REVIEWS

Razer Leviathan V2 Review – IGN

Soundbars have become a go-to for affordable and effective home theater entertainment, but they are still relatively uncommon for computer desktops. Several years ago it was expected for a soundbar to just be an audio source, but these days it’s a more common expectation to add connectivity options like optical, 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C, and HDMI.

That’s what makes the $250 Razer Leviathan V2 a bit of a conundrum. As the company’s second iteration of a product that’s designed to sit below your PC monitor, it makes some welcome changes like added support for RGB Chroma, much better audio, and a slimmer profile, but it does so at the cost of connectivity.

Razer Leviathan V2 – Photos

Razer Leviathan V2 Soundbar – Design and Build Quality

The Razer Leviathan V2 is a slightly sleeker offering than its predecessor and comes with a more cube-like subwoofer than the angular one of the original Leviathan: the soundbar is 19.7 x 3.6 x 3.30 inches and the subwoofer is 8.67 x 8.67 x 9.5 inches. The soundbar unit and the subwoofer are each lighter than I anticipated – the bar is about three pounds and the sub is about 6.5 pounds – which makes them easy to move around in an office environment. The result is an attractive soundbar that’s lightweight and will fit nicely under a desktop monitor.

Razer also upped the ante on the style with the Leviathan V2 and upgraded the down-facing RGB with support for Chroma RGB. You can now customize its color depending on your mood or personal desktop setup.

When it is seated under a display, you still have easy access to the controls which are located near the front of the top panel. You can change the input source between USB and Bluetooth, turn it on and off, and adjust the volume. These five buttons are the only controls on the whole device, so you can’t say that the Leviathan is complicated.

The rear of the device is where it connects to power, your computer via the single USB-C input, and the subwoofer. The Leviathan can be raised with included optional foot attachments that angle the soundbar up slightly if you have a setup where you would prefer it firing more directly at you. The feet can also be entirely removed if that is your preference.

I did notice that the quality of the paint on the front grill isn’t that good, as just flipping it on its front on my desk to get a look at the rear ports caused a small bit of the paint to chip off, revealing the silver metal underneath. I could probably fix this with a Sharpie, but it’s not a great look when it comes to a hardware quality assessment perspective.

The plastic that wraps around the rest of the Leviathan V2 is somewhat of a fingerprint magnet. The plastic seems to absorb skin oil in a way that smudges quickly and doesn’t wipe off easily. It’s not my favorite.

Razer Leviathan V2 Soundbar – Audio Quality

I can be kind of an audio snob, so color me surprised when I fired the Leviathan V2 up and was graced with some exceptional sound, especially for the size of the device. I’m more a fan of bookshelf speakers for a desktop setup because they tend to provide better left and right separation, but the Leviathan V2 brings some excellent virtualized surround sound that I was not expecting from such a small soundbar.

While the Leviathan comes with a subwoofer, its use is optional and the soundbar alone will provide decent audio. But once that subwoofer is plugged in, the whole setup jumps in quality considerably. It’s probably an audio illusion, but the soundbar seems to put out better lows once the sub is plugged in and the sound quality overall is hard to complain about. I could nitpick and say the highs are slightly lacking, but it’s not something most people would hear nor care about.

The Leviathan V2 renders sound with a rich sense of depth that makes the mids and lows the main players. It is also able to render details in sound you might not hear with stock laptop speakers, so those who are coming from that environment are definitely able to hear the difference. My wife – who doesn’t really pay attention to audio – volunteered that The Sims sounded a lot better when we were using the Leviathan V2 than she was used to.

The Leviathan V2 also gets very loud, but just as important is able to render quality audio at lower volumes. It really is a great sounding device across the board.

I mentioned the virtualized surround sound, and that’s one of the Razer’s selling points of this new soundbar. Razer integrated THX Spatial Audio into the Leviathan V2, and it absolutely has paid dividends: the virtualized surround sound is very nice. I think it’s best when listening to music, but does a decent job in video games as well. You’re not going to find that this soundbar beats dedicated headphones when it comes to hearing distinct locations or the sounds of footsteps around you, but it absolutely is able to provide excellent immersion for first person adventure games. At times I was surprised at how it sounded like an audio queue was coming distinctly from my right or left side despite the fact the soundbar was positioned directly in front of me.

Razer Leviathan V2 Soundbar – Usability

Performance-wise, the Leviathan V2 works really well. All of the buttons are responsive, it connected with my smartphone via Bluetooth quickly, and plugged-and-played immediately with both a PC and a Mac computer. The RGB chroma was easy to customize with either Razer’s PC software or its smartphone app. Some people aren’t the biggest fan of Razer’s Chroma software, but I wasn’t overly bothered by it.

Overall, no major complaints here. If Razer was trying to make a quality-sounding soundbar as simple to use as possible, the Leviathan V2 is certainly successful in that regard.

But I think Razer may have gone one step too far when it comes to ease of use and the lack of connectivity options on the Leviathan V2 is too big of an elephant in the room to ignore. I mentioned earlier that soundbars used to be able to get away with having a single input option, but these days expectations for them have changed. I think that is even more the case when we move from the living room and into a desktop environment.

The Leviathan V2 only offers two ways to connect to it: Bluetooth and USB-C. I just can’t get past this. It’s one thing to not improve connectivity options between hardware iterations, but to actively remove options feels like a huge misstep.

While sure, the Razer Leviathan V2 can work with either a Mac or PC (more limited on Mac, but you can always use the company’s app to adjust the RGB), it feels like an unnecessary limitation that caps the possible use cases of the device now and into the future. Razer made this soundbar specifically for PCs and maybe I should respect that focus, but I just can’t praise losing good features for what appears to be no reason at all. I would very much prefer to see HDMI 2.1 support (two ports would be the dream), but I’d be fine with just a 3.5mm headphone jack in addition to Bluetooth and USB.

Razer points to Bluetooth as a way to connect to more sources and that’s all well and good, but doesn’t help me when it comes to my Playstation 5 since I would have to constantly be swapping the single hardware input between it and my computer. Using it with my television is theoretically possible, but I don’t like the idea of relying on a wireless signal for my home theater.

As it stands, you’re buying the Leviathan V2 for just one purpose and at $250 that feels like a silly compromise that is unnecessarily limiting. I just can’t help but think that due to the hardware limitations, some users will be happy with the Leviathan V2 for a year or two before realizing it can’t grow with them and their expanding desktop setup and it’ll end up in a landfill; that just doesn’t feel good.

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