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Psychoacoustics—the fine science of fooling the human ear by manipulating audio—can deliver great results. Personally, I prefer it in small doses to augment bass and a sense of space, rather than flat out trying to simulate a multi-channel surround set-up, as does the Dolby Virtual Speaker found in Razer’s Leviathan soundbar/subwoofer combo. As with faux anything, it’s just never quite as good.
That said, Razer’s Leviathan does it as well as anything I’ve heard. and it’s far less of a hassle to set up than the real deal.
Speakers and sound
The sound-bar half of the Leviathan features a pair of 2.5-inch mid-range drivers and two 0.74-inch tweeters inside its angled cabinet (you can see an exploded view, below). The main speaker can fit in front of your computer monitor or big-screen TV, or it can be hung on the wall below your display. A mid-sized powered subwoofer is intended to sit on the floor and, due to the non-directional nature of very low-frequency effects, can go just about anywhere in your room.
Neither component is terribly large, so it’s a safe guess that the speaker system’s name is a nod to the amount of bass that sub generates. I live in an apartment, and the minute I plugged the sub in, I could hear my neighbors start shifting around. I have hardwood floors, but even when I picked up the sub I could hear various items rattle.
Fortunately, after perusing Razer’s website, I found that by holding the Dolby Virtual Speaker on/off button and pressing the plus or minus buttons I could adjust the volume of the subwoofer. Just in time. The neighbors were clambering up the stairs with malice aforethought.
Not being able to adjust the mid-range and highs irked me, though the Leviathan’s default settings are decent. Still, you might want to give the Leviathan a listen before buying—the overall timbre is a bit stark. My only other minor gripe is the one I have with nearly every sound bar that relies on a subwoofer—not enough bass in the sound bar itself, and too much rumble with the subwoofer active. That’s great for earthquake renderings, not so much for music.
Style and specs
The Leviathan is attractively styled in black with the mildly menacing Razer logo on the front. It’s subdued—for a product designed for gamers.
The sound-bar features TOSlink and 1/8-inch analog connections on the back, as well as the power and subwoofer jacks. You can also feed signals to the unit via Bluetooth 4.0 (with support for the AptX codec) and NFC. The Leviathan lacks HDMI, which would make it an even better companion for an HDTV.
Controls consist of the aforementioned dual-purpose Dolby on/off and plus/minus buttons; the power button; an EQ button that switches between cinema, gaming, and music modes; and the input select (aux/optical/Bluetooth) button.
I can imagine gamers—or bass addicts of any predilection—being quite happy with the Leviathan. It really pumps out the low frequencies, which I found enjoyable in movies and games.
The Leviathan isn’t as good a solution for music. As I mentioned, the Leviathan’s sonic coloring is a bit old. Then again, the Boston Acoustics bookshelf speakers that I use with my computer have spoiled me. Consider that an insight into my audio prejudices. In truth, you could do a lot worse for the money than the Razer Leviathan.