Reviews

Even with RGB, Razer's Hammerhead True Wireless can’t outshine AirPods

Razer is joining a crowded room of wireless earbuds. Sadly, the RGB and cheap quality of the Hammerhead True Wireless earbuds doesn’t do the company any favors.

Alejandro Medellin / Input

The Hammerhead True Wireless earbuds are an update to the 2019 product of the same name. They’re $30 more expensive than the original pair with a few big upgrades that make the price increase reasonable. But while the updated specs and aesthetics are an improvement, overall, it’s the little shortcomings that hold these earbuds back.

Alejandro Medellin / Input

⫷DECENT SOUND⫸

For everyday use, the Hammerheads sound alright, especially if you mess with the EQ. The default, amplified, and enhanced bass options are too muddy for my taste, but I found the vocal and clarity presets did more to separate instruments and provide a better soundstage. The earbuds support the SBC and AAC codecs, but since I paired them to an Android phone, I’m sure the earbuds were using SBC. It’s the most basic Bluetooth codec and doesn’t do much in terms of sound quality.

Alejandro Medellin / Input

Cheap feel

When I first opened the case, the first thing I noticed was that earbuds were made of shiny, glossy black plastic. Removing the earbuds from the case is not ideal when the plastic is so slick and rounded, especially if your hands are even slightly sweaty or oily. It was a very big turnoff for me, and I struggled with it for the duration of my testing. I also felt the earbuds were uncomfortable for longer periods, even after trying out the provided tips. The oval protrusion that the tips attach to is an awkward shape, and it becomes irritating after a while.

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ANC on

I’ll admit that I was disappointed by the active noise cancellation at first. But that’s because I was comparing the ANC to my Sony WH-1000XM4 over-ear headphones. It’s un unfair comparison and once I realized that, I found the ANC on the Hammerheads quite good. The ANC doesn’t block out everything, and I could still faintly hear my wife when she was videoconferencing behind me, but it’s decent for the price. While reading a book on my balcony, I could block out the noise from the loud train station nearby.

Alejandro Medellin / Input

$129

Alejandro Medellin / Input

“Gaming Mode” is a feature that kicks the earbuds into 60ms low latency mode for snappier sound. I tested this by playing PUBG on my phone. Though I don’t think turning on Gaming Mode made much of an impact, the sound difference is noticeable if you’re listening for it, with shots coming through much faster than in normal mode. It’s neat but as not as game-changing as the marketing would lead you to believe.

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Razer Chroma

In what may be a first-ever, the Hammerhead True Wireless headphones have RGB. Coming from Razer, I’m not surprised. The RGB is a unique addition, and one that may get you a compliment in public, but the drawbacks outweigh the benefits.

Alejandro Medellin / Input

For one, having RGB on eats up the battery at a faster rate, and you can’t even see it. You also need a separate app to make any changes to the lighting. That’s not the worst problem to have, especially if don’t plan on frequently changing your lighting pattern. The problem, however, is that you have to first open the Razer Audio app to then open the Chroma app. Launching the Chroma app directly just shows a bunch of settings.

Alejandro Medellin / Input

Don’t bother launching the Chroma app directly. There’s just a bunch of settings.

Lackluster app

An app can be a make-or-break feature. Sadly, there’s not much to do on the Razer Audio app, and it takes a long time to load. I had issues syncing the earbuds a few times, which made it impossible to change the few settings available. The equalizer has a few presets and a custom mode, but everything else you can do by using the touch feature on the earbuds. The app shows the battery percentage of the earbuds, but not for the case. What the heck?

Alejandro Medellin / Input

The touch controls on the Hammerhead True Wireless earbuds did not impress me and felt very unresponsive at times. The surface area is too small, which makes it really easy to miss or only touch the edge. The lack of haptics or sound cues makes it hard to know when functions are activated. And too many functions are offloaded to the touch feature, which makes remembering the exact order of presses and when to hold a nightmare.

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Big battery

Razer’s stated battery life estimates matched up almost exactly to my testing. Battery life on these earbuds is great, and with both ANC and RGB turned on, you still get a very respectable four hours per charge, and a total of 20 hours with the case. With those two features turned off, you can get up to 6.5 hours on a single charge and 32.5 hours total from the case. If you want longer battery life, turning off ANC can get you up to hours max per charge.

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Almost a good buy

The Hammerhead True Wireless are not all bad. They can sound decent with the right EQ, the ANC works, and the low-latency Gaming Mode does offer the slightest edge. However, the cheap build quality, limited and sluggish app, unreliable touch controls, and the gimmicky RGB are all red flags. Unless you really need to impress your friends with RGB, you can find better ANC earbuds such as the OnePlus Buds Pro, for around the same price.

Alejandro Medellin / Input