As mentioned in my previous review, we have changed the testing methodology for audio headsets. The new suite gives us more technical details about the headset in review. There are four stages of our testing– Technical testing, Gaming, Music/Movies and Comfort. Technical testing is done through a series of controlled tests to check the quality of the drivers. Gaming tests include some game time of different games with an open environment and a lot of sound processing. For music we do not compromise on the quality of the track so all the audio used in the testing are in the FLAC format. Blu-Ray movies with surround/stereo sound are used to test the headset. Lastly, comfort level is the key to any headset review so we observe it throughout our testing especially during long hours of gameplay. All the testing is done through FiiO E07 USB DAC/AMP to prevent any kind of bottleneck from the hardware point of view.
Frequency Response – In this test, the headset’s treble and bass extensions are tested through two sets of files with measured frequency ranging from as low as 10 Hz to a maximum of 200 Hz for bass and 22 kHz till 8 kHz for Treble.
There were hardly any doubts that Kraken Forged edition will have any problems during these tests as it breezed through them without any problems. The headset managed to go as low 12 Hz for Bass extension and as high as 22 KHz for treble.
Dynamic Range – This is a test to check out the isolation of the headphones in a noisy environment. This test was conducted in a university cafeteria with more than 100 people chatting around. The test track is played at decreasing levels and tests the lowest dBFS (decibels below full scale) of the headset.
The Kraken Forged edition impressed us in this test as well by reaching 80 dBFS. The custom tuned 40 mm neodymium combined with hard leather cushions played their part during this test. I was expecting around 100 dBFS from this headset but the sound isolation in this headset is great.
Quality & Driver Matching – At high levels many headphones start rattling during deep bass outputs which means that the quality of the audio driver is not on par. Driver matching is equally important since every headset should respond equally to every frequency thrown at it. These two tests are most important for audiophiles.
This is where most headsets fail during the testing since their design is not optimized. While the headset might feature powerful audio drivers but the assembling and outer shell can make it rattle during heavy bass. Kraken Forged edition proofed that Razer’s hand assembly is near perfection as the bass was booming without any rattling. Driver matching of both Left and Right ear cups was in line and accurate so again Kraken Forged edition does its job pretty well.
Razer’s main focus with this headset is to capture the audiophile market but at the same time keep the gamers happy. The original Kraken performed quite well in gaming especially in close combat where sound plays a very key role. After being already impressed with Kraken Forged edition, I was happy to go forward in my testing. Playing Battlefield 4 with this headset was a treat, not only the footsteps, gunfire and environment sounds were clear also the ear bobbling bass during explosions was just too good. Overall, Kraken Forged edition enhanced the gameplay of every game I tested. There was a disappointment in terms of comfort which I’ll discuss later on in the review.
Music and Movies:
Sound producers and DJs do not compromise on quality when it comes to headphones. Razer had to make sure that Kraken Forged edition does not fail in this category since the whole point of sale of this headset is to impress audiophiles. After tweaking the amp and audio settings, I listened to one hour of my music playlist which consists of tracks from different genres – Trance, Electro, House, Vocal and Instrumentals. As much as I enjoyed the experience I also disliked some aspects of it as well. Kraken Forged edition produced good highs and lows, and the drops were spot on as well but the headset lacked consistency during playback. The sound quality differed from track to track even though all the sound tracks are formatted in FLAC codec so audio loss was not an option here and other headsets were not experiencing this issue. For example, vocals in tracks were sometimes too high and sometimes too low which was kind of a disappointment. I did not get a chance to test them on any DJ mixer and get an opinion from an actual DJ but for me music playback was not up to the mark.
When it comes to movies, Kraken Forged edition only features stereo sound whereas movies usually shine with surround sound. Some headsets have stereo drivers but they do have an option of virtual surround but Razer did not offer that in this headset. Movie playback was smooth and much like gaming with clear sound and the best parts were the explosions and destruction since the best thing about this headset is the bass.
Comfort is one factor where Razer Kraken Forged edition really disappointed me. The heavy weight of the headset combined with the small size of the ear cups result in itchiness and discomfort after a short while. After every hour I had to take them off and give my ears some rest since sometimes it becomes unbearable. Kraken Forged edition is definitely not for long gaming or audio sessions. Razer could not manage to pull off this great headset as I hoped it would since this is not the manufacturer’s first try on making headsets. The original Kraken and other Razer headphones have excellent ergonomics and comfort levels so not having the same in a high-end, more expensive headset is not good.
The omni-directional microphone is very common in todays’ headsets. For an average gamer and music listener, microphone does not play an important part since its only used for voice calls and in-game chat. Kraken Forged edition’s mic does quite well in this regard as the recorded audio is clear and there is no static during Skype calls. Overall, the mic performs without any problems.