Razer Leviathan V2 Review: Great audio marred by software and ports
Razer’s Leviathan V2 soundbar is the latest peripheral offering from the gaming and lifestyle brand. It’s an updated version of their original Leviathan soundbar, which debuted in 2014. The new V2 has a new, sleek design and has added RGB lighting underneath. Unlike the original, this soundbar supports THX spatial audio, a virtual surround sound featured in Razer’s Kraken V3 headsets, one of which is featured on our best PC gaming headsets list. The Leviathan also comes with a 55-inch firing-down subwoofer that’s received a slimmer redesign as well.
The new design makes the Leviathan V2 a pound lighter and slightly slimmer than its predecessor. It has also removed a number of the original Leviathan’s physical buttons and ports, including a 3.5mm jack and optical audio input. And while the Razer Leviathan V2 sounds great without Razer’s clunky Synapse 3 software, you will need to use the software if you want to unlock the V2’s full potential.
Specifications – Razer Leviathan V2
|Driver Type||x2 Tweeter 0.75 inches (20mm) 2x Full-Range Drivers 2 x 4 inches (48 x 95 mm) x2 Passive Radiator Drivers 1.7 x 5.3 inches (43 x 135 mm) Subwoofer 1 x 5.5 inches (140mm)|
|Frequency Response||45 Hz – 20 kHz|
|Connectivity Options||USB Type-A, Bluetooth 5.2|
|Cables||USB-C to Type-A cable, power cable, regional power cord|
|Weight||Soundbar 3.08 pounds (1.4 kg)|
|Subwoofer 6.61 pounds (3.0 kg)|
The Razer Leviathan V2 is slimmer than its predecessor and has a low-key matte black finish, plus an important addition underneath: RGB LEDs with 16 lighting zones that you can control via Razer’s Synapse software. Although the soundbar itself is slim, you may find it difficult to stash both it and the attached subwoofer on your battlestation.
The Leviathan V2 soundbar is 19.7 inches long, 3.6 inches tall, and 3.3 inches deep (500 x 91.3 x 84mm), and it managed to fit snugly under my 23-inch HP monitor once I removed the attached feet. The soundbar has two full-range drivers behind a dark grille, which has Razer’s signature snake-triskelion logo in the center and a THX logo on the right.
The dark grille hides the drivers much better than the original Leviathan’s lighter grille, and the corners are sharper instead of rounded. On top of the soundbar are volume buttons, a power button, a Bluetooth button to search for devices, and a source button for switching inputs.
The original Leviathan had several buttons in the slight pinch on top of the grille for switching presets and controlling the virtual surround sound feature. On the V2, those functions are controlled exclusively via software — and this definitely feels like a downgrade. The grille still has a slight pinch on top, but now it’s smaller and just for show. The soundbar doesn’t even come with a remote — just a remote app for your smartphone.
The Leviathan V2’s 55-inch (140mm) down-firing subwoofer monolith sits on four small legs and links to the soundbar via a dedicated connector cord. This part of the Leviathan V2 was more challenging to fit on my current workstation; I ended up stashing it behind my 48-inch LG CX after I moved some junk around. Of course, I ended up putting some of that junk back on top of the subwoofer. Good news: Nothing’s fallen off yet.
The two passive radiator drivers behind the full-range speakers were a bit more troublesome. Whenever music and movies get loud, the soundbar begins physically pushing itself out from under my monitor. I ended up having to lock my monitor on top of the soundbar to secure it, so much so that I now have to lift my monitor to access the Leviathan V2’s power button.
Sound on Razer Leviathan V2
Before installing the Razer Synapse app on my PC, I tried the Razer Leviathan V2 without any software, and I’m happy to report that it sounds pretty good. I make beats with FL Studio 10, but I’ve been without quality speakers for some time now — I’ve been relying on headphones and my TV’s built-in speakers. There was something so liberating about listening to and creating beats over this soundbar: The volume was satisfyingly loud and the thumps and reverberations from the subwoofer were almost akin to what I’ve experienced with a full stereo system.
