Hands-on: Razer Kraken BT Kitty Edition
Image credit: Razer
Eye-catching Bluetooth headphones that are designed for gaming but capable of much more.
These kawaii cans might look cute but they’re actually a serious Bluetooth headset for gamers. If you’re not a lover of pink (they call it ‘quartz’ – it’s pink), they’re also available in Razer’s trademark black and green. They have gamer-friendly sound specs and work with Razer Chroma RGB for incredible, custom-coloured lighting that syncs with your other Razer kit. But they also do a good job as wireless headphones for music and more.
Unboxing is beautiful and ‘By gamers for gamers’ is emphasised on the packaging. I loved the attention to detail: the USB cable is the same shade of pink, even the elastic band holding it is the same shade of pink. You won’t want to lose that elastic band then. I called them in to test on my kawaii-mad teenager but then I didn’t want to let go of them…
They’re supremely comfortable with excellent cushioning around the ear and not too much weightiness. You feel the bulk but not weight. In fact, they feel floaty light compared with what you expect from the size. That’s good because they’re designed for gaming, which might mean long gaming sessions.
The design is over-ear, as opposed to on-ear or in-ear. So they’re large and cosy. They’re not too hot though and I found them fine as a glasses-wearer – sometimes on-ear models are more comfortable if you wear glasses.
Setup with Bluetooth pairing was a breeze, they’re immediately visible. The Razer Chroma RGB app lets you control or sync them with your phone. You can set them to be a custom colour, a shifting spectrum, a breathing effect or, best of all, ‘Audio Meter’, which illuminates in a mix of colours in response to the music you’re playing. It’s a gorgeous effect and you absolutely want to show off while wearing them.
Pairing on a Windows 10 PC was harder than it should have been. The headphones appeared in the list but didn’t want to pair. Once paired, they sounded great but swapping between the two sources wasn’t easy. Even when I turned my phone Bluetooth off, they’d pair with the PC but not necessarily appear as an alternative to the speakers. I wanted swapping back and forth to be more seamless.
On the PC, illumination is handled by the Razer Synapse app, which is immense. You have a ludicrous level of control and can sync the colours with other Razer kit and even install elements including Alexa and Hue integration (and Nanoleaf lighting, but that’s retiring). Headphone battery life is up to 20 hours with lighting and up to a remarkable 50 hours without.
Sound-wise, large 40mm drivers and twin beamforming mics ensure great sound (they’re built in, not on a boom). Low latency of 40ms in gaming mode keeps it in sync. I found them pleasantly responsive and lag-free while playing on PC and mobile. I’m still on the PS5 waiting list – yawn – but note that if you want to use third-party Bluetooth headphones with PS5, you’ll need to buy a separate little USB Bluetooth adaptor anyway.
They’re not noise cancelling but the over-ear design does isolate you from a lot of outside noise. And these headphones go loud. Sound is big: loud and immersive. You don’t get the uncanny distance from your environment that active noise-cancelling delivers but you do get enough oomph to drown out the outside world – although a lower volume level is indisputably better for your ears. Listening to these at top volume as I work, I could definitely get burgled without noticing.
The built-in mics deal ably with talk in games and on the phone and video calls. They delivered a fine hands-free phone experience. But the controls need discussion because they’re minimal compared with rivals. You get a power button and one dial, which controls volume with ease. Whatever volume you’re on, you can roll it up or down to control your phone or PC volume without reaching a physical end point. But conspicuously there are no buttons to pause, play or skip tracks. I would have expected more buttons or for a single tap on the power button to pause and play. That’s because the Kraken BT really are made for gaming, but it seems like a missed opportunity. When you want to pause fast, you have to lift the earcup instead.
And they are for more than gaming because the colour syncing is great fun. The Razer Chroma RGB app meant I could sync the colours of my choice in time with the music. The two ears (the middles and the two lines above them) light up, as do the Razer logos on both earcups. They’d look brilliant at a silent disco.
In all, I loved them more than expected. Enough that I left the house sporting pink headphones… but they need at least one more button to make them great all-rounders.
Razer Kraken Kitty
Available in quartz (pink) or black, these are the wired big sibling of the Kraken BT Kitty. They boast a retractable boom mic, larger 50mm drivers and inline controls but the same 20Hz-20kHz frequency response.
SteelSeries Arctis Pro
A wired gaming headset with hi-res audio and an immense frequency response of 10Hz-40kHz, so it goes beyond the range of human hearing in both directions. For £50 more it can come with a premium gaming DAC (digital-to-analogue converter) too. The LED lighting on the earcups syncs with other SteelSeries kit.
Sony Pulse 3D Headset
A wireless headset designed specifically for the new Sony PS5 console, complete with immersive 3D sound and equaliser settings you can tinker with directly from the PS5 menu. It works with other devices via USB wireless dongle and 3.5mm headphone jack too, but not Bluetooth. 12-hour battery life.
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