Razer has revamped most of its gaming headsets for this holiday season, and that includes one of its best sellers in the Kraken Pro. Now known as the Kraken Pro V2, the upgrade introduces an aluminum body, 50mm audio drivers, and larger earcups.

Razer Kraken Pro V2

  • Pricing: $80
  • Availability: Out now
  • Compatibility: 3.5mm jack for use on PCs, Xbox One, PS4, and more

The company clearly wants to present this as a major improvement from its previous models, and in key ways it is absolutely a leap forward. With this device, Razer is fielding one of the better sub-$100 headsets built for all-day gaming.

What you’ll like

More bass

Razer has jumped on the 50mm driver bandwagon. It has moved on from the 40mm speakers it was using in previous generations, and it claims that the larger surface area generates better bass. Now, I would warn against you buying into that hype. Some of the best headsets I’ve used in 2016 are still running 40mm drivers, and they definitely deliver better low beats than the Kraken Pro V2 (and they are also twice or three times as expensive). But despite that warning, I would agree that the Kraken Pro does a fine job of thumping out explosions and kick drum beats.

Through that roaring bass, the rest of the audio spectrum still comes crashing through in clear, articulate waves. And that’s even without plugging the Kraken into an amplifier.

Very light

As nice as the audio is, however, I really think the biggest leap forward for Razer is in the aluminum design. This provides a rigidness to the skeleton of the Kraken Pro that ensures it doesn’t bounce around on your skull while remaining lightweight at the same time.

The Kraken Pro V2 is so lightweight that I can kinda see why Razer gives it the “Pro” designation. If it’s your job to play games for 12 hours a day, you probably want something that won’t wear out your neck muscles, and the Kraken shines in this regard. It has an almost feathery quality to the way it sits on your head. The best way to describe it is that the parts that make contact with your head feel about as heavy as a baseball cap.

Works with everything

I don’t like having discrete devices for everything in my life. I want something that does a great job in any situation, and the Kraken fits that description. Thanks to its 3.5mm connector, you can use it on your PC or you can plug it into the port on the bottom of your Xbox One or PlayStation 4 controllers. You can also hook this thing up to your smartphone and use it to listen to podcasts or music — it can even take phone calls.

But sticking with the “Pro” theme, the Kraken comes with a 3.5mm splitter that enables you to plug the headset into both the audio and microphone jacks on your computer. This ensures that you can use both devices on the headset and control them independently.

Classic look

And thanks to the style of the Kraken, you may actually want to take it with you. Razer has always nailed the look of its headsets, and the Kraken continues that ongoing evolution (in both its Pro V2 and the 7.1 V2 variations). The all-black coloring, the sleek-but-futuristic earcups, and the aluminum body all make it so the headset would look at home on the head of a world-renowned rapper, a urban hipster, or an atypically stylish esports superstar.

Oh, and Razer’s retractable microphone keeps you from looking like a dweeb who just finished his shift at Jack In The Box.

Microphone

The Razer Kraken Pro V2 also has a really nice mic for an $80 headset with a 3.5mm jack. It picks up a lot of background noise, but it’ll also make your voice sound clear and distinguished. I actually like it better than many USB headsets. If you play in a relatively quiet room, it’s easy to recommend the Kraken because of its microphone.

What you won’t like

Audio loses its edge at high volumes

The Kraken’s improved bass comes with one drawback. While the headset handles a wide band of audio in most situations, it does sometimes struggle — but only at higher volumes. When you really crank things up, you’ll likely notice an low hissing noise that sounds like excess air being pushed through the drivers. This gives the mid and high tones a breathy, hollow characteristic that leads to an overall degradation in quality.

This is not something I noticed at what I would consider “normal” volumes or even above normal, but once you start getting to the extreme end of the decibel spectrum, you’ll notice it.

Conclusion

If you’re in the market for an $80 gaming headset, the Kraken Pro V2 is a smart buy. Its best features are most well suited to people who play games for long periods of time and do a lot of communicating. As long as you aren’t trying to blow your eardrums out, it provides accurate, lively sound. And its weight and microphone ensure that you can focus on keeping in contact with your teammates rather than adjusting a chafing headset.

That doesn’t mean the Kraken Pro V2 is the best $80 headset you can buy, but it’s close enough to the HyperX Cloud and the Creative Sound BlasterX H5 that you that I see clear reasons for choosing the Razer option due to its look or microphone.

Razer provided GamesBeat with a sample unit for the purposes of this review. The Kraken Pro V2 is out now for $80.