Razer Piranha Gaming Communicator Review

Propane - 2008-01-02 18:00:19 in Speakers/Headphones
Category: Speakers/Headphones
Reviewed by: Propane   
Reviewed on: January 13, 2008
Price: $79.99

Introduction:

Headsets are a hard thing to shop for. Unlike a graphics card, which has a definite speed and feature set, headsets are pretty subjective. Yes, you usually see the dynamic range of the headset, if they are closed or open ear, and if they have an inline volume control. After that, however, you get some features that you really have no idea what effect they will have. Does it really matter if the connector is gold plated? What does having a neodymium magnet driver mean? And are these features worth an extra $30 or $40? That makes reviews like this one essential tools in aiding you with your purchase decision, and I will do my best to help you out. Headsets are very helpful in a lot of situations, and more and more games have built-in VoIP support, which makes it even easier to communicate and strategize with your teammates. A headset should be in every gamer's toolbox.

The Razer Piranha headset boasts several features that everyone should like. Some of these features are the 18-22,000 Hz dynamic range (well outside the human audible range), the ability to use it with either 1/8th inch inputs/outputs or USB, and an inline volume control. Some other features that it boasts are braided fiber cable protection, 32 Ohm impedance, and a single-sided cable for "hassle free usage." These are the features that make people wonder if they're really necessary or not. Let's take a look at how the Razer Piranha stands up to some testing, and see if these specs really make for a great product.

 

Closer Look:

The packaging that the Razer Piranha Gaming Communicator comes in is a sleek black with a picture of the Piranha and its glowing blue tri-snake that most Razer fans are familiar with. Note that he logos will only illuminate when the headset is connected via USB, not via the headphone jacks.  The package is initially wrapped in a plastic cover to protect the cardboard box, but somewhere along the line, my package got torn into, which even the plastic could not stop. There was obviously some kind of shipping issue, and it was a little disappointing.

 

 

The back of the box lists the features of the Razer Piranha headset in almost a dozen languages. The downside of having so many languages is that the type is very small and would be hard to read if you didn't have the best vision. If I had to take a guess at what size font it is, it's probably around 5 or 6. When you open the box, the headset slides out and is presented nicely in a plastic/felt package. The only downside to this type of packaging is that the only way to remove the headphones is to cut the package.

 

 

Pulling the headset out reveals that the cable is long enough for almost anyone's use, measuring three meters in length. The end of the cable splits into three different wires; one for usb, and two 1/8th inch jacks for audio in and out. Use of the USB connection is optional, and provides power to light the Razer logos on the sides of the headphones and inline volume control.  The glow is a nice, soothing blue that will really make you stand out at a LAN party or when your friends come over.

 

Closer Look:

 

Included with the Razer Piranha Gaming Communicator are a lot of goodies to please any gamer. They are all about the size of a cd sleeve and are closed inside a plastic wrapper that opens up at the top. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you open up the sleeve, you see several pieces of paper. The first one is a certificate of authenticity, just in case having the product in a professionally packaged box isn't enough for you to believe it is the real thing. It actually looks pretty cool and could serve as a nice decoration in a room. Also included is a pack of two Razer logo decals, which can be applied to whatever you want; computer cases, car windshields, furniture, etc.

 

 

Additionally, a quick start guide is packaged to help you get your new headset set up and running. This is also in several languages, but seeing how you are reading this in English, that probably isn't a priority for you. A catalog of some of Razer's other great products is also included. In the catalog are several products that OCC has already reviewed, including the Razer Armadillo, Razer Coperhead, Razer DeathAdder, Razer Diamondback, Razer Krait, Razer Tarantula, Razer Barracuda HP1, Razer eXactMat, Razer Mantis speed and control, and, finally, the Razer Barracuda AC1 Sound Card.

 

Installation:

The installation of the Razer Piranha is very simple. In fact, you probably perform a pretty similar installation every day. If you are using the headset with a newer computer, you can just plug in the headset using the USB port (to light the headset) and the two 1/8th inch jacks into their respective receptors. After that, the headset will work; no special software or installation needed! The USB connection is optional, so you can still use the headset with a mobile device that lacks a free USB port; the headset simply won't glow blue.

 

Configuration:

The Razer Piranha does not come with any special software, so the configuration is the same as your operating system's configuration panels, unless you have a special sound card that has a separate configuration tool. Because of all the different possibilities here, I will not be going over this aspect. Look at your OS's help/support page or your soundcard's documentation to get more details.

