Review: Razer Man O' War

Lots of features, but too much hissing

USB headsets have always felt a bit daft to me. The things I really need a good pair of headphones for don’t have a USB port (my phone, my kindle etc.), and so their benefits over a standard audio jack feel limited. While the wireless Razer Man O’ War still has those USB limitations, there’s more than enough slick design and cool features there to make up for it.

As far as comfort goes, this is certainly up there as being a good one

Design-wise, the Man O’ War is impressive as all hell. It’s a very big headset which, while maybe being too loose for people with smaller heads, is great for my big ogre noggin’. The padded headband doesn’t put any pinch or pressure on my head, and the earcups feel light. The size and overall lightness do mean it flops around a bit while moving, but as far as comfort goes, this is certainly up there as being a good one.

One problem is the audio leakage, something I’ve found with some of the cheaper Razer headphones too. Lots of external noise can seep into the cups, and vice-versa. I wouldn’t use the Man O’ War in a shared or public space if you’ve got an embarrassing taste in music because everyone in the vicinity will be able to hear it quite clearly.

As this is a wireless headset, the controls for both the headphones and the microphone are placed on each cup for easy access. The amount of control the Man O’ War shoves on the earcups can be daunting at first, but it’s all handled so well to make that acclimatisation time as short as possible.

Scroll the left wheel up and down for the microphone receiving volume, press it in the mute, and the same applies to the wheel on the right cup for the headphones. The end of the microphone lights up red when muted, so you’re never caught out coughing, spluttering, or chatting shit about someone while they can still hear you.

An interesting feature I’ve never seen in another headset before is the microphone feedback. The headphones can play back whatever the microphone is receiving with zero delays (to avoid speech-jamming), meaning you can hear yourself talk and perform quick sound-checks, even if you’re playing an incredibly noisy game. I streamed using the Man O’ War the other day, and this feature was an absolute life-saver when figuring out whether my mic was too loud or too quiet.

This feature was an absolute life-saver

The wireless range is more than adequate, with a few little hiccoughs here or there. The receiver (which is a USB dongle plugged into your PC or console) works well as long as it has a direct line of sight to the headset, and even being in another room or at the end of the garden had no effect on the sound quality. However, multiple or thicker walls tend to block the signal quite easily.

The headset bleeps when it goes out of range, which means walking around the house was full of times of perfect quality and then angry bleeping as I walked through a thick door frame. It’s more than enough for its primary usage – gaming – but trying to find the hot spots where the signal is good enough for music was a bit tricky.

For a wireless headset chock full of RGB lighting and a microphone that also has fancy lighting, I didn’t expect the battery life to be as lengthy as it is. I got about 12 hours of wireless use out of a single charge, and then just plugged it into a standard micro-USB charger to fill it up again in a couple of hours. It lasts long, but more importantly, it recharges fast too.

In an attempt to keep the battery life longer, though, the headset turns itself off after a set amount of time with no output. I like to just sit with headphones on even if I’m not actively listening to anything, so suddenly hearing the blooping telling me it’s turned off every once in a while can be a bit of a hassle.

So, how is the sound quality? I’ve had problems before with Razer headsets being far too heavy on the bass, but fortunately the Man O’ War seems to have fixed that problem entirely. I tested it using my standard sound-check playlist (‘Bambous’ and ‘Lone Digger’ by Caravan Palace, ‘The Writing’s On the Wall’ by OK Go and ‘Radioactive’ by Imagine Dragons) and found that high, mid and low tones were all reproduced incredibly well when compared to my Sennheiser monitoring headphones.
The balance between deep bass and the treble on the default mix (which can be changed using the Razer Synapse configuration program) was just how I like it: not too heavy on either, making music sound great. The virtual 7.1 surround sound made Devil Daggers, a game that relies heavily on positional audio cues, an utterly fantastic experience, too.

Unfortunately, there is one problem that seems to plague USB headphone in general: hissing. When plugged into both my PS4 and PC, the Man O’ War produces a constant staticky-hissing noise. It’s not noticeable when sound is coming through, but in those quiet moments, it can be incredibly distracting. This isn’t a problem specific to the Man O’ War, as I have found USB headsets from other manufacturers suffer from the same problem, but it is still a major dent in its otherwise great sound quality.

It’s not noticeable when sound is coming through, but in those quiet moments, it can be incredibly distracting.

The microphone’s quality is really, really surprising. Headset microphones will never stack up to dedicated external mics, but this one certainly comes close. It’s a bit on the muffled side, and makes me voice sound a lot deeper than I think it really is, but for streaming and video work (and hell, even podcasting if you’re not too fussy) it works a real treat.

Overall, the Man O’ War is a really well-designed piece of kit. Its controls are intuitive, the amount of feedback it gives you with regards to microphone status is helpful, the battery life is great, and the wireless range, if spotty, is decent. While it might be a bit on the big side for some, and USB hissing continues to be a major problem, I think the Man O’ War certainly justifies its asking price.

This hardware, and a second one for a giveaway at a later date, was supplied by the manufacturer for the purposes of this review.

Manufacturer: Razer

MSRP: £154.99/$169.99/€199,99

Input: 1x USB wireless 2.4GHz transmitter, 1x micro USB charging

  • Comfortable fit
  • Microphone lighting and playback functionality
  • Long battery life
  • Hissing damages otherwise great sound quality
  • Might be too big for some
  • Sound leaks in and out
A fantastic headset full of useful features and clever design choices that’s let down by a constant hissing sound. Great for streaming.

%

Joe is LPVG’s resident hardware nerd. If it’s overpriced and has gaudy RGB lighting, he’s probably drooling over it. He loves platformers, MMOs, RPGs, hack ‘n slashers and FPS, with his favourite games being Mirror’s Edge, Left 4 Dead, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Oblivion and Dead Space. Don’t ask him about his unhealthily large Monsters Inc memorabilia collection. Seriously, just don’t ask…

%d bloggers like this: