With more and more phones dropping the venerable 3.5mm headphone jack, one might have hoped that more USB-C accessories, notably earphones, would have appeared by now. Sadly, the market of reliable, trustworthy options is still quite small and the ones you do find aren't cheap. If you own a Pixel 2 XL, for instance, you probably understand how frustrating the dongle situation can be... if you can even get one at time of writing.
Razer first dipped its toes into the mobile market with the Razer Phone last year – a device that, unfortunately, we were never sent for review – which did not have a 3.5mm jack. To go along with its debut smartphone, the company added a new member to the Hammerhead family of in-ear headphones. Aptly named the Hammerhead USB-C, these earphones come in the typical garish Razer style, and though Razer Phone owners are the primary target market, these are available to anyone who might want to buy them.
USB-C audio is kind of a mess, but the Hammerhead definitely works very well with my phone and several others I have on hand, since the DAC is in the earphones themselves. The design may not be for everyone, but I think that the Hammerhead is definitely the best bang for your buck if you want USB-C earphones.
|Build quality||A tangle-free flat cable, metal driver housings, and even glowing Razer logos all make this a solid product. Beauty, however, is in the eye of the beholder.|
|Sound||Overall, sound is quite good.|
|Cable||The cable is very long, which is great for tall people like me.|
|Presentation||Razer does a good job with product presentation. The Hammerhead comes in a nice package, and includes a very good, if a bit small, hard-sided carrying case.|
|Compatibility||While it's not Razer's fault, the Hammerhead isn't guaranteed to work with every USB-C device out there. One noticeable example from my testing was the OnePlus 5T.|
|Design||It may not be to everyone's liking. If you're familiar with Razer, it won't surprise you, but I wasn't a fan of the bright green cable.|
Razer is rather well known for its conspicuous product design elements. From neon green to RGB everything, the company has a certain reputation in the PC gaming community. I was frankly quite surprised that the Razer Phone ended up being so subtle-looking, much like the gunmetal Blade Stealth laptop, but Razer made up for it with the Hammerhead.
I hope you like neon green, because that's mostly what you get here. The housings, tips, remote, Y-split, and plug casing are black, while the very long, flat cable is Razer's signature color. Not being a fan of green, at least this particular shade, I was a bit put-off initially, finding that I'd prefer if the color scheme had been flipped. That's down to personal taste, so you might find these to your liking.
The housings themselves are metal and they magnetically clip together. At the end of each, underneath clear plastic, are tiny Razer logos. Considering the company's penchant for slapping the snake triad everywhere on its products, I was quite surprised at how subtle this was... until you plug in the earphones and the logos light up in bright green. Moving on, one area that is lacking is the playback and call remote; it just feels flimsy and cheap, with buttons that press entirely too easily. Bump against something and you might find the volume changed or that your song was paused (or you answered that call you were trying to ignore).
The Hammerhead comes in very nice packaging, complete with an owner's manual behind a carboard sleeve welcoming you to the Cult of Razer. Along with the earphones themselves, you also get a hard-sided carrying case, which also holds the three sets of extra tips. All in all, I give Razer props for presentation.
My biggest gripe with the Hammerhead is comfort. The default ear tips are a double-blade style, similar to the Optoma NuForce BE2. While I really like the latter, which has more space between the blades, I noticed that I had a tough time with getting the Hammerhead buds to stay in my ears and maintain the sound seal. The extra tips are just the normal dome style, which works fine. Your mileage may vary, obviously, but don't be afraid to go with the different tips.
While I can't say I like the bright green cable, and thus the attention it garners, I do like the Hammerhead's sound. With 10mm drivers, it pushes out a solid profile, with reasonably clear highs, full mids, and surprisingly strong bass given the size; vocals came through well, too. Volume gets plenty high, high enough to be painful, but once you find a level that you're comfortable with, I think that you'll find that you like the sound coming out.
I wish that the bass was a bit stronger, finding that some of the synthwave songs I listen to felt a bit weak on the lower notes and percussion. With other genres, like symphonic metal, it wasn't so bad or noticeable, and in things like podcasts or audiobooks, I completely forgot about it.
For $80, I'd say the Razer Hammerhead is one of the best USB-C earphones to buy right now. Unless you're ardently against the neon green and glowing logos, you won't find much to dislike. Similar options, like Essential's offering and the Libratone Q Adapt, cost you more — though, the latter has a companion app for sound tuning, but you'll also pay an additional $70 (MSRP) for it.
The problem here, of course, is support; it's not always clear which products the Hammerhead will work with. Obviously, the Razer Phone is fine and it works with my Pixel 2 XL and Mate 10 Pro, as well as the Xiaomi Mi 6 and Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 — it didn't, however, work with my OnePlus 5T and my OnePlus 6 hasn't arrived yet, so I obviously couldn't test that phone. The compatibility anxiety is certainly there, but that isn't the Hammerhead's fault. Just be ready to return them if you find that they don't work with your device.
As for what I'd change about the Hammerhead, the only things I could possibly ask for would be stronger bass and active noise cancellation. If you can get the tips to seat comfortably in your ears and stay there, you'll benefit from some good passive sound blocking, but all of our ears are different.
Assuming that it works with your phone, I'd say that the Hammerhead is worth purchasing if you're tired of dealing with the dongle just to plug in your earphones on the bus, at the gym, or what have you. Right now, you can pick up the Hammerhead on Amazon for $75.66 and it's eligible for Prime shipping. Otherwise, you can purchase it directly from Razer. Take your pick from the buy links below.