Razer is known for its high quality gaming hardware. From its input peripherals to its Blade gaming laptops, Razer has always had its finger on the gamer’s pulse. This year, Razer announced that it was branching into dedicated, music quality audio with its Adaro range. Of Razer’s Adaro line, which includes wireless and DJ headsets, as well as in-ear buds, I recently got to play around with the Adaro Stereo analogue headset – geared towards portable, hard wearing musical audio. So who does Razer have in mind with the Adaro – the busy mobile audiophile, or gamers with brand loyalty?
Drivers: 40mm Neodymium Magnets
Frequency Response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
Impedance: 32 Ω
Sensitivity @ 1kHz: 104dB ± 3dB
Input Power: 50mW
Connector: 3.5mm Gold-Plated Headphone Jack
Approximate Weight: 168g
The Adaro Stereos come in a rather pretty, almost totally monochromatic box. Matte black backgrounds, shiny black product images, and branding that ranges from metallic grey to silver set a classy precedent for the product itself. Standard product information is on the back and bottom of the box. The front of the box opens out in a flap, held in place by velcro dots. Inside the flap is a product description, and a clear plastic window onto the headphones themselves, which are tied up to their black plastic packaging with rubber ties. Inside, you’ll find the headphones and, behind the black plastic panel, the standard warranty and quick start guide. Also included is a pair of bright Razer-green logo stickers, which you’re free to use/ignore at your discretion. It’s an understated and elegant box – something which I wasn’t expecting from the established brand image I have of Razer – and one that establishes a positive expectation for the item inside.
The headband is a thin, compact, squishy affair covered in soft black leatherette. Stylised Razer branding is debossed along the top, pleasingly understated for the usually audacious brand. Its plush band is pleasantly cushiony, ensuring comfortable support across the top of the head – not that it needs it, with its incredibly light construction. Size adjustment is taken care of by a set of raw metal rectangular wireframes that run through the cups themselves, sticking out the bottom of the cup instead of retreating inside the band. It holds its length well, without becoming too rigid. Some may find the overhang under the cups inconvenient – especially if they have smaller heads and therefore larger overhang – but I had no real problem with it. Audio cabling runs from the cup through the headband, tucked away almost invisibly, which is neat.
The Adaro’s cups are matte black with a silver Razer logo on the outside and a silver circle around the end. It is obviously Razer, but in a relaxing, confident way. None of the cup branding feels like a statement – instead, it’s a quiet reaffirming of Razer’s self-assured approach to the Adaro’s aesthetic design. The cups themselves have a rather steep bezel shape, which looks a lot deeper than it actually is. This is down to the small diameter of the cups in contrast with the deep leatherette pads. The pads are soft and lush, fitting luxuriously snug around the ear. The thickness of the padding and the tightness of the fit create a delightfully cosy personal audio chamber that never clamps too hard. It may get a little warm with prolonged use – I never had a problem, but I did test them under cold winter conditions.
Connecting the bottom left cup to your device is a plastic cable that carries all of Razer’s typical brand audacity. It’s green. Bright green. Razer green. I’m an understated kind of guy, and I appreciate tech that doesn’t scream its presence to the world. The cable not only sticks its hand up for roll call, it also jumps up and down on top of the desk with a megaphone and yells its existence to all within earshot. I’d personally prefer a matte black cord to keep with the headset’s colouring, but I don’t resent Razer for this small indulgence. After all, it can always be hidden or wrapped, and the innate thinness of cabling ensures it’s not too obvious. More pressingly, the 1.35 metre cable is shorter than I would have liked, restricting my head motion on my PC setup. For PC gaming, the shorter cable length is a liability. It’s a good length for listening to an iPod on the go, however it lacks inline controls that dedicated portable audio solutions work best with.
Which is strange, since the acoustics of the headset are really not suited for music. The 40mm drivers are definitely powerful, delivering forceful sound straight to your brain. That perfect seal created by those lovely closed backed cups comes fully into play here, crafting a resonant chamber in which you can feel the music. Passive noise reduction is fantastic, ensuring no sound intrudes or escapes. The sound the Adaro puts out is full and rich.
The problem is, though, that the Adaro’s are bass heavy. Very bass heavy. Tungsten-cored depleted uranium heavy. This leads to tonal imbalance and a lack of definition. The mid-range and highs not only get lost within the depth of bass, but they suffer from muddiness. The Adaro’s rich heavy bass produces such a thick sound that it’s difficult to pick out the finer melodic elements. I found most of my favourite tracks from more delicate artists and genres lost their complexity, but the Adaro’s were a great fit for heavy dance and electronic tracks – like M O O N and the Tron Legacy soundtrack. And, strangely enough, A Fine Frenzy’s gentle Pines album – I think the natural earthiness fit really well with the Adaro’s thick texture, although losing some of Pines’ crisp alpine freshness wasn’t ideal. The heavy bass is suitable for gaming, though, and that’s where I put most of my time into the Adaro.
The Adaro’s overall light, slimline but sturdy construction is geared towards portability. Indeed, the Adaro is being marketed as a portable audio option. And it’s definitely portable. Coupled with the headset’s stellar passive noise isolation and the Razer Adaro Stereos is an ideal design for a set of public transport cans. The issue is sound quality and, while the headset has magnificent bass, its muddiness, lack of definition, and loss of mid and high ranges may turn some audio fans away. It’s decent for gaming, but if you plan to use it for music, be sure to pick your genre carefully. And, at a relatively hefty $100 US RRP, you’d better be sure you enjoy the electronic, bass heavy genres the Adaro excels at.
A product sample for review was provided on behalf of Razer