Great headphones with one near fatal flaw.
If you stopped by Razer’s booth at PAX AUS this year you may have noticed a very serious looking pair of headphones on display. The Razer Thresher for Xbox One look so aggressive, it’s as though they were sealed behind glass for your protection rather than theirs.
Styled similar to most other Razer headsets, the Thresher’s matte black with speaker grille combo and trim coloured in Xbox green projects an image of strength unlike most headphones on the market. Laden with illuminated green Razer logos in each ear cup, these cans look hardcore without the unnecessary overkill of Razer’s chroma colour changing LED bling.
Suspended on your head with a self adjusting headband padded with mesh fabric and held in place with super-soft leather earcups the Thresher is comfortable and light, yet still remains solid as a rock.
The first headset on the market that utilises the Xbox One’s internal wireless tech, the Thresher requires no dongle and instead syncs to the console in the exact same manner as the Xbox controller. This means turning off the console also automatically turns off the headset saving precious battery power while also keeping all your USB ports free and your console looking neat and tidy.
A staple of the Razer headset range, the boom microphone retracts into the left ear cup and sports a red LED that indicates when the mic is muted. Annoyingly, also like others in the range, by default the mic is always un-muted every time the headset is turned on. In our review of Razer’s Man o’ War a few months back we pointed out the missed opportunity to have the mic mute automatically when retracted rather than relying on the need to press the volume dial. Nothing’s changed here.
At the business end of the feature list is the audio quality. The 50mm drivers produce crystal clear, uncompressed audio which is well balanced sound at both ends of the spectrum with seemingly zero latency. The 7.1 surround sound, while true to the impression of 7 audio sources creating a grand soundstage and fantastic spatial awareness, the .1 representing a dedicated low range speaker is barely there with plenty of rumble but little to no punch to speak of. But that can be fixed with one of the EQ settings right? WRONG!
In a design choice that’s left me completely dumbfounded, there is literally no option to adjust the audio to suit your preferences. No presets. No dials. Nothing.
This has forced these headphones to ship with a one size fits all audio configuration and as we all know audio preferences are certainly not the same for everyone. To make things more frustrating, the Thresher features the same 50mm drivers that are installed in the PC dedicated Man o’ War, and with the right EQ settings the Man o’ War sounds incredible!
In an act of sheer desperation we attempted to plug the Thresher into a PC with Razer’s Synapse software installed. As expected nothing happened.
It needs to be reiterated that the audio produced by the Thresher is more than just good. It’s great. It truly shines when listening to the classical score of the Halo games and the mayhem found in Gears of War 4. Even the intentionally degraded audio of Cup Head sounded fantastic. But while I’m in no way an audiophile, I know what I like when it comes to sound and the inability to tweak the Thresher to suit my preferences is a massive let-down.
The Thresher also features technology that adjusts the sound quality depending on any interference in the area to ensure there is no audio lag in any setting. While it wasn’t specifically tested with intentional interference, during a short two hour gaming session the audio quality degraded significantly after the first hour with gradually increasing stutters, clicks and ticks occurring across a range of games. A quick power cycle of the headset rectified this annoyance and in the weeks that followed the problem didn’t return.
After using the Thresher for a few weeks, rather than revel in the quality audio and enjoy the high level of comfort this thing provides, I struggle to resist the urge to physically shake the designers of this thing and scream, “What the hell were you thinking? Where’s the EQ button?”
If you’re in no way concerned with fine tuning audio to suit your needs, the Razer Thresher produces quality surround sound in a hassle free package that’s comfortable to wear for hours. It’s the perfect example of plug and play (without the plug because… you know… wireless). Just sync it up and off you go. But if you care about your sound even the slightest, the lack of customisation is enough reason to shop elsewhere.
At $229.95 AUD for the Thresher, or a whopping $399.00 AUD for the Ultimate version which adds Dolby sound and a stand, trying before you buy is a must.