Announced a while ago, it took us a while to get our hands on a Razer Opus headset – an exciting product because it’s Razer’s first big step in mainstream/non-gaming headsets, competing with the likes of Sennheiser’s PXC 550-II in the mid-price noise canceling range. Here’s what we thought.
When you think Razer, you think of gaming peripherals, and you think of stylish green edges and RGB lighting. Hardware that stands out in a crowd rather than blend into it. For that reason alone, the Razer Opus is a bold statement despite its understated exterior. Going for general lifestyle rather than gaming lifestyle, we were curious to see how the Opus would perform.
If you look at the Razer Opus when it leaves the box, it looks instantly familiar. Not necessarily to Razer’s own range of gaming headsets, but to those offered by consumer brands like Sony. It’s surprisingly unremarkable, but we mean that in the best way possible – it’s exactly what you want when you’re on a train or plane and don’t feel like wearing a ‘gaming’ product on your head.
Tucked underneath a sturdy plastic exterior are faux leather pads to help support the top of your head and create a comfortable seal around your ears. And as with most noise canceling/travel headsets, these will fold to lie flat and turn inward so they comfortably fit in the (included) carrying case.
Speaking of comfort, the Opus also feels very comfortable even after a long session of wearing them. They’re sturdy, but also extremely lightweight, though the faux leather material combined with the passive noise canceling can be bothersome in warmer environments, so I’m not sure this is what you’ll want to wear while exercising.
The Razer Opus can be used in wired (standard 3.5mm) mode or through Bluetooth connectivity, the latter supporting the Apple-associated AAC standard as well as the more mainstream aptX and SBC standards. You don’t get the Low Latency support that Sennheiser’s PXC 550-II has, but of course that’s a headset at a slightly higher price point as well. Unless you have very particular needs, the Opus is very likely to do exactly what you want it to. Although the inclusion of Bluetooth 5.0 will certainly be missed by some, pairing is easy thanks to audio prompts in the headset that will help you get set up.
That ease of use also translates to a relative lack of features, and not just in terms of some of the more exotic codecs out there. You’ll also notice a lack of touch controls on the headset, though its button controls work just fine once you’re able to blindly find them. With the right ear reserved for volume control and the left one controlling power and noise canceling, this takes a matter of minutes.
Battery life and ANC
This particular type of headphones is often used for travel purposes, so battery life is a crucial part of how well people will like something like the Opus. In our test, the battery lasted for over 30 hours with noise canceling turned off, which is impressive – but Razer claims the headset will also stay powered for 25 hours with ANC turned ON. There might be a difference in terms of how hard the headset has to work to filter out noise, but those are good numbers. In our test the headset well exceeded those 25 hours, but we mostly tested in relatively quiet environments (something about a pandemic and not traveling…).
How well the noise canceling works depends on whether you rely on passive noise canceling alone (which is less effective when wearing glasses, for instance) and on your environment – as is the case for most ANC headsets, the Opus is better at blocking out the low drum of a jet engine than it is at blocking higher pitched sounds, but it did a solid job eliminating a lot of traffic sounds while we tested it in the open air as well.
Audio is where is the Razer Opus feels most like a Razer product, with a slightly emphasized bass output that is so common in gaming headsets as well. There is plenty of room to help tune the sound to your liking though, thanks to the equalizer settings that can be configured through a dedicated Opus app – which was part of why the headset received THX’s brand of excellence as well. But although the Opus features audio presets to help you tune the sound to your liking, there’s no way to create your own preset so hopefully we’ll see that in a software update at some point.
The slightly emphasized lows are offset with less emphasis on higher pitched sounds, which (again, as with many gaming headsets) can be a bit of an issue when listening to music with clear vocals – something we assume is a pretty crucial aspect of a travel headset for most users. There’s an easy “fix” for this by tweaking the EQ settings in the app, but those who don’t like to tinker with apps and prefer sticking with a headset’s own neutral sound should be aware of this.
The other part about audio performance is, of course, how well the mic works. After all, this isn’t just a pair of headphones, but also doubles as a headset – and even comes with a split cable to help you connect it to a PC setup. There’s no retracting/extending boom though, and as you’d expect that means that the Opus works fine for phone calls but you shouldn’t expect it to replace a dedicated headset you might use for video calls or even vlogs, where clarity becomes more important.
Razer’s first headset not dedicated to gaming is a solid first step into an increasingly crowded market. Perhaps fittingly, it feels like an entry model for the gaming giant, as the Opus lacks features in terms of connectivity standards, EQ settings and more high end things like touch control. It does, however, provide users with all of the essentials, decent audio performance and noise canceling, and ditto battery life. You get all that at one of the best price points in the market right now, so if you’re looking for a bluetooth headset that checks all the basic for a decent price, then the Razer Opus is a safe bet. There are more “premium” offerings out there, but why spend an extra €100/$100 on features you don’t really need?