The Razer Kraken 7.1 V2 in Mercury White is a cracking headset offering from Razer. It's beautiful and sleek. There are a few niggles with the design, the lack of volume controls and the slightly questionable build quality being the main two. But for looks and audio performance, it's worth considering. It's also one of the more affordable virtual surround sound headsets on the market, so if you want something that performs, looks great, but doesn't break the bank, then this might be it
That's where so-called "true" surround headsets come in. These headsets are designed with multiple drivers to deliver a more realistic experience than that offered by the virtual ones which often just work with two (left and right) drivers. There aren't many true surround sound headsets about, but the Asus Strix 7.1 is one of them and it's the best from what we've seen.
You’ll also see a lot of gaming headsets claiming they can do 7.1 surround sound. In a traditional audio setup, a 7.1 system would require seven individual speakers and a subwoofer (the .1 bit). The kind of headsets we’re dealing with, however, will only ever have two speakers (one for each ear), so any headset that says it can do 7.1 surround is usually going to be doing it virtually via onboard software and its own internal algorithms.
We brought in the V-Moda BoomPro Microphone to go along with my V-Moda Crossfade M-100 over-ear headphones. We all found the sound performance to be good, although not especially fun with more action-oriented games. More important, this pair was far less comfortable than much cheaper alternatives after hours of gameplay, and the mic was disappointing.
Yes, there are some lower priced headsets with sound quality that rival brand names, and cost four times less. But I'll bet the material used to produce them is faulty, and unreliable past a few solid uses. Are there other sacrifices are you willing to make for the sake of saving money? Well, are the headphones you want wired, or wireless? Is the headset noise-cancelling, or sound-isolating? Do they offer surround sound? Does it have a microphone? If the answer is yes to all of these questions, the higher the price will be, but in turn, the better quality that headset should be.
During testing we found the Asus Strix 7.1 headset capable of offering an excellent communication experience across a range of software including Discord, Slack, Skype and more. It works as well for in-game VOIP as it does for calls with colleagues or friends. The quality of this audio is backed by the environmental noise cancelling which is managed by the microphone on the control box. This reduces the interference from other noise in the environment such as key presses or white noise that might interfere with your broadcast.
Kingston’s newest model, the HyperX Cloud Alpha, resulted in the most heated debates among our testers of any headset in the roundup to date. The Alpha is based on our top pick, the HyperX Cloud, but its earcups have been substantially modified with dual chambers that tune the bass and mid/upper frequencies separately. The result? Undeniably better bass performance than the original Cloud. The problem? The Alpha is also significantly heavier and hotter than the original Cloud, making it much less comfortable during marathon gaming sessions. If you’re looking for comfort and bang-for-the-buck, we still like the original HyperX Cloud. If you want some extra bass kick and a better microphone, we recommend upgrading to the Cloud Revolver, which might be a little heavier than the Alpha, but still manages to be more comfy (especially for larger noggins) due to its self-adjusting suspension headband and roomier earcups.
By most measures, Razer’s ManO’War 7.1 — the wired, surround sound-equipped version of its wireless model of the same name — is a fantastic headset. Its virtual 7.1 surround sound is among the best on the market, the sound it pumps out of its large earcups is balanced, and its microphone is sleek and discreet, and yet outperforms most of the competition. The only real limiting factor is its size, which renders it a difficult choice for mobile use. But what it lacks in portability, it more than makes up for in performance.