[Review] Lightweight Yet Packs a Punch: The Razer BlackShark v2
Razer BlackShark v2
Razer's iconic helicopter-design headset has made a return in a sleeker, more streamlined form. The brand has positioned the BlackShark v2 as "the definitive esports gaming headset", working alongside esports pros around the world to address the fundamentals of what makes a great esports gaming headset today.
To be honest, I've been a bit skeptical of the quality of Razer headsets ever since my last unwelcome brush with the Razer Kraken, so I was extremely surprised to find that I actually really enjoyed using the BlackShark v2. But of course, no product is perfect - even so, Razer's latest offering is a worthy contender in its class. Without further ado, let's dive into it.
Streamlined for modern times
In the v2, Razer has decided to forgo all the clunky metal accents and multi-jointed mic in favour of a lightweight, nearly full-plastic construction. The earcups are of a very nice matte plastic attached to a metal wireframe system, where you can extend the fit with a light tug. The braided wire is bright green and extends when the cups are pulled down - even at maximum, the wire still has a little bit of slack, so I'm not worried about wear and tear in the long run.
While the metal wireframe certainly contributes to the overall aesthetic, it definitely isn't the most practical implementation of a headband adjustment system. For one, if you tug the cup at a slight angle, it sometimes slides down further on one rail than the other, so you'll have to keep wiggling it back and forth just to get it to the precise height you want. And while the sliding action is still nice and tight now, I do have concerns about whether it will become loose in the long run.
Updated 11.34am, 16 Dec 2020: Razer's product specialist has clarified that the metal wireframe was designed to slide at a slight angle to prevent excessive rubbing / wear and tear, and will continue to remain tight in the long run." Well, that's one major concern eliminated, thanks to Razer's attention to design.
Ultra lightweight comfort
But now that we've gotten my only complaint out of the way, there's a lot to love about the rest of the design. The headband is PU leather on top with 'Razer' embossed into it, while the underside and earcups are made from a breathable mesh material.
The padding is made from ultra-soft FlowKnit Memory Foam (which sounds like it came straight out of an Adidas ad), and together, they made the headset super comfortable to wear and didn't result in slick hair even after many hours. The fact that it only weighs a mere 262g also helped.
Despite it being so lightweight and delicate-looking, the clamping force was surprisingly adequate. In fact, I would venture that this is one of the most comfortable headsets I've worn in a while. It also has decent passive noise cancellation considering the mesh earcups - if you have music on or are engrossed in a game, you will barely hear anything going on around you.
It does come with a carry case as well, though it's clearly made for portability and not protection as the fabric is extremely thin and light - think dust jacket for your handbags.
It's the little things
I need to give props to Razer for taking care of the little details that enhance your overall user experience. The volume knob is well placed and allows for super precise adjustments, plus it has a tactile click at the 50% mark, so you know how much more room you have to play with.
The mute button is located slightly further back from the volume knob, and stays depressed when it is muted, so you'll always know if you're muted or not.
The gooseneck microphone is detachable and comes with a pop filter to soften plosives. In case you're unsure if you've bent the mic the wrong way, there is a mic icon on the side that should be facing your mouth.
I also like how they've used their lightweight Speedflex cable instead of a rubber or heavier braided option. It's so light that you'll forget you're wearing a wired headset, and doesn't seem to have problems with kinking.
Balanced sound quality
This is where Razer surprised me the most. Powered by 50mm Razer Triforce drivers, the BlackShark v2 delivered a balanced sound across highs, mids, and lows, unlike their usually bass-driven offerings.
The audio clarity is much better than I expected, and even made for some enjoyable music listening. Although it's not going to beat audiophile headsets within the same price range, it was unexpectedly decent for a gaming headset. The bass was punchy without being overwhelming, while vocals and stereo sounds were clear and pleasant.
In terms of gaming, its in-game performance was also good. It boasts THX Spatial Audio, which expanded the sound stage a little so you can immerse yourself more deeply into your surroundings. Whether you'll need it or not is entirely up to preference, but it's great for gamers who want just that little more oomph during their matches.
Great for comms
Of course, part of what makes a gaming headset great is its mic - after all, great communication is half the battle won. The BlackShark v2 features the removable Razer HyperClear Cardioid Mic, which sounds pretty darn good.
Take a listen:
Personally, I prefer the out-of-the-box sound from the 3.5mm jack connection as it's more natural, but the sound from the USB sound card is also great, and can be tweaked and enhanced further with the Razer Synapse software.
From the simple interface, you can play around with a variety of settings, including mic volume, mic boost, voice gate, and a selection of enhancements. There is also an equaliser with a variety of presets to suit your current situation.
Either way, both mics are perfectly serviceable, so don't worry too much and just use whichever connection method that suits your device better.
Buy or no buy?
The Razer BlackShark v2 is a lightweight device that provides well-balanced audio with a surprising amount of noise isolation. It is also super comfortable over long hours thanks to its ultra-light build and mesh material. The mic is also great and completes the whole package, contributing to the brand's aim to position the BlackShark v2 as the definite esports gaming headset.
My only gripe would probably be the metal wireframe adjustment system, which hinders precise adjustments, but it's honestly no big deal once you get used to it - I can definitely overlook it considering how much it adds to the cool, helicopter-inspired aesthetic.
In addition to its performance, the fact that it is compatible with a wide variety of devices makes it even more attractive, especially for multi-platform gamers. The USB and 3.5mm connections open up access to not just PC, but PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and mobile as well.
You can pick up the Razer BlackShark v2 at RM519 from their official Lazada store. If you're on a tighter budget, you can take a look at the BlackShark v2 X, which is a more affordable option that comes without a USB sound card.
For more details, you may head on over to the official product page here.