Razer is one of the biggest gaming peripheral makers, so much so that even if you Google with the correct spelling, it is the second search result right after a series of award-winning kick scooters. Good luck trumping that, Razer.
The company has made a name for itself with some truly spectacular products that shaped how gamers play games, innovated along with the needs of the users, and also played a prominent role in supporting leading pro-teams globally. Razer’s products have always been laser-focused on providing performance and value for gamers, and the design of these products have reflected as such.
However, the Razer Kraken Forged Edition is of a…different mindset.
Design and Comfort
Razer has borrowed a page or two from Dr. Dre, whose Beats headset lineup has sort of standardised how a music-oriented headset should look like. In that regard, the Kraken Forged undoubtedly looks something geared towards music enthusiasts than just gamers, but to be fair, neither of the headsets’ advertising material or the retail packaging suggest it is targeting any single market. It’s an all-purpose device, although how it performs as an all-rounder can be seen in our performance section below.
The name ‘Forged’ is to highlight the solid, (and in certain parts) brushed aluminium casing the headset is wrapped in. A ring of polished metal-finish seams the outer surroundings of the two stereo speakers, with an embossed Razer logo putting the finishing touch to what is a sophisticated and posh looking device. It’s a stunner, no doubt, and will garner enough attention just about everywhere.
However, the fancy packaging does have its side effects. The aluminum casing adds a lot of heft to the device, making it significantly uncomfortable to wear over long periods of time. If I am allowed a pun, it’s like a kraken wrapped around your head. To counter it somewhat, Razer did ensure ample stuffing on the headrest and ear pads. And while that helps in noise cancellation, it does nothing to alleviate the weight, and in fact, adds to it. In my numerous, multi-hour gaming and music sessions, I found myself repeatedly adjusting the headset for comfort, and many a times, simply just taking a break from having it boring into my skull.
The Kraken Forged does away with an external mic in favour an inline one. It helps keep the look of the device clean while also providing a simple, task-free way to communicate without the need to fiddle around with the mic. The sound quality is sufficiently good, where one should have no problem making calls or chatting with friends in an online game. The mic also works great on the PlayStation 4 when attached to the controller.
The Kraken Forged is encased in “dynamic, custom tuned” 40mm neodymium drivers to deliver the coveted ‘crisp highs and lows and clear mids’. The headset does provide loud, engulfing soundscape, but the driver performance is a mixed bag. I tested the headset on number of songs ranging from pop, classic, and folk, to a plethora of games including Battlefield 4, Killzone ShadowFall, Need for Speed Most Wanted and Blacklight: Retribution.
The Kraken Forged suffers from the same problems other musically-inclined headsets do, they are far too indulgent in providing big booms and rattling bass to focus on giving clean, clear sound. As a result, music was drowned in the muddy bass, and felt distanced and of low quality. Going back and forth with my regular Steelseries and Turtlebeach gaming headsets, it was clear that Kraken Forged was losing a significant amount of detail as well. It was prominent in Need for Speed Most Wanted, where crashing a car resulted in a weak thud on the Kraken instead of a detailed thrashing of metal against metal that my other headsets provided.
However, the Kraken was a different beast in Battlefield 4 and Killzone: ShadowFall. The headset provided phenomenal sound, so much so that it was difficult to go back to my regular ones after experiencing Kraken at its best. The loud volume creates a great sense of place, and the clean gun chatter, controlled explosion booms, and fantastic sound positioning delivered an engrossing gameplay on both the games. However, somewhere deep down you still wonder if you are missing out on any minute details after its below par performance with other games and media.
At $299.99 (and plus), the Razer Kraken Forged Edition is hard to recommend. It’s brilliant in certain types of games and media, but more often than not, it sounds muddy and gobbled up, and its uncomfortable design seriously dampens any chance of a recommendation. It’s a beautiful looking device no doubt and it will be interesting to see what Razer can do with future iterations of the Kraken Forged.