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Hands-On: Razer Tiamat 2.2 Headset

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 20 comments

We blast our ears with Razer's Tiamat 2.2 headset. Does it deliver epic sound and epic bass as promised? Read on and see.

I'll be up front and honest by admitting that I've never preferred using a full headset. For most of my adult life, I've stuck with ear buds that you jab right into your ear. I like to get up close and personal with my audio, and I've found ear buds, the right pair that is, sound better than your typical set of earphones. That's now changed.

Recently Razer sent along its awesome Tiamat 2.2 headset. This isn't a your typical set of headphones you'd use when listening to an iPod while jogging, or walking along a busy street, tuning out the world and its annoying noises. This is a full, engulf-your-ears clamp-on-your-head set similar to what's used by recording artists and music enthusiasts (or Twist from The Fresh Beat Band). Instead of injecting sound directly into your ears, it closes out the world and surrounds your ears with rich, wonderful sound.

On a PC gaming front, this is important. Unlike the older days when sound was merely a component, it's now immersive, spatial, taking advantage of digital positional audio. Get an awesome stereo system, hook up the PC, and you can seemingly hear someone creep up behind you. A good chunk of that can be lost when using a standard set of earphones or earbuds, and that's where the Tiamat 2.2 comes in.

According to Razer, the audio drivers in the Tiamat 2.2 have been designed to simulate a three-dimensional audio effect. I first noticed this effect when I (for some reason) decided to plug the headphones into my Xperia Play smartphone. Thanks to Android 2.3.4, the phone makes an audible "click" after I've entered the lock screen's code. Instantly I heard not the typical flat audio file, but a click that seemed deeper than before, as if I were standing in an empty ballroom. The sound bounced off virtual walls ever so slightly without sounding like an actual echo. Thus, there's some reverb and delay going on to create a deep, engulfing experience for even the slightest of sounds.

That said, Razer says that users will get a sense of position and depth in their virtual surroundings, that they can hear how far and where exactly an opponent is by their gunfire or footsteps. Unfortunately, I didn't really get that when playing Crysis 3, Guild Wars 2, Diablo 3 or Rage. I paid special attention to the shooters since they seemingly require positional audio, but I didn't sense anything out of the ordinary either in regards to where opponents are and whatnot – the headphones really didn't offer any kind of tactical advantage.

BUT... the Razer Tiamat 2.2 makes things a lot more explosive, a lot richer to the ears. You can thank the Tiamat 2.2's two sub-woofer drivers for that which offers stronger bass support and overall audio performance. The tech specs read that it actually features four 40-mm Neodymium Magnets with a Titanium Coated Diaphragm. It also has a frequency response of 20 – 20,000 Hz, an impedance of 32Ω, and a sensitivity at 1kHz of 109 ± 3dB.

Getting back to the bass, I'm definitely all about cranking it up in everything, whether it's an awesome groove in a dance tune or an action-packed movie on Netflix. Bass makes the experience – without it, sounds are just flat, mechanical, sterile and sharp to the ears. Bass will rock the house, rattle the window frames, maybe even your teeth with a thunderous effect. Not to worry: there' no teeth rattling going on with the Razer Tiamat 2.2., but you do feel drawn into any movie, game or tune on the audio front.

What helps in bringing the audio experience to life is in the Tiamat 2.2's overall design. The padded leatherette ear cups fit just right around your eras, drowning out a good chunk of your everyday sounds like keyboard tapping, annoying chatter and kids fighting over trivial junk just outside your home office door. I can't say they block everything out, but it helps draw your attention to the game or movie at hand. If anything, the biggest external influence you'll hear is from the headset itself, or rather, it's extremely long braided fiber cord.

After pulling out the measuring tape and starting from the 3.5-mm audio and microphone jacks, I discovered that this cord is over ten feet long. Now don't get me wrong: I'm a firm believer of giving users enough room to move around without feeling leashed by the audio device, but over ten feet is a little crazy, especially if I'm sitting at the desk playing a PC game. I found myself running over the cord with my chair, and I almost always heard the cord knocking against the headset itself.

So why do we need this much cord? I can see a scenario where the PC is across the room, parked next to the living room HDTV. It's late at night and you want to wander around Skyrim (yes, I tested that too) without having to turn the volume down to a whisper because everyone else is asleep. This way, you can sit back on the couch and fend off those pesky wolves with your earphones and a wireless/Bluetooth set of peripherals without bothering anyone.

