Gaming Headset Buyer's Guide & Roundup

Article Index

Razer Carcharias

Razer has become a well known name in PC gaming peripherals and it's no surprise that they offer a line of gaming oriented headphones and headsets. We'll be checking out two of Razer's gaming headsets which are similar in some ways yet very different in others. The first up is the oddly named Razer Carcharias.

Razer likes to theme their product lines after different kinds of animals. Their gaming mice are named after snakes, their keyboards are spiders and their sound products get their names from predatory fish. In case you were wondering, "carcharias" is a term often used to refer to the Odontaspidae family of sharks. In this context the name makes perfect sense, though it doesn't get any catchier even when you know what it means.

The Razer Carcharias is an analog headset with a non-detachable boom mic. The headset uses a set of standard 1/8" (3.5mm) audio plugs for the audio input and another for the microphone output. This means you can use it as a normal headphone, though the mic isn't detachable so you'll look pretty weird with it attached to a MP3 player.

 Razer Carcharias
 Frequency Response
 20Hz - 20kHz
 Driver Design
 40mm per ear cup
 102 dB
 Impedance  32 Ohms
 Cable Length
 10 ft (3 m)
 In-line Volume Control
 In-line Mic Control
 Input Method
 1/8" (3.5mm) plug
 Frequency Range (mic)
 50Hz - 16kHz
 Microphone Pick-up Pattern
 Removable Microphone
 Price  $69.99

Since it's an analog headset, the Carcharias doesn't have any fancy digital processing tricks up its sleeve. In fact it doesn't have any tricks, it's pretty much a basic headset. However this isn't necessarily a bad thing as long as they sound good and the mic works well. If you have a good sound card, you can do any necessary digital processing through that anyway. The Carcharias' simplicity means it has a relatively low price. While the MSRP is $80, it can be found for much less and is often on sale.

Design & Comfort
The Razer Carcharias has a standard circumaural design and is not collapsible. The headband is made of plastic with metal wire frame size adjusters. The headset feels very sturdy but the plastic material is glossy and may scratch easily. While there is nothing special about the design of the Carcharias, it does look very striking and reminds us of the design of AKG headphones.

The microphone boom is attached to the left ear cup and is not detachable, although it can be rotated out of the way when not in use. The mic boom looks like one solid piece but can actually bend in the middle allowing for some adjustment. Unfortunately the mic can only bend in one direction and only by a bit. While we found the level of adjustment to be adequate, some users will miss the flexibility of a snake style boom. The headset has a 10 feet long cord with a small in-line control pod. The control pod has a volume dial, microphone mute button and a clothing clip built into the back. The cord is cloth braided instead of the usual rubber which makes it very flexible, a nice touch.

The Razer Carcharias is very comfortable to wear. We would subjectively judge the Carcharias (and its brother the Megalodon) the most comfortable headsets in this round-up. The earpads are large and work well with glasses. They're covered in a very soft velvet material with thick foam padding on the inside. The headband can also flex easily, contributing to a very low clamping pressure. The headset is very light and we didn't feel any fatigue while wearing it, even during extended use. Unfortunately, since the headband is so loose with such light clamping pressure, the Carcharias' ear pads do not make a good seal. They also hang somewhat loosely over each ear. While this is relatively comfortable, it does mean that plenty of sound is able to leak in and out of the ear cups.

Sound Quality
For all their no-frills simplicity, the Razer Carcharias have solid sound quality. There is no surround sound or post processing, just straight sound reproduction, and the Carcharias sound good. The sound is characterized with good highs and solid bass, but the Carcharias have a weak midrange. The headset sounded very recessed and the midrange seemed to be severely dished, almost missing. This made them sound thin and lacking depth when it comes to music.

However the noticeable emphasis on high frequency sounds gives them a bit of sparkle and makes them quite revealing in games where sounds like the tap of a footstep and the crack of a gunshot rings loudly and clearly. The solid bass, which provides plenty of tight and punchy impact, also gives explosions and shotgun blasts an extra bit of 'oomph'.

The Carcharias has good sound staging and were excellent in positioning sound effects. Overall, the sound quality is well suited to games and they work especially well in first-person shooter titles. However you might want to use something else for music as the recessed midrange will leave you wanting.

The microphone performed very well considering there is no active noise suppression. Voice recordings were clear and recording quality was good. In-game mic usage was positive, people reported that we sounded good and our voice was clear. The lack of active noise suppression means the mic will pick up a fair amount of background noise, but this isn't as bad as you might think since the microphone is a unidirectional design which primarily picks up noise in the direction of your mouth/face.

The Carcharias has the lowest cost in this round-up. It's a quality product that provides all the basics you might want in a gaming headset. However you'll be missing out on the more advanced features that the other headsets in this round-up possess. The sound quality is good in games, but the missing midrange makes them sound thin with many kinds of music. For the MSRP of $79.99 the Carcharias is a fair deal, but the Carcharias has a much lower street price which makes it a solid value. If you can live with the poor music performance and can find it for a discount, the Carcharias is an excellent choice for a basic gaming headset.

Related content