Looking to bring an elite look to its gaming cans, Razer has unveiled the Kraken Forged Edition headphones. Priced at $299, these headphones incorporate aluminum for a more modern look and durable feel. However, the Forged Edition is more than a showpiece; the headphones deliver big sound, whether you're on the street or in the middle of a LAN party. Let's find out just how much music and gaming bang you get for your buck.
Razer retooled its familiar Kraken cans into a more polished and sophisticated presentation. The radioactive green headband with the black mesh underside has been swapped for the Forged Edition's more sophisticated black leather treatment.
The earcups' exterior are made of matte silver aircraft-grade aluminum, which is both durable and stylish. The headphones are also equipped with a pair of sturdy metal joints, allowing listeners to quickly fold the cans inward and place them in the included hard carrying case for easy storage.
The middle plate on the earcups features the company's three-headed snake logo, which contrasts nicely with the surrounding black speaker grille. The overall look is somewhat reminiscent of the high-end Ferrari Cavallino T350 by Logic 3 Headphones.
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While the Krakens are lovely to look at, they're even nicer to wear. The interior of the cups are cushioned in black leatherette-wrapped (a leather-like material) memory foam. We wore the 13.75-ounce headphones on a nonstop flight from New York City to Las Vegas, including a 2-hour delay on the tarmac. Through our nearly 7-hour ordeal, the cans remained comfortable, providing a soft cushion for the area around our ears.
In addition to the included hard case, the Forged Edition headphones come with a pair of 30-inch audio cables. One cable has a line-in microphone built in so gamers can turn the headphones into a premium gaming headset. However, we wish the cables were about an inch shorter, as they continually got caught on doorknobs and just about any other waist-high protrusion. It would have been nice if Razer had found a way to add a retractable boom mic, similar to what the company did for the Kraken Pro headphones.
The Razer Kraken Forged Edition headphones use a pair of 40mm neodymium magnet drivers. Together with the cans' closed design, which prevents sound leakage, the company promises clear mids, crisp bass and big, booming bass.
There were moments when the Forged Editions delivered on those claims, such as the piano on Ledisi's soulful track, "Pieces Of Me." But more often than not, we noticed muddiness, particularly in the mids. It was difficult to separate the guitar from the piano as we listened to Astrud Gilberto's rendition of "Fly Me To The Moon." Besides the vocalist's breathy soprano, the clearest thing on the track were the cymbals.
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The bass was deep and rich on tracks like Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues." But on thump-heavy anthems such as Jay Z's "Tom Ford," the lows seemed to overwhelm the headphones.
One thing's for sure: the Krakens definitely roar. When using our Nokia Lumia 928 to listen to Xbox Music, setting the volume between 15 and 20 was enough to drown out subway noise and other ambient sound. Using the headphones at full volume (30) on the 928 was a borderline painful experience.
The Forged Editions have a few consistency issues when it comes to playing music, but it's solid as a rock when it comes to gaming. As we played through several different titles, we enjoyed clear and rich sound.
For example, in "The Wolf Among Us," Bigsby Wolf's gravelly voice was deep and arresting. When we switched to "Borderlands 2," the hills were alive with the sounds of whizzing bullets and big, weighty explosions. We especially loved hearing Robert Carlyle's Scottish burr against the heavy thud of whip hitting ghoulish flesh.
The in-line mic allowed us to chat with friends and foes alike, delivering loud, clear audio on both ends. However, we would have preferred having a traditional boom mic similar to the Razer Kraken Pros. Friends complained that the sound would sometimes cut in and out if we got too excited and moved too vigorously.
Not surprisingly, the Forged Editions asserted their aural dominance in a sound-off with the $79.99 Logitech G430 headset. During our BioShock playthrough, the Krakens had superior volume. (Again, never use these headphones at full volume. You have been warned.) But where Razer really impressed was the depth and richness of the sound. The violin gently playing in the background as we mowed down a few enemies with a bloodthirsty murder of crows, sounded fuller on the Krakens.
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In addition to gaming, the line-in mic can be used for voice calls. We made several calls to landlines and cellphones that were loud and clear as a bell on both ends. Thanks to the passive noise isolation from the closed ear design, background noise was at a minimum on NYC streets. However, one of our callers could hear the sound of police sirens in the background.
Razer's $299 Kraken Forged Edition headphones add a premium look and feel to the Kraken series. The cans are also comfortable enough to wear through an all-day gaming session. The Forged Edition's music performance was middle of the road compared to audiophile-grade cans like the $299 V-Moda M-100 Crossfade.
Gamers should also keep in mind that they can purchase the less fancy versions of the Forged Editions -- the Razer Kraken Pros for $79.99 and get the added bonus of a retractable boom mic. However, gamers searching for premium headphones that look good while delivering big explosions should give the Kraken a serious look.
Music performance could be better
Mic not retractable
Great gaming audio performance
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