Specifications:

Headphones:

Microphone:

 

Features:

 

All information sourced from Razer's website. http://www.razerzone.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2_16&products_id=77

 

Testing:

Most people do not use a headset just for gaming, so testing just gaming would be silly. Instead, these headphones will be tested in several different environments. The Razer Piranha will be tested with games, music, movies, and VoIP communication. This will allow everyone to see how well the headset works, no matter why you're in the market for one. This headset will be compared with the Logitech Free Pulse (which I reviewed here) when the voice communications is not a factor (the Free Pulse are just headphones, not a headset).

Testing Setup:

 

Gaming:

World of Warcraft:

Razer Piranha Gaming Communicator:

The Razer Piranha headset preformed beautifully in World of Warcraft. All the sounds (ambient, casting effects, and other noises) came through loud and clear. The sounds were nice and crisp, and no loss could be detected. Some people may think that World of Warcraft is not a very good test, but in reality it works very well. With so many people casting spells around you, along with the ambient sounds and enemy sounds, sound can get distorted quickly with low quality headphones, and this was not present at all with the Razer Piranha.

Logitech Free Pulse:

The Free Pulse headphones also sounded nice and came through clear. There was almost no difference between the two, with the Piranha beating out the Free Pulse in the bass and isolation departments.  However, as stated earlier, voice communication is not possible with the Free Pulse.

 

 

Music:

To test the music I used V0 quality classical music.

Razer Piranha Gaming Communicator:

When you listen to music on the Piranha, strong, thundering bass is heard and crisp highs are present. These headphones sounded much better than the Free Pulse in every category. In addition, even at low volumes, the Piranha did a great job canceling out the outside noise around my house, allowing me to just enjoy my music without distraction.

Logitech Free Pulse

The Free Pulse, with its smaller driver and open eared design, doesn't hit the bass quite as hard and the isolation feeling just isn't there. Not quite the same experience as the Piranha.

 

 

Movies:

To test these headphones with movies, I used an h.264 rip from BluRay of "300". This movie used the a52 codec for audio.

Razer Piranha Gaming Communicator:

As with music, there was a noticeable difference between the Piranha and Free Pulse in the bass and treble regions of the audio, however these differences were minimal.  Where the Piranha made the difference was in comfort; it was very comfortable over the course of the movie.

Logitech Free Pulse:

The Free Pulse headphones performed similar to the Razer, but was slightly less impressive in the very high and very low sections of the dynamic range.  In addition, the Free Pulse didn't hold a candle to the Razer in terms of comfort.

 

 

VoIP:

Razer Piranha Gaming Communicator:

The Razer Piranha headset has VoIP applications in the forefront of its mind. The microphone picks up voices well and clearly; better than my former Logitech headset. In addition, It was easier to hear people speak, since ambient noise was kept to a minimum with the nice isolation that the Razer Piranha provides.

 

 

Other Factors:

The Razer Piranha Gaming Communicator excels in more than just the audio clarity provided by the drivers and the microphone. One of the very outstanding features of the Piranha is the extreme comfort provided by the foam ear pads and the foam top band. Together, these provide for a very comfortable listening experience. I was able to wear this headset throughout the writing of this review, and even longer.

Another nice feature that the Piranha has is the sound isolation they provide. Even at low volumes, I was able to be shut out from the rest of the outside world. While it wasn't the best at sound isolation, it was much better than open ear headphones.

Finally, the headset just looks cool. The glowing Razer logo adds a nice accent that just makes people want to go, "Wow, that looks pretty sweet!" Razer has a fine reputation for making hardware that not only works well, but also looks sweet, and this headset it no exception.

Conclusion:

When I first received the Razer Piranha Gaming Communicator, I had high expectations; after all, it is a Razer product. These high expectations were worth having too, as the Piranha met every one of them. The sound quality blew me away, leaving me and my FLAC collection in a fun place of musical enjoyment. The drivers were able to withstand high volumes and only distorted when I pushed the headset to the extreme (eg. Chemical Brothers - Under The Influence at a really high volume).  This didn't matter much since, at that point, I was wanting to turn down the volume, as I was worried about hearing damage. The comfort is unsurpassed by any other headset or headphones that I have ever owned or tested, and the noise isolation of them is superb for the price. I love music and consider myself an audiophile, and I could really pick up the finer details in the music with this headset. The only thing I wished was different, was that instead of using the USB connection to only power the lights, it would act as a USB headset as well. However, that is a small price to pay for a headset that is this nice. Overall, I really enjoyed the Razer Piranha Gaming Communicator and will continue to use them for everything from staff meetings to casual music listening.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: