I have high expectations of Razer products. The company makes some of the best keyboards and mice I’ve ever used. Its audio products are generally impressive. Every now and then, a Razer product disappoints me (see the Razer Onza controller for Xbox 360), but that’s largely because the vast majority of my experiences with the company’s products have been superior. With all of that in mind, I was quite pleased with my experience with the Razer Tiamat Elite 7.1. Here’s a rundown of my two weeks with this fine product.
Build Quality: Like most Razer products, the build quality of the Tiamat is top notch. You can feel the product’s quality the second you pull it out of the box (great packaging, btw). It feels substantive and the heft of the drivers is immediately evident. The audio cable is of the braided cloth variety, which guards against tangles and interference; it has a more luxurious feel than standard plastic cords. The ear cups are heavily padded for long gaming sessions.
The retractable microphone is great in that it’s easy to stow when you don’t need it. That said, the mic was my only quibble as far as build quality and construction go. I prefer flexible mics to hard, plastic ones. The retractable microphone on the SteelSeries 7H is one of my favorites, for example. Aside from my minor issue with the mic (totally personal preference), the hardware quality is outstanding.
Comfort: You would think that a relatively heavy headset would be uncomfortable, but that’s not the case with the Tiamat. I already mentioned the heavily padded ear cups, but the winner here is the suspension strap that goes between your head and the headset’s plastic frame. It distributes the weight of the headset so that it doesn’t feel heavy. I wore the Tiamat for several multi-hour gaming sessions. Once I had it on for three hours just to see if it would get uncomfortable (and also because it made me feel like Lobot). It didn’t. It’s a safe bet that some of you will be shocked by how light the Tiamat feels on your head.
Sound Quality: For the most part, the sound quality of the Tiamat is great. Obviously it’s targeted towards gamers, but it’s fantastic for mainstream movies too. By default, I found the the bass to be hopped up, which is ideal for action games and action movies. Explosions, gunfire, Michael Clarke Duncan’s voice, etc. sounded magnificent. Any game with an emphasis on sound design gets a boost from this headset.
For music, I had to tweak some EQ settings to get a flatter response. Again, this is a personal preference. Mainstream consumers generally favor exaggerated bass (see Beats by Dre), but I prefer an even response (see Etymotic) for music. For non-action movies, you’ll probably want to tweak the audio too…but this headset wasn’t really made with viewings of Sense and Sensibility in mind.
As for the 7.1 surround sound effect, it’s very good, but no match for a true 7.1 speaker setup. Of course most gamers don’t have enough room for a full 7.1 surround sound speaker setup, so headsets like the Tiamat are the only way to get that kind of experience. For action games or stealth games where pinpoint audio helps determine your success, the Tiamat is a winner.
Volume Box: The Tiamat’s volume box is worth mentioning. This breakout box lets you control a multitude of features. For convenience, it allows you to switch between the headset and your PC’s speakers, switch between 7.1 and stereo sound, mute sound entirely, control the master volume, and more. It also allows you to tweak the individual speakers in the headset for an insane amount of control. It’s just a really, really impressive and powerful unit that rounds out the Tiamat’s overall offering nicely.
Conclusion: Yes, the Tiamat is on the expensive side of gaming headsets, but you’re getting top-of-the-line features. The sound quality is very good. The comfort is outstanding. The 7.1 sound is as good as it gets in terms of headsets. As far as gaming audio goes, it doesn’t get much better than the Razer Tiamat Elite 7.1.