Review: Razer Carcharias gaming headphones

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Continuing with our headphone roundup this week, we’ve got Razer’s followup to their Piranha headset, which I liked just fine. The Carcharias is bigger, to be sure, but is it better?

Let’s take a look at what’s changed. The most obvious difference is the earcup style (the upcoming 5.1 Megalodon headset will share this new style as well). Razer has moved to an open-back, ear-encompassing headphone, which is good for those of us who don’t like stuff actually sitting on our ears, and I personally think it helps with sound placement as well. They’ve also made improvements to the cord and control puck, both of which were pretty annoying on the Piranha.
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Improved ergonomics

So how does the form factor redesign fare? Excellently. Despite being much larger in volume, they are not increased in weight at all. With added padding on the headband and a softer grip on the head (the Piranhas were vice-like), these are far more comfortable then their predecessors and pleasant to wear for long gaming sessions or movies. If you have a roommate or spouse, keep in that these are open headphones and sound escapes pretty easily.

Cord improvements may sound like a minor thing, but the Piranha’s cords were a nightmare of tangled rubber. The braided, anti-tangle cords on the Carcharias are a godsend. As for the puck, it’s been improved as well. The volume knob now has a directional indicator, and the microphone on/off switch is labeled. I found the volume thing is more difficult to spin, but it’s not a major issue. The alligator clip is still one-way, which is kind of annoying, but whatever.

Acoustic performance

And what about the sound? It’s good. Nothing revolutionary, but it’s good. I get the impression that everything is pushed a little bit aft, towards the back of my head, which is a little weird for music. In games I didn’t notice it much, and in fact it makes for a sort of pseudo-surround effect. Sound is quite clear through the whole range, though bass isn’t as punchy as the Piranhas’. It’s there, though, don’t worry.

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The microphone is just fine; I never got any complaints in games, and volume seemed adequate. It doesn’t come out very far, so the hinged part is more or less decorative, but it’s close enough to catch my voice and far enough out that I don’t get pretzel dust on it. I know, sexy right?

Conclusion: Solid

I think the price tag, $80, is about exactly what this headset is worth. And if you can get it for less, that’s awesome. It improves on the old Razers at that price point in almost every way, but most importantly in ergonomics. Sound is great, the headset is comfortable, and it’s even cool-looking. If you’re in the market, or have been rocking the Piranhas (perhaps on my recommendation) then I definitely suggest picking a pair of these up.

Also, say it with me, people – “kar-care-ee-us.” It’s a great white.

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