When it comes to accessories and gadgets, like headphones, cameras and cellphones, I’m of the mind that what’s promised on the box is what should be featured in the box, and if product manufacturers feel that their offerings are worth a not-inconsiderable asking price, then they must be pretty proud of their products.
But what if the promised feature isn’t anywhere near as valuable as the manufacturer thinks it is? What if the product’s key feature simply doesn’t work very well, or at all?
While the Razer Megalodon 7.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset produces quality audio comparable to a much lower priced set of headphones, the featured 7.1 audio and ‘Onboard Audio Processing’ technology simply don’t justify the cost of this accessory, while its restricted use on PC doesn’t do it any favours, either.
The Razer Megalodon can hardly be faulted on its presentation and comes in a sturdy hardcover zip-up case for travelling. Once plugged in, the headset lights up like a Christmas tree as two blue Razer logos blaze brightly, while the volume, speaker and mic adjustment box (which is where the featured audio processor is contained) blooms to life with piercing blue and red glows.
The Megalodon connects via USB as opposed to regular analog audio cables and setup is simple: Just plug in and go. I had some issues as the headset conflicted with another set of headphones and a mic I had plugged in, but once those were disconnected it was smooth sailing.
As a regular stereo headset, the Megalodon performs very well and oozes warm tones and boasts a fine mix of bass and treble with neither overwhelming the other, and the ear cups are very comfortable to wear. The entire unit is surprisingly lightweight, too, and it’s very easy to forget that it’s sitting on your head at all, while adjusting the headset to suit the size of your skull is a snap (or ‘a slide,’ as the case may be). The included boom mic effortlessly swivels up and down as necessary, allowing you to record and receive your voice well enough. Overall construction quality of the Megalodon feels a little cheap, but it holds together.
Audio volume, mic levels and muting the mic are all adjusted on the USB control box, and after a bit of fiddling around I managed to get a good feel for the rotation-based jog dial which shows volume increasing and decreasing on the display. Further investigation of the control box lead me to discover the ‘Maelstrom’ button, which switches the headset from 2.0 stereo to 7.1 surround sounds… supposedly.
With media that hasn’t been recorded in 7.1, it obviously doesn’t make sense for this feature to work at all. Music, recorded podcasts and earlier movies all sound muddy and echoey, effectively worsening the resultant audio. What about games sporting 7.1 audio, though? They fare no better. I did my best trying to convince myself that switching to 7.1 made the games sound any better, but it doesn’t. Confused echoes and a drastic decrease in clarity is the only result.
An additional button on the USB control box allows you to switch between different virtual speaker position settings, like front, rear and side, but in truth, I could hardly tell the difference between them.
It would have been great to test the 7.1 audio feature with a PlayStation 3, for example, where uncompressed audio is a possibility thanks to the extra storage space of a Blu-ray… but the Megalodon isn’t compatible with Sony’s console, nor is it compatible with an Xbox 360. For a headset that is made for gaming, it sure is limited when you can only use it with a PC.
For all of Razer’s claims about the Megalodon, this headset simply isn’t worth the asking price. At R1 689 at TakeALot.com, $131.18 at Amazon.com and £118.97 at Amazon.co.uk, I cannot recommend this device. If it was sold as a much less expensive stereo headset with a good mic and the novelty of turning your audio into mush, then perhaps it would be fun for a few hours. As it stands, the Megalodon 7.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset hasn’t earned its mighty name, and it certainly doesn’t live up to the standards of the Razer brand.
|Aesthetics||3/5||Stylish, understated design, but lights ruin the effect|
|Quality||3/5||Feels rather cheap and flimsy|
|Functionality||2/5||7.1 Surround Sound doesn’t work at all|
|Value||2/5||Basic functionality is not worth the asking price|