Razer today launches two models of the BlackShark V2 wired gaming headset, following the original model released in 2012. Of these two models, the $ 99.99 BlackShark V2 (pictured above) has more features, while the $ 59.99 BlackShark V2 X has been stripped down a bit in comparison. Importantly, both have an excellent tactile button for adjusting the volume on the left earcup, cross compatibility with PC and consoles via their 3.5mm cable, as well as generous size options (in case you have a larger-than-normal head). They also both have a mute button to easily close communication with your team.
What drives the cost up in the more expensive version is usually due to the included USB sound card that snaps onto the end of the headset’s 3.5mm cable. Once attached, the sound card offers some additional smart features for the headset, allowing you to adjust the microphone equalizer to tailor your voice to your needs. It also lets you adjust the EQ settings in Razer’s Synapse 3 software and allows THX’s spatial audio integration, broadening Razer’s lineup of headsets that support the feature. Razer told me that the sound card is not available separately at launch.
Razer claims that the BlackShark V2 “goes beyond 7.1” in providing an all-encompassing sound. I wouldn’t go that far, but after testing in a few games I found it certainly adds depth to the sound and makes locating an enemy much easier.
Debuting in time for the launch of the premium headset, THX game-specific profiles developed in collaboration with developers and powered by the USB sound card use spatial audio in a unique way to suit the game. For example in Apex Legends, you can use spatial THX audio for a more lifelike experience that brings out every detail, or you can switch to a competitive mode that Razer believes gives you the “unfair advantage” of a headset that can filter out sounds that aren’t essential to competitive play .
More than a dozen games will be supported by this feature upon launch on August 6, including Destination 2, Valorant, Doom Eternal, Call of Duty: Warzone, Half-Life: Alyx, Metro Exodus, Red Dead Redemption 2, and more. Razer says it will add spatial audio profiles for popular games moving forward.
There are a few other differences between the two headsets apart from the THX-compatible features described above. The more expensive version has soft, breathable ear cushions that isolate the sound well, while the entry-level model has leather-like earcups. I haven’t tested them, but they may get a little warm during the summer months.
The adjustable noise-canceling cardioid microphone is the same on both models, but is removable on the $ 99.99 headset only. Razer uses its new “TriForce” 50mm drivers in both, with a patented design that delegates low, mid and high-frequency sound to its own part of the driver – the idea being that this will avoid confusing every part of the soundscape. Sound performance should be similar, although Razer says the high-end option has titanium-coated drivers for more clarity and less distortion.
I haven’t tested the cheaper V2 X, so I can’t offer a fair comparison, but the main V2 headset delivers clear sound that’s enjoyable for both music and games. In addition, in the games I tested using the spatial audio, such as No Man’s Sky and Red Dead Redemption 2, it certainly makes a difference from listening with the standard audio profile. The quality of the spatial audio and audio performance in general isn’t something I haven’t heard before, but it’s certainly nice to have in a $ 99.99 package.