Razer Nari Review
Getting a good audio setup for your gaming rig serves to do more than just improve the immersion. Some games rely on audio more than others, but it's an undeniable fact that you can get a real competitive advantage if you have a reliable headset. Being able to distinguish whether or not your enemy is coming from the right or the front based on their footsteps alone can make or break that all-important clutch, for example.
For this reason we're starting to take a look at a variety of gaming headsets in our review section, and today the Razer Nari is up. The Nari offers up a bunch of enticing features, such as THX Spatial Audio, a comfortable design and the fact that it's wireless. Razer has released the Nari line in three different iterations.
This review handles the regular Nari but there's also the cheaper Nari Essential, which omits some of the functionality of the regular version, and the more expensive Nari Ultimate, which adds vibrations to the headset for that ultimate immersive feeling. Vibration isn't really something that you need for competitive gaming (most pro console gamers turn the vibration on their controllers off entirely) which is why the Nari seems like the best option if you're all about that competitive experience.
Razer Nari - First Impressions
It might just be me, but whenever I get a new headset I pop it straight on my dome just to see how it feels and looks. I did the same with the Nari, and when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror I immediately thought of those guys in the pit crew during a Formula 1 race.
The Nari is definitely an absolute unit of a headset. That doesn't bother me at all, since I only use my gaming headsets for gaming, browsing, and all of that other stuff you do indoors, but if you're a person who likes to take their cans on the road it's definitely something to note.
The headset is completely black and finished with Razer's famous logo on each earcup and the Razer brand name on top of the headband. If you don't activate the RGB lighting you barely notice the logos, which makes the Nari have a pretty stealthy look overall. Should you choose to activate the RGB (I don't know why you would since you literally can't see it when gaming, even if you tried) it does light up pretty nicely. Overall I'm pretty impressed with the way the headset looks and feels.
Upon opening the box you'll immediately be greeted by the headset. Explore a bit further and you'll find a USB cable which you can use to charge the headset (you can still use it when you're charging the unit, by the way) and a 3.5 mm combo jack to connect the headset to devices that don't have a USB port.
The little USB dongle which transmits and receives the audio is stored within the headset itself; just give it a little push and it'll come out. This is a convenient and elegant solution, and it'll ensure that you don't lose the small dongle somewhere if you decide to take the headset with you to a friend or a LAN party.
You'll also find the usual documentation, along with a note from the CEO of Razer congratulating you on your new purchase.
Build and comfort
The Nari might be built like a tank, but it's definitely more comfortable than that. It's got an auto-adjust headband which means that you won't have to mess around adjusting the headset every time you've stored it away or something like that. You can simply slide it on your skull and it'll fit perfectly, even for people with a large head such as myself.
I used this headset for hours on end on multiple occasions and I never really felt the need to take it off for a while to let my head and ears breathe a bit. That's due to the comfortable design of the headset and headband, but also because of Razer's Cooling Gel-Infused Cushions. I'm not too sure how exactly Razer does these, but according to them the ear cushions reduce the buildup of heat during gaming, allowing your ears to stay cooler for a longer period of time. I can't say that I've tested it at absolute scorching temperatures, but the fact that I caught myself wearing this headset all day multiple times (it's easier to do when you can just pop over to the fridge real quick without having to take your headset off) without any issues whatsoever is a testament to the comfort of this product.
It's also really nicely built; the headband is sturdy and feels like it'll last, and there's no creaking sounds when you're moving your head around or adjusting the headset. The cushions nicely adapt to the shape of your skull and they're also able to swivel until they're completely flat. That might not sound like much to most people, but I'm at a friend's house to game almost weekly, and having the ability to just have the headset rest around your neck when you're all taking a break to chat a bit or have a drink (or two) really improves on the overall comfort levels for me personally.
Razer headsets have been hitting it out of the park when it comes to comfort levels lately, and the Nari is another home run on this front.
Sound and mic
A mic is an absolutely necessary piece of equipment if you're going to be serious about playing any team-based online game, and while there's no need for gaming headset mics to record crystal clear studio quality audio I have to say that the (retractable) microphone on the Nari is quite underwhelming. I had to boost the sensitivity in Razer's Synapse software because straight out of the box I caught it cutting out every so often, and once I got it to work flawlessly (which took less than 30 seconds, admittedly) I wasn't particularly impressed with the actual quality of the recordings. That's not a huge issue; my teammates had no issues understanding me and you don't need crystal clear audio to shout out some callouts, but the microphone is definitely an aspect that could do with some improvement in the future. There's a mic sample to the right if you'd like to hear what it sounds like.
