I’ve covered a lot of Razer products in 2020 and most of them have been gaming keyboard and mice, with the occasional gaming headset. The gaming world knows that Razer is not only strong in the keyboard and mouse department. They have incredible peripherals across a wider gaming portfolio including laptops, headsets, streaming equipment etc. Just like Apple released the Airpods and then the Airpods Pro, Razer first released the Hammerhead True Wireless and now the Hammerhead True Wireless Pro. As an owner of the Airpods Pro (which were in fact my main earphones whenever I travelled), it would take something very special for me to replace them with any product. At £199.99, the Hammerhead True Wireless Pro (HTWP) actually matches what the Airpods Pro currently cost in some stores.
I genuinely believed that Razer would make a great product, however I never expected it to replace the Airpods Pro. Razer has in fact done an incredible job with the HTWP. They offer active noise cancellation, come with a case that is only slightly larger than the Airpods Pro, are THX certified and almost equally as importantly, come in black (something that Apple doesn’t offer). The world has been crying out for earphones similar to what the Airpods provide, but in black. Razer has taken a stab at this and the end result is an overall positive one. It even has certain features that the Airpods Pro don’t have, which make them a more attractive option if you’re a gamer on-the-go.
Less than two years ago, Razer introduced the Hammerhead True Wireless, which even today is offered at a much cheaper price of £99.99. They offered low audio latency, however the battery life was considered to be an issue. In addition, they didn’t have any noise cancellation features. Razer decided to go back to the drawing board with the HTWP by not only improving on all of the issues that buyers raised with its predecessor, but going above and beyond in some areas.
Firstly, the design has completely changed. The HTWP has similar-looking earphones as its predecessor with the long stem, but it now contains a set of silicone ear tips. In addition, Razer now packages a lot of ear tips, perhaps more than I have witnessed with any other earphones. The HTWP comes with three different sizes of SecureSeal silicone tips, three different sizes of SmoothComfort silicone tips and one set of Comply black foam tips. The latter comes in a medium size out of the box. The SecureSeal tips provide a grippier finish, whilst the SmoothComfort will give you a more comfortable finish. The Comply tips are perhaps the best, since they actually expand in your ear for better passive noise cancellation, but don’t compromise on comfort either. There is zero doubt that Razer has gone above and beyond in the comfort department, offering you enough choices to ensure that you’ll find a fit that works for you.
The HTWP also features a grill on the outside. This acts as part of the active noise cancellation technology as there are microphones built inside that take in outside noise and neutralize it when you have noise cancellation switched on. Perhaps due to this, Razer did downgrade the drives from 13mm to 10mm, however Razer does claim that the frequency is exactly the same. If anything, the THX-certified audio will mean that you’re going to enjoy a better audio experience.
Each eartip also contains a circular touch panel with the green Razer logo embossed on it. Although Razer is known for its chroma lighting, these do not light up! It would be a huge waste of battery power and you’ll probably be asking to get robbed on the streets had they lit up. The entire panel on each eartip is touch sensitive. If you want to use the earphones for a workout, you’ll also be pleased to know that they are IPX4 certified and can therefore last minor splashes.
The HTWP needs to be paired to your phone just like any normal Bluetooth device. If you own an iPhone, it’s not going to be as simple as opening the flap on the case. You will need to go into the settings with the flap open and manually pair the earphones. Honestly, this took me 10 seconds and it only needs to be done once. You don’t even need to press a specific button to go into ‘pairing mode’. Opening the flap essentially puts it into pairing mode. I would also highly recommend that you download the Razer Hammerhead app and update the earphones. There will be an update, and that only takes 5-10 minutes. It’s worth noting that I initially downloaded the wrong app. I found another app called ‘Razer Audio’ which I naturally assumed would be the correct app, but there’s a separate app that is specifically designed for the Hammerhead range. It would be nice for Razer to unify the apps similar to how Synapse works with all of their PC peripherals.
Unlike other earphones that have very complicated update processes, updating the HTWP was simple. I didn’t have to do anything since the app identified my earphones and suggested that I should update them. After 10 minutes, I was using them once again. The interface for the app is extremely straightforward and requires no user training. You’re presented with the battery life of each earbud. You can use the app to update the EQ settings and even create a custom one. By default, the THX EQ setting is switched on and honestly, this is the best. You also use the app to customize the touch controls, and this is perhaps the most impressive feature of the earphones. There are unique gestures that you can program for each earbud. You can decide what single tap, double tap, triple tap, long press or triple tap then hold do. You’ll want to decide which one of these are mapped to play/pause, forward, rewind, ANC mode, gaming mode etc. Quite frankly, the default options are the best.
