Review: Razer Piranha headset

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I’m new to the video review thing, so forgive me if the thing above is too long by half, which I’m pretty sure it is. I’ve included a traditional text review as well, in case you don’t want to look at my smirking video-face. Anyhoo, I’m reviewing Razer’s Piranha gaming headset. If you’re in the market for a headphones/microphone combo, this is a pretty solid bet; click below for details, pictures, and so on.

The Piranha is the latest headset from Razer, its precursor being the Barracuda, an older and (one assumes) inferior model. It was bigger and had a more ear-enveloping design, while you can see that the Piranha has the more compact setup and smaller ear-units. It also has the convertible microphone there on the left side.

The headphones are adjustable in the same way most are, and I found that they found their place on my head pretty readily, if perhaps a bit too forcefully. The headphones’ grip is almost vice-like, and while it has loosened up in the few weeks I’ve had this pair, I still have to shift them around when playing to prevent my ears from getting sore.

Fortunately, it was only the clamping that hurt my ears; the sound is great. I was pretty skeptical when I saw them and didn’t think they’d have what it takes to make good games go, but I played through much of Crysis with them and got many hours of Team Fortress 2 behind me as well and I was impressed the whole time. They’ve got a lot of force, but I heard a lot of clarity as well. Music sounds good, but it feels like stereo separation is exaggerated, so the music seems to be coming from two directions instead of being “inside your head.” Low and mid range have a lot of presence, upper range gets drowned out a bit but there’s enough treble to go around and that’s always something you can adjust in EQ.

The microphone works just fine. It looks like its just a piece of plastic, but it’s actually hard rubber with bendable wire in it so you can twist it into position and it’ll stay. Of course, it’s not that long so your configuration options are limited, but it’s nice to have it curve just right. It sounds just fine, though you’ll probably want to stick with your SM57 for those harpsichord solos. I had an issue with the Lycosa keyboard where the mic plug wouldn’t work, but Razer said they hadn’t encountered that before so it’s probably something freaky going on at my end.

The wires of the Piranha are probably the weakest link. First, it has a little puck where you can adjust the volume or switch the microphone on or off. Sounds good in theory, but their design aesthetic was a bit too minimalist, and there’s not much way to tell what volume it’s set to or whether the microphone is on or off. Then, as you move towards the terminus of the cord, you find that the nice, single, low-friction cord gives way to three thin, sticky-rubber-covered threads of cord that wiggle around like they’re alive and tie themselves in ridiculous knots (very annoying). And at the end, what do you have but a USB connector? What could this be for? Are they powered headphones? Do they have an accelerometer, do they massage your head, what? No, they light up. If you have enough USB slots that you can afford to use one on glamming up your head, then I have nothing further to say to you on this topic. The rest of you will be dealing with an extra cord for the lifetime of these headphones.

I guess I just lingered on their downside there for a while, but these are really a great pair of cans. I was very pleasantly surprised by their sound, and although they have some ergonomic, shall we say, idiosyncrasies, they never bothered me enough that I would consider them even near deal-breakers. At $80 MSRP (I say $50 in the video, I’m not sure why, and they’re $60 here) they’re perhaps a bit overpriced, but they’re totally solid and good headphones are an investment. You can get ‘em here.

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