Somewhere along this lengthy cord is a simple controller for adjusting the volume (on top of your device's volume control), and turning the microphone on and off. The two jacks at the end are color-coded (green for audio, red for microphone), but the colors are merely thin opaque strips and really hard to see, especially in low-light situations. This is by far my biggest beef with this headset, as Razer could have found a better way to prevent users from guessing which jack is which without straining their eyes. Instead of using black rubber, Razer should have used actual red and green colors for quick, easy recognition.

As for the microphone itself, it doesn't stick out like your standard headset when not in use. Instead, it's retractable and stored in the headphone's left earpiece. It's rather comical actually: once pulled out, it resembles the egg-planting appendage of a facehugger from the Alien movies. It eerily stretches towards your face around four inches, and is adjustable up to two positions. Don't want to use it? Merely push it back in – you really can't tell it's there once back in the earpiece.

On that note, there should have been an option to do something similar with the cord. The two earpads are connected by a sturdy, plastic frame that fits comfortably over your head, padded by a strip of six little cushions. I guess having the cord, which also extends from the left side, retract up into this area really wouldn't have been possible unless the cord's wiring originated from the right side instead. It's a trivial complaint I know, but you could seemingly jump rope with this cord – it may be an issue for people who trip over their own feet.

While it may seem that I'm somewhat negative with this peripheral, I'm really not. There are two aspects I would have loved to have seen different, but overall you have a top-notch product. It doesn't offer me any advantages in playing shooters like Crysis 3 or Rage, but it does enhance the audio to the point where I'm even more immersed in the environment than ever before. Listening to music on my iPod or Xperia Play is even enhanced to the point where I want to use these headphones all the time, but in some situations, that's just not practical – I can definitely see myself losing a few teeth because I was jogging with these on my head and I tripped over the cord.

On a final note, you don't need to install additional drivers to use this heavy-duty headset – everything it needs is already packed in the hardware. However keep in mind that the Tiamat 2.2 enhances your current hardware – meaning don't expect true 3D surround sound from your smartphone or generic sound card. If you have something like Beats Audio already installed to enhance your sound, then adjustments in the mixer will be required so that you're not hearing all bass, or not enough bass and too much treble, and so on. You get my drift, right?

BOTTOM LINE

Razer promises epic sound and epic bass with the Tiamat 2.2, and that's what you get for $99.99 USD. This set is extremely comfortable, and does a great job filtering out external noise thanks to its "snug-fit" padded leatherette ear cups. It's also a wired headset, so you'll have to deal with over 10 feet of braided cord that's likely provided for gaming sessions from the couch. The headset could have also used a better way to label the audio and microphone jacks for easier management.

Still, these are minute complaints compared to the headphone's glorious, immersive output. Explosions are more explosive, deeper than what's provided by your standard headset, and that makes a difference when watching movies or playing games. Epic sound? Epic bass? You got it, plus some depending on your hardware, and you don't even have to install a thing.

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  • 9 Hide
    edogawa , September 24, 2012 6:10 PM
    Gimmick and nothing more, while I like the mice made by Razer, they need to stay out of the sound department and leave it to real audio companies.

    Audiophile Headphones: 1

    Gaming Headphones: 0

  • -2 Hide
    bobiseverywhere , September 24, 2012 6:19 PM
    My question is have they improved the microphone over the Timat since the mic on that headset leaves you sounding muffled and just is quite sad.
  • 2 Hide
    Pennanen , September 24, 2012 6:31 PM
    Razer is like apple. The products they make cost a lot not because of quality but because of brand. These are 20$ headset but woopdedoo its 99$ because its razer gaymen gear.
  • Display all 20 comments.
  • -1 Hide
    liquidchild , September 24, 2012 7:29 PM
    PennanenRazer is like apple. The products they make cost a lot not because of quality but because of brand. These are 20$ headset but woopdedoo its 99$ because its razer gaymen gear.
    My naga cost 70 bucks and has 17 buttons.....find me something better then that, last year when i bought it. FYI g600 just came out.
  • 8 Hide
    reprotected , September 24, 2012 7:46 PM
    PennanenRazer is like apple. The products they make cost a lot not because of quality but because of brand. These are 20$ headset but woopdedoo its 99$ because its razer gaymen gear.

    Razer is like Logitech. They sell computer peripherals.
  • 4 Hide
    Razec69 , September 24, 2012 8:30 PM
    I have to say Razer dropped the bomb on the Tiamat 7.1. I've waited months for that headset, had finally bought it in July for myself as a birthday gift and "Oh Lord, Jesus" was it pure trash.

    Now, the sound quality of the headset itself is nothing better than a regular digital 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound headset. I actually have a Turtle Beach Earforce headset that is all digital and it sounds better, and the microphone is better. Which is sad.

