Razer Cuts Bluetooth Audio Lag with Hammerhead Wireless Earbudsby Anton Shilov on October 31, 2019 11:00 AM EST
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Razer this year has been on the rampage of new product announcements, bringing dozens of devices to the market and entering new categories. Adding to the company's lineup, this week the company introduced its Hammerhead wireless earbuds, which promise to reduce the audio lag that Bluetooth headphones are typically known for. The headset is compatible with all Bluetooth devices and supports touch controls to control calls, music, and virtual assistants.
Razer’s Hammerhead True Wireless earbuds use a 13-mm driver with a 20 Hz – 20 KHz frequency response, a 32 ± 15% Ohms impedance, and a 91 ± 3 dB @ 1 kHz sensitivity; as well as an omnidirectional MEMS microphone with a -42 ± 3 dB sensitivity, a ≥55 dB signal-to-noise ratio, and a 300 Hz – 5 kHz frequency response. Each earbud is equipped with a 275 mAh rechargeable Li-Po battery, with Razer touting a battery life of up to three hours.
The headset connects to smartphones (or other devices) using ‘a customized ultra-low latency’ Bluetooth 5.0 connection that reduces lag in Gaming Mode (enabled in a special app that accompanies the product) down to 60 ms. Low latency is particularly useful for playing games and watching movies as audio that is lagging behind video is clearly annoying. Razer does not say whether the fast BT connection is enabled by a special piece of hardware, though it looks like the manufacturer has customized its BT-enabling chip and radio using firmware tweaks.
Form-factor wise, the Hammerhead are black in-ear earbuds with silicon ear sleeves that are IP4X rated for sweat and splash protected. The earbuds are not meant to block all the environment noises and they also do not feature active noise cancellation, so they perform like the majority of headsets available today. As for controls, the earbuds can detect single press, double tap, triple tap, triple tap & hold last tap, and hold for two seconds gestures to control various aspects of their operation. The gestures can be customized in a companion app for Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems.
The Hammerhead True Wireless headset comes in a charging case that can charge it for up to four times, enabling up to 16 hours of total battery life, according to the manufacturer. The case connects to its power brick using a USB Type-C cable.
Razer’s Hammerhead wireless earbuds are now available directly from the company for $99.99 in the US and €119.99 in Europe.
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ingwe - Thursday, October 31, 2019 - linkThis product isn't for me. But I am curious, is lag actually a problem that users want solved or is this a marketing grab? Genuinely asking.
ZolaIII - Thursday, October 31, 2019 - linkGenuinely user's do want lag solved wired and wirelessly on both ends and from all tips of users even in areas where it's not really important (like using ASIO for playback on Windows). Things with lag do know to get problatic when it adds from both ends and into something that should be a (almost) real-time as video. But this is not a solution (just marketing), solution would be using lo latency high quality codec like Opus for instance.
EliteRetard - Thursday, October 31, 2019 - linkAudio lag is a big problem with wireless headsets, even these with "down to 60ms" (meaning real world will likely be higher) will have a perceptible lag vs whatever you're watching.
Here's an example of audio lag:
Two clicks separated by milliseconds with a ramping delay.
It's a little harder to discern audio vs image delay, but personally I can tell with just about anything over 30ms.
edzieba - Thursday, October 31, 2019 - linkI'd be willing to be these are using the exact same low-latency codec variants (e.g. aptX-LL) as everyone else is using. Trades decode time for bandwidth & copdec complexity (and thus audio quality), no magic involved. Either it's just standard Bluetooth, or Razer would need to be curating a list of devices that implement whatever proprietary variant they have developed (which they have not).
cloneman - Friday, November 1, 2019 - linkaptx-LL is mostly vaporware. It requires a dongle on the transmitter side to work. This means it is completely unsupported on Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux... etc. without connecting a dedicated dongle that behaves as a USB generic soundcard and is invisible to the OS, not using its native Bluetooth stack.
aptx-adaptive is supposed to be the next gen version, but only 2 Asus phones support it
.. and 1 pair of headphones. It was supposed to be included in Android 9 but once again, after the press release, we heard nothing.
In the last 10 years whenever someone has made a uniquely good wireless product, it's been dongle based or proprietary
wr3zzz - Thursday, October 31, 2019 - linkOnly for gamers of fast twitch games. Lag for video on BT hasn't been a problem since Android 7, I think.
cloneman - Friday, November 1, 2019 - linkthis is a misconception. Android and iOS compensate for the 200ms+ lag that Bluetooth audio has by delaying the video by exactly the right amount. This trick works, but only for compatible video playback applications, and never in games.
To see the problem in action, try to play beat stomper or sonic 2.
0ldman79 - Sunday, November 3, 2019 - linkExactly.
Android adjusts for it.
Try watching a movie on a Windows laptop with Bluetooth earbuds. It's almost a half second behind. It's pretty bad.
On MPC-HC I can adjust the audio stream vs the video stream, but by default Windows is just busted. No fix for gaming that I'm aware of.
PeachNCream - Thursday, October 31, 2019 - linkThat's really not a bad price point when compared to that fruit-branded alternative. I'm still not entirely sold on the idea of wireless earbuds. It seems like a sloppy solution to the bad idea of omitting a headphone jack on mobile devices.
0ldman79 - Sunday, November 3, 2019 - linkWhen I'm serious, gaming or watching a movie I use my actual earbuds.
When I listen to Youtube tech videos, movie rumors, etc, where audio quality or sync isn't an issue I use one Bluetooth earbud and don't have to worry about the wire snagging on anything.
It's a convenience thing, but mine are also like $10 Bluetooth. My wired earbuds are like $30 Samsung units.