Comfort is king with Razer's BlackShark gaming headset. The unique design and eye-catching use of materials set these cans apart from the rest of the pack.
Brand-licensed gaming accessories are generally preexisting products skinned with a logo here and a hint of color there. Razer took it one step further, showing Battlefield 3 some love with the BlackShark stereo headset. The BlackShark has been designed to be unique from the top down, and comfort and aviation styling are the driving forces behind its form. The exposed metal, bright orange cabling, and detachable microphone give the BlackShark an unmistakable look. It is incredibly comfortable and well suited for gaming at $129.99.
The BlackShark ships with the headset, a 3.5mm headphone/microphone splitter, and an insert to cover the hole left when the microphone is detached.
The design bears the hallmark ear cups found on aviation headsets, in addition to the aforementioned exposed elements and microphone design. The Battlefield 3 branding is reasonable compared to other licensed products, represented almost entirely by a single printing of the logo on the headband. When I say "almost," I'm alluding to the orange highlights present in the stitching and cables. Neon orange is the most striking color in Battlefield's palette, and it dominates the headphone's appearance. Whether this is a good thing or not is based on your personal preferences, but we found that it distracted the eye from the rest of the unit's intriguing design.
The ear pads and headband provide ample cushioning for hours of uninterrupted use. The BlackShark is fairly light to boot. One contributing factor is the plastic housing for each can. It feels cheap to the touch, and one tap gives you a clear sense of the hollow space behind the plastic. This isn't the worst thing you could say about a headset, but in the grand scheme of the BlackShark's design, it's a mildly disappointing compromise. If there were two things that we would change, it would be the bright orange cabling and the plastic can chassis, but neither detracts from the BlackShark's core functionality.
Speaking of functionality, the stereo sound pumping out of the 40mm drivers is pretty good for a midrange headset. The typical 20hz-20Khz frequency range accounts for almost every perceptible frequency, leaving out the minor five-point range of 15hz-19hz. The bass response in the BlackShark is no slouch though, providing ample amounts of boom with almost no distortion. The high end of the spectrum sounds great too, without any cracking or hissing. There is a minor amount of muddiness that results from the closed ear design, but Razer thoughtfully cut a gap in the plastic atop each can, affording the low- and high-end frequencies some breathing room. Even with said gap, the cushioning and closed design do a great job of preventing ambient noise from entering or escaping. The gap in the plastic lies beneath the metal banding attached to the cans, which allows for pressure to escape without allowing too much sound in or out.
Overall, the BlackShark is a solid stereo headset with a design that's as comfortable as it is unique. The audio performance is great for stereo gaming or movie watching, and the comfort level provided by the padding leaves little to be desired. The price is a tad high for the performance, but with the striking design and good use of materials, it's easy to imagine these will be sought after by military shooter enthusiasts whether or not they prefer Battlefield 3.