    Now, the microphone is just utter garbage. It probably cost more in labor to actually do the little gimmicky tuck away microphone on the side thing, than the microphone itself. I actually have an extremely old microphone, that actually looks like the microphone symbol you see on computers today from an old Windows 95 PC that I had, and this microphone works better. When I tell you how unbelievably unhappy I was with the quality of this microphone it was just depressing.

    The money wasn't even the issue, I stand by Razer, I've had their products before, and I still have my BF3 Imperator 2012.

    But what really had me disappointed was that my friends where actually laughing at me because I just spent $200 on a headset that is outperformed by a $5 you can get at a Wal-Mart or local Radio Shack. They have various brands of headsets from Triton to Turtle Teach as well.

    Avoid this headset at all costs literally go buy anything else because anything will do just as good or better than this headset or its beefier 7.1 father.
  • 1 Hide
    southernshark , September 24, 2012 9:01 PM
    For 13 bucks, I bought a "Stand Alone" Microphone,

    http://www.amazon.com/Microphone-Computer-Laptop-Notebook-canceling/dp/B002KL0VY2/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1348520308&sr=8-7&keywords=microphone

    It outperforms any headset mic I've owned, and I just leave it setting on my desk. I talk to people and I'm not even near the thing. it still works.

    Anyway I'm just pointing out that there are good ways to good microphones and good audio without paying big money. I also use some full base speakers that I bought for 20 bucks. So for 32.00 dollars I have a fantastic mic and decent audio. Yeah its not on my head, but I NEVER have to worry about the wires either..........
  • 1 Hide
    Pennanen , September 24, 2012 9:10 PM
    liquidchildMy naga cost 70 bucks and has 17 buttons.....find me something better then that, last year when i bought it. FYI g600 just came out.

    Naga has a horrible sensor so cant use it for anything but mmorpgs. Also the whole 1000 buttons on mouse thing is pretty useless since you can easily bind everything you need on keyboard.
  • 2 Hide
    bavman , September 24, 2012 9:42 PM
    Headsets are usually (99.99%) crappy in terms of quality. You would be 100x better off buying a nice $90 pair of headphones and a $10 mic. Both would be tons better than a headset
  • 0 Hide
    xkche , September 24, 2012 11:47 PM
    i read in other web that the tiamat 7.1 are awesome :(  but now you dessapoint me

    how about the Cooler Master 5.1?: http://www.amazon.com/Cooler-Master-Storm-Sirus-SGH-6000-KK5R1/dp/B005HO1ULM/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pdT1_nS_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=36F8R6PUDW6KW&coliid=I16X8QGN6HFEGY

    I just want a cool 5.1 true headset for movies and BF3 :/ 
  • 1 Hide
    edogawa , September 25, 2012 12:47 AM
    xkchei read in other web that the tiamat 7.1 are awesome but now you dessapoint mehow about the Cooler Master 5.1?: http://www.amazon.com/Cooler-Maste [...] 8QGN6HFEGYI just want a cool 5.1 true headset for movies and BF3


    Don't bother with gaming headphones at all, buy a real set of cans and use CMSS-3D or Dolby for surround sound; it's much better option.
  • -1 Hide
    pilsner , September 25, 2012 8:58 AM
    Sennheiser PC360. Best gaming headset I ever had. Basically a standard Sennheiser high quality headphone with a mic bolted on.

    http://en-de.sennheiser.com/pc-360
  • 2 Hide
    ojas , September 25, 2012 12:32 PM
    Quote:
    Crysis 3

    You've played it already, eh? :p 

    And btw, you should mention the genres of music you listen to.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , September 25, 2012 3:49 PM
    The positional audio comes from the Tiamat 7.1's.

    The 2.2's are only sterio, and if you want a positional feel there's teh Carcharias (5.1 simulated), the Barracudas (True 5.1), the Megalodons (7.1 simulated), and the Tiamat 7.1s (7.1 true).

    I've owned the Carcharias and the Tiamat 7.1. They are both great and do what they say they do. It's amazing.

