Razer Barracuda HP-1 Gaming Headphones
Published: 21st June 2007 | Source: Razer | Price: |Testing Method
To fully put the Barracuda's through their paces, I tested them out on three soundcards and a range of games and music. The soundcards used were the Creative Soundblaster Audigy 2 ZS Gamer, the Creative X-Fi XtremeGamer and the Abit AB9 Pro On-Board soundcard. All of these soundcards have 5.1 capabilities and each were using the latest drivers in Windows Vista.
My software tests included the following:
- Counter-Strike: Source
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent
- CD played with Windows Media Player 11
- DVD played with Windows Media Player 11
- Teamspeak RC2 and Ventrilo (gaming communications)
My main focus would be with the gaming performance of these headphones as this is what they have been designed for. I chose Counterstrike: Source and Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell for a number of differenct reasons. Firstly, Counter-Strike: Source requires pinpoint accuracy in which to seek out your opponents footsteps. Therefore I would be looking for exceptional directional clarity, impressive depth and range combined with a solid balance between bass and treble (bass for the firing guns and treble for the tinkle of shells dropping to the floor). With Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, I would be looking for clarity and depth in not only the sound effects but the audio performance from characters walking and talking combined with the overall ambiance created.
For the music testing, I focussed on around 10 songs, all from different genres from rock, to classical, to R&B. This allowed me to listen for the clarity and depth in the range compared to my current Sennheiser headphones along with picking up any distortions in the sound quality. I also tested the Barracuda's with a scene from the film "Blade" which I've always found great for testing surround sound.
Finally the microphones performance was tested in both teamspeak and ventrilo for in-game communications in order to establish the clarity and performance of this rather small microphone.
The first game to test the Barracuda's was Counter-Strike: Source and my impressions were somewhat mixed. The directional sounds were impressive and there was a new level of depth that my current headphones could not match. Picking out footsteps on walkways above me become a lot more easier as not only did the surround sound pinpoint the area in which the footsteps originated, but also, the distance and angle away from my position. Most impressive! However the reasons for my mixed feelings came down to the apparent lack of bass. Compared to normal stereo headphones, the bass felt quite empty leaving quite a "tinny" feel to the whole experience. This however did improve when using the headphones with the Creative X-Fi XtremeGamer soundcard, so this made me think about what the Barracuda's would be like when using Razers own soundcard, the AC-1.
Next was Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent. This did sound better than Counter-Strike: Source with great spacial depth and clarity. Footsteps, ambient sounds, speech and gunfire all felt very realistic and immersive. Again the bass was not as strong as my normal stereo headphones, but the 5.1 raised the gaming experience leaving me feeling pleasently pleased with the Barracuda's.
Using Media Player 11 along with CD's (as I did not want to test MP3's due to differing bitrates) I proceeded to test out a wide variety of music. Now this did sound good! I'm assuming due to the size of the ear cups, the sound did seem to spread out more and the treble clarity was very impressive. Bass was improved a great deal over the gaming experience, although still not strong enough for my liking. However, in testing a wide variety of music, the Barracuda's really were "on song" (excuse the pun!). There was no apparent distortion even when they were turned up to the highest volume and in tweaking the volume balance between speakers, you could clearly hear the depth and position change of the sound - it was much more apparent than in games.
My DVD choice for testing surround sound is always Blade! There is a scene where Wesley Snipes throws a boomarang type blade around a room, which does a full circle. This is always a very good test when using surround sound as you can hear the blade circle right around your head. So how did the Barracuda's do? Well very well indeed, especially for a set of headphones. The experience was extremely immersive and the sound did travel all around the room, or so it seemed, so very impressive! Also the clarity of the speech was excelent along with punchy bass. For a gaming headset, I found it's performance most impressive.
When purchasing a headset for gaming, it is imperative that a microphone is included for in game communications. Thankfully Razer has provided just the thing! As previously mentioned, the microphone itself is rather small and detachable (not good if you have a habit of losing things). With this in mind, I'm interested to see how it performs compared to other microphones (namely my Sennheisers). Well it's on par with the Sennheisers without a question, which for a small microphone is impressive.
When using Ventrillo or Teamspeak2, speech was clear and easy to understand which is all I require from my microphone. I did however find the clarity was at it's best when using the Creative X-Fi XtremeGamer soundcard and can only attribute this to the technology used in this card. Overall I had no gripes with the microphone performance and was more than happy with it for gaming use.