The folks at Razer have certainly become one of the biggest forces in the PC mice market for gamers with a number of products that have gotten high acclaim, so much so that Microsoft is partnering with Razer for an upcoming mouse product. However, Razer recently released their first product in an all new area of PC hardware with their Barracuda HP-1 Gaming Headphones. While these headphones are designed to be used specifically with another Razer product, the Barracuda AC-1 Audio Card (as of this writing not yet released), the headphones can be used separately. Overall the Barracuda headphones are a pretty decent set for gaming but a few items could have been improved.
First let’s get to the tech bullet points before we talk about our experiences with the Razer:
8 Discrete Drivers: 6 for Mid-High Frequency, 2 for Bass.
Individual Channel Volume Control and 1 Master Volume Control.
6 Channel Analog Inputs.
Eight Amplifiers contained within its volume control units.
The headphones themselves are a bit on the large side with a suspension system that definitely sticks out from above your head (prepare for some stares from people if you use these on a plane) and a cloth headrest below the suspension system that connect the pair of headphones. We would have preferred some kind of adjustment system but the Barracuda does not allow for that. However the headphones were very comfortable on the ears and head and we used them for not only several hours of gaming but several hours on a plane with no complaints.
Inside the headphone ear muffs are the three speakers plus a subwoofer behind the speakers for each side. The idea is to simulate a multi-speaker set-up inside your headphones. Volume for the headphones are handled by a rather large (a bit too large for our tastes) unit that is connected via the products cord. The main volume is controlled by a rather large oval shaped device on the unit and along both sides of it there are smaller wheels that control the volume of the front, center, rear and bass volumes. The two sides of the headphones as well as the volume unit have the Razer logo that glow when you activate a switch on the volume unit; it also shuts off the unit entirely. There is also a connection below one of the headphone for the tiny plastic microphone that is included in the Barracuda; while it seems to be a decent microphone we do worry that it may get misplaced because of its small size.
The most interesting feature of the Barracuda is something that we can’t as yet evaluate. The end of the headphone’s wire is a DVI-like connector that they are calling the HD-DAI connection. The problem is that this connection is only for one PC sound card; the as-yet unreleased Razer Barracuda AC-1. Not to worry, however, since Razer also offers an adapter that has several normal sound card connections for most typical PC sound cards, along with a USB connection that’s necessary for the headphone’s operation (presumably for powering up the volume unit and the headphone’s glowing lights).
So how does the Barracuda sound? Overall it performed well while playing heated Counter-Strike or Battlefield 2 games along with the recently closed beta test for Battlefield 2142. Playing DVDs while on a plane with our laptop was very pleasant. The sound was crisp for the most part to our ears with little to no distortion when we played games, DVDs or MP3 files. Oddly enough, the only application we had a problem with listening with on the Barracuda was with the newly released Amazon Unbox media app. We downloaded an episode of Star Trek but was only able to listen clearly to the music and sound effects; the actor’s voices never went above a whisper (this may be a problem with the media app rather than the headphones).