Razer Tiamat Headphones Review – 2.2 and 7.1
Razer, the California-based computing peripherals maker have established a reputation of late as a manufacturer of decent gaming peripherals, with their optical mouse, the Viper, becoming a hit amongst gamers for it’s precision and smoothness.
They have since dabbled into audio devices, and the focus of this article is the release of their new headphone brand, the Razer Tiamat. It comes into two versions – a high-end 7.1 true surround sound version, and a 2.2 stereo edition, coming in at a significantly cheaper price range. The 2.2 edition is more than just the budget version of the 7.1, though – whilst it doesn’t provide the full surround sound experience, it’s still loaded with two dedicated subwoofer drivers which really help to deliver a powerful bass kick.
Razer Tiamat 7.1
Let’s start with the big daddy first, the 7.1 edition. These are a gloriously chunky piece of kit, and usually with gaming-oriented headphones, the bigger and fatter, the better. The ideal is for the headphones to make the wearer look like a cyborg, I guess.
Let’s be honest – these headphones do look pretty sexy, all black with a hint of green trim on the ridge, with two sufficiently giant and padded earcups. It feels sturdy as well – too many headphones I’ve used have felt a bit cheap and plastic – some even broke when attempting to put the headphones on my giant head. No such concerns here – these headphones feel reasonably sturdy and solid. They are also comfortable wearing for extended periods, which is a harder feat to achieve than it sounds. They have a very soft, luxurious feel which means you can keep them on for hours at times without even noticing them.
Onto the technical qualities. The Tiamat 7.1 has 5 speakers in each cup, making a total of 10 speakers, representing the 7 surround sound channels plus the subwoofer. In total there are 2 speakers for the center, 1 each for the left and right, surround sound left and right, surround back left and right, and 2 for the subwoofer. The audio quality is very good – for gaming, you’ll definitely notice the directional nature of the sound and will very easily be able to hear enemies sneaking up on you and the like.
The bass is also pretty impressive, with explosions and such proving a nice, thumpy kick to your ears, but I was expecting a little bit more ‘oomph’ in this regard. For music, though, these headphones aren’t the best. The 7.1 configuration leaves a lot of music sounding slightly muddled and imprecise, even somewhat lifeless. If you are purely after headphones for music, you’re way better off getting a high-end stereo headset such as a Sennheiser.
Also, because they connect to your PC via USB and not standard 3.5mm analog, sometimes you can notice a faint hissing sound in the background, especially if you’ve got another peripheral like a portable hard drive plugged in – which obviously detracts from the experience.
At US $200, these are fairly expensive, and you need to ask yourself whether it’s really worth forking out that much dosh for headphones that don’t deliver that much more – some would even argue less – than a high-end traditional stereo set with virtual surround sound. I would be leaning towards no – but if you’re a diehard fan of Razer products, then it’s probably worth it.
Razer Tiamat 2.2
The little brother to the 7.1 Tiamat comes in at a more reasonable price at US $99, and as far as value for money goes, they are definitely a better choice. They still have the added 2 subwoofer drivers, meaning you’ll have virtually the same amount of thumping bass, and you can use software virtual surround sound emulation to achieve an almost identical surround sound effect. Some even argue that there’s no discernible difference between the effects of virtualized surround surround versus genuine 7.1/5.1 surround sound.
The sound drivers in the 2.2 have also been optimized to simulate a three-dimensional audio effect, and they connect via a standard analog connector – which means no annoying buzzing sound interfering with your experience. The speakers are of genuinely good quality – try cranking up the volume on anything from music, to movies to games, and you’ll find it very hard to notice any distortion – but you could probably still get a slightly higher fidelity pair for the money if you’re just after something to listen to music on.
Overall, though, the 2.2 edition is only half the price of the 7.1 version – and is in no way only half as good. They’re fairly comparable overall, which means the 2.2 edition has to get a higher rating, as it provides a fairly equivalent experience for much less money.