Reviewed: August 29, 2006
Type: Gaming Headset
HP-1 Gaming Headphones Specs
HP-1 Gaming Microphone Specs
Known traditionally for their high-quality gaming mice, Razer is now getting into the audio market with a new 5.1 sound card and the Razer Barracuda HP-1 Gaming Headphones.
Despite the fact that I spent most of my teen years with my parents yelling, “TURN THAT MUSIC DOWN”, I’m not a huge fan of headphones, but I do realize there is a need for “private listening”, especially in the gaming community. Even so, I have spent years and thousands of dollars amassing large quantities of speakers and surround sound hardware for both my PC and home theater in order to create that “digital theater” experience for movies and gaming, so when I am asked to temporarily trade all that in to put on a pair of headphones, I get understandably nervous.
The Barracuda HP-1 is obviously more about function than form. While headphones and headsets are becoming small enough to wrap around your ear without detection, Razer’s new headset hearkens back to the large studio headphones of the 80’s. Obviously, this is a necessity, not only to block out any unwanted external sounds, but also to house the four independent speakers on each side required to create a 360-degree sound field in your head.
For those of you who live and die by the specs, here are the Razer Barracuda HP-1 Gaming Headphones Technical Specifications:
Installation is a snap. Simply plug the headphones into your existing sound card headphone jack and check your sound settings to make sure you have 5.1 surround enabled. Now it’s time to rock and roll…
I immediately fired up some games I knew sounded great with my existing THX 7.1 surround system; namely, Call of Duty 2, DOOM 3, QUAKE 4, Far Cry, and Battlefield 2. I was truly stunned when these headphones started reproducing spatial effects that were easily on par with my 8-speaker system that surrounded my computer chair.
I really can’t explain the technology behind how four tiny speakers; all inside a cup can do this. I suppose it has to do with carefully calculated delays and tweaking volume levels in each output channel, but the Barracuda matched the overall sound quality of my 15’x15’ office with near-perfection.
The only aspect of the headphones that really can’t compete (at least for me) was their attempt to put subwoofers in the headphones. For me, low-frequency effects are felt more than they are heard. I want air moving around my feet and the floor and walls shaking. Having the rumbling artificially transferred to the headphones didn’t really help sell the LFE experience, and if anything, just made me aware that I was wearing headphones.
The Barracuda HP-1 comes with an inline volume control module; think of it as an attached remote control that gives you independent control for each channel’s volume as well as a master control. If you think you can mix your sound experience better than Dolby you now have the power. It's also nice to be able to crank up the center channel and boost the volume of spoken dialogue.
Speaking of speech, the Barracuda also comes with a microphone making this the perfect chat device for all your speech-supported multiplayer games, or just for privately chatting on the Internet. If you find the mic in your way or unnecessary you can detach it from the headset, creating a more streamlined, listening-only headset.
The 2K-ohm mic is unidirectional and features advanced noise cancellation capabilities, so people on the other end only hear you, and only when you talk. Since I was never on the receiving end of these conversations I can only report what my fellow BF2 gamers told me, and that was that my voice quality had never been better, crisp, clean, and static-free.
The Barracuda HP-1 retails for $129, not cheap by any standards, but when you consider that this device – that fits on your head – is doing the work and recreating the sound experience of up to eight other speakers that you would have to carefully place around a good-sized room, you can actually start to see the value and even the bargain these headphones offer.
And if you are heavily into online games or going to LAN parties, then headphones are a necessity and the HP-1 fills that need while adding the luxury of true 3D surround sound and some of the best speech quality in the industry.
While the Razer Barracuda HP-1 Gaming Headphones might not be for everyone, they certainly do fill a much-needed void for a lot of gamers out there. So if you take your gaming on the road or play games late at night while others are asleep, or just want to privatize your listening environment, the Barracuda is a home theater that fits on your head. Truly amazing!