The Razer Leviathan V2 delivered a detailed treble that ranged from dynamic highs to deep lows when the bass kicked in. Songs with high treble and rich bass such as “March of the Fire Ants” by Mastodon and “Top” by Lil Uzi Vert got so loud that they filled up my entire apartment. When my mother came over to visit, she said she could hear it while she was coming up the block. That’s pretty impressive, considering I live in a noisy neighborhood in the Bronx. Of course, I don’t think I’ll be winning any obnoxiously loud music contests with my neighbors — the soundbar and subwoofer are impressive, but they can’t compete with a home entertainment setup.
Other highlight tracks included “It’s No Good” from Depeche Mode, another song that filled the room and made me feel like the Maxell Blown Away guy from those old commercials. Bass and sub-bass quaked my entire living quarters when I played “Broken Promise” from the Toonami: Deep Space Bass soundtrack. And again — this was all without software.
The Leviathan V2 also sounds great with software. The EQ music preset in Razer’s Synapse software amplifies the soundbar’s fantastic range: “It’s No Good” sounded even more detailed. I also listened to “I Feel Love” by Donna Summer, and the synth in that song pulsated through my entire home.
To test the soundbar’s non-music audio quality, I watched The Batman in a browser window, and Robert Pattison’s opening monologue boomed through my desk and the floor of my apartment. But I wasn’t as impressed with the soundbar’s movie performance as I was with it playing music. When “Something in the Way” by Nirvana played in the film, I was so dismayed by the lack of volume and dynamic. When I put the exact same song on Spotify, the track sounds immensely better. Although this may be more of a browser thing, Razer bills the V2 as a soundbar for movies, as well as music and gaming, and a browser is where most will be watching their content. The V2 delivers booming bass for movies, which means the action scenes feel cinematic, but the speakers are at their best when it’s pumping out music or consistent gameplay action.
To get an idea of how the soundbar would replicate action game gunshots, I played Max Payne 3 — and I thought I was inside a Michael Mann film. The booming sounds that came from the soundbar during the title screen let me know I was in for a treat. During the iconic action-packed airport sequence, which features an underlying score of “Tears” by HEALTH, I was blown away by how detailed and cinematic everything sounded — especially because I didn’t have any Synapse features turned on at the time.
The Game preset in Synapse brought out a heavier, more detailed range from the soundbar I did not pick up before I utilized the software. I played a little of the spatial audio-enabled Cyberpunk 2077 to get an idea of the Leviathan V2’s THX capabilities. The game’s settings have different audio presets depending on the device you’re using, but the game sounds better under the headphone preset than anything else, so that’s what I chose.
The audio was so good that roaring down the highway in Johnny Silverhand’s 911 II (930) Turbo made me start appreciating the sound design behind the in-game vehicle. Gunshots sounded punchy, music from my car was loud and bassy, and, when I stood motionless in the middle of the street, I could hear the direction of the cars shift as I panned the camera.
The Leviathan V2 also has built-in Bluetooth, even though it no longer has a 3.5mm jack or an optical audio input. I connected the V2 to my LG CX via Bluetooth and was able to use both the soundbar and TV’s built-in speakers simultaneously. Bluetooth is nice if you want to create some dynamic, but it’s better suited somewhere away from the TV. Unfortunately, my setup has the TV and soundbar right next to each other when it’d probably sound better from the opposite side of the room.
Bluetooth is a bonus, but not a selling point. The maximum volume is nowhere near as loud over Bluetooth as it is through a wired connection, and I wasn’t able to use any of the audio features from my CX (such as Dolby Atmos) while connected via Bluetooth. The lack of ports is definitely noticeable here because a 3.5mm headphone jack would provide much better audio quality, and an optical input or HDMI Arc support would make the soundbar more versatile (not to mention, provide a way to troubleshoot potential software/hardware issues).
