With its lightweight design, soft ear pads, detachable microphone and included USB sound card, the Razer BlackShark V2 promises to assault T3's best gaming headsets guide right from the off.
Launched alongside the cheaper BlackShark V2 X, the regular V2 is designed to connect either by USB or 3.5mm headphone jack, making it compatible with PC, Mac and consoles.
Pair this to the 50mm drivers with titanium-coasts diaphragms, customisation through the Razer Synapse app for PC and Mac, and THX Spatial Audio, and for £100 the BlackShark V2 promises a lot of bang for your buck.
Razer Blackshark V2 review: Design and Setup
Resembling a pair of headphones you might find in a helicopter, the Razer BlackShark V2 is a simple headset with a pared-back and fairly minimalist design, at least by gaming hardware standards. This approach might not win too many aesthetic awards, but it means the headset is lightweight and comfortable – crucial for those hours-long gaming sessions.
Fabric-covered memory foam on the ear cups and headband ensure a comfortable fit, while the size can be adjusted by a couple of inches on either side. The headset is nice and easy to adjust, but the wire frame attaching the earcups to the headband doesn’t feel as substantial as other headsets in this price range, and we worry about how well the BlackShark V2 will stand up after years of regular use.
We would also like to have seen numbers or some other form of scale for adjusting the fit. We found it was best to make the headset as small as possible, then put it on and pull down on the ear cups until it fits, rather than hoping to adjust before putting it on. We would also like to have seen more rotational movement from the ear cups to accommodate all head shapes and sizes.
With those small negatives out of the way, we’re pleased to say the BlackShakr V2 fits very well indeed and remains comfortable even after several hours of constant use. The low weight really helps to keep the headset comfortable, and we predict most owners will forget it is even there, with no excessive pressure felt anywhere on the headband and ear cups.
We suspect gaming in a warmer room might cause some discomfort, however, as the material covering the memory foam doesn’t seem particularly breathable, and retains more heat than some other gaming headsets we have used.
The headset features a detachable microphone, making it easy to turn the BlackShark V2 into a regular pair of headphones when you’re not gaming, and the braided fabric audio cable, which is hard-wired onto the headphones, cuts down on unnecessary noise and should prove to be durable.
There is a volume knob on the left can which clicks when passing through 50 percent to help you work out what volume level you are at. Next to this is a simple button for muting the microphone. Although entirely aesthetic, we like the leatherette detailing on the top of the headband, complete with stitching and embossed Razer logo.
Setting up the headset is simple, with the audio cable plugging into our PlayStation 4 controller and it working right away. However, while the headset worked when connected using the included USB sound card, the microphone volume was significantly lower.
When attached to a PC or Mac, Razer’s Synapse software can be used to pick from a range of audio defaults, or fine-tune the settings to your preference.
Razer Blackshark V2 review: Features and Audio
The included USB sound card is arguably the BlackShark V2’s biggest feature, but for some users it will be completely unnecessary. As we mentioned above, just plug the headset into the headphone jack of your controller and you are good to go.
If you want to use the included USB sound card and its THX Spatial Audio credentials, you’ll need to grab Razer’s Synapse application and make sure you are playing games that are compatible with THX Spatial Audio. The dozen-or so supported games include Apex Legends, Call of Duty: Warzone and Red Dead Redemption 2.
With THX Spatial Audio enabled, the headset aims to create simulated 7.1 surround sound. Some gamers will love this, with the augmented surround sound helping to identify enemy location and adding more acoustic immersion to the game. Others will prefer to keep things simple and stick with the stereo default. There are two modes for each compatible game, one to make the game sound as immersive as possible, and one optimised for playing online.
In our opinion, you can file all of this under the ‘nice to have’ column rather than an essential feature. This is because, even without the extra software and use of the USB sound card, the BlackShark V2 sounds excellent.
Its 50mm drivers ensure a powerful sound that is rich, detailed and completely unfazed even when cranked up to maximum volume. We spent an evening on Gran Turismo Sport on the PS4 and immediately felt at one with the game, hearing precisely where our opponents were based on the sound of their cars, and remaining entirely comfortable during a whole evening of gaming.
We would perhaps like the headset to offer a louder maximum volume, but realistically what the BlackShark V2 offers is more than enough for most situations. It doesn’t quite deliver skull-shaking bass, but when playing online and needing to communicate clearly with others that isn’t really necessary.
On clear communication, the Synapse app lets you turn on the option to hear yourself through the speakers, while that is missing when playing on a console.
Noise isolation is excellent. There is no active noise cancelling, but the physical, passive isolation on offer is better than some other headsets at the higher end of the market, and means your gaming conversations won’t be disrupted by outside noise. Similarly, little noise leaks out from the closed-back headset itself.
All of that said, the headset is best suited exclusively to gaming, as its performance when listening to music or watching movies falls a little short. It isn’t terrible, but you shouldn’t buy this headset expecting it to work equally well with all types of media; it is clearly optimised for gaming, with music lacking detail.
Razer Blackshark V2 review: Price and Verdict
We would argue that the USB sound card isn’t entirely necessary, but for PC gamers who want that extra level of customisation, and the 7.1 surround sound created when playing compatible games, it’s a good option to have without needlessly inflating the price.
The £100 segment is a very busy section of the gaming headset market, but even still the Razer BlackShark V2 makes itself heard. We like the simple, clean design and the light weight, and we found it to be among the comfiest gaming headsets we’ve ever used.
The simple volume knob and microphone mute button are easy to locate and use without distracting you from your game, and the detachable microphone is handy for when you want to use the headset for something other than gaming. We’d like to see firmer articulation from the mic arm, as it has a habit of springing away slightly from where it is positioned, but that really is a small complaint.
Sound quality is very good, with accuracy and detail being the headset’s strong points. Bass and volume could be higher for when we want to truly enjoy a game on our own, but for playing online with others we value the Razer’s faithful reproduction of sound over an ability to blow our socks off.
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