Razer Chimaera 5.1 Headset - Mass Effect 3 Edition Review

4/3/2012 at 11:00 AM

Shepard would be jealous.

I’ve covered many headsets on this site over the years. By my count at least half a dozen different cans have donned my ears. We always try to evaluate them based on a few properties, but the most important is - how easily does this device allow me to communicate with my co-op partners. The latest headset to cross my desk is a wireless set from Razer called the Chimaera 5.1. They sent along their Mass Effect 3 version - lets see, or rather hear, what we’ve got.

After admiring some pretty sexy packaging it was time to unbox and listen to what Razer is bringing to the table. Under the hood you’ve got a 5.8GHz wireless transmission so there’s very little outside interference. There’s full Dolby Surround 5.1 support for audio as well as dedicated EQ settings to tweak the audio to your desire. There’s also a microphone which can be folded up into the headset, with a connector for the Xbox 360 for full voice support. When I plugged it into the Razer Onza Mass Effect 3 controller on my PC, my Windows 7 build immediately recognized the device as an Xbox 360 headset too.

Setting up the headsets were fairly straightforward. The base station which also acts as a charger for the headsets, is used to hook up your audio inputs. Alongside your standard input method you can hook up an optical cable for Dolby Digital support. What’s really slick is the ability to pass through the optical right to your receiver via another cable. This means you can listen with either your headset or your normal speakers depending on the situation. The massive red glowing bottom adds to the motif of these headsets, and the indicators on the tower are a nice touch to easily see the status of the device on your head. Sadly after hooking everything up I needed to wait about 3 hours before using them, as that’s the recommended minimum charge time.

The headsets had arrived just in time for our Mass Effect 3 co-op night, so I got to put them through a solid 3 hours of co-op playing in the game that was being advertised on my ears - it seemed fitting. Connecting the voice capabilities to my 360 controller was a simple as plugging in a small cable from the earpiece to the controller. The voice quality was loud and clear and a dedicated mute button on the earpiece made it easy to cover any snacking I was doing during the session. My partners told me they could hear me just fine and the audio quality of my voice seemed a little better than the standard 360 headset.

I used the headset quite a bit over the next two weeks, listening to both games and a few movies and music. Audio was always crystal clear and I felt using the Dolby Headphone EQ setting gave me the best sense of positional audio. In general the audio quality was the most balanced I’ve seen in a headset, with solid bass reproduction as well as excellent highs and mid-range. Compared to my Astro A30s in terms of raw audio quality, these were right on par. A few nice touches I like on the Chimera 5.1s is the ability to adjust the volume of the left and right side independently right on your ear.

The headsets themselves are fairly light and despite a marathon session with them I never felt top heavy wearing them. The battery lasted me about 7 hours before I needed to charge it. After doing an initial test of the battery I simply stored the headsets on the charging station so battery life never seemed to be an issue.

Judging all these headsets over the years has been an interesting experience, mostly because, they are all quality pieces of hardware. With a price of $209.99 on the Mass Effect 3 Chimeara 5.1s from Razer, this isn’t a cheap piece of hardware, rather a worthy addition to your home entertainment system. The regular version of the Chimaera 5.1s are available for $10 cheaper if you don’t need the ME3 branding. As a wireless headset the Chimaera offer the best quality in terms of audio, and the little features like the included charging station, optical pass through, and various indicator lights make it easy to recommend for anyone looking for a cord free headset that’ll work on their Xbox 360 or PC.

The Good

  Easy setup, all cables included
  Ability to pass through audio to a receiver
  Excellent sound quality
  30 foot range
  Comfortable

The Bad

-  ME3 Branding is $10 extra

An evaluation unit of the Razer Chimera 5.1 Headsets were supplied by Razer for the purposes of this review.