Razer Blackshark V2 Review
Modernized and wireless version of the very curious Blackshark headset, the Razer Blackshark V2 Pro intends to dominate its rivals with extraordinary performance. So do we finally have the manufacturer’s ultimate gaming headset?
Tired of conventions, Razer had tried to mark players’ spirits with its Blackshark, a gaming headset using the design of helicopter pilots’ helmets. Eight years later, the Blackshark resurfaces in a wiser and modernized version 2, with the latest features developed by Razer.
- Strong audio performance
- Excellent microphone
- USB sound card included with THX Spatial Audio through software
- Light, comfortable fit
- Cable is hardwired to the headset
The V2 “Pro” model we are testing here is at the top of the range of Razer wireless gaming headsets. Launched at the start of autumn 2020, this one promises the best for “demanding players”: a robust wireless connection (HyperSpeed), 24 hours of battery life, comfortable wearing, voice recording of excellent quality… not to mention first-rate sound performance driven by the “TriForce” acoustic design and THX Spatial Audio virtual spatialization.
The Blackshark 2020 cuvée has a much more sober and discreet design than the original model, which is frankly not to displease us. Lighter (326g), the V2 Pro comprises matte black plastic elements, mesh fabric pads, and faux leather covering on the top of its headband. The quality of the finishes is good. The main parts are robust.
On the other hand, we have a little more reservations concerning the durability of the plastic rods acting as hinges between the headband and the ear cups. They are indeed quite thin and quick to bend if you force too much. When handling the headset, it will take a minimum of care to ensure good longevity, especially with visible cables.
Other details reinforce this impression, such as the inability to detach the pads or, more importantly, the few false contacts at the end of the volume potentiometer (after 80%) causing crackles and crosstalk problems.
The less daring aspect of this second version has the merit of focusing on the essential: comfort. The result is successful here since the Razer Blackshark V2 Pro offers great sensations, even over long sessions.
The helmet fits easily and naturally on the head. The strange hinges allow a very generous orientation of the atria on the vertical and horizontal axis, allowing an optimal positioning and a homogeneous distribution of the pressure points, quite discreet moreover. The headset’s weight is not too much felt, the contact with the mesh fabric is very pleasant, and the ear cups largely encompass the ears. Some people might feel a very light touch of the pinna against the fabric protecting the speaker, but nothing that causes discomfort, even over several hours of use.
The hoop of the Razer Blackshark V2 Pro unfolds very generously, which will delight the largest riders. However, on the tightest settings, we notice that the hoop has a very slight tendency to deploy on its own, thus forcing the user to readjust it once or twice over long playing sessions. ‘a sliding system that has no adjustment notch or benchmarks, for that matter.
The Razer Blackshark V2 Pro can only be connected wirelessly (HyperSpeed proprietary protocol) via the supplied USB dongle or wired via mini-jack. We appreciate the presence of the latter, too often forgotten on many wireless gaming headsets. However, it would have been nice to connect your headphones directly to USB and find a more modern USB-C connector. Fortunately, the headset remains usable while charging …
The wireless link showed no real stability issues during our testing period. However, we detected that the range was not as generous as other competing models under similar conditions. For example, you have to stay less than 10 meters away, sometimes even 5 meters, to avoid signal loss. For comparison, the RIG 800’s transceiver allows about 10 to 15 meters of distance from the headset.
Controls & application
Getting started with the headset is extremely easy: plug in the USB dongle, power on the headset, and you’re done; this is automatically recognized on PC and PS4 / PS5. Unfortunately, this simplicity turns out to be frustrating over time, as the Blackshark V2 Pro only offers the bare minimum in terms of controls and aids.
There is a volume control potentiometer, a mute microphone button, another multifunction (switch off / on, and pause-play on PC), and some very rudimentary sound indications to indicate the headset’s status (pairing and low battery level ). However, don’t look for a balance control between game/chat sound, the precise battery level indication, or microphone status… there is none of that.
