Review: Razer Leviathan sound bar

The diminutive Razer Leviathan packs sound and strong bass into a space-friendly package that fits neatly into nearly any desktop configuration. However, while Razer touts the Leviathan as “One sound bar to rule them all”, the Leviathan’s first, best destiny is as a desktop PC audio solution.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
The tiny Leviathan makes big noise -- right along with the beautiful music of the Razer Blackwidow keyboard
It’s a Razer party on my desktop: Razer Leviathan, soundbar, Razer Blackwidow Chroma, Goliathus gaming mat. I, uh, hid the Logitech mouse though…

The Leviathan itself is roughly the same width as a typical keyboard (about 19.5 inches wide) and half as deep (about 2.75 inches), and roughly 4 inches tall. It uses very little desk space, and you still have the option of attaching it to a wall.

 Razer Leviathan technical specifications

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Razer Leviathan (Credit – Razer)
  • Analog, optical, or Bluetooth v4.0 aptX connectivity
  • Adjustable tilt angles (0⁰,15⁰,18⁰) for optimal sound
  • 3 preset equalizer modes tuned for gaming, music and movies
  • Sound bar specs
  • Total power output : 30W (15W x 2RMS)
  • Full range drivers : 2 x 2.5” / 63.5mm
  • Tweeter drivers : 2 x 0.74” / 19 mm
  • Impedance : 8Ω
  • Frequency response rate : 180Hz – 20KHz
  • Approximate weight : 4.4lbs / 2Kg
  • Subwoofer specs
  • Type : Passive
  • Total power output : 30W RMS
  • Full range drivers : 5.25” / 133mm
  • Impedance : 8Ω
  • Frequency response rate : 20Hz – 180Hz
  • Approximate weight : 5.1lbs / 2.35Kg

Features and Design

The Leviathan is space efficient, but unfortunately this design aesthetic extends to its controls—and this works against it from a usability standpoint. The power button rests front and center. It’s large and prominent so it’s easy to find and press.

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The control buttons, however, are not. The controls are a row of small buttons (Input select, Bluetooth, Dolby on/off, Mute, Mode, and Volume+/Volume -) that are tightly packed about ½” behind the power button. Not only are they small and tightly packed, they aren’t backlit, so they are difficult to see and differentiate by touch or visually in low light conditions.

This wouldn’t be a huge problem if the Leviathan came with a remote, but it doesn’t.

Given that the Leviathan is designed almost exclusively as a PC desktop audio solution, it’s a reasonable assumption that a fair number of PC gamers play in the dark a lot, which makes the lack of a remote or any kind of backlighting for the controls seem like an odd oversight—especially in light of the fact that Razer seems to be aiming the Leviathan (at least a little) at the broader market, i.e. the console space.

Razer’s own Web site states “The Razer Leviathan 5.1 Channel Surround Sound Bar easily fits under any desktop monitor or living room console setup.”

Perhaps so, but while the Leviathan itself is portable, its subwoofer is less so. And the lack of a remote makes using it as a console companion with a big screen TV less appealing. Another interesting point:

Regardless, the Leviathan’s flexibility is still an asset. Bluetooth connectivity is a definite plus, although I’m more skeptical that support for NFC (Near Field Communication) is something many gamers would want or care about.

The Leviathan also comes with 2 pairs of adjustable, detachable feet so you can adjust the angle of it slightly.

Performance

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On my dark gray desk, the Leviathan is camouflaged.

Despite a few sins in design and usability, the Leviathan generally makes up for them in overall sound quality—with some minor caveats. The Leviathan delivers loud, high quality sound. The high and mid-range sounds clear and precise, and it’s complemented by the subwoofer’s strong bass. In short, you’ll enjoy the ‘pewpew’ of your lasers and the thundering explosions that follow igniting a fuel depot. Video games, movies, and music all sound excellent.

The Leviathan’s 5.1 capabilities, however, will largely go unnoticed. The Leviathan just isn’t (physically) capable of delivering any real directional cues very well. It worked well enough to provide enough directional cues inLeft 4 Dead 2 to help keep me safe from hiding, diving, charging Infected, but admittedly a stereo speaker setup or surround sound headset would probably do as well or better.

So as far as 5.1 surround sound goes, the Leviathan is no replacement for a dedicated 5.1 set up with properly positioned speakers –or even a good 5.1 gaming headset. On the other hand, relatively few PC games support surround sound, and most typical desktop PC configurations probably can’t easily accommodate a 5.1 speaker setup.

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Compared to the Polk N1 that was in use prior to the Leviathan landing on my desk, the Leviathan is still a slight improvement, if only because it uses far less desktop space and comes with a nice, thumpy subwoofer. The Polk N1 has better controls (i.e. bigger buttons), includes a small remote, and delivers better surround sound—but mainly because it’s nearly three times as wide as the leviathan, hence the outer surround sound channels are more distinct. The N1 is also more expensive—especially if you add the cost of an optional subwoofer.

But despite its modest ergonomic failures, the Razer Leviathan delivers where it really counts: good, high-quality, crystal-clear Dolby sound with strong bass that is just about perfect for most typical PC desktop setups. Bluetooth and auxiliary connectors add to the appeal, though I’m not sure I see much of a ‘use case’ for using Bluetooth. (If I’m at my PC, I would think most of us would use it for playback and not our smartphones.)

Overall: 8/10 – Recommended

The Leviathan delivers great sound and strong bass from a small, space-efficient package. It should probably be viewed as a highly space-efficient (maybe even semi-portable) competitor to 2.1 speakers, and it might make a good companion to a portable projector/laptop for presentations or a portable ‘movie night’ companion. The lack of a remote and difficult-to-reach/use controls are its biggest weaknesses.

Best features

  • Good quality sound and strong bass
  • Highly space efficient
  • Bluetooth, NFC, Analog and Optical inputs.
  • 5.1 Capable

Could use improvement

  • Surround sound capable, but actual surround quality isn’t great
  • Controls could be better-placed
  • A remote would be nice

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