Razer is suddenly becoming a seasoned earbuds brand: the new $130 Hammerhead earbuds are the company’s third pair of true wireless buds. They follow the original Hammerheads released in 2019 and the Hammerhead True Wireless Pros that I reviewed earlier this year. The latest set is more “Pro” than not in both looks and features: they offer active noise cancellation, a low-latency gaming mode, and have switched to a in-ear design with silicone tips.
But these days (and at this price), those features are no longer enough to stand out from a hugely crowded field. So Razer decided to add something to its new earbuds that’s impossible to miss: RGB lighting. Just like many of the company’s laptops and gaming accessories, the 2021 Hammerhead True Wireless include Razer’s full Chroma RGB system, which lets you pick from 16.8 million colors and a variety of flashy effects that shine through the snake logo on each earbud. It makes for what Razer calls “the ultimate wireless earbud flex.” But it’s a flex that only other people will see: it’s not like you’ll ever notice the RGB glow when you’re wearing the earbuds.
By default when first paired with your phone, the Hammerhead True Wireless buds use a “spectrum” effect that smoothly transitions through a variety of colors. If you want to switch up the lighting, you’ll need to install the Razer Chroma RGB app for Android and iOS — separate from the Razer Audio app that’s used for EQ adjustments and customizing the touch controls. Two apps for a single pair of earbuds? Really? Surely Razer could just replicate the RGB functionality in the main audio app to reduce clutter.
Audio meter: the RGB lighting reacts to the music being played. You can choose to have this effect work with a single color — where it honestly just looks like the light is on the fritz — or rapidly cycle through an endless array of different hues.
Breathing: a slow pulsating effect where the RGB lighting repeatedly brightens and dims. In this mode, you can set two different colors to switch between with each “breath” or have the earbuds pick a different color every time.
Spectrum: the earbuds smoothly switch between a wide range of different colors.
Static: the RGB lighting will stay on whichever color you choose.
Out of the box, the lighting is set to 50 percent brightness, which is enough to draw attention — especially if you’re wearing them at night. And let me tell you, those lights will prove very useful should you drop an earbud onto the floor since they’re so easy to spot. Razer says the RGB lighting is optimized for a minimal impact on battery life, but it still takes a toll. With both ANC and the lighting turned off, the Hammerhead True Wireless can hit 6.5 hours of listening time. Using the RGB feature cuts off an entire hour, and the estimate drops to 5.5 hours. Add ANC to the equation and you’re left with only four hours of continuous playback. (With RGB off and ANC enabled, they’ll last up to 4.5 hours.) Those numbers lined up with my experience, and I imagine most people will keep the lights on unless they’re on a long flight or other scenarios where battery life is a priority.
The Razer Audio app includes equalizer controls: you can pick from presets like “enhanced bass” or “vocal,” but it also gives you full control over the EQ range if you want to adjust every slider to your liking. The app is where you can remap the touch controls, which by default are fairly standard: tap once to play / pause, twice to skip tracks, three times to go back, or press and hold to toggle ANC. But Razer gets a little over-ambitious beyond that. I’m all for customizable controls, but “double tap and hold” is where you start to lose me.