Razer has gone through a lot of headsets with the Kraken branding in the past, and it also seems that the same headsets have gone through rebranding exercises to help us better identify what each headset is for. The appropriately named Razer Kraken for Console’s main USP is that it will work on any current-gen console. In fact, it just uses a 3.5mm jack to connect to most consoles. If you’re a cross-platform gamer (including PC) and don’t want to spend too much money on a gaming headset, the Kraken for Console is one of the better options available in the market.
Currently priced at just under 80 GBP, the Kraken for Console doesn’t provide an audio experience like some of the 200 GBP+ headsets, however provides an unmatched level of comfort. This is a fully wired headset with no option to turn it into a wireless device. In addition, if you want to use it with your Xbox One, you may need to have the Xbox One stereo adapter that connects to your controller; this is a limitation imposed by Microsoft rather than Razer. For PC gamers, the headset also comes with a splitter for the audio and microphone ports.
One of the most refreshing changes to the Kraken line up is that it’s finally available in black. Although Razer is widely recognized as the gaming company that loves lights and neon-coloured products, you cannot get away with wearing a neon green headset around in public. However, the black option with the contrasting blue Razer logo makes the Kraken for Console the best-looking headset that the company has made to date. Of course, you can still buy the green edition and even a pink one.
To the naked eye, the Kraken for Console looks exactly the same as its predecessors. In fact, I haven’t found any noticeable differences visually apart from the colour options. However, Razer has made it clear that the padding on the headband has been further thickened for even more comfort. I honestly didn’t think Razer even needed to do this since the previous Krakens were still the most comfortable headsets. However, I admire that Razer has gone the extra mile to make it even more comfortable. Extra padding has also been added around the ears. If you were able to use the previous Krakens for 5+ hours straight, the Kraken for Console can probably sit on your head for an entire day and you wouldn’t even notice it. The biggest improvement is the introduction of a cooling gel inside the ear cushions. These will ensure that your ears don’t get too hot or sweaty. All of those intense FIFA Weekend League and Siege sessions do work up a sweat. After using the headset for five hours of intense gaming, I realised that my ears weren’t sweating even after that (at the time of testing, the weather in London has also been extremely hot for London standards!). Whatever Razer did to make the Kraken more comfortable, has worked. It will always be the headset’s greatest selling point.
I also wear glasses whilst gaming and even to this day, there are so many gaming headsets that are more than twice the price of the Kraken for Console, but do not provide the right level of comfort for gamers who wear glasses. The Kraken however is designed in such a way that the inside channels are slightly indented. The headset therefore doesn’t put pressure on the sides of your head and therefore doesn’t feel intrusive to your glasses.
The aluminium frame of the headset makes the headset extremely flexible. In fact, the material used means that the headset will eventually expand. This isn’t an issue if you’re the only one using the headset. However if you plan on sharing it with someone, the person with the narrower head may find that the headset is getting too wide over time.
There is a simple inline control that lets you carry out basic actions; mute/unmute your microphone, change the volume etc. I personally prefer having such options on the headset itself. I have large stubby fingers and trying to fidget with a thin inline control is not as easy as pressing a button on the headset itself. The best scenario would have been if the headset came with a separate mix-amp, but at this price range, I wouldn’t expect one.
The microphone itself has also been improved. Razer mentions that the microphone uses a ‘cardioid pickup pattern’. In layman terms, this means that background noise is better isolated. I have always found the Razer microphones to be of great quality, and my PS4 party did mention that my voice was clearer (although not significantly) when compared to the 250 GBP headset that I was using before. The retractable microphone feature also makes a great return. Whenever you’re not using the microphone, you can retract it back inside the headset. The end of the microphone will still stick out, however you won’t be able to see it in your peripheral vision whilst using the headset. I sometimes found it difficult pushing the microphone back in. Since I only use this for gaming, I just left the microphone out all of the time. As it is flexible, whenever I didn’t need it, I’d pull it downwards rather than retracting it.
Since the Kraken for Console uses a 3.5mm cable for audio, the headset doesn’t give you true surround sound but instead, simulates it. What’s the difference? The sound isolation is not as impactful as some of the headsets that use optical audio cables to interpret sound. This is perhaps the most important aspect of any headset for eSports. The Kraken for Console is still much better than using a normal wired set of headphones or TV speakers. The main reason gamers use headsets is for shooting games (or because they have angry family members shouting to keep the volume down). For shooters, you want to be able to use in-game sounds to not only know what is happening, but how far it is and where it is coming from. When enemies approach you, you want to be able to hear where they are coming from. If you hear an explosion, you need to know where it came from and judge how far away it was. I find that Rainbow Six: Siege is the perfect game to test such functionality. Not only is Siege designed for gamers to use sound to their advantage (not only horizontally, but even on a vertical scale), but different characters have different encumbrance. With a top-quality gaming headset, not only can you identify where an opponent is coming from, but even guess who it may be, from how heavy the character sounds. Not surprisingly (since the Kraken only uses a 3.5mm audio connection), the Kraken for Console is not the best at delivering this, however for 80 GBP, it does a pretty good job. The sound isolation is there, but you need to tune your ears to get the best out of it. There are other headsets that do a better job at sound isolation, however they also cost a lot more. I rely on audio for spatial awareness on Siege. If in a particular match, I could get 10 kills from the best gaming headset (in terms of sound), the same match would probably yield me about 7-8 kills with the Kraken. There is a decent amount of bass and the audio is generally crisp, I don’t see this as the main function of an eSports headset. I found myself most enjoying using the headset for games like FIFA. Here, sound isolation is not as important as just having a headset that can last you for countless hours in one session.
With all of the above in mind, who exactly is Razer targeting with the Kraken for Console? This is the ideal headset for any young gamer who aspires to become a competitive gamer and wants to invest in the necessary hardware to do so. Such gamers cannot splash 200 GBP on a headset, but 80 GBP is something parents will be willing to pay for. It quite possibly has the best audio out of any other gaming headset in a similar price range but more importantly, provides comfort levels beyond any other headset (in any price bracket) that I have used. The fact that it uses a 3.5mm audio cable has its pros and cons. The major downside is that the surround sound is only simulated and this is very evident. On the other hand, at least you can use it for any other console or device with a 3.5mm port. It is therefore likely that you may even end up using this headset more than one that is twice the price, but compatible with only one console!