26th Mar2013

‘Razer Chimaera 5.1 Wireless Headset’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Originally available in a stereo iteration, Razer’s Chimaera 5.1 Wireless headset has had something of a makeover, adding 5.1 Dolby surround sound in the process. Billed as the “ultimate surround sound gaming headset for the Xbox 360″ the Chimaera headphones are however the latest in a long line of overly-expensive and over-specced headsets packed with technology that, in essence, isn’t really needed for most of the time.

Possibly the largest headset I have ever used, the Chimaera’s aren’t exactly built to look good. They’re not exactly the most comfortable either, being a little on the weighty side to be wearing for long gaming sessions. Fair enough the well-padded fabric cushions mean the headset sits well on the ears, but the overall weight of the headphones does provide some unwarranted discomfort.

Besides having a cumbersome name, the Razer Chimaera 5.1 Wireless headset also has a most cumbersome setup. Supplied with an optical cable for connecting to the Xbox 360, the headset also comes with a 2.5mm to 2.5mm stereo cable for connecting the headset to the 360 controller and a 3.5mm to 3.5mm stereo cable for connecting the headset to the base station for local team communication. Speaking of the base station – I know these are becoming defacto for gaming headsets but I can’t help but feel that they are an unnecessary addition that only really serve to bump up the prices of gaming headphones.

To get started with the Razer Chimaera 5.1 Wireless headset you first set up the base station, connecting it to your Xbox 360 and to a power socket (which means yet another plug in and around the TV!). The base station features a number of control buttons – a standard on/off power switch, a switch that toggles between Normal, Bass and Treble modes or turn on/off the Dolby Headphone mode and there’s a button that allows us to switch between the sources and also allows us to pair the base station with the headset. The base station features a 5.8GHz wireless transmitter, which apparently means the headset is interference free. Also built into the base station is a charging facility for the headphones – which is undoubtedly the best part about the base station – allowing the headphones to sit securely on top of the base whilst charging.

As the headset is wireless there are no in-line controls, instead the Razer Chimaera 5.1 Wireless headset has control buttons on the side of the ear cups. The left cup has a mute button for the microphone, a standby button and volume controls for the microphone, which is slightly flexible to allow positioning closer, or further away from your mouth. The right ear cup, which houses the battery unit, features a further buttons: one to switch the mode between Xbox Live and local team communication and one that mutes the audio volume and pairs the headset with the base station.

In testing out the Razer Chimaera 5.1 Wireless headset we put the device through it paces, playing games and watching movies through the Xbox 360. And whilst we didn’t test out the local team communication feature (where you connect a number of base stations together via the 3.5mm jack on the back of the unit, for lag-free audio during LAN play) we did try out voice chat in-game, the results of which were incredibly positive, with crisp, clear voice reproduction and minimal background noise pick-up. The sound quality of the headset has to be commended – it’s incredibly satisfying to play and FPS like Call of Duty and hear all the noise around you in Dolby 5.1, it’s more of an immersive experience than traditional 2.0 headphones (the sound of multiple gun fire across the playing field is actually quite incredible to hear). Watching movies was just as pleasurable an experience, with crisp, clear sound reproduction and a clean split between music and voice; and even in the most explosive scenes actors voices were still clearly audible.

Whilst the 5.1 sound quality has to be commended, I can’t see how anyone can justify paying nearly twice the price of a stereo headset for playing games – especially when the headset isn’t the most comfortable out there. But if you MUST play your games in Dolby 5.1, the Razer Chimaera 5.1 Wireless headset is available to buy from Razer’s online store, RRP is £189.99

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