Missed the GamesBeat Summit excitement? Don't worry! Tune in now to catch all of the live and virtual sessions here.
Desktop PC speakers are a little old-fashioned. It seems like most companies want to focus on headsets because that’s what players need for online multiplayer games and because they probably have a higher profit margin. But when it comes time to close Discord, turn off the lights, and enjoy a solitary cinematic experience, headsets still can’t compete with a decent speaker setup. Razer, which wants to have a product for any PC-related activity you can think of, understands this, and it has begun offering the $150 Razer Nommo Chroma speakers to fill that niche.
The Nommo Chroma setup is the same as the standard $100 Nommo with some added RGB lighting along the bottom of the desktop stands, and both the Nommo and Nommo Chroma are the entry-level speakers compared to the extravagant $500 Nommo Pro. While the Pro has directional audio drivers and a dedicated subwoofer, the Nommo Chroma comes with just a pair of free-standing stereo speakers.
At $150 (or $100 for the non-RGB version), the Nommo speakers represent a decent step up from a lot of cheaper options, and they actually excel in quieter, atmospheric moments. But you’ll probably miss having that sub.
What you’ll like
An affordable upgrade
If you drop the cash and plunk the speakers on your desk after coming from a pair of tiny powered speakers plugged into a 3.5mm jack, you should notice an improvement. Nommo’s sound has some issues, but it handles most games well.
You’ll appreciate the audio range of the Nommo during ambient and dialogue scenes in particular. As characters discuss something in a spaceship, for example, you will still hearing the hum and creaking of the vessel off to the edges. This is part of the audioscape that a lot of other speakers lose.
The Nommo also maintains those details as you crank up the volume. And as long as the action isn’t cacophonous, Razer’s speakers are capable of driving dramatic, wide sounds that envelope the area in front of a PC. The result is an earthy, natural re-creation of sound that can bring you into a moment in a game or movie.
Stylish with and compact
Beyond the sound, I like the look of the Nommo speaker system. It has that brushed black metal look of other Razer products, and the design makes it look like each unit is going to fire audio directly into your face. The barrels of each speaker stand on a skinny pillar, and they each tilt up like the cannons on a galleon. At the front, these devices look more like turbine jet engines.
It’s a slick product that falls more on the delightful side of Razer’s design ethos than on the gaudy side (I don’t even see the green Razer logo on the speakers). And then if you get the Chroma version, you get the RGB lights that dance around in a circle around the base. The lights fire downward and reflect off the surface of the desk.
The effect here is subtle, maybe even a bit more subtle than I prefer. I mean, if you’re adding RGB lighting to your PC, you’re not concerned with looking modest and understated. But it still adds a dynamism that brings a bit of extra life to the sound. That’s especially true when the lights react to the action in certain games using the Synapse software.
What you won’t like
Bass-heavy moments result in muffled sound
During dramatic action scenes where you have a lot of loud music, explosions, dialogue, and world sounds, the Nommo stumbles into messy, indistinct sound that comes across as bombastic but hollow. Sure, you can still hear some of those ambient details that were so pleasant during the quieter moments, but you also get a rickety, plasticy bass that sours the quality of the entire sound reproduction.
The bass in these busy moments is flimsy on its own, but it drags everything else down with it. The mid- and high-tones sound artificial and tinny, and that’s when they can find space around the disappointing lows.
You can do a lot worse than the Razer Nommo Chroma when it comes to speakers for your PC, but you may want to find something with a dedicated sub. The problem with that is you probably will have to trade away the Chroma’s detailed, immersive sound during quiet moments to get something that is less distracting when the action kicks in. That’s a shame, and I bet the Nommo Pros do a lot to fix that problem. But that makes me wish Razer had something between its $100-to-$150 options and the $500 premium product.
The Razer Nommo Chroma is available now for $150. Razer provided a sample unit for the purpose of this review.
GamesBeat's creed when covering the game industry is "where passion meets business." What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you -- not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. Discover our Briefings.