The famous Razer Synapse software saves the day by offering a nice list of features and advanced options. Of course, the manufacturer’s software is not the lightest possible. Still, there is something to customize in detail its user experience: a 10-band graphic EQ, various effects and listening profiles, numerous sound settings for the microphone rendering (even a graphic equalizer!), and what to activate and configure the THX Spatial Audio virtual surround.
Without particular precision, the Razer Blackshark V2 Pro promises us a period of use that can exceed 24 hours. Unfortunately, we did not exceed this promise in our multiple trials, but we did well in reaching the 24 hours regularly, which is an excellent result. The most ardent users can therefore wait a few days before fully recharging their headphones.
Out of the box, the Razer Blackshark V2 Pro gives us a very correct, energetic sound reproduction, whether wired or wireless.
A passage through the equalizer of the Synapse application is still necessary to erase certain defects. For example, the Blackshark V2 Pro does not suffer from gaming headset syndrome, namely the usual decline of the high mids (moreover almost systematic on the manufacturer’s helmets). Still, it is not a model of neutrality either. Razer’s top-of-the-range headphones generously flatter the ends of the spectrum, especially the bass, giving the overall sound a particularly round and warm tone. However, since this zone is not reproduced with incredible precision, like the rest of the spectrum, there is often a lack of readability and masking effects on the higher frequency bands. In other words: here we have very deep and warm bass, but sometimes overwhelming.
The application and its integrated graphic equalizer will, therefore, once again save the day on this headset. After taking care to attenuate the first frequency bands, the sound reproduction gains both naturalness and definition. The mask effects fade (without being annihilated), the reproduction and intelligibility of the voices are markedly improved—nothing to say about the reproduction of the mediums. We have here a beautiful feeling of presence and clarity. At the other end of the spectrum, however, no salvation, since the rather cramped and brilliant aspect of the highs, perceptible when the Blackshark is used wirelessly, cannot be truly compensated without distorting the rendering.
The Blackshark V2 Pro isn’t the most spectacular headset when it comes to reproducing sonic space, with its lack of definition and high-end hairline mainly limiting its capabilities. Restitution is that said sufficiently coherent and natural to immerse oneself properly, to identify the nature and the positioning of the different sources present in any content. Our assessment of the THX Spatial Audio virtual spatialization has not changed since our first experience with it. If the processing applied to the signal does give the impression of being surrounded by multiple speakers, it is based on the other hand. The appreciation of the distance from the sources. Even the closest elements seem distant,
The Blackshark V2 Pro comes with a detachable gooseneck microphone with a removable windshield. This offers good quality voice capture, largely sufficient for in-game communications, and even relatively correct to start streaming very modestly. The beautiful amplitude of the frequency response greatly limits the “telephone” effect very often associated with the microphones of wireless headsets. In addition, the tight directionality allows the voice to be naturally and effectively detached from the surrounding noise. In case you play with a noisy mechanical keyboard, the “reduce. ambient noise” integrated into the application will unfortunately not magically erase the noise caused by your typing companion. Still, it will limit the clicking of its keys all the same… at the cost of a voice a little more muffled.
To get the most satisfying result and the most natural voice possible, you still have to get your hands dirty. The Razer Blackshark V2 Pro microphone tends to flatter the bass too generously on the initial setting. A little turn in the software and a subtle attenuation of this zone allows better respect of the voice’s timbre and maximum intelligibility. In addition, we will take care to push strongly on the input signal to ensure the intelligibility of the voice. The threshold configured by default is indeed too low to compensate for the low sensitivity of the microphone.
The modernized and wireless version of the Blackshark has some nice advantages to showcase. Nevertheless, it has to face fierce rivals at least as talented, or even more capable in certain areas, offered moreover at a lower price: we is thinking of the RIG 800 HD, with its incredible comfort and excellent sound reproduction, or even the HyperX Cloud Flight, for its very solid overall performance.