Razer is well-known for its plethora of excellent gaming peripherals, more so for their mouses and keyboards. That said, they have had great success with their audio division as well, but mostly in terms of gaming headsets. This, then, is something completely different for the company, a surround sound bar. The Razer Leviathan 5.1 Channel Surround Sound Bar is the first non-headset audio device the company has released since the 2011 Razer Ferox, which received mixed reviews, but given its mobile status, it’s quite understandable. Its namesake, the powerful, fire-breathing serpent mentioned in the Bible, one of most feared creatures in ancient times, this sound bar has a lot to live up to just going by its name.
Build and Design
The Leviathan isn’t your typical sound bar. First off, it’s at least half the size of the conventional, measuring 75x490x70mm, and weighing 2.1KG for the bar itself. But size shouldn’t really matter, the Leviathan hoping to make up in overall quality and performance. In any case, the matte black sound bar has a very simplistic design. On the front you’ll find the typical grille protecting the speakers, a pair of 63.5mm full range drivers, and another of 19mm tweeter drivers. The grille is interrupted only by the Razer logo located in the centre, above which you’ll find the main control panel. This panel includes green LED-lit buttons, with an on/off button in the centre at an angle between the control panel and logo. On the left and right of the power button there are a few indicators for the current setup. The control panel itself is made up of 7 buttons, which, from left to right, you have the source selector, Bluetooth toggle, Dolby surround, mute, equaliser, and, lastly, the increase and decrease volume buttons.
The rear is a bit more straightforward. There are a number of different connection points that include a proprietary subwoofer-out, DC-in for power, optical audio input, and 3.5mm auxiliary jack. There is also two bracket openings on the side for wall mounting if you so require. The Leviathan in its contents includes two different pairs of feet, one shorter pair to position the sound bar pointing directly forward, and a second pair that allows the unit to point upwards when the device is placed below the standard line seating of the user. There are many out there that would request for a wireless option for a self-powered woofer, but given that this is not a high-end sound bar by any means, it’s difficult to see how this can be incorporated without increasing the price. I could argue, then, that users will expect more in terms of overall features and standards once the price has been raised.
There are a few complaints to be made about the design, although fairly simplistic, the first being that the proprietary subwoofer cable feels quite fragile in how it connects to the rear, which isn’t secure at all. Secondly, the Leviathan doesn’t include a remote of any sort, which makes for tedious adjustments when using the sound bar in your living room. I would suggest, then, that it is better suited for your desktop PC in that it will always be right in front of you at arm’s length, with users being able to make the necessary changes they wish.
From unboxing to hearing your first sounds, you shouldn’t spend more than 10 minutes setting up the Leviathan. There are a few options for connectivity you will have to select, along with the cables for power and the woofer, none of which should take more than a few seconds. Before you get to this, though, there is a matter of choosing the type of feet you want to use for the direction of the sound bar. Once you’ve made up your mind, simply push the feet into position and you’re ready.
While the Leviathan may be indicated as having 5.1 surround sound, it isn’t quite. What you have, though, is a virtualised 5.1 channel solution using Dolby’s Virtual Speaker and Pro Logic II codec technologies that converts stereo and 5.1 channel audio into its virtualised surround sound. That said, the speakers performed well enough overall, but with better results for certain modes. For starters, gamers will find much better use for the Leviathan than those spending more time watching movies. This is due to the fact that while the unit can produce quite loud audio with great incorporated bass, the subtleties of surrounding sounds (such as background chatter, rain, gunshots) are lost in its lack of full 5.1 channel support. This means that users will be able to enjoy the louder action movies, as the sound and bass are loud enough to rattle the windows, but not that of the more refined movies with more precise sounds.
On the other hand, music on the Leviathan is great. The sound is loud enough to power through a large living room, although not as loud as the higher-end models, with no distortion as you adjust the volume towards the extremes. At the end of the day, the unit produces much heavier bass than it does treble, but never so much in contrast that lyrics are washed out into the background. Further establishing its biased towards music lovers, the Leviathan comes fitted with built-in Bluetooth, which users can easily pair with using the, easy-to-connect, NFC functionality.
At a RRP of $199, the Razer Leviathan is placed quite respectively in the market. Given that many other mid-range sound bars can easily set you back in excess of R3,000, while high-end units can go beyond the R10,000 mark, the Leviathan does well to keep costs down while still offering great output. Users, however, won’t be rushing to purchase the unit as part of their home entertainment systems, the unit best suited for desktop gaming due to the obvious lack of a remote. At half the price of its competitors, though, I can imagine there are many that will make this small sacrifice for good value.
The Leviathan packs a lot into such a small unit, and with a few small adjustments could have had a truly complete package.