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Razer's Nommo Chroma speakers have awesome sound, weird design

The unusual Razer Nommo Chroma desktop speakers pack a surprising punch of audio and color.

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To state the obvious, the Razer Nommo speakers look… different.

They have a striking design that often inspired a "what are thoooose?"-type of reaction from anyone who came across the speakers while I was reviewing them. But they're meant for gaming, not inspiring meme references.

The Razer Nommo start at $100 (AU$60, £35), but the Nommo Chroma speakers reviewed here here cost $150 (AU$189, £109) and add a band of lights in the base of each speaker that can be tuned to 16.8 million colors. Razer also makes the $500 (£500) Nommo Pro speakers, which add a separate tweeter on top of each driver and a standalone downward-firing subwoofer. Australian pricing and availability for the Pro has not yet been announced, but the US price converts to roughly AU$650.

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Those are speakers, but from this angle you might think they are lights.

Josh Miller/CNET

Sound on

With two, 3-inch drivers and rear-facing bass ports, the Nommos sound far better than computer speakers you'd typically find at their price.

Audio is luxuriously rich and full, with thunderous bass that packs a pronounced punch. Due to the directional audio, loud effects felt intensely immersive. No one would call the cops on you for blasting at maximum volume, however they are surprisingly powerful, mimicking the larger-than-life effect of a movie theater, except on a much, much smaller scale.

Speaking of movies, the gaming speakers work just as well for those, too. Just like with games, sound effects in movies were booming and aggressive, but never harsh. Sound was even better when optimized for movies using Razer's Synapse software (more on that later).

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Volume and bass knobs are located on the right speaker.

Josh Miller/CNET

For example, in the opening scene of "Guardians of the Galaxy 2," a couple driving while listening to the radio are shown while "Brandy, You're a Fine Girl" by Looking Glass plays. The "movie" setting helped pronounce the difference between when the song is playing for the characters in the movie (static crackling with a muffled AM radio tone with a rumbling car engine in the background) and when it's intended for the viewer (crystal clear and louder than the dialogue).

It still falls a bit short when it comes to music, however. The bass didn't make as dramatic of an impact when playing music as it did with games and movies. To be sure, they sounded supremely full and balanced playing every genre I threw on it, even at max volume. I wouldn't hesitate to use the speakers for a small party (especially with the Chroma lights on), but if it's primarily a music speaker you seek, better keep looking.  

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A band of light underneath the base.

Josh Miller/CNET

All of the lights

While the speakers sound solid, the Chroma lights definitely add to the experience. They're discreetly wrapped along the rim of the speaker's base, framing a smooth and grippy rubber base that keeps the lamp-like speakers steadily in place. Even when lit and rotating through every shade in the color spectrum, they're surprisingly subdued.

Download Razer's Synapse software and unlock almost endless customization options for the lights. Everything from color and speed to pattern and frequency can be tweaked.

When the volume knob on the right speaker's base is turned up or down, the light's brightness on that speaker go up and down, too. The same thing goes for the bass knob and left speaker. It adds some actual functionality to the lights, and it's useful for when you can't tell the bass is already maxed out (like I kept doing when listening to music.)

The lights aren't bright enough to illuminate anything -- they're merely for aesthetics. I like them. They add a little panache to the otherwise odd-looking speakers. Would I pay an extra $50? No, not unless I was already invested in the Chroma line. (I'm not.)

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Aux cable included.

Josh Miller/CNET

Cords galore

The Razer Nommo Chroma comes with a power cord and separate USB and AUX cords for audio, both of which connect to the back of the right speaker, and a cord to connect the right speaker to the left, which sends both power and audio.

All the cables felt cumbersome, even with Razer's included cord management ties, but that might be a latent effect of the normalizing of wireless speakers, as well as the rise of excellent-sounding Bluetooth speakers, like the Apple HomePod and Sonos One.

The good news is that setup is as easy as plug and play. It connects to almost any laptop, phone or TV. Sadly, there is no Bluetooth/wireless connection available.

Lights off

At $99, the Razer Nommo are a booming deal. If not already invested in Razer's spectacular Chroma line, I can't say the lights add enough to the package to merit an extra 50 bucks.

They sound great and, as long as you don't expect too much from the bass when listening to music -- a reasonable request considering the souped-up model with standalone sub costs a cool $500 -- the Razer Nommo are a spectacular and versatile pair of speakers.

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