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Razer has built a solid reputation for itself over the last few years as a purveyor of high-end gaming gadgets. Opening the box to the new Tiamat headphones suggests that they've got another hit on their hands; we can't remember ever being so impressed by a product's packaging, and that includes Apple's fancy boxes. This is one sexy package, with a thick cardboard box that opens into various sections, sealed by a magnetic flap.
The headphones themselves are almost as impressive, with slick, transparent panels showing off the five drivers crammed into each cup. The headband uses a similar set-up as the Audio Technica products, but uses a floating band instead of paddles. There's no way to adjust the length, but the band stretches to ensure a solid fit. Once again, circumaural ear cups have been used, and they're relatively small, ensuring a snug fit. The vinyl cushioning is nice and soft to the touch, but can get a little moist. The left cup hides a retractable microphone, while the lengthy cable is home to the amplification unit. This can be used to adjust the overall volume, as well as each individual channel — front, back, side, centre and subwoofer. It's all rather impressive.
If only the audio quality was good, too. The problem is that the drivers are the most expensive component in a quality set of headphones. For example, an AU$200 pair of headphones will probably have a pair of AU$40 drivers. When you try to squeeze five times as many drivers into the headphones, the cost per driver must decrease five-fold. The result is a set of headphones crammed with bad-quality drivers.
The specs for the Tiamat show the compromises that had to be made, using a single pair of 40mm drivers for bass, two 30mm drivers for front and centre and two 20mm drivers for side and rear. These deliver truly woeful audio quality. There's a massive loss of detail, with many of the effects blurring into each other. Directional audio is admittedly fantastic — the best of the bunch — but so many sound nuances are lost that the player is actually at a disadvantage. Making matters worse is the echo effect that plagues these headphones, which makes it sound as if you're playing in a giant tunnel.