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Gaming headphones Razer Electra reviewed
Prasad Naik
January 25, 2012
First Published: 13:27 IST(25/1/2012)
Last Updated: 18:23 IST(25/1/2012)
Razer Electra
Razer makes all kinds of products related to the gaming industry. From the humble keyboard and mouse to speakers, headphones, gaming mats, controllers and nowadays, even gaming notebooks. Considering the fact that one of the biggest gaming segment these days is mobile gaming, it was only going to be a matter of time before Razer made something to cater to this segment as well.

Introducing the Razer Electra, a pair of headphones designed for smartphones. These headphones are meant to enhance your mobile gaming experience. Since most mobile games don’t have very demanding sound, the Electra doesn’t really have a tall task ahead of it, but let’s find out how it performs nevertheless.

Design
Razer products usually have an understated, all black design, but once in a while they like to let go and go for a more flamboyant look. The last headphones they launched, the Razer Orca, was entirely green. The Electra, thankfully, is a bit more sober but green still remains a prominent color, seen most notably on the headband. The speakers themselves have a matte black finish to them.

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For a pair of mobile headphones, the Electra sure is large. The speakers bulge out considerably from the side of your head, so much so that I could see them from the corner of my eyes while I was wearing them. The headphones have the drivers placed inside an enclosure, which is mounted inside another enclosure, which then connects to the headband. The inner enclosure is mounted on a hinge inside the outer enclosure, which lets it tilt up and down to fit your head properly. Due to this design, the speakers gain considerable amount of size. They aren’t huge by any stretch of imagination but definitely not discreet either. Then again, the headband is bright green, so regardless of the size they were never going to be discreet.

The headband uses a soft fabric on the inside and a leather-like material on the outside with a Razer logo. The speakers use soft padding that sit around your ears. Inside Razer has used more green for the speaker grille.

The speakers on the Electra fold inwards so that it can become small enough to fit in a bag. Unfortunately, since the speakers are so big, both of them cannot be folded in at the same time.

The Electra uses a single-sided, removable audio cable. In fact it comes with two of those, one with and one without a microphone, both bright green. The microphone is said to be compatible with phones from Apple, RIM (BlackBerry) and HTC. There are no volume control buttons on the cable, though. There isn’t even a button to pick up calls. All you get is the microphone.

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I had some issues with the design of the Electra. The speakers have weird parallelogram-shaped cups for the ears. Usually you find simple circular or oval cups. The problem is not the shape; the cups aren’t big enough to fit most ears. My ears are quite small and yet it was a snug fit for me. Those with bigger ears will find the padding sitting on their ears instead of around them. Also, the speakers aren’t tilted, with the top slightly closer to the back of the head, like most headphones.

Another problem is that the headphones are a bit tight. To get a proper bass response and for isolating surrounding noise, the speakers have to clamp around your ears to create a seal. This puts a bit of a pressure on the area around your ears. I could even feel some pressure on my jaw after about half an hour of wearing these. Increasing the headband length reduces the pressure but then the headphones don’t git fit very well.

The build quality and fit and finish feels top notch. The cable too is quite thick and you’d have a hard time getting it to tangle. Microphonics are also minimal. Unfortunately, Razer has not provided any carry case for the headphones.

Performance
The Razer Electra is meant for mobile phones, so I tested it with a Samsung Nexus S with a few of my favourite games. For the microphone I used an HTC Radar.
The mobile gaming sound was nothing special mostly because the sound in most mobile games itself isn’t any special. Game developers usually use low-bitrate files and often the sound is monophonic. You don’t really need special headphones to hear these properly.

Moving on to music, I used some FLAC files for testing the sound. The Electra has a distinctly bass-heavy sound. The low-end carries a significant amount of heft, which is noticeable regardless of what you’re listening to. It’s deep and punchy and can actually cause fatigue if you listen for too long at high a volume. In comparison, the mids and highs aren’t all the special. They aren’t suppressed but don’t stand a chance against the bass, which dominates the show.

This results in a sound that is very bassy but a bit lacking when it comes to detail and clarity. The Electra lacks the balance of more expensive headphones and as such is not suitable for all genres of music but if you like bass-heavy music like dubstep, hip-hop or trance, then the Electra would do very well.

I then decided to do some real gaming with the Electra by connecting it to my PC. The powerful bass response added some excitement to the game sounds and the lack of mid-range and high-end clarity wasn’t a major issue here. It would have been nice though if the soundstage was a bit wider.

Testing them with movies once again made them shine. The thump from the speakers was clearly sub-woofer grade and the rest of the sound wasn’t too shabby either.

The microphone performance was acceptable. I really wish Razer had provided a call/end button on the cable, though.

All that padding on the speakers does come in handy and the Electra drowns out ambient noise very well. You will find very few headphones in this price range (or even higher) that are this good at attenuating ambient sounds.

Verdict
The Razer Electra are priced at Rs. 3,199. For that price you’re getting a pretty solid pair of headphones. The sound has been tuned for games but does well with movies too. You’ll also love them if you’re into bass-heavy music. If you want a balanced, natural sound though, get a pair of Sennheiser HD 238 instead.

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