Razer Barracuda X Review | PCMag
The Razer Barracuda X ($99.99) is a wireless gaming headset that works with nearly anything, thanks to its USB-C transmitter. You can plug it into your PC, Android phone, PlayStation, or Nintendo Switch and instantly get wireless sound. It’s high-quality sound, too, and the mic captures voice communication with loads of clarity. That’s a comprehensive package (except for iPhone and Xbox users) for a reasonable price, so the Razer Barracuda X earns our Editors’ Choice award for wireless gaming headsets.
Light and Clean
The headset is basic and black, similar to the Blackshark V2 in design, but with flat earcups instead of rounded ones. Every outside surface is matte black plastic, except the earpads and headband padding that are fabric- and faux-leather-wrapped, respectively. Although the padding isn’t particularly thick, the headset offers a comfortable fit thanks to its light, 8.8-ounce frame. The Barracuda X’s featherweight nature makes it feel less solid than the Blackshark V2 or Nari Essential, though. It doesn’t feel cheap in any way, just not as dense or sturdy as the other two.
All controls and ports sit along left earcup’s edge, and they include a power button, mic mute button, volume wheel, USB-C port for charging, 3.5mm port for a wired connection, and another 3.5mm port for the included detachable boom mic. The microphone is a cardioid capsule with a foam windscreen, and it’s mounted on a flexible rubber-covered arm.
It Works With Almost Everything
The headset wirelessly connects to a 2.4GHz USB-C dongle that plugs into numerous devices. The dongle has a small, black rectangular body that lays perpendicular against the USB-C plug, letting it stay relatively flat against your phone or Switch. It comes automatically paired with the headset.
Besides the boom mic and dongle, the Barracuda X comes with a male-USB-A-to-male-USB-C cable for charging, a male-USB-A-to-female-USB-C cable for connecting the dongle to devices without USB-C ports, and a 3.5mm cable for using the headset wired. Curiously, no carrying case or even a cloth pouch is included for holding the headset and all of the accessories. This is a bit of a nuisance, since the headset itself doesn’t have a space to store the dongle (unless you want to just plug it into the USB-C port when you’re not using or charging it). Even with handy, rubber loops to keep the cables neatly wound up, it’s awkward juggling three different cables without a place to hold them.
The Razer Barracuda X works with many devices, thanks to its USB-C dongle and 3.5mm connection. You can plug the dongle into your Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation, or your Android phone for wireless use. You can also use the 3.5mm cable for a passive, analog wired connection to any of those devices, which is the only way to use the headset with an Xbox. I had no problems getting the dongle to work with my Google Pixel 3a XL, PlayStation 5, or Nintendo Switch by plugging it directly into each device’s USB-C port, or connecting it to my PC through a USB-A port with the included adapter cable. The headset lacks Bluetooth, so you can only use it wirelessly with your phone by having the dongle stick out of it (and obviously if your phone doesn’t have a USB-C port it won’t work at all, so iPhone users are out of luck).
Optional Audio Processing
The Barracuda X’s flexibility means it doesn’t have any specific apps or integrated audio processing like some PC or console-dedicated headsets. By default, it functions as a stereo device. This doesn’t mean you must go without simulated surround sound; like nearly all headsets, the Barracuda X works just fine with any software-based audio processing, such as Dolby Atmos, THX Spatial Audio, or Pulse 3D. The surround sound processing in the Dolby and THX apps cost extra, but Razer offers a promotional code with its headsets to cut the price of THX Spatial Audio from $20 to $10.
As is typical with Razer headsets, the Barracuda X’s microphone is very good. Test recordings clearly captured my voice, though they also picked up a bit of background fuzz from my notebook’s fan when I sat nearby (my notebook sits on my desk, so it was maybe 18 inches from the microphone). Get a little distance from any sources of humming or buzzing and you’ll get a nice, clean sound that should serve you well for voice chat, and work reasonably for podcasting and streaming (though we recommend getting a dedicated USB mic if you want to do any serious content creation).
Balanced, Bass-Forward Sound
The Barracuda X can capably handle music, and offer reasonably strong bass. The deep synth notes and kick drum hits in our bass test track, The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” come through with a good amount of low frequency power, and don’t distort even at maximum volume. They don’t quite reach head-rattling levels, but they come close.
The overall sound signature on the Barracuda X is well-balanced, leaning more towards bass than higher frequencies. The opening acoustic guitar plucks in Yes’ “Roundabout” get plenty of resonance and enough string texture to sound crisp. When the track properly kicks in, the bassline sits a bit more forward in the mix than the other elements, but the guitar strums, high-hat, and vocals all have enough presence to be easily discerned. For a relatively inexpensive wireless gaming headset, it’s a good audio profile.
The PS5’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales sounds full and detailed using the Barracuda X. The orchestral sweeps’ bass carry strong presence, and sound effects come through clearly (though the “thwip” of Miles’ webs don’t sound quite as sharp as they could). The PS5’s 3D audio processing works well through the headset, giving you a good sense of directionality when panning the camera near talking pedestrians and honking cars.
The stylized tunes of NEO: The World Ends With You also come through with plenty of power, again with stronger lows and low-mids than highs. It makes the game’s hip-hop and punk tracks sound loud and exciting, but the high-mids still get enough presence to let the quips and battle sounds stand out against the music.
A Versatile Value
The Razer Barracuda X is a fantastic value, thanks to its USB-C dongle that works with nearly anything. You can plug it into your PC, Android phone, PS5, or Switch and enjoy wireless audio, though Xbox users are restricted to a wired, passive connection. The Barracuda X has a balanced, full sound, even if it could use a bit more crispness in the highs, and its microphone is excellent. Just make sure you remember where the dongle is, because it’s small enough to easily lose.
Although its a strictly wired gaming headset, the $99.99 Razer Blackshark V2 offers slightly better sound and mic performance for the same price as the Barracuda X, along with a more solid build. The wireless, $119.99 Astro Gaming A20 Gen 2 is a bit pricier, but has versions that work with the PS5 or the Xbox (and PC, for both models). If you’re looking for a wireless headset primarily to use with an Xbox One/Series console, the $99.99 Xbox Wireless Headset is your best bet (and it has Bluetooth connectivity so you can still use it with your phone).
For a nearly catch-all wireless gaming headset, though, the Razer Barracuda X is a compelling package. It offers many connectivity options and strong audio at a reasonable price, so it earns our Editors’ Choice award.