Razer Electra £50
12th Apr 2013 | 08:30
When is a gaming headset not a gaming headset?
How does one really define a gaming headset? A set of headphones fitted with a mic and volume control? Surround sound cans with programmable neon lights? Any audio device coated in Wotsit crumbs and/ or Mountain Dew?
Razer's budget Electra offering tests this definition, and (spoiler) not in a good way. As you'll notice, the microphone is a hands-free style electret that can only be used for devices that support a combined 3.5mm audio + mic input like smartphones or the WiiU.
Which in the PC market makes them essentially… headphones. Enormous headphones that not even Ryan Gosling could pull off on the move. If you want to listen to music on a mobile device, this hulking headset won't be your first port of call.
In the Electra's defence, we're not its target market. Instead, it's aiming at the bizarrely specific group that could be defined as "people who want to play smartphone games while taking calls or Wii U gamers who hate external mics". As such, its appeal on PC is limited.
But it's not all bad. Maybe you hate social interaction, or have an unintentionally hilarious voice that only brings sorrow when you talk to people online. Maybe you don't care about mics at all - so how does the rest of the package shape up?
These cans redeem themselves in two areas. First, they're comfortable. Each ear piece has a wide range of movement and is finished in a pleasantly squishy plastic. The shape of those ear pieces eliminates a surprising amount of ambient noise too, and there's little to no seashell effect when wearing them.
The headband, though wide and cushioned, does want to dig in a little tighter than is strictly comfortable, but after a few hours of use it remains much more comfortable than most £50 headsets.
Ace of bass
Sound quality isn't all that great: the frequency response range is a modest 100Hz to 10 KHz, and if we're going to be snotty audiophiles about it, then the overtweaked bass compromises the overall sound quality.
Like many cheaper headsets, the Electra boosts its bass levels to compensate for the budget 40mm drivers, so explosions sound good but your favourite shoegaze song sounds like an unrecognisable mess. Talking, however, purely about in-game sound, these do the job better than the audiophile in us wants to admit.
There's still just about enough clarity above the formidable low-end rumble, and that rumble has surprising warmth. It's just hard not to grin while listening to something particularly bassy (Rusko/Nero/Ving Rhames audiobook).
That still doesn't leave us with enough to recommend the Electra headset to you. We can't look past the combined audio + mic jack, which leaves you without one of the basic functions of a gaming headset. This isn't a poorly made product - it's just not as much of a catch-all solution as it thinks.