Razer Kraken Pro V2 Review: A Better Version of a Classic Gaming Headset
The Razer Kraken Pro V2 is $79 bucks. It’s still a pre-order on Razer’s site, but I found mine on a shelf at Best Buy. It’s a new version of Razer’s classic closed-back headphone, one of the most popular on the market. I bought it expecting a boomy, fun headset in the vein of the original Kraken. Turns out, Razer has totally overhauled their most prolific audio product.
This is much more than just a coat of paint on the old Kraken: It’s a whole new headset. And it’s nice. And really big.
The original Kraken had a boomy, bass-dominated, impactful sound, strongly titled towards the low end. The bass bled a fair bit into the midrange. Bass was the order of the day, and it was wide and somewhat imprecise, using distortion to add impact in place of detail. It was divisive with some reviewers, but it seemed to me like many users loved it, as Razer continued to produce different versions of the headset over the last several years.
I got a kick out of it myself, during my time with the Kraken Chroma and Kraken Mobile models.
The Kraken Pro V2 has a wholly different sound, and it’s much more balanced, and immediately more detailed. While it’s still a warm sound overall, I was really surprised at how different it is.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty of satisfying low end punch, and a slight hump in the low mids that I wish was actually a little lower. But there’s no distortion, no bloom, no excess warmth clouding over the details. The mids/vocals are darker than neutral for sure, but not to the point of being distractingly muffled or veiled. The mids and highs sit on top of the bass, fully audible, present, and clear.
The result is a sound that’s bass-rich and fun, but also suited to a wide variety of sounds. The original Krakens worked best for gaming, movies, and pop music, whereas the V2 will happily render whatever you throw at it.
Soundstage is also excellent for a closed design, thanks in part to the design of the new ear pads and the massive ear cups (more on that later). This is great for gaming! You’ll hear sounds far away from your head, and there’s no stuffiness or “cupped hands” quality to the audio.
They are more then sensitive enough to be powered by anything, whether that’s a mobile phone, a console controller, a computer, or a headphone amp. I got the same nice sound with all of these devices.
Okay. Let’s get some potential negatives out there. The ear cups on the Kraken Pro V2…are monstrous.
Look at this.
Look at how far those stick out from my head! The original Kraken was also big, and the V2 takes it to the next level thanks to its new design. It’s the biggest headset I’ve ever worn in public. It has a real “Princess Leia Hair” effect going on.
Now granted, the size of the cups is important to other aspects of the design, but I was not prepared for it. I’ve adjusted to it over the last day. But it made me giggle the first time I looked in the mirror wearing them.
The cable doesn’t detach. That’s not uncommon in this price range, but other headsets have managed it. Including the Kraken Mobile. And the Steelseries Arctis.
The Kraken Pro V2 also doesn’t fold down like its predecessor. I imagine cutting the hinges helped with costs and made the new aluminum frame possible at this price.
Actually though, when collapsed they aren’t too absurdly large and are still bag-able. I transported them in a bag to the cafe where I’m writing this review without issue.
I really enjoy everything else about the design and build. The new aluminum frame is the perfect blend of durability and light weight. The headband adjustment mechanisms are solid and very clicky and fun to adjust. They’re numbered so you can match each side easily. It’s a solid- feeling headset in the hand, with no hint of cheapness or weakness.
Comfort is exceptional. After years of ranting to anyone who would listen to me about headphone/headset comfort, it’s so refreshing to see a number of models in a row with perfect comfort. The ear pads are massive and plush, and the holes are much larger than on the original Kraken. Thank goodness. They’re circular, and circular pads only work if the hole is quite big. Razer also plans to make oval ear pads available on their site for people that don’t want to deal with the circles. It’s easy to pop the pads off.
Razer says the ear pads are specially designed to seal around glasses for those that wear them thanks to an “inmold channel”, and I can attest to this. I think more headphones should do this. I imagine the padding used here helps the large pads to seal better on a wide variety of heads, and just happens to also provide a benefit to glasses wearers. The pads are similar in size to the Urbanite XL, and those didn’t work on my head, but these have no issues. So good on Razer for their new pad design.
The headband is the most similar element to the original Kraken. It’s padded across the whole length, and the underside is a nice squishy cloth. It hugs my head nicely and doesn’t cause any discomfort.
The mic is retractable and performs admirably. It’s ever so slightly nasally, but it’s probably my personal favorite I’ve tested in the price range. Razer’s retractable mics have always performed well, and I imagine the digital noise-reduction on the $99 dollar Kraken 7.1 V2 is even better, if the past is anything to go by.
You get a PC splitter cable in the box if you want to use this with a sound card that doesn’t support a 4 pole audio plug. There’s an inline volume and mute control, and they work fine. The packaging is good. The inline remote was wrapped in a little piece of cloth, which was a good/ stupid touch.
I really enjoyed the original Kraken. The Kraken Chroma 7.1 was the first ever “gaming headset” I bought, and I liked it enough that I also bought a neon green Kraken mobile. One time, while wearing the latter in a coffee shop, a woman kept asking me if I was a DJ. Over and over. She wouldn’t believe me when I said no.
The new V2 is not as fun and stupidly bass-heavy as the old model. It’s about 50 percent as much like having a dance club on your head. While that makes it a more versatile product, I can’t help but be slightly let down by that, no matter how irrational that seems. It’s not an actual complaint, but I wasn’t expecting these to be so balanced and well-built. An easy recommendation if you want a warm-sounding headset and have $79 dollars to spend.
And now, because I know you will all ask me, here are my quick takes on how these compare to other common gaming headsets in the price range.
Steelseries Arctis ($79)- The Arctis has a sound that’s the polar opposite of the Kraken Pro V2. It’s a bright, detailed, breathy headphone by comparison. If you prefer detail and treble over bass and oomph, the Arctis is a better buy. The Arctis is equally comfy, and gets there in a very different way, but the pads aren’t as glasses friendly as those on the Kraken Pro V2. The cable on the Arctis detaches. The Arctis won’t make you look quite as silly in public.
HyperX Cloud II (~$99)- The Cloud II has a more artificially-grainy treble, and the soundstage isn’t as wide as the Kraken V2. The Cloud II makes my ears sweat a little more, though it seals fine over my glasses. The Cloud II line of headsets come with extra stuff in the box, like cases and ear pads. The bass is more precise/less distorted on the Kraken V2. The Cloud II doesn’t work as well on larger heads as the Kraken V2. My guess is that the average gamer would like the Kraken sound better, and the average music-lover would prefer the Cloud II, thanks to the nature of the treble.
SoundBlaster X H5(~$99)- This one is super similar to the Kraken V2 in terms of sound, soundstage, and build. The cable detaches from the H5. The H5, like the Cloud II, doesn’t fit big heads as well as the Kraken V2. I’ve got two notches of extra room on the V2, and no extra space on either the H5 or the Cloud. The H5 looks less silly in public and has a better in-line remote. If you want a good portable headset with a warm-titled sound and need a detachable cable, the H5 might be a better choice than the Kraken Pro V2, and worth the extra 20 bucks.
Sony MDR-V6 (~$99)- This isn’t a gaming headset, but both it and its cousin the MDR 7506 are often priced in a similar range to the Kraken Pro V2. The Sony is much uglier and has a big coiled cable. The sound is more detailed on the high end than the Kraken Pro, though the bass is a touch more distorted/bloomy. There’s no mic included. If you’re going to use the mic for gaming, the Kraken Pro V2 and all those above actually sound good enough to make them worth the buy. Lots of folks say “Oh just get normal headphones and a separate mic,” but gaming headsets are good enough now that you don’t need to spend that kind of money or time.
The Kraken Pro V2 is a solidly built headset that’s better in just about every way than its predecessor. The new ear pads are great for glasses wearers. The aluminum frame is satisfying to hold and adjust. The sound is surprisingly balanced given their history. You’ll probably look a bit silly if you wear them in public due to their size. They are a more than worthy successor to the Kraken, and if you like Razer’s stuff, you’ll dig them.