We've recently looked at various PC headsets, all of which boast their own unique individual features. The Able Planet PS500MM successfully provided us with more audio information when played at a lower level, while both the Creative Digital Wireless Gaming Headset and Logitech ClearChat PC Wireless Headset allowed for wireless chat and multimedia listening. Enter Razer, a company noted for its high-end quality PC gaming products, with the Carcharias headset. There's no gimmick with the Carcharias--no special feature that separates it from the rest of the pack. That said, the Carcharias is by far the most comfortable, best-sounding PC gaming headset we've tested in a while.
The Carcharias is outfitted in a stylish all-black design--from the headband right down to the boom microphone. The ear cups are large, padded, and easily fit entirely over our ears. The soft foam headband makes for an even more comfortable experience while the adjustable wire-framed sliders helped mold the headset to our head. The outer ear cups are covered in slick, dark metal grilles with the Razer logo emblazoned on each side. While the Carcharias headset is the largest of those we've recently tested, it's surprisingly lightweight, which allowed us to have extended sessions of play time and chatting.
On the left ear cup you'll find the protruding boom microphone that can swivel 270 degrees around--completely out of sight if you'd like. With that feature, we have no hesitations about recommending the Carcharias for use with other devices compatible with a simple 1/8-inch headphone jack.
We really liked the cloth-braided wire that extends out of the left ear cup as well. Measuring in at just under 10 feet, the cable provides more than ample length for just about any activity. An inline clothing clip and remote provides easy access to the volume control in addition to a microphone mute toggle. The cable terminates into two 1/8-inch jacks, one for audio and one for the in-line microphone input. While a wireless situation is ideal for conducting Skype or other VoIP sessions, you'll still have some sense of freedom with the Carcharias.
We ran the Carcharias through a series of tests, first examining its performance during a chat-based gaming session. We were a bit uncomfortable with the positioning of the boom microphone to start, as the boom itself isn't as adjustable as some of the headsets we've tested in the past. Since it's only flexible in the center of the boom, it may initially feel awkward when trying to use it. That said, we had nothing but solid results in all of our gaming matches with Counter-Strike as our teammates reported loud and clear voice chat from our player. We were very pleased with the audio performance in-game, as the Carcharias was able to immerse us into the multiplayer combat action. We were able to locate other player's locations hearing gunfire and footsteps quite easily.
Next we moved to a Skype session in which our party on the other end said we sounded clear, on par with a normal cell phone call. We then tested out the noise filtering feature on the device by playing some music in the background at a low volume. It appears the Carcharias was able to filter out most of the ambient sound, however our Skype partner complained about the noise once we increased the music's volume. We also noticed that the headset did a better job of filtering out noise that was occurring in front of us rather than commotion being made behind us. This is probably because of the noise-filtering microphone's listening location.
The Carcharias is also a solid set of headphones. We were really impressed with the overall sound quality we got while listening to various music samples and movies. The headset did a great job balancing the treble and bass in tracks off of Girl Talk's "Feed the Animals" CD and performed well during a heavier rock session we threw at it with Thrice's "Illusion of Safety" record. Movies also sounded vibrant and rich when we tried out selected scenes from "Cloverfield." Keep in mind you aren't getting true 5.1 surround from the Carcharias, but they should be more than sufficient for most listening tastes.
Overall, the Carcharias PC gaming headset is by far the most comfortable and best-sounding device we've tested in a while. Priced around $80, serious PC gamers who use voice chat in-game need to look no further. If you're going to be using your headset primarily for VoIP and you'd like to go wireless, we'd recommend looking at the Creative Digital Wireless Headset or the Logitech ClearChat PC Wireless Headset.