There’s no denying it: technology advances faster than Kim K. switches suitors. Yet not all are as uhh…AHEM, “bountiful” as the celeb of questionable talent. As tech journalists we must wade through a sea of gimmicky i-knockoffs, silly-pads and countless other subpar tech before we get to the creamy center of gadget gold. But just when I herald a single solution as crème of the crop, another lands in my lap to remind us all, there’s always something better lurking around the corner.
Enter the Razer Tiamat Elite 7.1 Surround Sound Analog Gaming Headset and it’s far from lurking. The Tiamat sashays in, unfazed by the mountain of high performing competition that has come before it. Until now, Astro Gaming and SteelSeries had made me their adorable female dog–repeatedly barking their praises as if paid to do so.
Without mincing words, you can now consider the Razer Tiamat 7.1 headset solution as the veritable King Slayer, usurping the crown completely from the colorful SteelSeries 7H headset, in every possible way. But we’ll start with the striking design. The main headset, which is noticeably larger than most, comes in a single color. Don’t even think about other palette options such as we saw with the Astros and the SteelSeries products. The single green-on-black motif is a handsome solitary solution. But here’s something, which seems to take a page from the Astro handbook – removable magnetic speaker covers. They don’t come in an array of different shades or graphic designs, like the Astros. They are also not as stylish. It’s a nice touch but some design or creativity could have benefited this idea. It seems more like an afterthought.
Alas, this is just fine! I rocked this set minus the covers, to show off the five speaker drivers in each earpiece. They can be seen through the transparent plastic, are accented in green and look crazy cool next to the green illuminated Razer logos on each side! The headphones themselves are one-size-fits-all with no adjustability. Don’t feel rained-on. The head cushion is very well padded and attached to the headset with an elastic strap hidden inside the padding. It stretches to fit the most challenging gamer-macrocephalia. The smaller-headed need not worry either. That strap is fairly taut. So if you don’t need the extra headroom, it won’t stretch unnecessarily and leave you with the earpieces down at your neck. This coupled with the pillow-soft ear cushions and lightweight design, makes extended gaming sessions pleasant, with the Tiamat 7.1 offering surprising comfort for any unit–not to mention one that is so massive.
Yet two things have left me utterly enamored with Razer Tiamat 7.1 headset: overall sound quality and the robust volume control unit, which comes tethered to the main headset. I’ll get to the former in a bit. First that control unit! It’s of solid weight without being too heavy. Plus it gives the user command of each individual speaker, the microphone and the subwoofer. That is a total of 7(!) different volume controls. There is also a convenient mute button for the mic and a “7.1″ button to toggle between true 7.1 surround and 2.1 stereo sound. Not bad at all.
Though the icing on this audio bake is a simple speaker bypass connector. The Tiamat 7.1 ships with a connector that allows you to plug your 5.1/7.1 speaker system into the volume control unit, while the Tiamat plugs into the four plugs on the back of your high-end sound card. Razer has a list of sound cards that will take the most advantage of the Tiamat’s true 7.1 surround. After connecting the speaker bypass, you can press the Speaker button on the volume control to listen through the headset or through your speakers. No more incessant wading through the Windows Playback devices for this. It’s now right at your finger tips. Just make sure you mute or power-off your speaker when playing audio through the headies. There may be some feedback. Other than that, you’re golden. I know such a feature sounds simple. But it makes a huge difference in convenience. It’s a pain when you enter a game and realize the audio is blasting through your speakers and not your headset. You usually have to alt+Tab to the desktop or quit the game entirely to adjust your playback options accordingly. No more! This bypass puts the control in a single button. I love it!
Those three words nicely sum up my ongoing experience with the Razer Tiamat 7.1 gaming headset. Gaming with these bad boys is a real gift for the aural gods. The audio clarity has to be experienced firsthand for full appreciation. The sound is super clear and full. Many gaming headsets ramp up the bass, thinking explosions and booming gun sounds will be enhanced. Thankfully Razer knows better. The default settings near perfect. But I did nudge a few toggles on X-Fi soundcard equalizer utilities just to fine tune things to my taste. It took less than five minutes.
In addition, positional audio is fantastic. That 7.1 surround leaves very little to the imagination. All those little speakers work in tandem so you know exactly where everything is audibly. Moreover, this sweet sound is practically caramelized by silence. To be specific, these puffy ear cushions are massively successful in canceling out ambient noise. Honestly, I don’t like wearing them when my little crumb-snatcher is awake, because I can’t hear what those 8yr old fingers are up to.
But when I do get down, it’s a blast! Voice communication is spot-on. The mic can’t be removed but it is retractable and tucks away completely inside the left earpiece. It’s also very malleable so you can adjust its distance from your mouth and prevent that dreaded Darth Vader mouth-breathing effect ever social gamer hates. I tested the Tiamat’s over EA’s Battlelog, Xfire, Steam voice and Mumble. My voice was heard loud and clear by all on the receiving end. But if you have problems, the aforementioned volume control plays host to mic vol adjustments, right at your fingertips.
What’s more to say. Oh! There are a couple things… Music listening is just average. But with some software and equalizer adjustments you can make it better than average. And the cord from the volume control to the soundcard is quite ample in length. But the cord from the control unit to the headies is a bit too short for my taste.
Nonetheless, post review, the unit is still plugged in as my new go-to headie solution. SteelSeries unseated Astro Gaming and now Razer has slayed the king, razing it’s banner high in its stead.
The Bottom Line: The Razer Tiamat 7.1 Gaming Headset is far from entry-level. It’s not even moderate to mainstream. This units sits at the bleeding edge of uber-enthusiast with a familiar price point, handsome feature set and absolutely canorous performance.
- True 7.1 surround sound is amazing!
- Stylish and comfortable design
- Handy and robust volume control unit
- Speaker bypass is simple and convenient
- Average music listening performance
You can buy the Razer Tiamat Elite 7.1 Analog Gaming Headset at Amazon for $179.99