A good pair of headphones can really make a difference when it comes to PC audio. Whether you’re playing a game, listening to music or giving updates in a meeting, crisp audio from a pair of headphones can make the experience so much better.
I’ve clung desperately to a pair of Audio Technica ATH-M50 headphones I bought roughly eight years ago that are slowly but surely falling apart. Thankfully, I finally may have found a worthy successor — Razer’s Blackshark V2 Xs. To be fair, these two headphones are arguably in completely different classes — the M50s are studio monitor headphones, while Razer positions the Blackshark V2 X as a lower-cost entry point into its set of competitive gaming headphones.
I’m not saying that the Blacksharks could replace a solid set of studio headphones for someone who does audio work, but the average person who just wants excellent sound for a video game or listening to Spotify won’t have an issue here. And as an added bonus, the Blackshark V2 X headphones are incredibly light and very, very comfortable to wear for a long gaming session.
Overall, the Blackshark V2 X headphones impress and could be a great option for those mindful of cost while still wanting solid audio.
Surprisingly good sound
While a more discerning audiophile might be able to hear the difference between the Razer Blacksharks and the ATH-M50s, I found the Blacksharks sounded great when I switched over to them. The headphones offered a fairly balanced sound with decent lows and mids, although you lose some clarity in the highs. Overall, the M50s offer a more clear sound, but I didn’t notice unless I really focused on what I was listening to. (You can watch a really old MKBHD review of the ATH-M50 headphones here if you’re curious about them.)
The Blackshark V2 X headphones feature Razer’s ‘TriForce Titanium’ 50mm drivers, which the company claims offers better sound by separately focusing on bass, midrange and treble. The company contrasts that to typical drivers with a single range that muddies the sound. For the Titanium variant specifically, Razer says it offers better resonance and more accurate sound. The company has a whole website dedicated to the drivers, which you can check out here.
It’s not clear how many of Razer’s claims come down to marketing rather than actual perceivable benefit, but the headphones sound fine so I’m not complaining.
One other note worth making about the Blackshark V2 X in the sound department is that users can access Razer’s 7.1 Surround Sound via the company’s Synapse app. The app enables software emulation of 7.1 channel surround sound for a better audio experience. In practice, I found it didn’t improve much, and some games I tried it with ended up with a worse audio experience overall.
To access the feature, Blackshark V2 X owners will need to use a code included in the box to download the software from Razer’s website. Once downloaded, users can enable it and access it by selecting the ‘7.1 Surround’ option in Windows audio settings (unfortunately, the feature only works on 64-bit versions of Windows 10).
I suspect one’s experience with the surround sound feature will vary depending on what you do. For example, while testing the surround sound feature with Spotify, music sounded fine with no real change to my ears beyond a slight difference in volume. However, in games like Apex Legends, the sound was muddy and it was difficult to hear where enemies were in relation to me. Avid video watchers, on the other hand, may appreciate the emulated surround sound. Ultimately, your mileage may vary with this — I found I enjoyed the headphones much more with 7.1 Surround Sound turned off. As an aside, if you plan to use the headphones in meetings, you’ll end up playing with your audio settings a bunch because the 7.1 Surround Sound doesn’t always play nice.
It wasn’t a deal-breaker for me, but if you’re really hoping to get excellent 7.1 Surround Sound out of your headphones, you may want to consider another pair.
Microphone works well but doesn’t retract
Speaking of looking elsewhere, the Blackshark V2 X headphones don’t offer active noise-cancellation, which could be a major drawback for those who work in noisy environments. The headphones do have decent passive noise-cancellation and block out some environmental sound.
I share an office with my wife and the Blacksharks worked well at isolating noise from her end of the office, while still letting me hear her if she needed to get my attention. The headphones did a great job blocking out other noise as well, such as the fans from my computer. It couldn’t mute my noisy keyboard, but I bought it for the click so that’s alright with me.
When it comes to the microphone, the Blackshark V2 X features Razer’s ‘Hyperclear Cardioid Mic’ on the end of a bendable stick. It worked well and I never had an issue with people hearing me on the other end of video chats, meetings or Discord calls while gaming.
Before testing the Blacksharks, I used a Blue Snowball mic, which features much better sound. It also picked up more audio, specifically my incredibly loud mechanical keyboard. The Blackshark mic did a better job cutting out the keyboard sometimes, but I’m not sure any mic could completely eliminate that clacking racket.
Unfortunately, the Blackshark mic wasn’t good enough to completely replace the Snowball, which was still my go-to when recording the SyrupCast. For everything else, the Blackshark V2 X mic was sufficient.
