Razer's Best Gaming Headset Just Got Even Better

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I fell in love with Razer's ManO'War wireless headset earlier this year, but there was one problem: I couldn't use it on anything other than my PS4 or PC.

The company's answer? The ManO'War 7.1, a wired version of Razer's cozy, great-sounding headset that works with just about anything that has a 3.5mm audio jack, offering virtual surround sound on PC. While it's not the most stylish headset out there, the ManO'War retains most of what makes its wireless counterpart so excellent and brings that to even more platforms.

Design and Comfort

Just like the wireless version, the all-black Razer ManO'War 7.1 is big, plastic and pretty bulky. Its eye-catching ear cups are bigger than just about any I've seen on a gaming headset, and while its plastic headband seems a little flimsy, it's held up just fine after a week of travel and heavy use.

The ManO'War 7.1 lacks the subtle LED ear-cup lighting of the wireless version, but unless you really want your stream viewers to see your ears glow, you probably won't miss that feature. Overall, Razer's headset favors function and comfort over form; I like wearing these headphones around my apartment, but I'd probably get quite a few funny looks if I rocked them on the subway.

The ManO'War 7.1 might not be the most stylish headset around, but boy is it cozy. As I noted in my original ManO'War review, the headset's huge, plushy, faux-leather cans feel like marshmallows over my big ears. Its feathery, 11.7-ounce frame defies the headset's massive construction; I never had the urge to take the headset off, even after consecutive hours of virtually shooting stuff.

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Audio Performance

The ManO'War sounds pretty fantastic across the board, but you'll have the best time using it on a PC thanks to the headset's USB-based virtual 7.1 surround sound.

The sounds of rocket-launcher explosions and dismembered alien torsos were appropriately thunderous and gross, respectively.

This made it easy to get lost in the action-adventuring of Rise of the Tomb Raider. During quieter moments, I could pinpoint the pitter-patter of nearby rabbits as they pranced around me in the snow, and I heard the full impact of a heavy wind. When all hell broke loose, I felt the intense whirring of a helicopter as it hovered just over me, and my bow-and-arrow shots landed with a satisfying-sounding thwip.

When I ditched the dongle and plugged the ManO'War into my Xbox One controller, I noticed that the headset offers some pretty excellent stereo sound as well. I could easily spot where my slimy enemies were coming from when trying to survive Gears of War 4's Horde mode, and the sounds of rocket-launcher explosions and dismembered alien torsos were appropriately thunderous and gross, respectively.

While you probably won't want to wear the ManO'War 7.1 in public, the headset's 3.5mm jack makes it a perfectly good backup pair of music headphones. The moody alternative rock of Balance and Composure sounded clean on Razer's cans, making it easy to hear each song's haunting guitar riffs, driving bass lines and smooth vocal drawls. When I switched to the thumping hip-hop of Kendrick Lamar's "King Kunta," my ears were flooded with delicious bass.

Microphone and Cables

The ManO'War 7.1's boom mic is highly flexible and is fully retractable for when you don't need to chat, which are two things I always appreciate in a headset. When my teammate and I were frantically calling out enemy locations during an intense Gears of War 4 session, I never heard any complaints about my microphone quality.

Razer's headset comes with a total of three cables, which make it easy to adapt the gadget to your style of play. The default 3.5mm cable that's attached to the ManO'War provides plenty of slack for connecting to your console controller, and features an in-line remote that I found especially useful for adjusting volume and muting my mic on the fly.

If you need more length to, say, connect to a PC under your desk, there's an included extension cord. You can connect either cable to the headset's USB dongle, which makes surround sound on PC possible.

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Like most Razer gadgets, the ManO'War is powered by the company's Synapse software, which provides a variety of useful options for tweaking the headset to your liking. You can use the app to calibrate the headset's surround sound, as well as activate special features such as bass boost and sound normalization.

Synapse also lets you adjust mic volume and sensitivity, and offers an ambient noise filter meant to eliminate background sounds. I especially appreciate the app's mic-monitoring feature, which lets you hear your own voice so that you don't have to yell over game sound. Razer's app features a handy mixer that lets you adjust the volume of individual apps, as well as an equalizer for those who want to tweak their sound to the finest degree.

Bottom Line

I've said that the original ManO'War "comes startlingly close to being the perfect headset" for my personal needs, and the new 7.1 model brings Razer's headset even closer to that sweet spot. It still feels great and sounds fantastic, and I now have the freedom to plug this headset into my Xbox One controller or enjoy virtual USB surround sound on my PC.

However, my dream version of the ManO'War would be more like Logitech's $199 all-in-one G933 Artemis Spectrum, which is wireless but also offers an analog cable. And as much as I love the headset's massively soft ear cups, the ManO'War is still too bulky to be used anywhere outside of my gaming den. Still, at $119, the ManO'War 7.1 offers excellent comfort, sound and versatility for a reasonable price.

Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.