Software for Razer Leviathan V2
When it works, Razer Synapse 3 is a great piece of software. But when it doesn’t, it has the potential to crash your entire system without warning.
It’s such an issue that I’ve recently found myself looking up how to uninstall the software just to keep my PC from randomly shutting down. I’m not alone; there are threads on Reddit asking if Synapse 3 is stable enough to be used, and a friend of mine even confirmed that he was having the same issues and they caused him to turn his back on the brand entirely. Doing a clean uninstall, which is what the manufacturer recommends, was a hassle, and their video on how to do that wasn’t much help, so I was reluctant to reinstall it for this review. But you’ll need Synapse 3 to tap the Leviathan V2’s full potential, so it’s a necessary evil.
Once I finished the clean uninstall, Synapse 3 was re-installed, it shut my computer down and disabled my accompanying Razer BlackWidow V3 keyboard and Deathadder V2 mouse. I ended up having to tinker with the registry and device manager to get everything working again. So I actually ended up using a test laptop to test the V2’s software elements.
Presets include THX, Gaming, Music, Movies, and a Custom tag to mess around with the 10-band EQ. Gaming narrows sound, Music provides high treble and bass while Movies brings cinematic bass. There’s also a toggle to switch between stereo and THX spatial audio, which works best for gaming as opposed to listening to music. On the desktop, there’s a Center Focus feature that directs all sound to the front of the soundbar. When enabled during my casual playthrough of Cyberpunk, all the range was exchanged for overtly loud volume that sounded unpleasant. Lastly, the software allows you to change the RGB lighting installed in the V2.
When I used the presets in the app while connected via Bluetooth, I wasn’t impressed. The music preset muddied songs too much for my liking and the movie preset does well during the action, but not too great during dialogue scenes.
Razer also has two mobile apps for controlling the soundbar: the Chroma RGB app and the Razer audio app. Through the Chroma RGB app, you can set four strobing effects that range from static to a wave of rainbows and tamper with the color spectrum for your desired shade just like on Synapse. Unfortunately, the Razer Audio app only allows access to the EQ feature and its presets when the soundbar source is on Bluetooth. However, the app functions like a remote, allowing folks to seamlessly switch between USB and Bluetooth connections, turn the volume down, and access those aforementioned features under Bluetooth.
When using the EQ over Bluetooth, the audio quality sounds a little worse. I hate how many functions are tied to the software, especially since the software has been giving me so much trouble as of late. It sucks that the only way I can cycle through presets or enable THX spatial audio is through Synapse. I also hate that I have to download two different apps to control music and RGB settings. The software inconveniences most definitely drag down this otherwise enjoyable sound device, especially since the original Leviathan had physical buttons you could use to control the EQ.
The Razer Leviathan V2 is a great soundbar with volume, high treble, and a thumping subwoofer that leaves a lasting impression. Both the soundbar and the subwoofer have sleek, matte-black designs that will blend easily into any RGB-powered setup.
The streamlined redesign comes at a cost, though — while the original Leviathan had more physical buttons, a 3.5mm jack, and an optical audio input, the V2 has none of these features. It does have Bluetooth, which is a nice addition, but Bluetooth sound quality can’t compete with a 3.5mm or optical connection. Also, while I love the V2’s new RGB lighting and software features, Razer Synapse 3 was so janky that I couldn’t really enjoy it. You may not face the exact same issues I did with Synapse 3, but it’s a finicky program that you’ll need to use if you want to fully experience the V2.
At $249, the Leviathan V2 is somewhat pricey, but you’re paying for quality sound. If you’re looking for a new soundbar with more flexibility, also consider the Creative Sound BlasterX Katana, which also features a subwoofer, 7.1 Virtual Audio, and programmable RGB lighting but has physical buttons and more connectivity options. However, if you plan to use your soundbar over USB and want great sound, the Leviathan V2 is a strong choice.