it) to tell you that battery is low. The LED indicator on the headset will also be red to warn you of the low battery status.
At 10 per cent charge, the headset will also give you another audio warning and the LED indicator will start to flash red instead of a static red.
It took about four hours of use for the headset to drop from 30 per cent battery to 10, and another one and a half hours of use before the Barracuda X totally shut off from battery drain.
From there, tt took about one and a half hours to fully charge the headset back to 100 per cent using an 18w phone charger.
For the budget conscious:
If you already have a wireless headphone/headset/earbuds that has Bluetooth connectivity, and do not wish to spend more money to have the convenience of the Razer Barracuda X, there is another little nifty device you can look for that is currently in the market called the GuliKit Route Air Pro Bluetooth wireless audio adapter.
It functions similarly to the Razer Barracuda X’s wireless receiver, and also includes all the same nifty convenient features because of its USB-C interface. All you need to do is to pair your device to the receiver, and you are good to go.
The Razer Barracuda X is an extremely versatile headset. You can plug the receiver into anything and it just works.
If you are someone that is looking for a headset to do it all, this may be the one for you.
Tired of watching or playing games on your living room’s smart television? Unplug the dongle and shove it into your Nintendo Switch. Need to listen to something on your Android mobile phone? Unplug it from your Switch and shove it in to your phone. Need to play games on your PC or PlayStation? Move the wireless receiver there instead.
All of this can be done without taking the headset off or calibrating anything on your devices. It is that simple.
Coupled with the fact that the headset is extremely comfortable to keep on all day, this is really a headset to watch out for if convenience is your priority.
It really is a bummer that there are no compartments to house the wireless receiver and the detachable mic, making it slightly cumbersome to fully recommend it as a lifestyle headphone, if you are planning to bring it out of your home.
The microphone quality leaves a lot to be desired as well, so that is something that you’ll need to take note of if you’re sensitive to how you sound to the people you talk to.
The headset is also not as expensive as Razer’s other wireless headsets. It costs S$154.90 in Singapore and US$99.99 internationally.
At this price point, we feel like it is really enticing compared to other mid-range wireless headsets and headphones in the market. Sure, some of them may be able to connect to multiple devices, but the set up and tinkering needed to make it work is absolutely cumbersome.
Like what we said above, we don’t know the long-term durability of this headset, especially with constant usage.
We’re hoping that it is indeed durable, and if that criterion is met, it may just be the last headset that you’ll ever need to purchase.
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