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Razer Blackshark V2 Pro headset review: A potent weapon for the right gamer
Razer's top-end wireless headset has a lot to prove with its $180 price tag. We take a look at the sound and build quality, functionality, and comfort to see if its wireless convenience is worth the cost.
Razer owns one of the largest back catalogs of gaming headsets among any peripheral maker on the market. Most of these models in recent years have followed a similar aesthetic: large, round, mesh-backed earcups like those found in the long-tenured Kraken, Thresher, and Nari lines.
Recently, Razer has decided to stray from this form factor and begin moving towards designs with smaller, oval earcups. At the top end of this wave of headsets sits the Blackshark V2 Pro. This wireless gaming audio solution attempts to provide top-end sound output, a flexible and removable microphone, and long-wearing comfort in a package that, especially for Razer, looks unusually understated on the outside.
Let's take a look at how Razer's decision to stray from its typical path performs at the job it was built for, and at all of the other PC audio tasks users are likely to throw at it.
Given the unique stylings of the Razer Blackshark V2 Pro, it's worth taking a close look at its form factor and build quality.
The build of the headset is primarily plastic. Although this is often seen as a downgrade from metal construction, no portion of the Blackshark V2 Pro feels flimsy, brittle, or easily broken. Ironically, the most visually fragile-seeming portion of the headset is one of its few metal parts: the slim wire forks that connect the headband to the earcups.
These forks serve as the suspension point for the earcups and their height adjustment. Each side fits into a plastic tube that allows for the extension of the headset's band. The good news is, once set, the friction-based adjustments stood where I put them and provided enough room for my head.
I should note that my particular noggin is on the larger side. In fact, it's large enough that I've had issues with Steelseries Arctis and Corsair Virtuoso models, because neither provided the needed size for a comfortable fit. The Blackshark V2 Pro fits me with room to spare.
That extra headspace was easy to enjoy thanks to the surprisingly light weight of the unit. Even with its large 50mm drivers and confidence-inspiring build, the headset only weighs a relatively light 320g. That's a mere 60g heavier than the corded Blackshark V2, and about 40g lighter than the more metallic constructions of either of the aforementioned headsets from Corsair and Steelseries.
Also adding to the comfort is Razer's use of its proprietary Flowknit fabric and memory foam across the ear cups and headband. The combination of breathable fabric and form-fitting padding was one of the most comfortable I've used. It didn't develop any of the heat build-up leather earcups can create, nor any of the irritating friction found in some of the other, rougher fabric pads I've used.
Thankfully, the ear cups still provide solid passive noise isolation thanks to the Blackshark V2 Pro's closed-back ear cups and dense foam. It may not quite be able to match the seal provided by a leather or leatherette covering, but the slight amount of additional sound leakage is well worth the extra airflow and comfort provided by the Flowknit fabric.
Of course, if you want to use the headset in an extremely noisy environment, you may want to take that into consideration, as the ear cups are not replaceable.
Speaking of noisy environments, the V2 Pro ships with a detachable, uni-directional cardioid mic specifically designed to pick up sound in a heart-shaped area focusing on your mouth. This should, in theory, provide clear, isolated pickup of your voice without bringing in unwanted sounds like incessant key presses or loud mouse clicks. We'll cover how the mic performs at this task in more depth further on in our review. In the meantime, I appreciated its sturdy attachment, easily positionable arm, and effective pop filter.
The last major factor in the Blackshark's build quality is the control and connection cluster located on the left earcup. The most noticeable part is the large, protruding volume knob. While I'm not entirely sold on the cosmetic choice of placing such a large knob on an otherwise understated headset, it does fall in line with the headset's helicopter-pilot aesthetic.
Whatever your thoughts are on its looks, you'll likely enjoy using the knob as much as I did. It's got that smooth, weighty-but-frictionless feel that high-end audio equipment makers strive for. It also includes a convenient detent in its rotation to let you know when you've hit 50% volume.
