Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC Review: Great audio with some compatibility catches

Alex Kidman 21 November 2018 NEWS

Razer's Hammerhead USB-C ANC headphones deliver top-notch sound and are very comfortable, although they're a bigger victim of cable tangle than we'd like.

Quick Verdict
Razer's newest USB-C headphones, the Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC, provide top-quality sound output and just a touch of Razer's trademark glowing style. The use of a rounded cable means they easily tangle and they won't work with every USB-C enabled smartphone.

The good

  • Sound quality is sharp
  • Durable cord
  • Good noise cancelling with supplied tips
  • Glowing Razer logo is fun

The bad

  • Cable tangles way too easily
  • Glowing tips use your battery power up
  • No magnetic clasp
  • Not compatible with all USB-C phones


Razer sells a wide variety of headsets, typically aimed at its core gaming market, but it's also in the more portable, phone-centric headphone space with its existing Razer Hammerhead USB-C headphones. Those were meant to be complimentary to the original Razer Phone and with the launch of the Razer Phone 2 comes a new iteration of its Hammerhead design in the form of the Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC.


Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC: Design

  • A lot more subtle than the original Hammerhead design.
  • Rounded cable tangles a lot.
  • Durable cable feel.
  • Glowing Razer logos.

Where the Razer Hammerhead USB-C headphones were all about Razer style, right down to including a garish green ribbon cable that would make you very conspicuous, Razer has gone down a much more subtle route for the Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC headphones. Gone is the garish green in favour of a standard black ribbon cable with an inline remote for play/pause and volume control function. Connectivity is still via USB-C only with no supplied adaptor for other purposes.

The cable itself has a nice durable texture to it, and while you're provided a carrying case, they should be strong enough to survive a few drops into your bag if you're in a rush. There is a catch here, because the switch to a rounded cable means that you're inevitably going to tangle them together when packing them away. I'm a big fan of ribbon cables for this reason, because every time I unpack the Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC, I have to spend a minute or two simply detangling it.

A Razer product wouldn't be a Razer product without an identifiable logo and the one feature that has travelled over from the earlier headphones is the inclusion of a Razer logo that glows green when the headphones are plugged in. They're rather obvious when in use and there's no evident way to switch off the glowing effect, which means you're also giving up just a little bit of battery power when using them. Unlike Razer's earlier USB-C headphones, they're also not magnetic, so you can't clasp them together when stored away.

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Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC: Performance

  • Good audio quality with solid bass.
  • Noise cancelling works well.
  • Not compatible with all USB-C handsets.

The Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC headphones are simple enough to install, with the choice of regular or shaped Comply tips to get them in your ears. The latter allow for a greater degree of noise isolation via the use of memory foam tips, although that does mean they're uniquely shaped for your personal ear canals. You shouldn't really be sharing bud headphones with other users regardless.

There's one big catch here, because even Razer itself admits they won't work with every single USB-C based smartphone.

Razer's compatibility chart for the Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC (which it states isn't exhaustive) lists a number of phones with limited or no compatibility.

Most notably, Samsung's Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ handsets are called out as being entirely incompatible, although at least there you've got a standard headphone jack anyway. Many of Huawei's phones are listed as only partially compatible. It would be wise to keep your receipt details handy, so if it doesn't work with your phone you should be able to get a refund pretty easily.

I tested with both the Razer Phone 2 and Huawei Mate 20 Pro, and encountered no issues with direct audio playback, as well as engaging the active noise-cancelling feature, which is activated via a small switch on the side of the inline remote.

The use of buds already gives the Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC a degree of noise isolation, ramped up if you use the comfortable Comply buds. Topping that up with noise cancellation gives the Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC its own individual soundscape.

As always with noise cancellation you're not cancelling out the entire outside world, but they do work well to limit persistent background noises and keep you in the world of your music, video or game experience.

Audio quality even without noise cancellation in play is also good, with plenty of bass on heavier tracks and good mid-tone representation if you prefer audio a little lighter. It's an approach that also means they're well suited for purposes beyond music playback, such as video streaming or game playing.

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Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC: Should you buy them?

  • Audio quality is good for the asking price.
  • Limited compatibility is an issue.

I've got no essential issue with either the audio quality or noise-cancellation features of the Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC headphones, because both are very good for headphones in their price range. Razer's move away from more obviously gaming-centric vibrant design is mostly welcome and they're obviously a good match for the Razer Phone 2 if you're keen.

That being said, the limited compatibility across other USB-C phones is a worry depending on your handset choice. The switch to a rounded cable does reintroduce the cable tangle blues, which is a song no headphone owner ever really wants to hear.

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Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC: Pricing and availability

The Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC sells in Australia for $169.95 outright.

Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC

Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC from Razer

Razer's Hammerhead USB-C ANC headphones combine rugged construction, great audio and simple noise cancelling into a set of headphones suitable for music, video or gaming on the go purposes.

View details

Specifications

Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC Specifications

Product Name
Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC
Connectivity
USB-C
Cable length
1.2m
Controls
In-line remote with volume, play/call button, noise-cancelling switch
Price
$169.95
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