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With the Tiamat 7.1, Razer is redefining the top end of the gaming audio line. Where previous headsets have had trouble creating a surround gaming experience through just two drivers, the Tiamat fits what is essentially an entire surround sound system into each earcup, with five individual drivers, including a sub. You’ll need a 5.1- or 7.1-capable analog sound subsystem with three outputs to take advantage of the surround (and at $180, the set’s not worth it if you can’t), but if you’ve got the hardware this is the new headset to beat.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Tiamat 7.1 is that everything about it is big. The headband is big, the earcups are huge, and even the in-line control unit is about three times the standard size. When you hold it in your hands it’s clear that Razer has chosen a no-compromises design, where comfort, convenience, and sound quality beat out economy and subtlety every time.
Each earcup on the Tiamat 7.1 features five individual drivers, which are visible through the side windows
The earcups, for instance, are huge for two reasons. The first is for comfort—they feature some of the thickest padding we’ve felt, and are extremely comfortable. They have a cirmcumaural design (the padding goes around your ear, not on top of it), and although they’re a little on the narrow side for that design, causing larger ears to bend in, they’re quite comfortable and form a tight seal. Combined with the closed-cup design, this nicely enhances the immersion and noise-isolation of the set. The second reason they’re big is to fit the five distinct, large drivers that reside in each cup. A clear plastic window on each side of the Tiamat shows those drivers off to the world, in case you want to count them for yourself.
The headband is also comfortable, with a suspension-type design and a thickly padded flexible band that we found comfortable for long play sessions—a significant feat, given that the Tiamat is on the heavier end of the headset spectrum.
The in-line control unit’s another nice, no-compromises feature of the headset, with a heavy-duty mechanical knob that can be used to control the volume of the whole set, the mic, or any particular channel of the 7.1 sound. It also has mute, surround toggles, and an overall build quality that’s exceptionally solid.
The sound quality on the Tiamat is top-notch when it comes to what the set is designed for: gaming. The five drivers in each earcup make for great sound with a ton of directionality. On the remote you can switch between 7.1 surround and stereo modes, and when you do so during a game the difference is like night and day—a frantic firefight goes from an unintelligible mass of noise to distinct sources of sound, all around you.
The bass is strong and punchy, thanks to the in-ear sub. When we got our set the bass wasn’t working in surround mode, and we’d heard of other people having the same problem. But a trip to Razer’s FAQ and some Windows sound configuration changes fixed the problem easily.
The Tiamat also worked well for watching movies on the PC, though of course to get the full benefit of the set you need a source with 7.1 or 5.1 surround audio. When it comes to music the set does a respectable job, although there’s no getting around the fact that five small drivers simply isn’t the ideal configuration for playing music.
All in all, it’s clear that Razer took its time with this one. The Tiamat is one of the best all-around gaming headsets you can buy, if you’ve got the money and the soundcard.
Great surround sound; very powerful bass for a headset; excellent comfort.
High price; somewhat bulky.