The earphones behave similarly to their main rivals too. If you take out a single earphone, the music will automatically stop, and then restart when you put it back in your ear. There is no ‘off’ button. If you don’t want to use your earphones, just put them back in the case and after a few minutes they will switch off automatically. There is also no ‘on’ button. Just pick the case up and put the earphones in – they will automatically switch on.
As far as sound quality goes, this was my biggest surprise. I expected good sound, but the HTWP sound great. I’m a huge fan of bass but have also accepted that you just can’t get booming bass with earphones. Somehow, the HTWP does a good job at providing a respectable amount of bass without sounding bass heavy. They certainly sound a lot better than the Airpods Pro in this department, which is a huge win. The mids and highs are also crystal clear, and what makes the HTWP so impressive is that it can go very loud. You’ll almost never want to listen to them on maximum volume since they can be deafening, especially if you modify the EQ settings to amplify the volume. It’s impressive that despite the loud volume, the sound doesn’t distort. I’m just so relieved that the sound quality is fantastic since this is primarily all I care about. I’m willing to make certain sacrifices if I am enjoying listening to my music more.
The ANC mode is also very promising. I have a Devialet Gold Phantom sitting at home that blasts close to 4,500 watts of power. Despite playing them very loudly, the HTWP did a fantastic job at blocking out the ambient noise. I wouldn’t claim that the HTWP offers the best ANC. In fact, the Airpods Pro are better in this department. When I went for a run around a busy (but socially distanced) park a few times, the ANC functionality worked as expected. There is currently no feature to let you modulate the ANC levels, which is something that certain competitors offer.
The HTWP also has a dedicated gaming mode. By default, you need to triple tap then hold in order to activate this. Essentially, the earphones go into a low-latency mode, which is another feature that many competitors do not have. It’s a useful feature if you’re gaming on a laptop on-the-go and need high quality audio at a low latency. I don’t find it very useful when paired with a phone, although I’m not a hardcore gamer on my phone.
The battery life is not much better than its predecessor. Razer claims that it can get up to four hours on a single charge, but then the case will provide another 16 hours’ worth of recharge. I personally never use my earphones for more than a couple of hours at a time due to fatigue, so this is perfect for me. However I’ve noticed a trend with youngsters who just keep their earphones in all the time and have music playing in the background even at low volume. I’m not convinced four hours will be enough on a single charge for that group of individuals. You will get slightly more life out of it if you turn off ANC mode.
The charging case is also very well built. It seems a little too inspired by the Airpods Pro, but that isn’t a negative point. People love the shape of the Airpods Pro case and Razer has created a black version of it that is only slightly larger. It even has a little green LED light in the front to let you know the charge status! A huge bonus is that the HTWP case charges via USB-C. I’m in huge favour of this decision since I don’t need to carry any additional cables (I already have devices that charge via USB-C).
The HTWP has some issues that I hope Razer can resolve if they were to bring out another version. Firstly, there are no volume controls. This completely baffles me, and I cannot comprehend why not only Razer, but even companies like Apple think it’s ok to leave out. Yes, you can use your voice assistant to increase the volume, but you’re going to sound like an absolute prat in public asking Siri to turn the volume up. Realistically, everyone is going to spend 99% of the time listening to music. Why can’t I modify the volume without having to take my phone out? Razer could have knocked it out of the park had they offered such a feature. Keep in mind that this could still happen through a firmware update. I’d love to be able to hold the left ear panel for volume down and right ear panel for volume up, as an example.
Secondly, the actual touch controls require you to tap the panels pretty hard. A slight tap won’t do it. Sometimes when I wanted to pause my music, I’d have to do a one-finger slap on my right earbud to pause it. After doing that a few times, it begins to hurt your ear canals! I don’t know if this can be fixed via a firmware update. The ear panels need to be more sensitive so that slight taps can be easily recognized.
Finally, the HTWP case doesn’t support wireless charging. This is perhaps the biggest drawback when compared to the competition. Most competitors offer wireless charging (although the opposing argument can be that the wired charging options that competitors offer are also via proprietary ports). Considering Razer charges £199.99 for this offering and the hype is all around Qi charging, this is perhaps the biggest miss (even though I’d argue that the first two drawbacks are more important).
High quality audio is the biggest factor when purchasing wireless earphones at the price range that the Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Pro sits at. If you’re an audiophile, rest assured that Razer’s latest offering competes with the best in the market. As far as looks go, these earphones also pass the test with flying colours. If you’re a gamer and want to show that off with pride, there is no better product than the Hammerhead True Wireless Pro. Although there are some drawbacks that prevent the earphones from being a perfect 10, they have still managed to replace my Airpods Pro primarily due to the better fit and the preferred audio quality.