Current testing methodology is v1.2
March 2, 2020
0.87 x 1.38 x 52.99 in
I’ve always been fascinated by “gaming earphones”.
There’s something I find oddly funny about earphones like the Razer Hammerhead Duo—how they and their ilk have managed to still find buyers despite them being vastly outclassed by more “typical” earphones at a fraction of the price.
And yet here we are with Razer’s third iteration of the Hammerhead earphones.
We already know you can find better deals elsewhere, but just how bad are a pair of “gaming” earphones in 2023? Let’s find out.
Razer Hammerhead Duo
Proof that more drivers don’t equate to better sound.
A shell of the once-interesting Hammerhead series, the Razer Hammerhead Duo uses two headphone drivers.
It produces a well-balanced sound but for its price, it’s unimpressive given how its competitors can give you better quality for a lower price.
From its design to its sound quality, the Razer Hammerhead Duo is a disappointment even by “gamer aesthetic” standards.
- Headphone Type: Closed-back in-ear monitor
- Driver Type: 1x dynamic driver + 1x balanced armature hybrid
- Frequency Response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
- Max. Input Power: 20 mW
- Sensitivity: 112 ± 3 dB (Max SPL)
- Impedance: 32 Ω
- Cable: 1.2m cable
- Connector: Right-angled gold-plated connector
What’s in the Box?
- Razer Hammerhead Duo earphones
- 3 pairs silicone ear tips (S, M, L)
- Carrying pouch
Stuff I like
- Relatively balanced sound
- Lightweight and comfortable
- No in-ear pressure
Stuff I like less
- Limited resolution
- Cramped soundstage
- Disappointing isolation
Where to get it
Comparable products to consider
Proof that “new” doesn’t always mean “better”, the Hammerhead Duo’s predecessor manages to be a more capable earphone, although it isn’t as easy to find nowadays.
Featuring a more bass-heavy sound signature, the Logitech G333 sells the “gaming” aesthetic much more convincingly.
Overview and History
The Razer Hammerhead Duo is the third iteration of their modern wired earphones, replacing the Hammerhead Pro V2 and the V1 before that.
The original version of the Hammerheads was, at the very least, quite striking with their bullet-styled housings and their signature toxic green coloring.
The changes done to the Hammerhead Duo are, as we will see later, quite a departure from its predecessors.
The packaging of the Razer Hammerhead Duo alone is already a pretty good indication of what you can expect from it.
It isn’t even a fully enclosed box. All you get is the earphones and the accessories stuffed into a foam cutout.
Heck, the “box” doesn’t even have a way to close it shut. Once you rip away the vacuum-sealed plastic wrapping the package, its front flap just flips open and with no magnet or adhesive between it and the foam cutout, it stays loose and floppy.
Not a very good start.
Bass-heavy and not offering much detail, the original Hammerheads were never all that good.
But even at $70, they looked nice enough and performed well enough for an earphone from a brand that puts aesthetics first. Even that, unfortunately, is out the window with the Razer Hammerhead Duo.
The new housing is a cheaper variation of their flagship true wireless designs with simpler shapes and fewer curves to go around. While it’s not necessarily a bad look, the Hammerhead Duo ends up looking a lot more generic compared to its predecessors.
Its construction is mostly similar to the V2 with its combination of metal and plastic on the housings. Of note is the thinner round cable used instead of the flat cable seen in the previous versions.
While it’s thinner and feels a bit flimsier, the cable does make up for it with noticeable weight reduction and almost no cable noise.
Fit and Comfort
All of these design decisions combine to make the Razer Hammerhead Duo a decently comfortable earphone to wear.
Their inability to form a good seal makes the Hammerhead Duo feel more like earbuds to the ears. There’s very little of that uncomfortable in-ear pressure that many people are sensitive to.
The in-ear design, though, helps make sure the earphones stay pretty securely in your ears even during a workout—of course, just try to not yank them out of your ears.
One of the key features of the Razer Hammerhead Duo is its use of two headphone drivers, hence the “Duo” in the name.
The principle behind this is that, like bookshelf speakers, the work of pushing out sound throughout the frequency range can be split between a woofer that handles the bass and a tweeter that handles the higher frequencies.
In the Hammerhead Duo’s case, this job is handled by two types of drivers: a dynamic driver for the bass and a balanced armature driver for the mids and highs.
In theory, this should allow the Duo to produce, quote, “double the immersion”.
Instead, we got something a little bit different which is an unusual mid-centric presentation that runs opposite to the intended goal of the two drivers.
Contrary to the “hammering” bass response of its predecessors, the Razer Hammerhead Duo’s bass is surprisingly even-handed in terms of impact.
Its sub-bass is audible as in songs like “Edamame” by bbno$, instead of being drowned out by the typical mid-bass thump Razer headphones have long been known for.
It was able to render the bassline in “Die For You” by Grabbitz with a reasonable level of aggression and power, but it still is a lot weaker than I expected from Razer.
In a massive shift from the recessed and generally low-quality midrange that I’ve come to expect from Razer, these earphones manage to push the mids up front and center.
Surprisingly enough, it’s not even all that bad. There’s an obvious muddiness to the sound that’s clear on some of the bass-heavy songs I’ve linked here as examples.
Yet, songs like Templuv’s “bleachers” are rendered in a surprisingly pleasing quality despite the treble mucking up everything.
The top end of the Hammerhead Duo is by far the most disappointing aspect of its sound.
There are few words that I can use to accurately describe it besides “crippled”. Despite the BA driver being perfectly capable, someone at Razer thought it would be a good idea to cover the treble with a couple of thick pillows.
And that’s the experience you can expect from these earphones—a compromised high-end that puts a very obvious blanket over everything you hear through it.
Now don’t get me wrong, the treble is still definitely there; it’s just very quickly overwhelmed as soon as anything else enters the mix.
Darren Korb’s “Grand Ceremony” features a glitchy and grating hi-hat throughout the song that’s dulled to blunt on the Razer Hammerhead Duo.
The Razer Hammerhead Duo presents a decent soundstage for earphones of its class. Again, it’s still not very good, but it could be worse.
A notable highlight is how it renders the band’s space in beabadoobee’s “the perfect pair” despite the limitations imposed on it by the rest of its sound signature (mostly the treble).
Beyond that, it’s nothing to write home about.
Priced at $50, this pair of earphones is a $10 step down from the Hammerhead Pro V2.
For this, you get quite a lot less across the board–from the sound that won’t impress gamers to a design that drops the fun aesthetics for generic blandness.
I find it hard to look at the Hammerhead Duo as anything but Razer’s lazy attempt to fill in a product segment that they don’t want to sell you on.
It seems to me that everything about these earphones is made to be as underwhelming and unappealing as possible to get buyers to shoot for their more expensive true wireless models.
I started reviewing the Razer Hammerhead Duo knowing full well what I was getting myself into. I knew it wasn’t going to be good. This review should let you know (if it hasn’t already) that it isn’t any good.
But I didn’t quite expect just how not good it was.
To give credit where credit’s due, the earphones do work. The microphone works. They’re relatively comfortable.
But the Razer Hammerhead Duo is a sign of the times—both for Razer and gaming earphones in general. For the gaming brand that made the once-decent Hammerhead V1 and V2, the Duo is a sign that they’ve given up.
And who can blame them?
With so many earphones out on the market with vastly higher quality at vastly lower prices, Razer releasing these earphones is more of a show of face rather than any meaningful attempt at competing in this category.
It just disappoints me because they could’ve done so much more.
Freelance writer, part-time streamer, full-time disappointment. Got into headphones too early in life and now knows too much about them.
This post was last updated on 2023-03-28 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.