Snakes for your hands and fishes for your ears. Thus, it seemed a logical choice for Razer's second gaming headset (after the Barracuda) to be named after another killer fish. Unlike its predecessor however, the Razer Piranha caters for a more mainstream audience, losing the bulk and multi-channel audio drivers of the Barracuda.
Looks-wise, the Piranha stands out from most mundane headsets with its sleek black design, down to the two tooth-like points on the earphones, accenting the more popular Hollywood myth that people have come to associate with a certain deadly Amazonian fish. Keeping with the Piranha theme is the size of the headset, which is smaller and lighter than the Barracuda. The microphone design has also been changed to a slimmer look, but the detachable function of the Barracuda is now gone as well. Only the glowing blue Razer logo located at the sides of the earphones have been kept unchanged.
Snuggle Me Softly
Despite its 'toothy' design that may appear daunting, the Piranha fits surprisingly well on the head without adjusting the length of the headset. The Piranha has no active noise canceling technology built-in, but relies on its cushioned pads instead to filter background noise. While we do feel a slight compression against the ears, the headphones are comfortable and it does serve its purpose of blocking out ambient sounds. The microphone swivels down nicely and positions itself at the side of the face; just near enough the mouth for voice pick up.
We've got a few niggling issues with the Piranha though. Firstly, the microphone can only be swung downwards in one direction, which means the cable will on your left. If your computer were to be located on your right, some adjustments have to be made to avoid accidentally pulling on the cable.
Secondly, we find using a USB jack just to power up the blue LEDs on the volume dongle and headset is probably taking the whole '1337' look overboard. If you're adverse to looking like a giant Razer neon sign, forgo plugging the USB port in. We're sure you've got other uses for a spare port. Lastly, we mentioned that these cans are comfortable. However, prolonged usage seem to cause our ears to get really itchy and irritated.
Hearing is Believing
This is where the Piranha really scores points as audio clarity is fantastic. Bass does not get distorted and comes across booming. Even softer background harmonics can be clearly heard, adding more nuance to the music. Gaming-wise, the audio clarity in World of Warcraft came across as epic, and while the headset does not have the 5.1-channels of the Barracuda, the stereo delivery of the Piranha will sufficient for most games.
With a noise canceling microphone, voice pick up was very impressive, with very little buzz. Trying it over an Internet voice server while gaming garnered favorable remarks from teammates wondering about a much improved voice clarity. When not in use, you can turn the microphone off via the toggle on the volume dongle.
Left With the Bones
If we only look at its performance, the Razer Piranha scores extremely well as both sound and microphone quality were top notch. There is no debating that. The headset also fits snugly on the head, block. However, long term comfort issues with the material used for the earpads is something that can ruin a good experience. Like its sibling, the Razer Piranha also carries a premium price tag. At US$79.99 (~S$116), it comes across as grossly overpriced for a gaming communicator with no real features despite its solid audio quality.