That said, it would have been great if Razer included a retractable option in the Blackshark V2 X. The more expensive Blackshark headphones do offer retractable microphones, but with the V2 X, your only option is to bend the mic out of your way when you don’t want it. It’s a minor thing, but as someone who uses headphones as much while working as when playing games, it’d be nice to tuck the mic away when I don’t need it.
Comfortable and lightweight, but maybe not durable
While audio and microphone quality are both incredibly important metrics, comfort is perhaps the most critical. Headphones may sound great, but if you can’t wear them for a long period of time, what’s the point?
Thankfully, the Razer Blackshark V2 X headphones are lightweight and comfortable with soft, plush earcups and a cushy headband. They’re much comfier than my eight-year-old ATH-M50s, in part because much of the headband on those ageing headphones has deteriorated.
I also find the Blacksharks more comfortable than the Surface Headphones 2, but that comes more from the weight. Wearing the Surface Headphones for a few hours usually makes my head a bit sore, but the Blacksharks felt nicer after a long session.
The Blackshark V2 X headphones weigh in at 240g, which is 22g less than the regular Blackshark V2 headphones and 44g less than my ATH-M50s. The Surface Headphones 2 weigh in at about 290g (50 more than the V2 X headphones), while the top-line wireless Blackshark V2 Pro headphones weigh a whopping 320g.
Unfortunately, I do have some concerns about long-term durability. These concerns stem largely from the construction of the Blackshark headphones, which feel flimsy at best. Namely, each earcup attaches to the headphone using two thin metal bars, which wouldn’t require much force to really twist or bend out of shape. Likewise, the earcups have little green wires that come out the top and connect to the headband. While the design looks nice, I have concerns that these small wires could easily catch on something and potentially get damaged.
The Blackshark V2 X headphones also don’t fold up, which means that if you want to take them on the go, they’re not particularly portable. For me, it didn’t matter much since I plugged them into my desktop and that’s where they stayed for the duration of the review. But for people who like to carry the headphones around, that may be a deal-breaker.
Wires in a wireless world
Speaking of plugging in, the Blackshark V2 X headphones are wired, which will be a big drawback for those who prefer wireless headphones. I generally find myself falling on the side of wired, at least when at my desktop. The superior audio quality and lower latency are valuable to me, and since I typically plug my headphones in and don’t move them away from my desktop, having a wire isn’t a problem.
However, the Blackshark V2 X makes being wired even better thanks in part to a lengthy cable and the ability to disconnect partway up the length. That’s courtesy of the Blackshark V2 X’s audio and microphone splitter attachment, a second length of cable with a single 3.5mm input on one end and two 3.5mm outputs on the other, one for audio and one for your microphone.
That setup was especially helpful for me since it could plug the headphones into the panel on the back of my PC and keep the cables out of sight (my cable management is excellent as long as you don’t look under my desk). It also let me disconnect the headphones for the rare times I wanted to use them elsewhere, such as with a laptop or a rare smartphone that still sports a headphone jack, without having to disconnect my whole audio set-up.
Going with wires also helps keep the weight down, and I appreciated not needing to charge my headphones all the time. Still, the inconvenience of charging may be a welcome tradeoff for those who want wireless headphones — those that do likely won’t prefer the Blackshark V2 X headphones.
Unfortunately, the Blackshark V2 X feature a rubber cable, and while the bright green looks nice, it doesn’t feel great. The regular Blackshark V2 headphones have a fabric cable — I’d have liked to see the same with the V2 X.
Great all-around headphones for the price
Ultimately, Razer’s Blackshark V2 X headphones are a great option for the price, a reasonable $89.99 in Canada. Are they the best headphones in the price range? Well, it really depends what you’re looking for in a headphone.
The Blackshark V2 X headphones excel in terms of comfort and audio quality. They sound pretty good and I can wear them for a long time without discomfort thanks to the lightweight and plushy earcups.
At the same time, the headphones lack features some might consider staple, like wireless audio or noise cancellation. On top of that, the construction feels cheap, which could be a turn-off.
No retractable mic is perhaps the final gripe about these headphones, although they do have a decent mic, making them a great choice for someone who needs a new pair of headphones and a microphone for chatting with friends.
Overall, I’d say the Razer Blackshark V2 X are a solid option for people looking to save some money. If you can find them on sale, they’re definitely worth it.
Razer's Blackshark V2 X headphones offer decent sound and comfort for a reasonable price.