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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Razer Nommo V2 Pro Review

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I love headphones, but I’ve been using the same Edelkrone bookshelf speakers at my desk for years since they got the job done and there wasn’t anything out there that felt compelling enough to warrant switching them out. That has changed with Razer’s Nommo V2 Pro speakers, and these mark a point where I feel as though Razer is really hitting its stride when it comes to audio.

I’ve liked Razer’s THX Spatial Audio implementation in the past, but the Nommo V2 Pros take it to another level that has turned me into a true believer.

Razer Nommo V2 Pro – Photos

These are easily the best speakers from Razer that I’ve ever tested and, if you can get past the $450 asking price, they check so many boxes that I think that both PC gamers and those who just enjoy a nice sound system at their desk will find a lot to like.

Razer Nommo V2 Pro – Design and Build Quality

Razer has always had an “aesthetic” to its products and the Nommo V2 Pro are no exception. While they aren’t ostentatious, they definitely feel like an overtly modern take on desktop or bookshelf speakers.

Each speaker features a full-range 3.2-inch driver outfitted with aluminum phase plugs that Razer says serve to minimize sound reflections within the speaker, resulting in clearer audio. They can get extremely loud, and Razer says that at maximum output they are equivalent to the sound of a train approaching a subway platform. We’ll get into sound quality in the section below, but suffice to say I can confirm that these speakers get incredibly loud – way louder than you likely ever need them to.

Each of the speaker cylinders sits at an angle and is not adjustable from its slightly upward firing direction. That is fine with me, as the direction they face has them basically perfectly pointed at your ears from the expected position of sitting or standing at a desk; if you can comfortably be typing, these speakers are ideally positioned.

The right speaker is basically the command point for the entire setup. The left speaker comes outfitted with a non-removable cord-wrapped cable that then plugs into the right speaker next to the power input and a USB-C to USB-A cable that runs to your computer (the USB-A side is what connects to your PC). Razer did about as well as it could with the cables but there isn’t any new ground broken with the amount you’ll have to manage; three total cables just on the desktop’s surface is kind of a lot, but I can’t think of any other way Razer could have approached this.

The Nommo V2 Pro comes with a wireless subwoofer. Armed with a 5.5-inch down-firing driver which can pump out some serious bass (which we’ll get into later), it pairs instantly with the two main speakers without any need to configure them at all. It’s literally plug-and-play.

As a note, the subwoofer does need to be somewhat close to the two main speakers; you can’t expect it to stay connected across a room, so be prepared to have it sitting on the floor below your desk.

While it is wireless in the sense that it doesn’t have a cable that connects to either of the main speakers, it does need power, so it has a power cable that you’ll need to manage. Altogether, that’s three total speakers with four total cables. Luckily, to manage them, Razer provides what it is calling a “wireless control pod.”

Control in the Palm of Your Hand

This puck is about the size of my palm, about two inches tall, and is the control center for the speakers. While you technically can manage the Nommo V2 Pro speakers through your PC’s audio interface or through Razer’s Synapse software, the control pod (which is powered by two AAA batteries) is going to be the best and most convenient method to do so.

Turning the dial of the puck (which is basically the entire top two-thirds of the control pod) controls volume, and pressing either one, two, or three times down on the top of the pod mutes/unmutes, plays/pauses, and skips to the next track, respectively. A small button on the side of the pod allows you to switch between PC mode and Bluetooth mode or swap among EQ options.

Seeing the Light

The Nommo V2 Pro speakers are larger than I expected, but not in a bad way. It means not only are the drivers larger but also there is more space for the RGB lighting on the rear of both speakers.

It wouldn’t be a Razer product without RGB and over the course of the last few speaker products I’ve tested from the company, the Nommo V2 Pro goes the hardest when it comes to delivering noticeable colored lighting. The Leviathan V2 Pro did a good job lighting your desk, but the Nommo V2 Pro actually provides some ambient lighting effects that have a discernible impact on your gaming room.

Those rear-facing LEDs get quite bright – way brighter than any LEDs on any other Razer audio product I’ve tested so far – so that they actually bounce off nearby walls and add a nice, subtle glow to a room. As someone with a ton of RGB in my office, they fit right in.

You can manually set what the LEDs display using either the quick panel in Razer Synapse or you can get more detailed with it in Razer Chroma. The speakers also support Razer’s Ambient Awareness Mode which will set the LEDs to match whatever is on your screen. This also has to be controlled through Razer Chroma, which means it only works when paired with a PC. You can control what visuals Ambient Awareness mimics on a “planar level” which means left, right, top, or bottom of what is on your screen, or you can customize an area of the screen you want it to track.

Razer Nommo V2 Pro – Audio Quality

While the Nommo V2 Pro look good, they sound even better. Out of the box, the profile is a bit bass heavy, but with a bit of tweaking in Razer Synapse, I was able to get them to a place I was pretty happy with.

I would describe the sound profile of the Nommo V2 Pro as warm with emphasis on the mids and lows. They don’t have a ton of clarity and they’re not giving crystal clear highs, but they do sound very nice and likely will please a majority of listeners. They also lack detail in the upper mids and highs, but most won’t miss that much.

Listening to music on the Razer Nommo V2 Pro, I can certainly tell that certain aspects of vocals, particularly woman vocalists, are absent. There are tones to both Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa that I’m not hearing particularly well on the Nommov V2 Pro speakers even when I try to draw them out with EQ adjustments. That said, what I do hear does not by any stretch of the imagination sound poor.

