Between enduring popularity Nintendo Switch, the growing power of leading phones and new services like Apple Arcade, portable gaming has finally come to the fore. However, the disappearance of 3.5mm ports on mobile devices has left many devices without superior sound – Bluetooth headsets don’t really reduce it when you need sound perfectly synchronized. If you want a solid connection, your best is the RF dongle, which typically uses USB-A in a world that constantly outperforms USB-C ports. Razer has finally stepped up with handsets that can be paired with your Switch, Android phone or thin and light laptop, $ 100 Barracuda X.
The Barracuda X is far from the first headset intended for Nintendo Switch gamers; we are big fans of SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless thanks to its comfort and superior sound quality, we even included it in several of our own gift guides. It is fair to say that these headphones are the main competitor to Barracuda. Even RF adapters look the same.
However, while the Arctis 1 Wireless maintains the standard look of the line (as it should – it’s a great design), the Barracuda is a change of pace for the Razer. Instead Kraken brands round, grated-looking, the new headphones resemble last year’s Opus headphones, who received Refresh last month. It’s not completely identical, with different joints on the cups and canvas ear pads instead of fake skin. Here in New York, since this writing, it has been 90 degrees, and I can report that I did not feel the need to take off the Barracuda even after wearing it for a few hours. It’s still a little warm and I definitely feel cooler when I take off my headphones, but it’s bearable.
The Barracuda X also weighs very little at 250 grams, one of the lightest headphones I’ve tested. (I think it could be lighter than its own packaging.) In direct comparison, it seems to be about the same in hand as similar models from Turtle Beach i Logitech, but there is a balance in the plastic structure of Barracuda that makes it feel more ethereal. It’s not something I’d mind holding on to my head for a few hours or throwing it in my backpack so I can play on the train. Which is exactly the point: You shouldn’t feel that carrying this thing is a burden.
While I wouldn’t angrily throw this thing around, it seems to be solidly built, capable of carrying a few things into your bag. I have mixed feelings about the detachable microphone; The ability to take it off means a more compact headphone design, but it’s also another awkward piece I could lose. Well again, it’s unlikely you’ll need voice functions while you’re out. (Hell, the Switch console doesn’t even have real voice chat; it asks you to connect via the app on your phone.)
The Barracuda X thrills me, mostly because of its USB-C compatibility. But I also miss it. The adapter is certainly small, but it is very wide. This means that if you happen to have a laptop with two USB-C ports next to each other like my 2017 MacBook, the Barracuda dongle will completely block the other. This is a hassle in my office, where I have an external monitor and a USB hub connected on the other side. So while I’m working I choose between the power cord and the headphones. I decided not to use Barracuda with my laptop at all, preferring to listen to podcasts on my phone. However, this is my unique situation, and on the go you will only need two ports: one for headphones and the other for power.
It is exciting to see how companies are finally starting to take mobile games seriously and address the specific needs of these players. Mobile-friendly controls are great, but many popular mobile games don’t really need them. Still a better sound? Almost everyone can appreciate it. The $ 100 price may seem a little steep to some, but Barracuda X it looks versatile enough that you will be more than worth your money.
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