On the bottom of the earcup, you'll find the mic's connection point (keyed to ensure it clicks into place facing the right direction); an analog audio connector that lets you use the headset in wired configurations with your PC, Xbox, PlayStation, or Nintendo Switch; a mic mute switch that pops out to provide a tactile indicator of its state; the unit's power button; and what is likely to be one of the more controversial decisions razer made for this device, a micro-USB port for charging.
The Blackshark V2 Pro was released at a time when USB-C was more than commonplace enough to warrant its inclusion. On top of the extra convenience of the newer protocol's bi-directional insertion, it also usually provides faster charging. I can't praise Razer for relying on the older micro-USB connector, but thanks to how infrequently I needed to charge the unit (a perk we'll cover in more detail below), it's not a deal breaker.
Comfort is, of course, vital in any peripheral you're expected to have sitting on your head for hours at a time. However, you're paying a significant premium for the Blackshark V2 Pro for a specific reason: wireless connectivity. The unit's MSRP hits at $110 more than the completely analog Blackshark V2 X, or $80 more than the Blackshark V2, which includes a USB sound card connection option. Essentially every other hardware aspect of the cheaper models, down to the 50mm drivers, comfort, and build quality, is otherwise identical.
Because of this, it's vital that the wireless connectivity in question perform flawlessly. Luckily for Razer, that's exactly what it did.
The included USB-A dongle is required for wireless use. The dongle's not as small as similar connectors for wireless mice, but it's still smaller than most flash drives, and easy to fit in most USB ports. It works with PCs, the PlayStation 4 and 5, and Nintendo Switch. Unfortunately, Xbox consoles only work in wired configurations.
Rather than relying on Bluetooth, which this model doesn't support, the unit uses low-latency 2.4GHz wireless connectivity. This avoids the lag and sync issues Bluetooth headsets often suffer from. These limitations can delay audio by as much as a second or more, long enough to ruin even casual games.
Razer pegs the range of the headset's range at 40 feet, and I was able to easily achieve this and a bit more (with a couple of walls between for good measure) before the signal started to break up.
I've talked up the importance of wireless connectivity enough that it should be clear I cannot recommend this headset to anyone looking primarily for a wired solution or Xbox headset. If that describes you, just pick up its $60 sibling, the Blackshark V2 X. That said, the option to use your V2 Pro with its included analog audio cord makes it a flexible, single-purchase solution for those needing a headset that can be used across every PC or console they own.
Power and charging
Like any wireless headset, the Blackshark V2 Pro is only wireless for as long as its battery lasts. Razer claims 24 hours of continuous use on a single charge. While the company doesn't specifically list the settings this timeframe used on its spec sheet, manufacturer measurements typically rely on a lower volume level and idealized settings to bump up their durations.
In this case, Razer was either very conservative with its estimates, or my preferred settings are lighter-weight than the ones it used. I was able to consistently exceed Razer's estimates with a volume setting of around 40%, using one of the built-in equalizer settings, with the extra enhancements in Razer's Synapse software (more on that below) turned off. In fact, with 2-3 hours of use per day, I was able to go well into a second week before needing to recharge.
The recharge cycle lasted about 3 hours for me. Of course, if you're the kind of person that automatically pops your device back onto the charger after every use, you'll likely never run out of charge unless you undertake an unhealthily long gaming session.
This is what it all comes down to, isn't it? A headset's job, first and foremost, is to provide excellent sound quality. But, what defines excellent is not only particular to each user, it's also particular to each use case. The same audio profile that's excellent for gaming may ruin your favorite music, for example.
To be clear, the Razer Blackshark V2 Pro is designed to be a gaming headset. You can use it for music, but that is not its intended purpose. There are much more correctly tuned headphones, wireless and wired, that can be had for around the same price or less. To be blunt, I would not recommend this headset for music listening.
