Manufacturer: Mad Catz
I was really genuinely sad when I had to give the pair of Razer Blackshark headphones back to the manufacturer after spending several weeks reviewing them. They were comfortable, offered superb quality, and made me feel like I was piloting Airwolf whilst listening to 80s hair metal, thanks to their design.
To directly compare the Tritton Kunai headset I was sent by Mad Catz a month or two later to the Blackshark would be a little unfair. After all, the Kunai is designed to be a budget-friendly, entry-level headset for gamers. After being met with some success in console circles earlier this year, Mad Catz have finally brought their sub-£50 headset to PC fans.
The Kunai is a looker, that much is for certain. From the angular, squarish ear cups to the glossy red aesthetics of the band and outer shell (it also comes in black and white), the Kunai is stylish enough to wear out and about and looks far more refined and natural than some of its competitors. It looks like the more angular cousin to Dre's Beats range.
Unfortunately, though, the distinctive stylings cause two main issues. The first concerns fingerprints. As delightfully shiny as the headset might seem when you first release it from the confines of its hilariously complex box, it'll pick up greasy paw prints with great ease, taking the sheen off of things relatively quickly. That, however, is far less of a problem than the ear cups themselves. I've had issues with Tritton's angular approach to things in the past, and the Kunai is a smaller headset than many of its competitors. So it is that the cups end up squashing my ears a little bits. They're far less rigid and far more pleasantly spongy than some headsets out there, but the smaller, rectangular shape can make long stints a bit uncomfortable. As such, I've found the headset perfect for a commute into town, but less ideal when it comes to multiple-hour gaming sessions.
The build quality is impressive, though. The cups swivel 90 degrees to allow for a more comfortable fit, and so the headset can be safely stored. The detachable mic, which is highly flexible, seems a little fiddly at first, but once you lock it into place below the left ear cup it's held in place firmly and proves rather versatile. The headset comes with in-line audio controller to present a 9ft-long cable in total (it's only 4ft or so without the in-line extender), but whilst perfectly suited to desk recording, the controller dangles below the waist when you're out and about, proving slightly less accessible than those at chest-height. Moreover, the lack of a braided cable means that it does tend to get tangled up and knotted fairly easily.
The Kunai does, however, offer some pretty good sound quality for its price tag, dealing with both high treble and deep, explosive bass very well indeed. It's often far too easy for speech to be lost in poorly equalised films with some headsets, but the Kunai distinguished itself nicely. In-game music fell pleasantly into the background, with mic audio coming through in full fashion. The headset doesn't offer full surround sound, no surprise at this price, but the stereophony is immersive nonetheless. The mic, once positioned so as not to pick up heavy breathing or little coughs proved clear and crisp, so much so that I actually ended up using it for last weekend's Game Buzz.
Sound isolation, however, is something of a mixed bag. At home, with double glazing shielding you from a swirling storm of cacophonous insanity, the Kunai works pretty well. It worked well enough, for example, for my flatmate to scared the hell out of me when he strolled into my room, called my name five times, and then tapped me on the shoulder because I couldn't hear him. But given that I was playing Amnesia at the time rather loudly, I'm not sure how much credit goes to the Kunai for that one. It won't seal off the hubbub of the commute, though, and you're likely to irritate the chap next to you if you try to balance it out by turning up the volume as the Kunai is more leaky than Henry's bucket.
I take slight issue with mid-range headsets in general, and Giotek and Turtle Beach have several headsets of a similar quality to the Kunai that come in for at least a tenner less than Tritton's model. That being said, I really do think that Tritton have the edge over Turtle Bach when it comes to build quality. The Kunai is a gaming headset that you really can us everyday, wherever you go, and not feel bad about thrashing it around. It helps that it looks and sounds the part, too. Sadly, though the smaller ear cups are something of a dealbreaker in terms of comfort, and so I can't wholeheartedly recommend the Kunai for the hardcore gamer.
- Distinctive, stylish design
- Fantastic build quality
- Solid stereo sound
- Impressive versatility
- Smartphone compatible
- Small ear cups make for sore ears
- There are cheaper competitors offering an equal level of audio quality
- Padding in the middle of the band uncomfortable for anyone with a large or slightly pointed head
The Short Version: The Tritton Kunai is a stylish and solid headset that proves just as capable whether you're on the go or plugged into the rig. Unfortunately, though, it's smaller size and angular style make for an experience that cannot offer the comfort long gaming sessions require. It's worth the money, but only if you've got small ears we'd wager.