Razer Chimaera Gaming Headset Review

Testing
Charging

Juicing up the Chimaera is rather simple, put the headset on the base station and it does its thing. However, on the first charge out of the box, it only took about 30 minutes for the LED on the base station to turn green, signalling it was finished. I thought that was odd, but I took it off and started using it. About 45 minutes after I turned on the Chimaera, it randomly stopped producing sound. At first I was thinking it lost signal or the input wire came loose. After all, the user manual says the headset will provide an audible beep when the battery’s charge drops below 10%. But signal wasn’t lost, the input wire didn’t come loose, and there was no beep, it just turned off. So I turned it back on, although within a few seconds it went off again. I threw it back on the charger and left it overnight. I wake up the next morning, excited to get a full day’s use out of the Chimaera, but once again my time was cut short. The second charge provided about 3 hours of use, and of course it just turned off again, no audible beep. After the third charge, the headset operated for about 12 hours, but still no audible beep. In fact, this time the sound faded out, then there was a few seconds of silence, followed by extremely loud static for about 30 seconds. Finally the headset wore itself out and fully powered off. Where’s the beep!

Xbox 360
Rating: Good

Everything works well except you cannot control the voice chat volume indepently of the game’s audio volume via the headset. The mic control on the left earcup only controls how sensitive the mic is to picking up your voice. Furthermore, the mic volume control only controls the sensitivity when you’re using the mic out on the base station. So the mic volume control on the headset is completely useless when you’re using the headset with the 360. If you want to adjust the game audio versus chat volume, you have to do it in the Xbox Guide. Although this is not optimal and even though I had the voice volume on 10, and the game volume on 1, there were times during high action where hearing my teammates was difficult. I don’t understand why Razer would release the Chimaera without independent volume control. Supposedly the 5.1 channel model has some control over voice and game audio on the headset. But this isn’t a feature that should only be available on the more expensive model, it is a core feature that every headset should have. Especially when a brand’s name like Razer is on the box. As a product made for gamers by gamers, we expect it.

Sound Quality
Rating: Good

If you like bass, you’ll like the Chimaera. The 50mm drivers definitely drive some great bass. In fact, if I listen to a song on the Chimaera, then listen to the same song on the Logitech F540, the F540 will appear bass-less. However when it comes to upper mids and highs, the Chimaera is seriously lacking. If you have decent speakers on your PC or TV, you’ll notice the lack of upper mids and highs on the Chimaera. It is a bit disappointing.We could argue that this is a gaming headset and most games don’t have a lot of upper mids and highs, but that isn’t the point. For example, most of us probably had some kind of ‘system’ in our cars as teenagers. Stock speakers inside and maybe 2 12’s or 2 15’s in the trunk. Heavy on the bass, but we didn’t care, and we didn’t know any better. Eventually we learned what we did wrong by hearing the balance of a complete system. The Chimaera is like a naive teenager, and Logitech’s F540 is like a swagged up 21 year old.

Mic Quality
Rating: Good

Chimaera’s mic isn’t as good as Logitech’s F540 (which is also wireless). It’s a bit disappointing that Chimaera’s mic isn’t on par with the F540’s. Chimaera’s mic quality is acceptable, and not terrible. But that doesn’t mean everything is OK with the mic. The F540 has an audible beep when you mute or unmute the microphone. While that beep could be heard by anyone (not only you), it was a nice notification to let you know if the mic was muted or not. Also the mic on the F540 has a red LED at the tip, so you can visually see if it’s muted. The Chimaera does not have a beep, nor an LED on the mic. The only way to know if the mic is muted or not is to remember its status, or take off the headset and see if the button is illuminated on the earcup. Remembering the status isn’t difficult, but sometimes the headset doesn’t always mute or unmute the mic when you move it up and down respectively. This makes it difficult to know what state it is in. There were a handful of times I had to take the headset off to see if the mic was muted or not.

Razer Chimaera Gaming Headset

Below are three audio samples from the Razer Chimaera, Logitech Wireless Headset F540, and the wired Sennheiser PC350. Each audio sample demonstrates the audio quality of the respective headset’s mic.

Razer Chimaera

Logitech Wireless Headset F540

Sennheiser PC350

Range
Rating: Good

Chimaera’s range isn’t bad, but like other categories, it isn’t as good as the similarly priced Logitech F540. Both headsets have the same advertised range of 10m (32.8 feet), but the Chimaera tends to start having small drops around 25 feet. Whereas the F540 will make it to around 35 feet before experiencing similar drops. Despite the difference in ‘small drop’ range, each headset completely loses signal around the same spot.

Comfort
Rating: Very Good

The Chimaera is a bit on the heavy side, definitely heavier than the F540, but if you plan on wearing a headset for a long period of time, 5 hours or more, then the Chimaera would win. Razer equipped the Chimaera with material around the earcups and on the headband. Logitech decided to go with synthetic leather for the F540. After a long session, the F540 can start to feel warm, just as any leather would after your skin is in contact with it for a while. Also the F540’s headband can make the top of your head a bit sore after a while. The Chimaera experiences neither of these comfort issues. The one complaint I do have about the Chimaera’s comfort is the holes on the earcups are a bit small. My ears are a bit big (slightly approaching Will Smith size), and they tend to get squished inside the cushions. The Chimaera does have larger drivers (50mm vs. F540’s 40mm), so I’m not sure why they’d make the cushions smaller. I’ve included comparison pics below of earcup size. Measuring diagonally and only the inner portion of the cushion, the Chimaera is around 2 ¼”, and the F540 is a bit over 2 ½”.

Razer Chimaera Gaming Headset Razer Chimaera Gaming Headset

Extra Notes & Observations
The power adapter does emit a high pitched noise when the base station is on. Also, it was difficult for me to notice when I had the power adapter plugged directly into the wall. But when I put the base station by my Xbox 360 and plugged in the power supply in the back of my entertainment center, it was definitely noticeable. Although if you have the headset on, you will not notice the noise under any condition.

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