After taking the delivery of the Razer Thresher 7.1 Wireless headset I was excited to see what they sounded like. Along with the quick facts on the box promising up to 16 hours of charge, lag-free wireless and a retractable boom mic I was excited. Was my excitement short lived or did Razer deliver a great headset, lets find out
First off the bat lets talk about the construction. Taking the unit out of the box I was surprised at how light the headset was, compared to my current headset (Turtle Beach Stealth 520) it feels a crazy amount lighter. The construction is mostly plastic, but this doesn’t mean that the product feels cheap, quite the opposite in fact. It looks premium, it feels sturdy and I didn’t feel that at any time the plastic would snap or shear off. With noise-isolating leatherette ear cushions adorning both sides of the headphones connected by a metal band with a leatherette padded strap that rests nice and gentle on your head.
Then pull that retractable boom mic out and it sits just the right distance from your mouth so that you can get the volume of your voice just right for all those willing to listen to you go on about your brand new headset.
The Razer Thresher surprised me with this one. My current headset, fits securely, you know it fits securely because it sometimes gets a bit pinchy and you have to relieve pressure from your temples so that you don’t end up with a migraine. I was expecting the same to a degree with the Thresher, but with its automatically resizing headband, without the need to manually adjust it just gently cradles your head. Add that to the nice and comfortable ear cushions I would imagine you could sit and deplete the whole 16 hours of battery in one setting and not even get sweaty ears.
Then one of the most important features that is needed across all headsets is the ability to wear glasses while using this headset. I personally only wear glasses when carrying out intricate activities on the computer (decide what that is amongst yourselves) although recently I did review the Sony Gaming Glasses for Playstation, so this applies to non wearers as well. The Thresher boasts the following
Comfortable With Eyewear
At first I was dubious, but apparently with a foam indentation in the ear cushions this is meant to alleviate the pressure put on your temples when wearing a more pinchy headset. So out came the glasses, off the shelf, cleaned and put on. This headset was just as comfy with glasses as it was without. There was no pressure points anywhere on my head and I could have quite easily worn my glasses for a nice gaming session with my friends (I do have a few)…..(Honest!)
Without just listing a specification sheet I will talk about the important features that make the Thresher a great option if you are looking for an upgrade.
The sound is pumped into your ears through a nice pair of 50mm drivers, what this means is that the headphone can have more lifelike and powerful audio getting straight into your ears. Along with the 7.1 surround sound delivered by the optical cable (not available on a PS4 Slim) you get some great audio. Powered by Dolby you get a fantastic representation of positional audio giving you a great feel to where your opponents are.
The frequency response of the headset is incredibly wide, going from 12-28,000 Hz, now what this means in a nutshell is that it delivers a wider range of sounds, from deep base explosions to the high pitched gunfire zipping past your face. In comparison the Stealth 520 headset has a frequency response of 20-20,000 Hz, so the Thresher delivers a massively wide range of audio to your ear drums.
With controls on the headset you can quickly adjust game sound and mic volume on the fly, or at least that is the idea behind these features. Allowing you to mute all the game sounds in a quick push of the volume rocker, or mute your Mic so that your conversation with your better half isn’t broadcast for everyone to hear.
A lot of these features are generally considered to be standard across the headphone market, or at least they should be.
Now this is where the real nitty gritty starts. How does the Razer Thresher 7.1 headset actually perform. Well quite well I have to admit. After getting the headset connected to the Playstation 4 console, which was a doddle, simply connect the USB dongle to the front and the supplied optical cable into the relevant hole on the rear of your console. A few setting changes as detailed in the instructions and you are away. Then onto what game was potentially able to give a great introduction to the sound from the headset. Call of Duty: WW2!
Loading up the game and throwing myself straight into an online battle the sound quality that awaited me was astounding. I can honestly say the the sound quality on the Razer Thresher 7.1 headset is some of the best that I have encountered. The explosions were deep and rumbly, the bullet fire was zingy, but the most impressive part was the location factor, knowing where the enemy is coming from is part and parcel of trying to stay alive and the headset delivered here. Accurate depiction of footsteps on different materials and different distances were being pushed into my ear canal. All of a sudden I was teleported to the battlefield and taking part.
Obviously I wasn’t, I was still sat on my couch with a controller in hand, but you get my meaning.
Firing up a few different games gave me just as good sound whatever the game. The crowd sounds on FIFA 18 were roaring, the environmental sounds going through the woodlands on Call of the Wild: The Hunter were incredible, even down to playing some smaller indie titles were given a new lease of life with those incredible 50mm drivers sat either side of your eyes.
Now you would think that everything was all fine and dandy and there wasn’t a problem, and I have to admit that if I kept playing these games on my own then I probably would have agreed with you. Unfortunately I joined some friends and here is where the problems became apparent.
Mic Monitoring, you know the ability to hear yourself through your mic, essentially the headset loops a proportion of your mic audio back to you so that you don’t end up shouting at the screen. This is incredibly weak. I could hardly hear myself, unless the mic was positioned right next to my lips, but even then I struggled to hear myself. Looking through the instructions you can only have this enabled or disabled and there is no way to increase the volume. Now when I review a headset, I want to put it into a real world situation, and imagine my disappointment when i’m using the Thresher and my wife tells me that i’m shouting, and not because I am in the heat of battle, or just scored an overhead kick (this happens!) it is purely because I am talking to my friends through the microphone. Now not going to be a massive problem during the day, but at night you want to be in total control of your vocal chords and this definitely doesn’t help matters.
Onto the second, and probably most annoying problem with the headset and that is the actual mic volume controls.
Now when you set up the headset you are encouraged to set the system volume to as high as possible and then adjust using the headset. Now this works absolutely fine, what doesn’t is the microphone volume control. Compared to my Stealth 520 headset, where the mic volume adjusts the actual mic sounds of other people in your party, the Thresher decides that that volume control will adjust your own microphone level. To be honest why you would have it at anything less than 100% is beyond me! So you can only control the volume of other people in your party by adjusting the master volume controls, this then leads to the game sounds becoming louder, which in turn leads you to struggle to hear your team mates on certain games. With the only solution available in this instance being to reduce the in game sounds through the audio menu.
Now I know that people will be reading this and saying “so what!” and let me be honest. When you are purchasing a headset for the cost of the Thresher (£149.99 on the Razer website) you can expect it to have relatively the same features that a headset that costs less, couldn’t you?
Its frustrating when you are looking at purchasing a headset and you read reviews, and a lot of the reviews that I have read have looked over these points and just focused on the sound quality, perhaps they just used the headset on single player games, because quick frankly it is a brilliant headset. Take it online and in a party and this is where it starts to show a few minor flaws. Granted they are only minor but they could be make or break for someone looking to purchase.
So taking into account all the positives and negatives for this headset, should you buy it?
Quite frankly, YES!
The headset is a great headset, and if you are looking to upgrade to something with better sound quality all around then you couldn’t really go far wrong for the cost. Yes it has a few flaws detailed and if you look at that and aren’t bothered then you should really be heading out to get this headset.
With impeccable sound quality and clarity, along with the cloud like comfort of the headset you will spend hours wearing this on your head. The Razer Thresher 7.1 Wireless headset receives the Thumb Culture Gold Award for Outstanding Audio
Disclaimer: A product was received in order to write this review.