The new Razer Leviathan V2 Pro soundbar has just been announced at CES 2023, promising an AI-powered head-tracking beamforming audio solution for the desktop. It all sounds pretty techno-forward, but thankfully I’ve had a chance over the past few weeks to try it out at home to see if it’s real or not.
If you don’t already know, beamforming is when a signal is directed at something to improve signal strength and quality. It’s not just an audio thing, there are plenty of uses for beamforming related to wireless signals, but that’s what Razer is using it for with the new Leviathan V2 Pro. Basically, the system will determine where you are and, through some neural network computing, send the audio signal directly to your ears.
To do this, the Leviathan V2 Pro comes with a small infrared sensor array in the center of the device. The data is then sent through a neural network processor to sense where a user is, or more specifically where their ears are, to create better spatial audio. That data is then “immediately thrown away” and is never transferred to your PC or the cloud, says Razer (opens in new tab).
There are five 2-inch speakers in the soundbar, operated with different interference patterns to keep the user in the sweet spot for audio, and a subwoofer that plugs into the back to go to the ground.
So is this all worth it? I’ll be writing a full review on this product soon, but I’m quite impressed with how seamless the audio shifting is as I move my head toward my desk. You sit in the middle of your desk and the audio shoots straight at you. You move to the left and the audio shoots right at you. You go to the right and the audio shoots right at you.
You get the idea.
There are a number of built-in modes that work best in different scenarios: THX Spatial Virtual Headset and THX Spatial Audio Virtual Speakers.
I really like the THX Spatial Virtual Headset mode for listening to music. It delivers the beamforming effect described earlier, but is mostly just a straightforward stereo, 2:1 listening experience.
The virtual speakers are a bit more involved, though, as they try to replicate a surround sound speaker setup without the hardware. I’m usually pretty skeptical of these sorts of features, as I don’t often find the dip in audio quality worth the positional audio gain, but I have to admit that the Leviathan’s virtual speakers are quite impressive. I did a 5.1 speaker test locally on my machine and the positional audio is so much better than the standard stereo output. Not a bad loss of quality either, although a bit smaller in the rear left and right directions. I mean, you definitely don’t want to listen to music while this mode is on, but for gaming I think this could come in handy.
So first impressions have been pretty good. Although I expected to be blown away: it is $400 (opens in new tab). That’s $150 more than the Razer Leviathan V2 (opens in new tab) we reviewed earlier this year let alone a normal pair computer speakers (opens in new tab). That leads to my biggest concern yet: It’s a nice feature, but by no means a must-have, and for that kind of money it’s probably a hard sell for most.
I have more testing I want to do with this soundbar before jumping to conclusions. The Leviathan V2 Pro will ship from January 31, so there’s plenty of time to make up your mind before then. Stay tuned for that.