On to more important things then; the actual sound. The Nari comes equipped with the ability to use THX Spatial Audio and it sound absolutely fantastic. It's a little bit bass heavy, but not distractingly so, and you can always rein in the lower spectrum in Synapse's EQ if it's really bothering you. The sound is pretty good straight out of the box but once you've dialed it in to your liking in the EQ (it comes with a few presets as well in case you don't want to mess around with it yourself) it's really quite something.
Having the ability to really hear which direction ingame sounds are coming from is an absolutely massive advantage in multiplayer games and the Nari, with its THX Spatial Audio, absolutely shines on this front. Being able to pinpoint exactly where that enemy flanker is coming from based on their footsteps alone is just one example of the incredible edge that a good pair of headphones can give you, and combine that with the good sound quality that the Nari offers and you've got something that I can heartily recommend.
Do note: you can only use THX Spatial Audio when you connect the Nari via the wireless USB dongle, so if you're going to be using it mainly through the 3.5 mm jack this is something to be aware of. The headset still sounds amazing, even without THX, but if you're buying this you're probably buying it for the THX capabilities, so it's something that should be mentioned.
Since this is a gaming website I judge all products based on their merits as gaming gear, but you can use the Nari for listening to music or watching movies and television just as well. There are even presets for those things in the EQ so you won't be disappointed if you're buying this as your main battlestation headset.
"Having the ability to hear which direction ingame sounds are coming from is an absolutely massive advantage in multiplayer games and the Nari, with its THX Spatial Audio, absolutely shines on this front."
Features and ease of use
All of the controls for the Nari are on the actual headset itself since there's obviously no cable to attach a control unit to. This automatically means that it's going to be a bit more difficult initially to find your way around the controls, but they're laid out pretty intuitively for my opinion. On the left earcup you'll find the power button (you can set the headset to turn itself off after a certain amount of time of inactivity to conserve battery) as well as the game/chat balance wheel and the mic mute button. On the right earcup there's just the general volume wheel and the spot where you can store the USB dongle.
Getting used to these button placements really took me no time at all, and the fact that the tip of the mic lights up red when it's muted also means that I didn't accidentally mute my mic whenever I scratched my head at some baffling play that one of my teammates put on show, so I'd say they aced it on this front. It might be easier to have some little control pad that you can place on your desk, but then again that would make the headset less portable, so I can't say that I missed something like that.
The Nari is a wireless headset, which offers great convenience but if the signal drops all the time or you're stuck having to upload the thing every couple of hours you'd obviously rather have a wire dangling from your ears. Luckily the Nari delivers on this front.
My audio didn't drop even once during testing and the battery is more than admirable as well; Razer says it lasts up to 20 hours with the lighting turned off and while I didn't exactly put a chronograph next to me while testing I'd say that the real battery life is closer to something like 18 hours. That's still very impressive though, and it means that you'll never have to worry about your battery running out during gaming sessions. If it does (there's an indicator LED next to the power button that indicates the various states of the battery) you can always play with the wire while it's charging, but be warned that the included USB cable isn't all that long at 1.5 meters (just shy of five feet) so if you're sat far away from your system it's a good idea to keep the headset topped off.
The range is more than good enough as well. It's a gaming headset so you're not really meant to be running around the house with it but I could reliably put about 10 meters and a couple of (thin) walls between the dongle and the headset before it started really dropping the connection, so that's more than good enough as far as I'm concerned. If it drops connection it'll play a warning sound by the way. That's handy in case your far away from the USB dongle losing connection and you're not sure if it's the app/game that's bugging out or the headset losing connection.
Razer is knocking it out of the park with their headsets recently. The Nari sports an supremely comfy design (even for people with a large dome) along with great sound quality which is cherry topped by the inclusion of THX Spatial Audio and a great implementation of wireless technology.
If they packed all of this stuff in a headset with a regular cable attached it would still be an impressive offering, but the fact that it's wireless makes it even more of a recommendation if you ask me. Not everyone will care about the wireless aspect but rest assured that you're getting a premium gaming headset regardless of whether or not you give a hoot about a cable.
Due to the fact that the wireless (and THX audio) aspect only works if you connect the Nari via the USB dongle it's probably not going to be worth it for console users or mobile gamers, and there's the fact that the mic could be (a lot) better, but aside from that this headset truly delivers.