The basics of creating a good-sounding speaker usually drive design choices, which have led to a lot of wooden black boxes on desks. But sometimes a bold statement needs to be made in the design department to make a strong impression. Enter the Razer Nommo Chroma gaming speakers (See it on Amazon); the middle child in Razer's three-product speaker lineup. There's also a non-Chroma version (which means there's no RGB lighting), and a Pro model that features a 2.1 design with a subwoofer and two drivers per speaker.
Razer Nommo Chroma- Design and Features
The Nommo Chroma speakers definitely make a visual impact. The all-black tubular speakers sit on 4-inch struts that extend out of circular base. Around the edge of the base is a programmable LED light ring – hence the Chroma part of the name. Each speaker has a 3-inch woven glass fiber full-range driver – meaning all possible frequencies are reproduced by these drivers only.
In a multi-way system (where there is more than one driver in each speaker), the frequency coverage is split up with the smaller drivers covering the higher frequencies and the larger drivers covering the lower ones. To aid with bass frequency response, each speaker has a rear-facing port on the back.
On the base of the right speaker are two knobs, one to control the volume and the other to control bass response. Pressing the volume knob also turns the power on and off. Neither of these stop when you hit the minimum or maximum values, but they are synced with the lighting in the bases of both speakers. When either volume (green) or bass (blue) are adjusted, the corresponding color scrolls clockwise when it is turned up and counterclockwise when it is turned down. Volume can also be tracked through the OS or Razer software, but not the bass.
On the back of the right speaker are the power connection, a 1/8-inch aux in, and a headphone out jack. When a source is playing through the aux in and something is playing through USB on your computer, both audio signals will play out of the speakers at the same time. When the headphone jack is used the speakers are defeated, so all signal plays through the headphones. The volume and bass control knobs on the speaker base will adjust the sound in the headphones. At the bottom of the right strut are two cables, one that connects to the computer via USB and one that connects to the left speaker. For neatness I wish the cables on the strut and the power connection were all in the same place instead of separated by four inches. There is no Bluetooth on the Nommo Chroma, just the USB and 1/8-inch connections. If you have a phone that doesn’t have a headphone jack you won’t be able to connect it to the speakers as a source without an adapter.
Razer Nommo Chroma - Software
Everything for the speakers (accept for the bass knob adjustment) can be controlled using the Razer Synapse 3 software. If you have any Razer products you’re likely familiar with Synapse. The new third version, which is in Beta as of this writing, supports most new Razer products including the Nommo family of speakers. (In addition to the Nommo Chroma are the entry-level Nommo, that don’t include the lighting effect, and the Nommo Pro, that have an additional tweeter on each speaker and a subwoofer.) There are a few sound adjustments that can be made in the software – four sound equalizer settings and volume – but the majority of its utility is in the lighting.
Currently there are 89 official game integrations for the Chroma lighting including Overwatch, Diablo 3, and Elder Scrolls Online. You don’t need to download anything extra, just have Synapse running and launch the game. Five third-party integrations are also available that require a download for the games’ lighting profile. The large majority of the effects pertain more to keyboard and mouse peripherals leaving the speaker bases to provide ambiance. But there are a few that are affected by gameplay, such as a pulsing red in Diablo as you’re dying or a rainbow explosion when executing a glory kill in Doom. In the Chroma Studio portion of the app, multiple lighting effects can be layered and customized to create a vast series of combinations. You can also link games to the different lighting profiles you create to customize your gaming experience.
Once I decided on the sound preset I liked best (Default) I never made any audio adjustments through the Synapse software, and I very rarely used the bass response knob in the base of the speaker - only the volume. Lighting programming was relatively painless to use, but there was certainly some trial and error necessary to figure out how to get the different parameters working together the way I envisioned. Using the official gaming integrations was easy enough since there’s nothing to load. I just wished there was more to do with it.
Razer Nommo Chroma - Performance
The rated frequency response for the Razer Nommo Chroma speakers is 50 – 20,000 Hz (human hearing is 20 – 20,000 Hz). While the speakers can generate sound at around 50 Hz, any significant volume doesn’t start until closer to 65 Hz. There is also a significant drop off in volume from 16,000 Hz on up. For a 3-inch driver that’s a very good range. Most people will notice the lack of deep lows, the rumbles of explosions, more than the highs rolling off, which affects overtones and the openness of the sound. Also, most people have trouble hearing very high frequencies due to hearing loss, where the low frequencies you can literally feel when they’re there.
Using the Default EQ setting in Synapse, the mids have a great sound to them. Voices are present without being overly forward in the mix. When listening to music there’s a nice fullness to the sound. Higher frequencies are crisp without being harsh. The bass is a bit lacking and in Battlefield 1 I was aching for some more immersive explosions and to feel the tanks rolling past. Turning the bass knob up doesn’t help, in fact it only succeeds in muddying the sound. As I turned it up, I lost clarity in the voices of my squadmates. The Game EQ preset boosted the overall low-end response, but exacerbated the clarity issue especially with the bass knob turned past 50%. In any of the EQ presets these speakers are anything but flat.
The lighting effects are cool though subtle, and there is limited utility when gaming. With the exception of a few examples, like Diablo and Doom mentioned above, the illumination is little more than a light show. While it’s nice to have Overwatch orange shine from the speaker bases while running around as Doomfist, it’s quickly forgotten about once I started a round. If you already have other Razer products, the ability to sync the lighting between peripherals might be enticing, but beyond that the lighting is a bit superfluous.
The Razer Nommo Chroma speakers have a MSRP of $150, and that's usually the price on Amazon and Walmart though it has dropped to $140 on ocassion:
- See the Razer Nommo Chroma speakers on Amazon
- See the Razer Nommo Chroma speakers on Walmart with free shipping