Review: Razer Nari Ultimate has game-changing potential if it can solve some key issues

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At $200, the Razer Nari Ultimate is a premium gaming headset and in typical Razer fashion it managed to look, sound and feel the part.

Created with a mixture of plastic and metals, the light exterior is one of the more comfortable options available in Razer’s library of devices. Attached to the headband is a swinging mechanism for the device’s earcups which, while making the headphones a bit awkward to put back into their box, does allow the device to fit comfortably on a large variety of head shapes.

As a glasses wearer, this is a crucial part of enjoying a pair of headphones and one which has made me prefer earphones for a wide variety of activities. Thankfully, the self-adjusting frame of the Nari and its soft, plush-style ear cups meant that, unlike most headphones, the device never pushed my metal frames into my skull. Alongside that, the way the soft ear cups hold the sides of the head feels incredibly comfortable although they also feel like the most brittle part of the device.

The style of the Nari is certainly one to behold, although for a premium asking price you’d expect so. It offers a sleek, almost industrial aesthetic and, of course, includes a fully adjustable Razer Chroma lighting system on its ear cups. It looks nice, although I can’t agree it looks much nicer than other Razer products. Unlike its same-brand competitors, it doesn’t have the same “for gamers” edge to it and looks like a device anyone would feel comfortable wearing.

However, unlike other Razer products, the Nari can be a very finicky device to get working at full capacity. Attaching the headset through a 3.5mm headphone jack or Micro USB charging cable (no USB-C option, sadly) will install the device’s drivers for basic use. If you want to use any Synapse functionality or even the headset’s defining HyperSense technology, it’s mandatory to attach the headphones’ USB dongle.

HyperSense is a unique system to hide behind Synapse, but it’s one that has the potential to change the way you listen to certain types of audio. While, of course, Nari’s speakers vibrate to create sound, a second form of vibration is used to further enhance the listening experience.

Utilizing enhanced haptic technology in each ear, the Nari headset converts low tones into vibrations at real time. It feels similar to the Xbox One’s left and right triggers albeit to a much more premium degree.

[shunno-quote]HyperSense managed to make me feel truly engaged in music unlike ever before[/shunno-quote]

Of course, the enjoyability of such a feature will be dependant on a person-by-person basis. Personally, I found it to be an incredible experience that, much like virtual reality, took a short while to get used to. However, once I adjusted to the new form of vibration and found a setting I was comfortable with, HyperSense managed to make me truly feel immersed in certain songs.

As someone who listens to music right next to a powerful floor-level subwoofer, the Nari’s HyperSense managed to make me feel truly engaged in music unlike ever before. Metal, Rock, Pop and Hip Hop seemed to benefit the most; classical music didn’t appear to benefit very much from the feature at all.

As much as music is truly transformed through HyperSense, games see a much bigger improvement. The Razer PR team hinted to us that Just Cause would be an interesting title for the system and, while I was really enjoying the experience in music, playing games with the device managed to completely sell me on it.

In a game as hectic as Just Cause, explosions and gunfire react phenomenally to the real-time vibrations. Explosions in the distance created a low rumble around the ears whereas up-close gunfire managed to accurately recreate the rat-a-tat-tat feeling of the game’s assault rifles. First person shooters such as Titanfall 2, Battlefield 1 and more were some of my favorite experiences. Of course, rhythm games were also a treat.

What bothered me the most with HyperSense is how dependent the feature is on having a PC around. While the Nari does remember your last profile for when you’re out and about, you can’t tweak the system through a mobile or console application. Too many times would I switch from a heavy, low-tone song like Mick Gordon’s BFG Division to a tune that didn’t benefit very much from the haptic feedback and find myself unable to change it.

[shunno-quote]Nari’s microphone still falls short of what you’d expect from a £200 device[/shunno-quote]

Even worse is the fact that HyperSense can make some forms of audio entertainment frankly enjoyable. As an avid podcast listener, I quickly discovered that discussion audio is frustrating with the technology enabled. With my favorite podcast consisting of three low-tones men, the vibrations that were created due to their voices was very annoying.

If HyperSense wasn’t included in the Nari, how would it be? As speakers, they’re still fantastic. Without playing with the values of Synapse-specific features, the Nari gives crystal clear audio that hits every positive quality headphone audio can have. Unlike the cheaper Electra V2 Gaming Headset we covered, there isn’t a quirky sense of echoing here either.

Unfortunately, Nari’s microphone still falls short of what you’d expect from a £200 device. It’s serviceable but it still won’t take the place of a standard XLR or USB standalone for job-specific roles like podcasting or interviews. Annoyingly, despite major tweaking, the mic still managed to have an audio drop off unspecific to individual programs.

The Nari Ultimate is a fantastic piece of technology that should be vastly improved with a successor. Its HyperSense technology has the potential to be a game changer but it’s currently hindered by being tied to a PC application. Of course, Razer is PC-focused, but headphones are for everyone.

More about the topics: headphones, headset, Nari, Nari Ultimate, razer, Razer Nari Ultimate

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