    The 2.2's are great stereo audio with deep bass for a more immersed feel.
  • -2 Hide
    abendschein , September 25, 2012 3:58 PM
    Razec69I have to say Razer dropped the bomb on the Tiamat 7.1. I've waited months for that headset, had finally bought it in July for myself as a birthday gift and "Oh Lord, Jesus" was it pure trash.Now, the sound quality of the headset itself is nothing better than a regular digital 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound headset. I actually have a Turtle Beach Earforce headset that is all digital and it sounds better, and the microphone is better. Which is sad.Now, the microphone is just utter garbage. It probably cost more in labor to actually do the little gimmicky tuck away microphone on the side thing, than the microphone itself. I actually have an extremely old microphone, that actually looks like the microphone symbol you see on computers today from an old Windows 95 PC that I had, and this microphone works better. When I tell you how unbelievably unhappy I was with the quality of this microphone it was just depressing.The money wasn't even the issue, I stand by Razer, I've had their products before, and I still have my BF3 Imperator 2012.But what really had me disappointed was that my friends where actually laughing at me because I just spent $200 on a headset that is outperformed by a $5 you can get at a Wal-Mart or local Radio Shack. They have various brands of headsets from Triton to Turtle Teach as well.Avoid this headset at all costs literally go buy anything else because anything will do just as good or better than this headset or its beefier 7.1 father.

    I'm sorry, but you either got a horrible product that was ruined during assembly, or your audio is just bad.

    I've owned my Tiamat's since their second release, and I have had nothing but positive experience. The microphone is very good, and combined with proper audio drivers, no one is the wiser between it and my stand alone studio microphone.

    As far as audio difference between true drivers and digital simulated, you obviously have not heard either. There is a literal, physical difference, and if you're not hearing it then something is definitely wrong. It's either your hearing, or at least 3 out of the 5 drivers in each ear are broken.
  • 0 Hide
    abendschein , September 25, 2012 4:01 PM
    PennanenNaga has a horrible sensor so cant use it for anything but mmorpgs. Also the whole 1000 buttons on mouse thing is pretty useless since you can easily bind everything you need on keyboard.

    Horrible sensor that makes it only usable in MMORPGS?

    You know obviously nothing about hardware peripherals or even anything electronic.

    A sensor does not differentiate between gaming genres, ever. lol
  • 0 Hide
    Razec69 , September 25, 2012 6:19 PM
    abendscheinI'm sorry, but you either got a horrible product that was ruined during assembly, or your audio is just bad.I've owned my Tiamat's since their second release, and I have had nothing but positive experience. The microphone is very good, and combined with proper audio drivers, no one is the wiser between it and my stand alone studio microphone. As far as audio difference between true drivers and digital simulated, you obviously have not heard either. There is a literal, physical difference, and if you're not hearing it then something is definitely wrong. It's either your hearing, or at least 3 out of the 5 drivers in each ear are broken.


    No, sorry. I like my father am a HUGE audiophile, I will show you a picture of my living room, the 10+ year stack of Audiophile magazine and the huge collection of CDs and Vinyl records to prove it.

    I know the difference of even the slightest mid-range or low-range tweeter. I know sound. Like I said, the audio was good, but not significantly better than other simulated/digital surround sound.

    When I did speak to a customer support agent we both came to the conclusion it was defective, but the fact that it was defective and that so many other people complained about the microphone was reason enough to send it back and get a refund.

    Again the audio was great. But, what was the worst part was the microphone. Even other reviews on youtube or sources say the microphone is terrible. It sounded muffled and extremely low. Just look it up yourself.

    Also its not my sound card. I have a Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Platinum. All the drivers are up to date, and I have never had an issue with it.

    Did I get a defective product? More than likely, like I said. But for the simple fact that I am not the only person getting a defective product makes it a fail.

    I don't even care that I spent $200, I was willing and happy to do it, but the product itself was so terrible, and again I wasn't the only person.

    And how often do you talk to people with that headset? I am pretty sure its rare. Again the audio was good, but not what I expected at all. Hell my $30 Logitech headset had just as good digital surround as the TRUE analog Tiamat 7.1, and I had a few people test it.
  • 0 Hide
    shriganesh , September 26, 2012 6:40 AM
    This hands-on is incomplete! There is detailed spec listed anywhere! Is this a true 5.1 (aka multiple speakers inside each cup) headphone or just simulated/emulated crap? This is single most important detail when deciding on such high end headsets!
  • 1 Hide
    pips , January 21, 2013 5:47 AM
    If you're a headset audiophile, you're not arguing over gaming headsets on the Internet. You're listening to your Jazz on your Grado GS1000i, or Sennheiser HD 800s. Your pewpews are not going to replicate well over audiophile grade cans, so you can grab a pair of Beats rip offs that feel the best on your ears for those long 8 hour poopsocking stretches of gaming.
  • 0 Hide
    Bryce Lynch , October 16, 2013 7:30 PM
    How much did Razer pay you to write this, Razer is crap, their design is terrible. What makes them think that 7 foot long cords made of rope that frays is a good idea?