Razer is looking to perfect the eSports headset with the BlackShark V2. The original version offered a unique and lightweight design for eSports athletes, but the newest version is going above and beyond with the audio technology. Razer worked with eSports pros on what they thought mattered the most for a headset. Amazing audio, superior microphone quality, sound isolation and premium comfort are the keys that drive the BlackShark V2. Razer has offered quite the specifics to accomplish these requests in what might be the best eSports headset on the market.
Razer was clever with the helicopter design to help keep the cost down of the BlackShark V2. There is also a BlackShark V2 X that has some lesser options for even cheaper, but the traditional BlackShark V2 offers enough to warrant the price. The headset weighs in at 262 grams and includes a detachable 3.5mm mic cable and a detachable microphone. The headband features a leatherette exterior where as the interior is a mesh memory foam. The same goes for the ear cups which are also highly noise cancelling. Even when writing this review and wearing the headset, the background noise is faint from the music in the other room. That’s with no audio playing. When playing music, background noise isn’t even remotely an issue. The entire headset contours to the head comfortably with the help of FlowKnit fabric that keeps things soft and breathable. This will also help out heat and sweat. The exterior of the cups is rather low key with a matte plastic design that features the green Razer logo. The cups are attached to the headband via two small metallic extensions that don’t look sturdy at first impression. They are in fact sturdy. This allows for further flexibility for the headset to contort to the player’s head. Seated between the two pieces of metal frame is a green wire that connects the audio for both speakers. It matches the look but also helps to accommodate a lower cost. The cables are also flexible and covered in nylon for protection.
The microphone features one of the biggest condensers I’ve seen on a headset. What stands out about the BlackShark V2 is what goes on behind-the-scenes of the headset and it starts with the superior voice clarity. Using the HyperClear Cardiod Mic in combination with a USB sound card, voice input is extremely clear and concise. The USB Card allows for a few customization options that aren’t overly complicated while also offering distinct differences. Players can adjust not only the mic volume but also a mic boost, ambient noise reduction in case background noise is an issue, voice clarity for improved vocal range, volume normalization, voice gate and also equalizer presets. What’s wonderful about this is the changes that are made by the player will be heard across the board so other teammates shouldn’t need to worry about adjusting their headset settings. Depending on the settings used, the output from the microphone can be overbearing, but that’s what adjusting these settings are for.
Where I think the BlackShark V2 goes above and beyond is with the inclusion of THX Spatial Audio. This has been used in other headsets in the past and I’ve always thought there was a distinct advantage. Thanks to the software and the use of Razer’s TriForce Titanium 50mm audio drivers, I don’t think there’s a headset on the market that offers the positional advantages that the BlackShark V2 does. These new patented drivers are divided up three separate ways to help divide the highs, mids and lows of audio. Overall, the default audio is excellent, however, with some games having certain aspects come in louder than others. It truly does feel like you can differentiate the layers of sound across the board. There are also options to adjust in Synapse that include a Bass Boost to increase those lows, Sound Normalization for better balance and Voice Clarity for incoming communications. The issues I had may have been due to improper settings as there are also equalizer presets for this. One thing I can say is that I didn’t experience any ear fatigue with this headset despite the sound levels being loud.
Going even further with providing a competitive edge with the THX Spatial Audio is the inclusion of Game Profiles. While the option is there for selecting a game mode, music mode or movie mode to individual games, there are specific titles that are further enhanced. These titles will optimize the room specs and reverberation of individual areas. This includes minute details such as wall materials, structure volume and indoor or outdoor. The amount of detail that is included in this is ridiculous. EQ Adjustments and Virtual Surround Sound Speaker Placement further assist in providing that advantage. You can let Synapse manage all of this or customize these things yourself. To even further provide a competitive edge is the implementation of THX Environmental Mode or THX Competitive Mode. Environmental Mode realistically places sound around you for a more immersive experience where as Competitive Mode will have you hearing gun shots and other commotion directed towards specific areas to know where your enemies are. What blows my mind the most with all of these audio options ranging from the mic to the speakers is Synapse’s ability to adjust what’s needed per game.
While there aren’t a superb amount of games that support the Game Profiles, they are identified within the Synapse software. Most of the big shooters are out there like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, but I was able to test out with a few. Apex Legends, Doom Eternal, Destiny 2 and The Division 2. One thing that I could see as an issue involving the Environmental Mode and Competitive Mode is that you have no indication of which is selected when playing unless you manually set it before. With Doom Eternal and The Division 2, I switched over to Environmental Mode and the mix of sound effects in the distance along with shooting guns was blended so well. Here monsters or enemies in one area wasn’t as distinct as using the Competitive Mode, but with the three-dimensional world technology that THX has implemented for replicating audio, the Environmental Mode does a better job of encapsulating the world around you. It’s called Environmental for a reason.
The Competitive Mode where players will get a distinct combat advantage. The sound balance for a better audio experience may not be there like the Environmental Mode, but you’re looking for a leg up. The sounds that matter the most, such as voice chatter, gun shots and necessary comments stand out much more than generic ambient noise. The algorithms used to drive these new audio drivers are impressive and there are multiple ways to showcase off the headset. With Apex, hearing shots from a distance allowed me to locate enemies while with Destiny 2 in the Crucible, there might be a lot going on but I could locate the gun fights without aimlessly running around.
The only thing I can argue is an issue with the BlackShark V2 is the inconsistent audio, but I believe this to be more of a personal issue. The ability to adjust settings on both the microphone and the speakers will shore up any issues with this. Everything from the Bass Boost and Sound Normalization to specific EQs for what type of audio you’re listening to will provide the right mix. Just let the software do the work and you’ll get an unheralded audio experience for $100. The Game Profiles will provide a distinct advantage in terms of locating and pin pointing enemies. The microphone can be adjusted to make sure your teammates have no excuses for not hearing you. While the BlackShark V2 might be cross platform with the 3.5mm cable, you won’t get these options outside of PC due to both the software and the USB Sound Card. If you game competitively, the Razer BlackShark V2 Gaming Headset is one of the top eSports headsets on the market.