Based on what I’ve heard from Razer’s other audio products, I can understand why the company goes with a bass-forward profile: most people really like it. I am in the minority as someone who enjoys almost achingly crisp highs since for most people, that doesn’t feel good to listen to. Razer’s approach is far warmer and therefore more approachable, and I’m totally fine with that.

One area that could use improvement is how the speakers render lower volumes. They handle the rip-roaring super-loud quite well – it’s one of Razer’s talking points and one area the company is particularly proud is devoid of distortion – but down near the last quarter of its volume, the lows really overwhelm the mids and highs to the point I can’t really make out what I’m listening to. You basically have to go only as low as one-third max volume to get that detail back.

Where these speakers really shine is when you enable THX Spatial Audio. The Razer Leviathan V2 Pros had this feature and while I could tell they were trying to give me some sense of digital surround sound, since it was one forward-facing unit, what it could do was limited. It was certainly the best mode, but it wasn’t a huge leap different.

It is a huge leap different with the Nommo V2 Pro speakers. Since we have true left and right monitors here, spatial audio has a lot more to work with and the result is nothing short of incredible. Spatial audio sounds so much better than standard stereo that I was literally mouth-agape at how well it managed to trick my ears into believing there were more than two physical speakers. I had my wife try it and she was equally impressed. If you’re using the Razer Nommo V2 Pros, you absolutely should be using THX Spatial Audio as your default, or you’re missing out on the best possible listening experience.

With sound quality in mind, I need to break my opinion of how they sound for gaming into two sections: using them on a PC and using them on a PlayStation 5.

On a PC with spatial audio enabled these speakers really shine. Directionality is fantastic and while I still prefer headphones for competitive gaming, single-player adventure games or even single-player shooters sounded fantastic.

But as good as they are on PC, they’re only okay on PS5. While they do just plug in easily and work immediately, THX Spatial Audio requires Razer Synapse in order to be active, so you don’t get that benefit when using them with a PlayStation. As you might expect, that also means you don’t get spatial audio when using them with Bluetooth connected devices either.

Don’t get me wrong, I like that using them with PlayStation is easy and works seamlessly, they just lack detail and directionality – the latter is not an uncommon problem with speakers, for what it’s worth. So while they easily work with PlayStation and they sound good, the experience is notably lesser when compared to use on PC.

Razer Nommo V2 Pro – Usability

If you like to customize your audio experience as I do, Razer’s Synapse software offers a fair amount of options. While I do wish I could save more than one custom EQ, you do have immediate access to four preset EQs from Razer and then one custom EQ that you can set to your tastes. You can swap among these at any time from Synapse or by double-clicking the button on the side of the control pod.

Even better, you can pre-program what sound profile you want different games to automatically switch to when you launch them. Called Game Profiles, your preferred THX Spatial Audio or EQ will load automatically when a game is in the foreground, and adding and adjusting these selections is simple and can be done from the main page for the speakers in Synapse. This same page gives you access to other controls as well, such as volume and subwoofer levels.

Customizing your LED experience is quite detailed and can be overwhelming, but Synapse does provide you with a decent tutorial when you first dig into it and once you get the hang of it, what you can do with a set of connected RGB devices is really impressive.

As mentioned, you don’t get spatial audio with Bluetooth-connected devices, but the option to use Bluetooth is always appreciated. Razer doesn’t really support Mac (Synapse 2 is technically an option that I couldn’t get to work and Synapse 3 isn’t supported at all) so it should come as no surprise that the best parts of this speaker which rely on software don’t work on Mac.

Even without Synapse, you can toggle the different EQ options on Mac by double-clicking the button on the side of the pod, but you have no way of knowing which one you’re currently using and since the speakers don’t seem to have any memory of their own, none of the LED lighting settings you pick when connected to a PC carry over to any other experience. I don’t have any reason to believe that custom EQ does either.

The same can be said for connecting to a PlayStation 5 or using a Bluetooth connection to a Switch. While both are supported, you can’t adjust what the LEDs are doing when connected to either of these devices either – they end up just blinking along to the music in different colors or lightly cycling among all RGB colors when no audio is playing. It would have been nice to have some way to toggle the LEDs through the control pod, even if it was a simple on/off.

One downside to using a wireless puck that is battery-powered as the main control point and relying on USB instead of a 3.5mm headphone jack is that at some point, the speakers go to sleep if they’re not being actively used.

On PC, there's an option to turn off power-saving mode through Synapse, which will prevent the speakers from going to sleep, but on any other device that doesn’t have Synapse access, you can’t alter its settings and it goes to sleep in the default 15 minutes. I would really have preferred some way to keep them awake all the time, even if it meant forgoing being able to use the control pod. Simple 3.5mm jack connectivity with control through the connected device would have been a nice-to-have option.

Verdict

Razer has made its best speakers yet with the Nommo V2 Pro speakers. They’re not perfect, but they are the best example of what the company can do with its partnership with THX to produce a truly incredible virtual surround sound experience that prioritizes powerful bass and a warm, approachable sound profile. On top of that, they’re nice-looking speakers with built-in RGB that is unabashedly “gamer” and will no doubt be popular. They’re not cheap at $450, but for PC users, they definitely perform at a level worthy of that price.

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