[Review] Razer Leviathan Soundbar
We got our hands on some new goodies at the recent Insomnia Gaming Festival in Birmingham from our friends at Razer and after a month or so of hands on, daily use, it's about time we put down some words on what we think!
In this instance I'll be reviewing the Razer Leviathan sound bar which has been on the UK market for over a year now but people still seem to be a little confused about the idea of a sound bar so let's get that out of the way first. Simply put, a sound bar is (usually) a single unit with a set of speakers enclosed with the purpose of replacing your television / monitor's in-built speaker options. They often include a dedicated sub-woofer (as the Leviathan does!) which produces a nice hit of bass that more than eclipses the sound quality you'll find in near enough all TVs these days. They've also proven to be a popular option for people that may not want to commit to a full on surround sound system made up of many speakers dotted around the room. Unfortunately I don't actually own a TV so I've not been able to test it for that, nor do I own one of the current gen games consoles (something, something glorious PC Master Race) so my experiences are solely based on use with my PC, laptop and my phone. Between the 3 though I've had plenty of use out of the Leviathan and can hopefully share enough with you to make a more informed decision on whether to go for it or not!
Inside the rather nicely packed out box you get the main sound bar itself and the dedicated sub-woofer, along with some fancy manuals, a letter from Razer's Founder and the usual Razer stickers that you can proudly emblazon all over your car and bike! Or maybe just your PC case / monitor.. Once you start taking the bits out, you can tell that it's a really well put together set of equipment. Whilst the casing of both the sound bar and sub are made of plastic, it looks and feels extremely good, with no give or bending if you force a bit of pressure with your hands so a few knocks here and there aren't going to trouble it. The front of the sound bar has an expected metal grille with a nice big Razer logo in the middle. Through the grille, the speakers that power the unit are just about visible and they pack a fair punch! There are 4 speakers in total, 2 x 2.5" units and 2 x 0.74" "tweeters" that are said to be finely tuned and optimised for surround sound gaming so I gave it a shot in one the most obvious choices, Counter Strike: Global Offensive. Hearing where your enemies are (and team-mates.. Looking at you, Yakkkkkk) is extremely important and I endured a game of Arms Race to give it a real test. Surprisingly, the audio was better than expected for a set of speakers. Admittedly the Leviathan is replacing my 15 year old set that came with my old Pentium 4 HP machine, but the guns sounded great and the positioning was near-on perfect. The only gripe I had was that at times it was hard to distinguish perfectly where people were if they were above/below me and off to a side but it's not exactly "true" 5.1 surround sound, it's Dolby® Virtual Speaker throwing out a virtual 5.1 surround sound audio feed. I do feel like I'm being overly critical about that though as I tested it with one of the most important games for sound positioning and a chaotic game mode so it was doomed from the start. Below is a visual representation of how exactly the Leviathan delivers its Dolby® Virtual Speaker audio for those wondering!
Realistically though, most of you reading this are already going to be using a gaming headset or a set of headphones for your gaming and you'll want to know how the Razer Leviathan holds up with all sorts of music shoved at it. The answer is pretty damn well! Now, I'm no audiophile (although I do play guitar and listen to a lot of music!) and unless I'm given a really terrible pair of headphones, I'm unlikely to tell all that much of a difference but all of the music I've played through the Leviathan over the last month has stood up well and I've had no complaints. Be it Saturday morning lounging with Led Zeppelin, Monday afternoon pick-me-ups with Muse, reminiscing with Swedish House Mafia's "ONE", the piercing falsetto of Justin Hawkins or dare I say it, BABYMETAL when no other genre is really hitting the spot.. The Leviathan took all of them like a champ. I couldn't really find a genre where I could actually notice any issues, though I did have to turn the bass down a little on the unit when listening to The Beatles and some other acoustic numbers but that was simple enough to do. Going back to the Saturday morning lounging though, the one thing I have found to be a bit annoying is that there's no remote control for the unit so turning on, changing inputs and the such requires the effort of actually getting out of bed if you just want to wake up, load up Spotify and beam from your laptop/phone to the Leviathan for minimal effort tunage. It's a minor thing really though as 99% of the time I'll be at my desk and the controls will be at my fingertips. If you're looking at this as a potential living room option though, it may put you off.
Connecting your devices to the Leviathan is straight forward and will be simple enough for even the most non-tech savvy users as you have a "standard" 3.5mm jack that you can use to input audio from your TV, PC, laptop, phone, near enough anything these days! You also have an optical connection for TVs/the latest games consoles should you so desire. Finally, the unit has Bluetooth connectivity which was extremely quick and simple to get up and running. Simply switch over to Bluetooth on the unit and search for your sound bar via the device you wish to pair up. Within a few seconds, the nicely named "Razer Leviathan" will pop up and you can get your rave under way. One neat additional feature you get with this unit though, is the NFC option for your mobile phone (or any NFC enabled device that's compatible). This means that you can just tap your phone on the Leviathan and you'll be paired up and ready to share audio with the rest of the room. Cool, huh?
I'll start wrapping this up now as I can see I'm at over 1100 words and realistically none of you are going to have made it this far. Kudos to any of you that have though! The Razer Leviathan comes in at £159GBP ($230USD - €205EUR) in the UK via the Razer Store and your usual e-tailers such as Amazon which is a fair price when you weigh up the options available on the market today. You get a well built, solid product at a non-bank busting price, backed by Razer's support and technical team should you have any questions or issues. I'll finish this up with a quick run down of the technical specifications and leave you guys to it. If you have any questions about the Razer Leviathan or it's little brother the Leviathan Mini then head over to our Forums and feel free to post a thread / reply to this announcement's thread and myself or Yakkkkkk will get back to you as we've both been using these devices for over a month now and can go into further detail on anything else if required.