Razer Launches Kraken 7.1 Surround Sound USB Gaming Headset

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trgz

Me and a mate have both got, rather old, Medusa headsets but his is USB and mine is driven by my old Audigy 2 SE through a dedicated amp that came with the phones - I would say that mine seems the better for it and will, in certain games, cause me to shudder and almost pull off the phones as they vibrate/tickle my ears so much witjh the bass - I'm just not sure how much amperage/power can be delivered using a USB system.

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HouseFoxx

As an owner of a FiiO e07k USB bus-powered dual-output DAC/AMP combo, you would be surprised at the crazy power a USB amp can pump out. Of course, knowing this, the real issue is trying to get the USB power input clean enough to not destroy sound quality. Thankfully, FiiO handles it quite well with a quite impressive integrated conditioner -but- from what I've heard listening to Razer's integrated USB DAC/AMPs, Razer's circuitry tends to do quite a shitty job of cleaning up USB power noise.

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jbitzer

So forgive my ignorance, but does this use the system's sound hardware or is the surround sound engine it's own hardware? I really don't understand how USB sets work.

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HouseFoxx

Let me clear this up a bit and provide my own explanation of what happens in a typical USB "7.1" setup.

1. Audio data is sent from software on your computer through your USB interconnect. (in this case, there is 8 channels of digital audio being streamed)

2. The device at the other end of the usb cable takes the 8 channels of audio, lines them up, and then puts them through firmware that takes 8 channels and mixes them down into 2-6 channels depending on the headphone.
(in this case, the ".1" bass channel goes into a pair of larger subwoofer drivers, the center channel is split between the front driver pair, and then other remaining 6 channels are are distributed into your front and rear (non-subwoofer) drivers based on position)

3. The finished 6-channel audio stream is then sent through a volume knob and amplified through the same device that your decoding was done on and then sent down the wire to each individual speaker.

TL:DR:
All the processing and amplifying in a USB setup is done by the little box that is between the USB plug and your headset.

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Renegade Knight

My understanding is that your PC soundcard drives the sound via USB. The signal is interpreted by your headphones as 7.1. Overall I find it far more useful than 2 speakers for hearing what's going on and where. You can tell direction including behind you.

The gaming software of course has to support 7.1.

That said. Headphones are a different experience than live speakers. After using headphones for a long time I played without them and about jumped out of my chair when the shotgun's boom registered on the Richter scale because of my subwoofer.

Overall a good 7.1 headset is well worth the money.

I should add. My Sound is via sound card not motherboard. The Razer's that I Have sound great. But you have to read the reviews. Not all headsets are equil.

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HouseFoxx

1. No, the USB device completely replaces any kind of sound card your computer has.

2. The signal is interpreted by the usb device as 7.1, and then down-converted into 2-6 channel analog audio.

3. Soundstage or "3D sound" is more effectively created by using only 2 high-quality lightweight drivers and a series of sound reflectors and dampeners rather than trying to cramp together and crudely angle 6 drivers together (using multiple speakers was found back in the 70's to cause what is known as standing-wave interference, which destroys any sound quality and soundstage benefits that having multiple speakers could possibly provide)

4. There is no 7.1 headset, because for that to be true, there would have to be an odd number of speakers, which doesn't work because you have an even number of ears, I presume. Good "7.1" headsets, depending on the number of drivers per ear, are usually 4.2 to 6.2 channel surround sound.

I should also add that if you are indeed using a sound card (an internal pci device used to provide audio), unless your headphones have some kind of crazy 6- to 8-channel audio plug that I've never heard about, or you connect at least 4-5 plugs from your headphone to the card (including mic cable), you are actually just listening to 7.1 channel audio being down-converted into a 2-channel stereo signal.

Have a nice day, and do some research before you provide any advice, if only for the sole purpose of not spreading ignorance in this already ignorance-ridden world. :)

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limitbreaker

Your sound card has nothing to do with a usb head set, think of the usb headset as it having an integrated usb soundcard, everything else is done via software.

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limitbreaker

Usb headsets use the amp inside the headphones but can use software to drive the amp, this makes any sound hardware in your case completely useless.

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jbitzer

So, is it generally a better, or worse experience? Thanks for the reply.

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limitbreaker

It's better experience a than the onboard motherboard sound but no where near the quality of a good dedicated sound card and quality stereo headsets. In my experience having 7.1 speakers in a headset is a bad idea because it means you're getting many tiny speakers with lower quality instead of two very good ones.

7.1 is almost useless when they are so close to each other in a headset because your ears cannot distinguish where the sound is coming from, you're better off with simulated 3d sound that many sound card solutions offer as it makes the sound actually sound like it would in a environment if it was actually coming from that direction.

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HouseFoxx

Yeah, the audiophile community back in the 70's discovered that if you put 2 or more speakers close together, it creates what is known as standing wave interference, which is the worst possible flaw any audio setup could have, because it muddies the sound to no end and destroys large portions of the 3D-ness you hear in headphones.

Oh and it's been my experience that if you have a good quality motherboard, a well-shielded and grounded USB/ Firewire soundcard is immensely better just because of the interference you would get from having an even fully-shielded soundcard in your PC. You would be floored if you knew the amount of electromagnetic interference comes from your RAM and PSU, especially. In an ideal setup, you want your audio devices to be as far away from your source as possible (as far as EMI is concerned) but using the shortest length of cable possible to eliminate distortion from that (though since USB is digital, you really don't have to worry about that in today's asynchronous USB soundcards, as long as you aren't dropping packets or losing power, if your device is bus-powered).

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TommM

Ditto what limitbreaker said.

If you have a sound card, don't do USB headsets which run off the MOBO. And I haven't had good luck with 7.1 headsets either. They're often heavy due to the amount of hardware in them, and the effects just don't warrant the cost.

Most decent sound cards have a 7.1 emulation mode that works nearly as well as a dedicated 7.1 headset anyway.

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HouseFoxx

Just the opposite, actually.
If you have a USB soundcard, you want it to be running off the motherboard because the motherboard is the best-grounded component in your PC. Not only that, but because most PC's have their power conditioners on the motherboard, USB power from there is usually cleaner than it would be if you were running off front-panel USB or a hub. Best-case scenario: Your USB soundcard is the only thing USB plugged into your motherboard because of shared bus power across multiple ports; all other devices can be run off a powered hub, through PCI expansion cards, or through the front panel USB.

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jbitzer

Cool, thanks guys, I have a turtle beach set for my PS3 I've been thinking of hooking up to the PC that emulates 5.1 from 2 drivers, so I'll see how that works out.

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limitbreaker

I'd stay away from razor headsets after experiencing the horrible sound the razor banshee provided, razor has some good peripherals but sound is not their thing.

ban·shee [ban-shee, ban-shee] Show IPA
noun
(in Irish folklore) a spirit in the form of a wailing woman who appears to or is heard by members of a family as a sign that one of them is about to die.
Also, ban·shie.

Those headsets did sound like a wailing woman...

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appleroxinhouston

Isn't this basically just the Kraken with Razer Surround software integrated?

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theDARKW0LF

Hmmmm, just got a Logitech G930, but I LOVED the Kraken Pro I had before, though the microphone could hardly pick up my voice. I wonder if I should return the G930 for this? The comfort is amazing!