While it is a serviceable way to listen to your favorite tunes, the overall experience isn't particularly enjoyable. Highlights like the surprisingly excellent instrument separation and crystal-clear vocals are offset by downsides like overly sharp treble and unconvincing bass reproduction. This can be helped only slightly by using Synapse's built-in equalizer settings. The "Music" preset does only a little to improve the unit's performance in most genres, and even obsessively tweaking one slider at a time produced mediocre results in my testing.
When it comes to gaming, nearly all of those weaknesses I've mentioned above turn into strengths. That same ultra-sharp treble makes the footsteps of your enemies stand out above the muted bass of nearby explosions. This is made more useful by the exceptional directionality of the Blackshark's V2 Pro's sound production, which pinpoints the source of any in-game audio not just horizontally, but also vertically.
The latter ability is a rare accomplishment, even among much more expensive wired headphones. Any decent stereo headphone can give you a general sense of which direction a sound is occurring in on a flat plane. However, most games tend to include enemies also coming at you from above and below. The extra level of knowledge saved my life many times in games like Halo Infinite, Overwatch, and Splitgate, all of which feature extensive verticality across their maps.
There were even a couple of times I was accused of "wall hacking," or using illegal software to cheat by seeing through walls. In reality, I was using the directional sound to lay in wait for approaching enemies I'd heard nearby. As any gamer knows, being accused of hacking is a badge of honor, especially when you're not.
I should note that all of this praise goes toward the Blackshark V2 Pro's standard audio mode. The headset also supports THX Spatial Audio, a software-based sound processing technology that is meant to improve the surround sound experience of using a stereo headset. Unfortunately, I found that turning on this mode not only degraded audio directionality but also reduced the overall clarity and quality of in-game sound.
This was not a particularly surprising outcome. Most software-based surround sound technologies I've used in other headsets have produced similarly mediocre results.
To be clear, I've focused primarily on the types of competitive games that rely on sound to give you an impactful in-game advantage. For more casual titles, RPGs, cinematic games, and other genres where soaring orchestral soundtracks are more important than pinpoint-accurate footsteps, many of these advantages will be tempered by the same drawbacks that I mentioned about the headset's musical performance. Razer clearly designed and tuned this headset to please the first-person shooter (FPS) pro more than the chill game enjoyers out there.
Rather than reading from a script or just riffing on the meaning of life, I thought it would make sense to combine a microphone test for the Blackshark V2 Pro with a rundown of the microphone section of the Razer Synapse companion software.
Due to the subjective nature of sound quality, it's best for you to make your own determinations based on the sound provided in the video above.
That said, my only real gripe with the headset's microphone is that its normal volume levels are too low, even when set to 100%. There are, fortunately, ways to increase your voice volume beyond the standard 100%. However, most of these introduce at least a little extra compression to your voice, reducing clarity and flattening your tone a bit.
Even with this taken into account, the Blackshark V2 Pro's mic is one of the best wireless options I've tested. No, it can't compete with the purely analogue clarity of a well-made wired headset, and it can't hold a candle to a decent, stand-alone boom mic. But, once again, you should be choosing this model primarily for the convenience of its wireless connectivity, which none of those products can offer.
That convenience comes with minor concessions in areas like mic input quality. Thankfully for owners of this headset, the trade-off is meager enough to be well worth the lack of tangled cords and dangerous cables that are liable to yank your computer off your desk when you forget you're wearing your headset and walk away.
The Razer Blackshark V2 Pro is a purpose-built machine. When used for the competitive gaming titles Razer clearly tuned it for, it shines, offering pinpoint directional hearing and the crystalline highs needed to track your enemy's movements without ever setting eyes on them.
Because of this exceptional efficacy in its intended space, it's hard to fault it for stumbling a little when it comes to music and grander, more orchestral game soundtracks.
This laser-focused purpose does limit the product's audience somewhat. But, for those concerned, first and foremost, with using their audio equipment for a competitive advantage, the Blackshark V2 Pro offers among the best wireless options currently available at any price point.