Razer has introduced the Barracuda X, a multiplatform wireless gaming headset that takes design cues from the company’s Opus noise-canceling headphones. They’re launching today for $99.99, which is more aggressive than I expected, given that the company usually comes in at a premium price point.
The Barracuda X is a big step for Razer in that it’s finally jumping into USB-C connectivity — both in terms of how the headset charges and how it transmits audio wirelessly. Included in the box is a small USB-C wireless transmitter that’s almost identical to the one that SteelSeries has included with some of its headsets since 2019. It allows compatibility with the Nintendo Switch in portable mode, the PS5’s front-facing USB-C port, and some phones and tablets directly through their USB-C ports.
Razer includes a five-foot USB-A cable with a USB-C female end that the transmitter can plug into for devices that don’t have a USB-C port, like a PC, PS4, or the Switch’s dock. It can also serve as an extender if there’s some interference between the headset and your USB-C port. None of this is cutting-edge in the headset world at this point, but it’s a broad amount of compatibility for $100.
The headset also works wired, and includes a 3.5mm cable. The headset isn’t compatible with Xbox consoles due to the fact that they operate on Microsoft’s own wireless protocol, which is unsupported. This is disappointing, as SteelSeries’ Arctis 7X includes a similar dongle with a toggle switch to work on Xbox and other platforms. Razer will likely get there at some point, but not today. You can plug the Barracuda X audio cable into your Xbox controller’s 3.5mm jack.
The USB-C transmitter is relatively low-profile.Photo by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge
This product is the first in the line of Barracuda headsets, and it’s setting a strong precedent for future iterations. The style of the Barracuda X is a far cry from the likes of the Kraken and the BlackShark V2, looking more like headphones than a gaming headset. Razer told The Verge that it was aiming for a design that appears platform-agnostic, so as to indicate to people that this is a headset that’s likely made for your preferred platform.
The Barracuda X weighs 250 grams, and Razer says this is its lightest wireless headset yet. After wearing it for about a week, I can vouch that it’s comfortable to wear after several hours of use. The ear pads are soft and breathable, yet dense enough to create some passable noise isolation. The cups themselves can swivel 90 degrees, which is handy for slimming their profile for storage in a bag. But that swivel feature works backwards when you’re wearing them. For some reason, Razer engineered them to swivel in the opposite direction than I prefer, resting the hard side of the cups against your chest instead of the soft ear cups.
The mic and all the controls are placed along the edge of the left ear cup.Photo by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge
In terms of performance, these sound great for a $100 headset. These employ the same “TriForce” driver design originally found in the BlackShark V2 headset, with three distinct sections for delivering bass, mids, and treble. Though, the drivers are a bit smaller in the Barracuda X: 40mm compared to 50mm in the BlackShark V2 series. I still need to test them a bit more to give a verdict, but Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart on PS5 rivaled Sony’s Pulse 3D Audio headset — both in terms of sound quality and positional audio capabilities.
Other hardware features to note include a detachable boom microphone (which doesn’t support mic monitoring, unfortunately), and its on-headset controls are all located along the edge of the left ear cup. There’s a mute button, a volume wheel, and a power button, which can serve as a multifunction button when connected to some devices. Tapping it once while connected to my Android phone paused music.
One thing to note is that it’s possible Razer may release a more fully-featured version of the Barracuda. Historically, products with an “X” in the name tend to be the low to mid-end offering, and usually a “Pro” model follows after a few months. It’s tough to say what a Barracuda Pro (if that’s what it’d be named) would offer over this version announced today, but features like Bluetooth, an extra dial for game and chat audio mixing, mic monitoring support, or Xbox wireless compatibility are just a few that are on the table.